In researching our upcoming September issue—which is all about international markets—Portland Monthly staffers were flung to the far corners of Portland’s surrounding suburbs, where some of the area’s largest ethnic populations crank out authentic cooking beyond the veil of inner-city eaters. For Indian food, both cooking and eating, look no further than a one-mile stretch of Northwest Cornell Road, fifteen minutes west of Portland.
For intrepid cooks and Indian expats, two major emporiums, Apna Bazaar and the aptly named “Indian Supermarket,” offer a cornucopia of bizarre pickles, lime to coriander, huge gunny sacks of lentils of rice, and rarely-seen produce, like spiny, bitter kerala melon. Both spots bring more variety and encyclopedic depth than close-in spots like North Portland’s Fiji Emporium, and the well-curated, hand-crafted (but small) Bollywood Market.
Hungry shoppers can head over to Apna’s newly opened Chat Bhavan cafeteria for bhelpuri, dosas, and biryani, or detour to Indian Sweets and Spices, a little snack and confection shop hidden between a gym and a hot tub outlet. Make no mistake: this is the kind of place with Styrofoam trays, florescent lighting, and Indian gossip television playing at full volume; but the food does not disappoint. Crackling samosas stuffed with chickpeas sit in sweet chutneys, while buttery matar paneer (a tomato-onion gravy with cheese) comes scooped with speckled roti and blistered papadum crackers. You can pick your way through the crumpled, laminated menu, or, for the uninitiated, opt for the $10.99 All India Special Thali for a broader sampling.
1815 NW 169th Pl, Ste 6022
17235 NW Corridor Ct
India Sweets & Spices
16205 NW Bethany Ct #110