October 9, 2005
The Boston Globe Magazine
The Most Authentic Restaurants
Indian, Greek, Mexican, Thai, Italian, and more
By Alison Arnett, Sheryl Julian, Joe Yonan, Lylah M. Alphonse, Ann Cortissoz, Devra First, James Reed, Betsy Block, Jennifer M. Ivers, Catherine MacPherson, and Lise Stern
With the city awash in ethnic eateries, we set out to discover who really cooks it up right - whose shepherd's pie tastes straight from an Irish farmhouse kitchen, whose shredded pork in garlic sauce captures the genuine flavors of Shanghai, whose salmon tagine mimics true Moroccan cooking, whose tomato sauce is spot-on Sardinian, whose brown bread and baked beans would make longtime New Englanders proud. Hit these 29 restaurants, and take a virtual trip around the world. ... [More]
Don't feel like navigating through the whole article? (It's a big one, with multiple writers, that ran in the Globe's Sunday Magazine.) Here's my blurb, focusing on what I felt was the most-authenic Indian restaurant in the Greater Boston Area.
Indian cooking differs radically from region to region: Northern India is famous for its tandoori dishes, tomatoey curries, and flat-breads like nan and paratha; southern Indian food is mostly vegetarian, with creamy, often coconut-based sauces and condiments, and is usually served with some form of rice.
Almost all of the Indian restaurants in the Boston area offer northern Indian food, with a few regional dishes thrown in. A great choice is Cafe of India in Harvard Square, where the tandoori chicken is succulent and done to a turn - no easy feat. Its saucy, mostly northern Indian curries are also quite good: the chicken tikka masala is tangy and complex, and the lamb dishes, like the rogan josh, are meltingly tender and flavorful.
In Billerica, Masalaa Boston offers vegetarian dishes from the entire subcontinent but has plenty of south Indian options. Everything we've tried at this unassuming eatery has been fabulous, and the banana leaf-lined plates are a charming touch. The south Indian fare includes silky vegetable chetti-nadu curry, masala dosas (crispy crepes made of rice and lentil flour, stuffed with chunks of spicy potatoes), and fried idly (steamed rice patties sauteed with onions and spices). Other clear winners are the palak paneer (verdant, smoky with cumin, and studded with chunks of farmers' cheese) and malai kofta curry (tender vegetable dumplings bathed in a rich cream-and-cashew sauce).
* Cafe of India, 52A Brattle Street, Cambridge, 617-661-0683, cafeofindia.com;
* Masalaa Boston, 786 Boston Road/Route 3A, Billerica, 978-667-3443, masalaaboston.com.