With the pleasant aroma of spices wafting in the air amid vibrant hues, a fresh Indian street-food destination is now open in Budapest, adding flavor to the city’s international gastro scene. From crispy lamb samosas to refreshing paan ice cream to uncommon Masala juice, an intriguing assortment of exotic vegetarian and meaty treats now awaits guests at Taste of India, transporting exciting culinary sensations from the Indian subcontinent to to the taste buds of adventurous foodies in the Magyar metropolis.
A short stroll away from Óbuda’s Kolosy Square (considered as a rising district of Budapest, featuring several significant international eateries), a brand-new casual restaurant recently popped up to welcome guests with street-food versions of age-old traditional Indian recipes. Unlike most of the city’s customary Indian eateries, Taste of India surrounds visitors with a fresh interior of vibrant colors – the crisp blue tiles mixed with colors of intense pinks and soft whites are reminiscent of a Mediterranean diner, but the pleasant aroma of masala in the air brings us back to India.
Stepping into the entrance, we spot the native-Indian kitchen team already in action, preparing intriguing street-food creations that feed millions of people every day out in the open beside the jam-packed roads of India; here these dishes are served with more creative flair than in their homeland, but the spicy appeal remains the same.
The owner and head chef here is Kunal Verma, and he came all the way from Delhi to make his dream come true by introducing everyday Indian meals and flavors without too much of a Western twist, pioneering a different model based on reasonably priced Indian fast food.
The only compromise they had to make was to tone down the spiciness to adapt to local tastes, but anyone who craves that extra-hot kick can order their meal to be as fiery as they like.
Kunal strives to prepare the foods using the finest ingredients available, sourcing many of them straight from India, while Asian specialty shops around Europe supply other basics; beside the key Indian elements, he works only with Halal meat that he gets from a local butcher. From soups to mains to desserts, everything is made on the spot with a focus on quality, all served to guests on eye-catchingly colorful plates.The place doesn’t boast a vast menu, but a carefully selected list presents some exotic delicacies, such as the iconic samosa fried pastry filled with vegetables or minced meat (750-900 HUF), or the kathi roll, a skewer-roasted chicken or lamb kebab wrapped in a chapati bread (1,000 HUF). Once we decide what to have, we can watch the chef preparing our dish in the open kitchenette right in front of us. The chicken, lamb, green-pea, or potato samosas come with sweet tamarind sauce to provide some tasteful contrast, while the grilled kathi roll is served with coriander-garnished yogurt sauce.
In case we get lost in translation and can’t decide on what to order, food photos guide us in the right direction. Vegetarians can savor Mumbai’s iconic dish, the pav bhaji (1,200 HUF) made of 14 different vegetables and a dash of spices; to reach the desired flavor and texture, this specialty has to be cooked for about six hours before they mash it to serve along fresh onion salad and classic bread garnished with Indian spices.
Meat lovers can go for the shami kebab (1,300 HUF) with incredibly soft and juicy lamb patties, or they can order the chicken or lamb kofta (1,400 and 1,600 HUF), an Indian meatball curry offered with chapati on the side.
We were happy to spot some oddities when we got to the desserts, and tried the exciting paan-flavored ice cream (700-900 HUF) made of betel leaf, widely used in Asia for its mouth-refreshing effect. We liked its zest and believe that every Budapest foodie will be glad to try it, but for less adventurous diners we recommend the gently delicious mango or rose ice cream. For those seeking an extreme sugar rush, gulab jamun (400 HUF) is the answer – these fried dumplings are simmered in a profusion of sweet syrup overnight to achieve an intensely rich flavor.To cool down the spicy feeling, we can pick up some unique juices made on-site that take us to a new world of different flavors, from sweet mango to rose to the unusual masala or tree-essence-based kewra juice (400-500 HUF).
Taste of India offers limited delivery service that currently covers Buda’s Districts I, II, and III, subject to a minimum order of 1,800 forints with an additional fee of 500-600 forints charged for the transportation.
Address: Budapest 1037, Bokor utca 1.
Telephone number: + 36 30 639 9982
Open: Monday to Saturday 11am-3pm and 6pm-3pm Facebook page