Gindy Singh was in diapers when his father first opened Shalimar of India in 1986. Like most parents, Avtar Singh wanted his son to have all the things he didn’t have growing up. When Avtar first came to the United States from Punjab, India, he worked as a cab driver in New York City. After years of working late night shifts and dealing with Manhattan’s ulcer-inducing traffic congestion, he eventually saved enough money to open up his own restaurant. Avtar decided rather than compete with New York City’s crowded restaurant scene, he would venture out to Boston to build a new future for his family.
Gindy started working at his father’s restaurant when he was 16 years old. But as a teenager, he said he was more concerned with hanging around Central Square with his friends than helping run the family business. It wasn’t until he graduated college in 2008 that he became inspired to transform his father’s restaurant from a traditional Indian restaurant to a more contemporary, urban-chic establishment.
Shalimar, which is located in a prime location in Central Square, is known for its buffet and the rich and flavorful options it features on the line. From the starving MIT students to the suit-and-tie office workers, the restaurant has been a popular lunch destination spot for years. For vegetarians, the Navratan Korma (a dish prepared with nuts, paneer cheese and an assortment of vegetables including potatoes, carrots, peas and cauliflower) comes highly recommended from GrubHub.com users. And for the meat lover, Gindy recommends the Tandoori Chicken, which is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with Tandoori Masala (a mix of spices that includes garlic, ginger, cumin and cayenne pepper).
“The restaurant is located in a great spot in downtown Cambridge’s Central Square, and there’s potential for more growth in the future,” says Gindy. “I’d like to remodel the bar and make the restaurant a destination spot for people who work in the area to come and hang out after work.”
Gindy’s vision for the restaurant in the future may differ from the traditional Indian ambiance that his father created 23 years ago. But the two agree on one thing; the menu will always remain the same, featuring a large selection of vegetarian and meat dishes. When he can, Avtar travels back to his native Punjab to visit family and friends and to look for new recipes to test out in his kitchen at Shalimar.
Shalimar of India, 546 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA