Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Square (225 Hampshire Street, Cambridge, 617-547-8272, royalbharatinc.com) is usually crowded at lunch and dinner for good reason: The Punjabi-language music and use of the steel plates called thaalis — not to mention the food — scream authentic. Order one of the “Dhaba specials” (Chole Bhature, a chickpea curry with fried bread, is a favorite) for a true Indian-style meal.
Just around the corner, re-create the experience of Mumbai’s vibrant spice stalls at Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods (1261 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, 617-492-7021). Pick up garam masala, a curry blend, and a selection of chili powders for your next home-cooked Indian meal. Then pop into the other side of the shop, Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream (617-492-7021, christinasicecream.com), and order the khulfi, ice cream flavored with pistachios and cardamom.
Mumbai, of course, is home to a celebrated film industry, and Fresh Pond Cinemas (168 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, 617-661-6994, imoviecafe.com) shows the latest Bollywood movies. To share the excitement with a packed house, catch a new release on a Friday and enjoy the lip-synching and dance sequences with your fellow fans.
Get a sense of India’s rich modern history with an exhibition of paintings showing at the Peabody Essex Museum (161 Essex Street, Salem, 978-745-9500, pem.org). “Midnight to the Boom: Painting in India After Independence,” which showcases works created between 1947 and 2010, runs until April 21.
Although vegetarian Dosa-n-Curry (447 Somerville Avenue, Somerville, 617-764-3152, dosa-n-curry.com; formerly Dosa Temple) near Union Square specializes in South Indian food, it serves Pav Bhajji, a bread and potato dish that can be found on almost any street cart in Mumbai.
Starbucks may have entered the Indian market, but old-fashioned chai is still a staple there. The Taj Boston (15 Arlington Street, Boston, 617-536-5700, tajhotels.com/boston), part of the luxury hotel chain based in Mumbai, offers afternoon tea on the weekends as well as a wide range of cocktails and, of course, chai.
Shawls, scarves, and tunics are always in style, and many of the prettiest come from India. You’ll find quite a selection at Brocades (1620 Beacon Street, Brookline, 617-959-1797, brocadesboutique.com), located between Coolidge Corner and Cleveland Circle. For more cutting-edge fashion from India, visit Vira (107 Charles Street, Boston, 617-367-0305, shopvira.com) on Beacon Hill.
Give traditional Indian food a break — Indo-Chinese fusion cuisine is all the rage in Mumbai. Chinese Mirch (140 Worcester Road, Framingham, 508-875-0607, chinesemirch.com) makes the best Gobi Manchurian — a dish of deep-fried cauliflower stir-fried with garlic and ginger — around.
One Sunday a month (tonight’s the night), join karaoke fans at the restaurant Masala Art (990 Great Plain Avenue, Needham, 781-449-4050, masala-art.com) for an evening dedicated to popular Bollywood and American tunes. The $30 charge includes appetizers, the dinner buffet, dessert, tax, and tip. Check with the restaurant for other dates.
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