The Boston Phoenix
July 1 - 8, 1999

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The (no) sub continent

by Chris Wright

Central Square has long been a mecca for Indian restaurants. What you might not realize is that the area even has its own Indian fast-food joint, located in the rear of Shalimar, a mini Indian-goods emporium. Pass the stacks of rice, the racks of pickles, the videos, the spices, the saris, and the jewelry, and you'll find a no-frills "food court": a counter, a cooler, and a microwave.

Shalimar At a buck apiece, the veggie samosas -- a moist, tasty mash of potato and spice wrapped in crisp pastry -- are perfect for a cheap and cheerful fix. A buck fifty will get you more of the same, but with a dollop of ground beef. Yum. The food can't always stand up to the sit-down Indian around town; our pakoras ($1) were dry and clumpy, and the saag paneer ($4.50) -- creamy sauce, spinach, and cubes of soft cheese -- was a tad bland and skimped on the cheese. The chicken in the chicken curry ($4.75) was plentiful and lean, though the tomato-based sauce had a bit of a Ragu ring to it. For dessert we had coconut cutlet (75 cents), a slice of syrupy delight, and coconut chum chum (75 cents), possibly the tastiest wad of sawdust I've ever had.

But one shouldn't gripe. This is, after all, fast food, and it's an improvement on your average burger -- or at least a change. Forgo the strawberry shake for one day; try a mango lassi instead ($1.75).

Shalimar, located at 571 Mass Ave, in Cambridge, is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (617) 868-8311.

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