Immediately adjacent to the Porter Square commuter rail stop lies Passage to India (P2I), an unassuming restaurant of modest proportions. So unassuming, in fact, that P2I elected to leave its slogan unfinished: “It’s not about eating, it’s about…” allowing its patrons to ponder the true purpose of this establishment. The interior was marked by four large holes in the ceiling tiles, which we can only assume P2I used for more nefarious activities in the after hours, when the slogan rings more true. Perhaps in hopes of simulating the warmer climes of India for the abundant Caucasian clientele, the restaurant featured several tables with industrial-grade space heaters.
P2I’s menu showcased their unique view on both Indian gastronomy and colorful wording. For example, the menu professed that, “Some spices are used primarily to please the eyes to give the ‘sight,’ (‽) ‘color,’ and ‘texture’ to the food…”; the menu also featured chicken saag served with “touch cream.” While the menu often left us wondering what exactly we were ordering, the food turn out to be very good. The mango lassi ($4) contained ice, preventing us from obtaining a good measure of viscosity, but was otherwise very tasty, as was the sweet lassi ($3). The vegetarian eigendish, aloo gobhi ($15), exhibited excellent cookitude despite inordinately large pieces of cauliflower. Our enthusiasm was tempered, however, by the rather bland taste of this dish. The chicken curry ($12) was excellent, with hints of chutney in the sauce and very tender chicken. The kashmiri goat curry ($15) was accompanied by an excellent sauce, as was the machli masala ($14). And we were most impressed by the bhindi Masala ($14), which sported an beautifully balanced flavor palate and tender okra with negligible slimeitude. [A note of caution: the bhindi was found to be sufficiently potent as to permanently stain plastic!] The meal was rounded out with pleasantly sweet kashmiri naan ($4) and crispy poori ($3).
By the end of the meal, P2I had certainly transported us to a state of satisfied crapulence. While the restaurant made a few missteps here and there, this is clearly a solid four-samosa (▲▲▲▲) establishment with a two-rupee (₨ ₨) price tag, yielding a respectable samosa-to-rupee ratio of 2. Despite P2I’s proclamations to the contrary, we believe it is about eating, and that a meal here is indeed a Passage to an India worth visiting.