Subcontinental Drift

By MC Slim JB | Boston Magazine |

Grain and Salt strays deliciously from standard Indian fare.

For decades, most Indian restaurants in Boston were dumpy storefronts, their Punjabi/Mughlai menus limited to tandoori and biryani standbys. Recent entrants like Tamarind Bay and Mela, though, have showed diners there’s much more to Indian cuisine than chicken vindaloo. Now comes Grain and Salt, a modest Allston storefront with chic black table linens, abstract art, uniformed waiters, and a menu that illustrates the influence India’s Asian neighbors have had on its food.

With subtle, complex spicing, Grain and Salt offers typical Indian fare (pakora, madras, vindaloo), as well as what may be the tastiest paratha and naan in the city. You’ll also find less-seen Pakistani dishes made with halal meat, in keeping with Muslim dietary laws. But the best surprise is the Indian-Chinese menu, which demonstrates how Chinese cooks in India have adapted their cuisine to local tastes and ingredients. One bite of the chicken Szechwan will make you understand why Indian expats get so homesick for their homegrown fusion cuisine.

431 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-254-3373. $–$$

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