For all that NYC offers, I am still stumped come lunchtime when I crave a healthy meal that also satisfies my full-flavor-craving taste buds. Lunch usually falls into two categories in this city, on-the-go-and not so swoony on one hand, or decadent and sit-down on the other, which often takes more time than work allows. Unlike this typical NYC lunch duality, I can distinctly recall visiting Venice and experiencing my first Californian bowl. Like many die-hard fans of SoCal cuisine, I was simply blown away by the concept. You choose a grain and a protein and pack it with vibrant seasonal vegetables, plus a sauce that ties the entire dish together. I remember wondering – why-oh-why has NYC not jumped on this craze?!? And that was well over six years ago.
Fast-forward to two months back when I was invited to Inday for lunch. Indian food has always been a cuisine that I absolutely love – so bold and distinct in its flavors, and spices hitting all the right notes on my palate. But Indian cuisine can also be wintery and heavy at times. Upon researching the newly-opened restaurant I was struck by their overarching concept: Indian food, but much lighter and brighter than what’s typically offered, with vitality as its core value. It’s food made to nourish and fuel you for your day and not drag you down. I was intrigued and set out to Inday on a lunch date with the hubby.
Enter the health-driven Indian bowl. Upon entering the vibrant, tropical Inday space, a much-appreciated escape from the NYC hustle, Victor and I were lead up to the counter to create our meals. First we chose a base, either hot or cold. I opted for the “not rice” which consisted of shredded cauliflower, edamame and carrot, made to look like rice. I topped that with chickpea curry, kale, beets and grilled chicken and finished it with coconut, pickled raisins, pumpkin seeds and two sauces, a cooling cucumber yogurt and a killer hot sauce. I sat down at a table with the owner and creator of Inday, Basu Ratnam, who is both gentle and passionate about his endeavor. As we got to chatting about our individual stories, I took my first bite and quite literally squealed with joy. I was simply blown away – swooned, to say the least. Each bite was bursting with flavor but was also light and vibrant – sweet and spicy, warming and comforting and most of all, wholesome.
To say I was intrigued by Basu and his mission in creating Inday would be an understatement. As we delved into his influences, our conversation turned to Basu’s mom and the food he ate growing up. His mother is from Calcutta and not only did she specialize in her regional cuisine, she also welcomed creativity into her family meals. Inspired by the health-driven Californian fare focusing primarily around fresh ingredients, she incorporated an unexpected use of vegetables into her family’s nutritionally-balanced meals. Clearly this had a lasting effect on Basu and ultimately caused him to ponder, like I and many other New Yorkers – why can I not find a healthy and delicious lunch? Inspired by his mama, and with a commitment to carry forward his own experience of Indian cuisine, Basu shifted gears from finance to restaurant creator and is helping to fill that culinary void with Inday. The restaurant’s motto is “Good Karma, Served Daily” – the things you do today will come back to you in the future. It supports the belief that your body is your temple, so treat it and fuel it respectively.
I was inspired talking to Basu. Grounded and assertive at once, he delivers his story with grace. It is clear he has an open mind and an open heart. We got to discussing each of our journeys. Being led by a passion and moving into the unknown. Taking risks. And most of all, finding a community of like-minded people to help push us along on our path – people who raise us up and inspire us. Though we have very different missions, we are united in a passion for food, and we were speaking the same language as we shared a truly invigorating lunch. Culture, community, health, flavor, ingredients, setting – these are all important components to a meal that leaves you feeling energized, and this is precisely what Basu intended and executed with Inday.
I leave you with this from Basu, “Eating clean, healthful food can be exotic and interesting. Indian spices are key at Inday, not only because they build vibrancy in a dish, but also because of their immense health benefits. For us, a meal that is good for you and a meal that is full of bold flavors are one and the same.”
Good karma is indeed served daily at Inday. It’s nourishing, infused with positive energy and downright delicious! Well done, Basu. Namaste.