Born and raised in India, brothers and restaurateurs Raj and Roger Nagra know what it takes to cook delicious, authentic Indian food. Their father owned and operated Indian restaurants for many years, allowing the brothers to gain experience in the kitchen, cooking some of their favorite meals and learning the ropes of the restaurant industry. About five years ago, it was time for the brothers to break out on their own. Their first venture together is Little India Express, featuring authentic dishes made from fresh, healthy ingredients that are all naturally gluten-free.
Located inside Freighthouse Square at 430 E. 25th St., Little India Express’ menu also features a variety of vegetarian and vegan options. One of the most popular items on the menu is the Tikka Masala, featuring a cream-based curry cooked with ginger and garlic in tomato sauce, along with a choice of chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, fish or vegetables. “This dish is everyone’s favorite,” he says. Each entrée is served with rice and salad, and ranges from $7.95 to $10.95 depending on the choice of meat, veggies or fish.
While many full-service Indian restaurants tend to offer buffet services, Little India Express allows each customer to customize their dish, using a five-star scale in terms of spice. Many may expect Indian food to be very spicy, but this could not be further from the truth, according to Nagra. “We cook to each customers’ tastes,” he said. “We’re trying to always educate people that Indian food is not always spicy.”
However, the spices and ingredients often used in Indian food, such as garlic, saffron, turmeric, cloves, and cayenne pepper, have important, proven health benefits.
“These are very simple dishes that use ingredients you can easily find in a grocery store,” Nagra adds. “If you haven’t had Indian food before, come by and give it a try. We make every effort to make sure our customers are happy. Eventually, many get hooked.”
Other specialties offered at Little India Express include Royal Biryani (basmati rice cooked with curry, raisins, almonds and saffron, with choice of chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, fish or vegetables), Pineapple Coconut Curry (whole sliced and chunked pineapple with shredded coconut, ginger garlic, herbs and spices with choice of meat or vegetables), Baigan Bhartha (eggplant baked over an open flame, mashed and seasoned with herbs, sautéed onion, green peas and tomatoes, $7.95), and Vege Korma (mixed vegetables cooked with ginger, garlic and creamy tomato sauce, $7.95).
Keep an eye out for an upcoming food truck by the owners of Little India Express, slated to operate along 6th Avenue soon.
Little India Express is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays 12-5 p.m.