Ishan Singh and Harmanjot Singh had been looking for a spot to cook the Indian food they craved from back home for years. They missed the flavours of Punjab and of Ishan’s hometown, Amritsar. Indish, at the corner of St-Dominque and Beaubien East, is where the two former roommates (unrelated despite the shared last name) are now serving up a compact menu with a range of primarily North Indian food.
Amritsar is famous for being home to the most sacred site in the Sikh religion and the largest free community kitchen in the world, the Golden Temple. It’s also the destination for another type of pilgrim, flocking to the city for traditional butter chicken and chicken tikka, or paneer tikka for vegetarians. Even the water in Punjab is reputed to be so good that lentils taste more delicious there.
Indish’s snacks bring back memories of college canteen meals, and their Bollywood-soundtrack Tiktok account reflects this demographic: Indo-Chinese style veggie burgers and spring rolls made with noodles, chaat papri (crispy lentil wafers doused with yogurt and homemade tamarind and coriander chutneys), yogurt lassis — mango or masala, dahi balla (lentil dumplings in yogurt with chutneys) and the ultimate comfort food, aloo tikki, potato patties served with minty or sweet/sour tamarind sauce. They’ve installed a tandoor oven for naan breads and roasting proteins, primarily chicken and paneer, a homemade cottage cheese usually served in pressed cubes.
Indish also features two different kinds of golgappa — light, crunchy orbs filled with potatoes, chickpeas and onions. The dahi (yogurt) golgappa comes with Indish’s tamarind and coriander chutneys and crunchy sev to dust on top; panipuri golgappa is a variation of the street food snack, with the same carb filling plus tamarind and mint flavoured water to pour into the round puri.
Mains include a range of proteins, including dry dishes and gravy-based ones. Tandoor fish, chicken, and paneer are on offer, as well as plain, garlic, and coriander naan. Ishan is particularly proud of their dal makhni, a classic Punjabi slow-cooked lentil dish with urad dal and a tarka, or final touch, of onions, tomato, garlic, cumin, and coriander — plus a drizzle of cream.
Now that the construction has died down on Beaubien, east of St-Laurent, the past months have seen a flurry of culinary activity in the blocks heading east. With Indish joining newcomers Pizza Bouquet, Bar Mamie and Soda Épicerie, old-timers like Lou and Le Vieux Velo, plus an already robust third-wave and old-school coffee scene, the strip has become a worthy rival of St-Zotique to the north.
Indish is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 12 to 11 p.m. at 51 Beaubien East.