1925 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Wed. – Thur. 5 – 8:30 pm
Fri. – Sat. 5:30 – 9 pm
Sun. – Mon. 5 – 8:30 pm
The Indian food lover will be happy to know that Maruti Indian Restaurant has filled the space where The Bombay Cricket Club was on lower Hawthorne Blvd. Falguni Khanna and Rudra Parmar recently moved to Portland to serve local diners their authentic, home-cooked, healthy, vegetarian Indian food.
Falguni was born in India in the State of Gujarat north of Mombai. She moved to New Jersey when she was fifteen. Rudra was born in London and his family came from Punjab also north of Mumbai. The couple met at a retreat where their mutual guru was speaking in South America.
They settled in the Bay area and decided to pursue Falguni’s life long passion – food preparation and serving people. “I worked as a flight attendant and front of the house in restaurants and found that I enjoyed the people,” she said. “What I really loved was cooking for others.”
They hired a chef who spent six weeks with them teaching them how to expand Falguni’s recipes. Then they put the recipes and their enthusiasm to the test and opened a cart in the Bay area, which was very successful. Eventually they took the business out of the city and moved to the little town of Mt. Shasta. Here they did a thriving business, receiving five star ratings on Yelp.
It wasn’t until they became pregnant with their daughter that they began to look elsewhere to open a brick and mortar restaurant. “Mt. Shasta’s work was very seasonal and we wanted to be more settled when she was born,” Falguni said. So, thanks to the naiveté and exuberance of youth, they opened Maruti and had a baby. Fortunately family is close to help with the full time jobs of being parents and running a business.
The food Falguni and Rudra prepare is all vegetarian with vegan options. “In India, food habits vary according to regional traditions, being from Gujaret, our tradition is vegetarian,” Falguni said. Many Hindu vegetarians consume milk and dairy products, which are used in some of their recipes.
Indian cuisine turns vegetables, legumes, nuts and rice into feasts of delight by the delicate use of spices. “Our menu isn’t big because we prepare each sauce separately and daily using fresh, locally-sourced organic vegetables,” Rudra said. In traditional meat style recipes like tika masala – roasted chunks of chicken tikka in a creamy, spicy sauce – they will substitute mushrooms or potatoes for the meat to make it a vegan option too.
One of the more popular traditional dishes is the vegetable Biryani – a rice based dish similar to paella cooked with garbanzo beans, tomato gravy sauce and fresh veggies, (onions, peas and green beans ) and garnished with cilantro, caramelized onions and almonds (GF, Vegan option available).
Another twist to the Palak Paneer–cubes of Indian cheese cooked in a ginger-garlic based sauce–adds fresh spinach. The yogurt is made from scratch and there is a kids menu that includes fries, Indian cheese and basmati rice, favorites of the young.
Being a modern Indian restaurant, they have a bar serving mixed drinks. Smitten with Rain–Spruce Gin, rose liqueur, coconut syrup, lemon, cardamom bitters and bubbly sounds delicious and the list goes on. A nice selection of red and white wines, draft beer and of course, a large selection of non-alcoholic beverages.
If you know anything about India culture the name “Maruti” is what Ma Anjani called her son when he was young. This son grew up to be none other than Hanuman (Son of the Wind God).
As the story goes, the young Maruti was always hungry and loved eating. “When our Guru suggested we name our restaurant Maruti, it made perfect sense – delicious food for the fun, food-loving Hanuman in all of us,” they said.