January 5th, 2024

A Taste of India Comes to McMinnville

A spread of food including tandoori chicken, naan bread, rice, and an array of sauces.
A tasty spread. Photo by Kate Knapp.

On almost any given night on Third Street, hungry patrons can be found waiting outside of the recently-opened Taste of India on Third Street. McMinnville finally has an Indian restaurant and our town is here for it. If you have yet to go, here is a little introduction to the restaurant, cuisine, and people that make it worth a visit.

Taste of India has transformed the beloved Community Plate space into a more sleek and modern eatery, featuring neon-lit booths and a mural of India. Birpal Johan owns the restaurant and runs it with the help of his family. In fact, 12 family members work here; some even moving to McMinnville to do so. They work seamlessly together and it is likely you will have several of them waiting on you during a meal. 

Spicy is a word often associated with Indian cuisine, and some people might not try it because they believe it will be too hot. The level of heat is actually completely up to you and your taste buds. Just ask your friendly server for mild, medium, spicy, or extra spicy when ordering. 

Indian food—with its rich, complex sauces and grilled, marinated meats—is far more than spice, it is layered with flavor, thoughtfully prepared, and really quite comforting. You can also find a variety of gluten-free (GF), vegetarian, and vegan options throughout the menu. 

To get a better sense of what to order on the menu, I asked the manager, Jaskaran Singh, to share what items he recommends trying. Chef Subhankar Mondal provided further insight into how these dishes are made. Since all items are served family style, you and a group of friends can try these and other dishes to see which ones you like best.

Veg Samosas: Filled with a mixture of potatoes, green peas, and a variety of Indian spices, these fried, triangular-shaped dumplings can be a bit spicy but are served with mint and tamarind chutneys to help balance the heat.  

Tandoori Chicken: All of the tandoori dishes are worth trying, especially the newly added lamb tandoori, but the chicken is a fan favorite and for good reason. Drumsticks are marinated overnight in yogurt and spices (garam masala, cumin, mustard oil, black salt, chaat masala) before being chargrilled in a tandoor (the cylindrical clay oven). The meat practically falls off the bone and is served with coleslaw and a mint chutney for dipping. 

Korma (GF): Made with a choice of chicken, lamb, shrimp, or vegetables, this popular dish features a creamy sauce made by blending cashew nuts, cream, and onion base gravy (typically made with onions, garlic, ginger, spices). The protein is cooked in the sauce and served over rice. 

Malai Kofta (GF): Flavorful fried potato and paneer (Indian cheese) dumplings are simmered in a slightly sweet and nutty sauce that is made with cashews and Indian spices like cardamom. Served with rice.  

Garlic Naan: This flatbread, made with all-purpose flour, is topped in butter, garlic, and cilantro. Naan is non-negotiable in my book as it is the perfect vessel to sop up any remaining sauce. 

Mango Lassi: Made with mango and yogurt, this drink is well-loved by all ages and is similar to a smoothie in consistency. It also provides a cool counterpart to some of the spicier dishes. 

Tamarind Whiskey Sour: This is one of the more popular Indian-style cocktails, and is made with bourbon whiskey, lime juice, homemade tamarind sauce, and simple syrup. The bar also serves Indian wine and beer.   

Kate H. Knapp (she/her) works as a writer, recipe tester, and editor in McMinnville. She loves nothing more than sharing the beauty of food with her little one and has been cooking since she herself was stove-high and whisk-strong.