Composed chickpea bowl at Inday. Photo: Susan Marque
The proof is in the bowl at Inday, an Indian-inspired restaurant on West 26th Street
by susan marque
Viraj Borkar greeted me the first time I ever tried the food at his restaurant Inday, a clean-eating spot on 26th street, just around the corner from Broadway. Inday offers a modern take on fast food, and Borkar assured me that the ingredients were as free from additives or things I avoid (like cane sugar) as I was going to find anywhere. The proof was in the bowl.
Inday offers balanced food combinations that are designed to be suitable for everybody. Borkar and Basu Ratman are hands-on owners in their restaurant and the name itself encompasses their vision of creating Indian-inspired food similar to the meals that Ratman’s own mother might have made him when he was growing up in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Bowls with lots of interesting flavors that make up a complete meal are served up in assembly-line fashion. Borkar and Ratan plan to open a second restaurant by December in Midtown (between 44th and 45th Streets on Third Avenue) that will offer table service, instead of having customers line up as they do at the inaugural location.
I had a learning curve with Inday’s menu since it isn’t like any other Indian food I’ve eaten before. It is actually a combination of Indian, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, and Southeast Asian ideas. On a recent visit, Borkar explained that in designing their ingredient pairings, they use the principles of Ayurveda, a mind-body system to support good health that originated in India. They have thought about flexible dietary combinations that could be suitable for everybody to enjoy their food. Inday doesn’t want you to have to think about much except what sounds good to you, so they put in the time to figure out what works all around to possibly facilitate optimal health, or at least a satisfying experience. They include six tastes: bitter, sweet, salt, sour, pungent, and astringent, by including a little pickle or a sauce, along with the array of vegetables and proteins. In the seasonal bowls, they think about what items are more warming and comforting as the weather turns cool, and what spices or vegetables will help one clear the heat during summer. You might not even notice the thought that goes into each bite of your bowl, but Ratman and Borkar aim to have you feeling great both during and after you dine. Ratman came up with the name Inday from thinking about the kind of Indian food he wanted to eat every day.
Ratman and Borkar met through one of their investors, Phil Suarez. Borkar worked with Suarez at Jean-Georges for a time and he made a good impression on the restaurateur. Ratman was in finance, though he had a dream of opening a restaurant. He told Suarez his ideas for Inday and the more experienced man agreed that it could be terrific. He started helping Ratman put it together. Suarez contacted Borkar, who was living in Washington D.C. at the time and asked if he wanted to move back to New York and start a new restaurant with Ratman. Bowls were the theme right from the start. “A balanced bowl is the food for the millennium,” said Borkar. “Millennials are always on the run and what’s better than having a beautifully designed bowl in your hand?”
The colorful portions are arranged neatly, keeping each item separated, with added toppings sprinkled on for crunch, and sauce swirled around the rim. There is an additional hot sauce on the tables for people who crave fire with a bit of lemon in it. They offer meat, fish, tofu and beans to accommodate all types of diets. You could easily skip those and fill up on grains and vegetables with a generous sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.
There is no bread in the restaurant. Inday said they want to avoid gluten and have not found a delicious gluten-free bread they wish to include just yet. I hope that will be added at some point. For now, having a quick and flavorful place to pick up a meal that is sourced with mostly local and organic ingredients makes Inday a spot to return to again and again.