Gandhi Mahal's Labor of Love
Jason and Joy revisit the Indian cuisine standout
Each month, in our Restaurants Revisited conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers return to an "old favorite" restaurant and assess how it's faring.
Joy: I hadn’t been inside Gandhi Mahal since it first opened in 2008 and I forgot that there is a lot more dining space than I had remembered. It’s beautiful and cozy, but what hits you first is that smell: Warm spices make a heady perfume.
Jason: Just about every new restaurant is bragging about its rooftop garden or urban farm, but Gandhi Mahal has been growing produce since its opening. Now there’s also an aquaponics system in the basement and honeybees on the roof.
Joy: This is clearly more than just a business, but a labor of love. The genuine care paid to us by everyone was just so lovely.
Jason: And it’s considered the best Indian food in town for good reason.
Joy: The samosa and onion fritters were fun little grazing bites as were the complimentary papadams with three sauces, including a spicy green one that I wanted to put on everything.
Photos by TJ TUrner
Jason: We loved the avocado chutney with garlic naan bread, which was really an Indian-spiced guacamole. Clever, fresh, perfect.
Joy: Our entrées were a wealth of warmth and flavor. My Persian dhansak was a creamy blend of lentils in a tomato-based curry. It was so good that I regretted not getting an extra order to have extra leftovers for the next day. Our tandoori chicken was vibrantly colored and arrived sizzling on a platter, fajita-style.
Jason: Sometimes tandoori is dry and bland, but not here. The mixed platter came with chicken and lamb tikka and my kids inhaled it. The palek paneer was smoky, the spinach creamy, just as it should be. Chicken makhani had the ideal balance of butter and garam masala spice. Classic Indian recipes were prepared with the energy and attention most chefs would give a brand new dish.
Joy: And the delightfully creamy, tart, refreshing mango lassi is a perfect complement to all those warm spices.
Jason: It’s also extremely affordable and very popular for takeout. But do yourself a favor and eat in—lose yourself in the kitchen’s delightful smells and the smiles of the staff who continue to make Gandhi Mahal great.
Gandhi Mahal Quick Tips:
Parking: Plentiful street parking
Good For Families: There’s even a small play area for younger kids
Hyperlocal Ingredients: They raise their own tilapia in the basement!
3009 27th Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-729-5222, gandhimahal.com
Online extra photos:
Since 2012, members of the community, along with Gandhi Mahal owner Ruhel Islam have tended the urban garden—ingredients used in the restaurant's dishes. Each year, they partner with organizations to teach about the connections between food, faith, and climate change.
Tilapia raised in the basement of the restaurant. The waste from the fish is used to fertilize the plants and vegetables.
The first underground aquaponics system in Minneapolis began at Gandhi Mahal.
From its underground and backyard ingredients, to its rooftop beehives, Gandhi Mahal is a leader in sustainability and local food efforts.