“Good karma served daily” is the motto at Manhattan’s first healthy, fast-casual Indian restaurant concept.
Inday opened about a month ago in the Flatiron District, and it’s generated a nice amount of buzz thanks to delicious, good-for-you food, smart design, and some serious food-world pedigree behind it. It’s like a prettier, more sophisticated, Indian-food version of Sweetgreen or Dig Inn.
“I grew up in New York, and I ate a very different way than I think Indian food is presented here,” says founder Basu Ratnam, whose parents were born in India but, he says, were influenced by California cuisine. “We ate food that had Indian spices but it was just lighter and cleaner.”
That was the inspiration that Ratnam, who came from finance, used to create Inday, in partnership with Abhishek Honawar and hospitality icon Phil Suarez (you may have heard of some of his past projects, like Jean-Georges, ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina, Mercer Kitchen, and WD~50?).
“Not Rice,” rainbow veggies, and smoked tofu
Other pubs of course couldn’t resist comparing Inday to Chipotle because of its build-a-bowl format, but the process is simpler and the foods you’re choosing are much more composed than “brown rice” or “black beans.” (You also don’t feel nearly as full after eating.)
Bases, for example, include the popular “Not Rice,” made with shredded cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and are served with cucumber and tomato, roasted cauliflower, mint, and cilantro. You then add a protein like grilled salmon with coastal Indian spices or smoked tofu made with a cool cilantro marinade. Everything is super flavorful and fresh.
In terms of health factor, Indian food starts with inflammation-fighting spices and tons of vegetables, and that’s even more apparent here. The whole kitchen is gluten-free and while ingredients aren’t all organic, Ratnam says the meats are “hormone and antibiotic-free.” (One of his investors is the founder of Hain Celestial, so he sources lots of ingredients, like Freebird Chicken, from brands owned by the natural foods giant.)
Overall, Ratnam says, “We’re not religious about health, we just want to feel good when we eat.”
The other thing that sets Inday apart from many other fast casual places is the ambiance.
The airy, rustic-meets-industrial design is way more stylish, and it’s set up with long communal tables, greenery, and hanging light fixtures that make you feel like lingering rather than grab-and-going.
And while at the end of the day it’s just yummy, healthy food in a bowl that may refresh your lunch routine, the staff members who put my food together were over-the-top nice and helpful, making me think that maybe a little good karma really did sneak into my red quinoa with orange lentils and spinach. —Lisa Elaine Held
Inday, 1133 Broadway, entrance on 26th St., Flatiron District, New York, NY, 10010, www.indaynyc.com