“Naughty naan” and street food.
These are two things that make Fresno’s newest restaurant, Bollywood Indian Street Food, a little different than your typical Indian place. The quick-service restaurant opened a few weeks ago at Cedar and Herndon avenues, near John’s Incredible Pizza.
Naan is the puffy flatbread served in Indian cuisine, and naughty naan is simply the bread topped with paneer, chicken or lamb like a pizza.
“We try to bring something different to Fresno,” said Patty Cervantes, who owns the restaurant with husband Goldie Bedi and his brother, Sonu Singh Mehra.
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Bollywood is a bit of a fast food restaurant where customers order at the counter and workers call out a number when the food is ready. Most of the food costs between $7 and $12.
It’s easy to see how the restaurant gets its name when you walk in the door. Bollywood – a sort of Indian version of Hollywood – is painted all over the walls in the form of movie stars and Bollywood music videos play on a TV.
The chefs and brothers were born in India and went to culinary school there, later working as chefs in England, Bermuda and New York City. They decided to bring some of the food sold from carts on the streets of India to Fresno.
The “gol gappe” is one example of a snack food. It’s a puff pastry with a hole pushed into it and stuffed with potatoes and flavored with all kinds of herbs and spices.
“When you put it in there, it changes the whole taste of the pastry,” Cervantes said.
Many of the names on the menu are familiar if you like Indian food. Options like butter chicken, lamb curry and saag paneer (spinach and Indian cheese) can be incorporated into dishes like “thali,” essentially a plate with a choice of protein served with several sides and naan. Several of the entree options are vegan.
And speaking of naan, have you ever seen how it’s made? At Bollywood, the bread is cooked in a tandoori, an oven with a rounded clay interior and a metal lid.
Little circles of dough are flattened by hand and then pushed onto the inside of the oven wall with a thwack. It cooks there, defying gravity and bubbling until it’s pulled out with a metal tool.
The oven is gas-powered, with charcoal at the bottom, and gets up to 550 degrees. It allows the cooks to skip using oil or other fats. The chicken tikka, for example, is cooked on a large metal a skewer in the oven before it’s removed from the skewer and placed on a plate.
So what about those Indian tacos? (And we’re not talking about the other Indian tacos, the native American kind made with fry bread, but tacos inspired by India the country.)
These are not authentic. See, Bedi is Indian. His wife, Cervantes, was born in Mexico.
“She said, ‘Hey, why don’t we make Indian tacos?’ and here we are making Indian tacos,” Bedi said.
The tacos turned out to be a huge seller.
They’re made using folded naan instead of a tortilla and filled with your choice of Indian entrees, like butter chicken or veggie korma (vegetables with ginger and garlic). They’re topped with red onion, cilantro and a red sauce inspired by Cervantes’ Mexican background.
“It has that little Latin touch,” she said.
Another top seller that many customers pair with the tacos is mango lassi, a bright orange drink made from mangoes and yogurt.
Bollywood, at 7059 N. Cedar Ave., is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and closed Sundays. Details: 559-493-5975.