Sunday, 13 March 2011

Around Paris: Discovering the Neighborhood of "Little India"

Every now and then, my daughter and I get a craving. This time, it was for some Indian food which could be found in the Indian and Sri Lankan neighborhood in Paris... 
easily accessed by Metro - line 2, exit La Chapelle. The other streets that spell out the boundaries of this section of Paris are rue Louis Blanc and rue Perdonnet.
It was a regular day and there was no traffic. We were window shopping at first as Sri Lankan and Indian businesses/stores were beckoning us to come in and take a look.
The Indian saris were simply beautiful silks, intricately detailed with silver or gold threads and beads. The jewelry was just as equally attractive. And yes, we did go in to see more!
When we got to the restaurant row, we looked around at the menus of different restaurants and settled to have our late lunch at this place, Krishna Bhavan on 24, rue Cail 75010, which is 100% vegetarian. The restaurant looked clean and inviting.
First to be ordered was lassi mangue (mango lassi)     3.40 Euros

Lassi is a favorite Indian drink. This lassi mango was probably made with yogurt, mango fruit, cardamon spice (optional), sweetener, and ice cubes. This is a cross between a milkshake and a smoothie. 

Lassi originated from the Punjab region which is in the border between Pakistan and India. It can be made sweet or salty. The sweetened lassi may be flavored with rose, mango, banana, saffron, khus (an essence from vetiver - a tropical grass). 

For our main courses, we ordered dosa. It is a South Indian food, similar to a very thin pancake, made out of rice and lentil flour, usually served with a variety of chutneys. 
Masala Dosa      5.50 Euros

The dosa had a Masala filling made up of potatoes, coriander, green chilies, some other Indian spices, cumin, curry and turmeric. There are a variety of recipe sites that may call for other ingredients.
Oignon Dosa     4.50 Euros

For this, the  dosa came looking like a thin, pizza-sized crust, made with the same ingredients of the pancake above. It was topped with caramelized onions, peppers, and grated raw carrots.
The chutneys: coconut chutney (idlis), mixed-vegetable chutney - this was like a spicy vegetable stew, tomato chutney.
Dessert: Payasam - tapioca pearls with creamy sauce
Next time, this is what I will order: Thali Krishna Bhavan     8 Euros
If you have a big appetite, a prefixed, three-course meal is offered at 13Euros.

Our experience here was enjoyable. The food was good and the price was better than right. We loved the food so much that we decided to buy a package of dosa mix at the Sri Lankan market so we could prepare it at home. The following day, my daughter got to work to prepare the dosa. After an hour and several attempts, she declared that it was just easier and so worth it to go back to Little India!

Krishna Bhavan
24 rue Cail 75010 Paris
Tel. 01 42 05 78 43

There is another excuse to come back to this area. 
A festival to honor the Hindu god of success, Ganesh, is held annually in Little India here in Paris. This year it will be on a Sunday, August 28, 2011.
It's a long procession with dancers, drummers and musicians, and costumed participants.
This was the front part of the float, pulling the main star of this procession...
in the red and white topped... 

canopy housing the statue of "Ganesha" - the elephant-headed god honored as the god of success. The design of the canopy was like a temple made of fabric with symbolic patterns, and decorated with garlands, whole banana plants, fresh flowers, fruits and coconuts. 

These ladies had camphor incense burning in the clay pots they carried on their heads.
Blessed gifts, sweets and soft drinks were being given out to the attendees during the procession.
Images of Ganesha were being displayed and sold.
The store façades were all festively decorated for the occasion.
What a treat it was to come to this area of Paris to experience something new.

It was such a discovery for me, by coming here, that I actually like Southern Indian cooking. It is less spicy and quite tasty. With or without an occasion, it is fun to take a trip here, from time to time.


  1. I'll keep this in mind. The last time we were craving for Indian food, we were in this area. We ate here and then headed to Canal St Martin. This specific canal is in paintings of famous artists the likes of Henry Matisse and Claude Monet.

  2. Good to see you again, Veronica. You are right! It's a pretty walk along Canal St. Martin.



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