Petite Mumbai de Paris – Indian food and culture

Little India, Paris FranceI’ve been looking for good Indian restaurants since arriving in Paris. I’ve found some decent ones, but none has triggered a desire to return. I’ve been looking for the spirit and joviality I’ve experienced in Bangalore as well as the Indian neighborhoods of San Diego and the Bay Area.

I had heard about some good restaurants north of Gare du Nord but never found this mysterious Hindu Eden. While flying from San Francisco to Paris on Air France I came across an article that described this small neighborhood of saris, sweets, and restaurants. I took the magazine home with me and read the article several times. Finally I had a weekend to do some Paris exploring and jumped on the metro a couple weeks ago to La Chapelle (metro 6).

Rue Cail

Rue Cail seems to be the heart of the community. You’ll find a great assortment of vegetarian restaurants, sweet shops, grocery stores, jewelry shops, and places to find Saris, shirts, and more. My first visit was also punctuated by an impromptu protest rally for an event in India.

Krishna BhavanThere are two restaurants that get the most attention. Krishna Bhavan and Dishny. Both straddle the street with dual identities, formal and casual restaurants. Krishna Bhavan is 100% vegetarian and this makes me very happy. I love being able to order anything off the menu.

Krishna Bhavan

I visited the casual version of Krishna Bhavan. It reminded me of the neighborhood taco shops of San Diego or similar simple restaurants of any city and culture. They serve dosas, rice dishes, samosas, as well as a hearty fixed price menu.

I ordered the basic menu at 13 euros. This includes a drink, entree, dinner, and dessert. For the drink you get your choice of a lassi (mango, salt, sweet, or banana). Entrees include vegetable, tomato, or broccoli soup, potato, onion, eggplant, or banana dumpling, or a green salad. The dinner is either vegetable curry with your choice of rice (coconut, lemon, or yogurt), Biryani, Capatti, Barotha, or Poori. Finally for dessert you have the house cake, gulab jamoun (soft ball in a honey liquid), or laddu (a sweet ball with cardamom). It’s a big meal for a small price.
Krishna Bhavan in Paris
The vegetable soup (dal) is very nice. It’s a light flavored lentil soup. The vegetable curry w/rice was more like rice with curried vegetables. The rice is the star of the plate with the eggplant and potatoes as supporting actors. As with other authentic dishes, you need to be a bit careful eating the rice. It had some hard seeds that could cause pain if bit into them unexpectedly. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying it. The rice is very light; almost floating on the fork. Mine was mixed with coconut, onions, and spices. Finally, when you think you couldn’t eat another bite it is time for dessert.


Krishna Bhavan in ParisOne of my fondest memories of visiting Bangalore was this small opening into the kitchen of the Yahoo! offices. From this little passage came cups of the strongest, sweetest chai tea you can imagine. Forget what you now of chai from Starbucks. Chai should fill you body with warmth.

Need I bother mentioning my excitement when I looked into the small hole of the kitchen and saw the cooks making what looked like chai. It’s awesome! This is worth the visit alone.
Little India, Paris France


This is an area to enjoy during the day. There are several grocery stores to purchase indian spices, teas, and ingredients. I also found my beloved instant meals that you can find at any Indian grocery store. These packets are filled with good, spicy curries that you simply heat and eat.

You’ll also find a variety of Hindu god and goddess sculptures, henna tattoos, jewelry, music, videos, saris, and other clothing. I found one shop that specialized in arts and crafts from around the world. The back of the store has a huge selection of jackets, pants, and shirts from Tibet and South Asia. The styles are fairly western but with the strong colors and unique lines of the region.

Indian Sweets

Little India, Paris FranceIndian sweets are hard to describe to someone that hasn’t experienced them before. They are brightly colored, geometric, soft, sweet, and full of spices. They are very different from the sweets you’d find elsewhere in Paris. They are typically softer and less sweet than you’d expect. Frankly most Americans that I know are not big fans of the Indian sweets. That said, they are better than any I’ve tried in California.

A little bit of nostalgia, comfort, and spice in Paris

I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this corner of Paris. Rue Cail brings back my fondest memories of eating with colleagues in Bangalore, shopping for spices with Jim, teaching my mother about curry and naan, and the joy of food cooked without a fear of spice. If you like Indian food you’ll love the rue Cail area. If you love Indian food and culture you will have found one of the finest places to visit in Paris.

Krishna Bhavan
24 Rue Cail (10°)
01 42 05 78 43
Metro: La Chapelle
Indian Restaurant
Wheelchair Access: bathrooms are in basement. Entrance is accessible.
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Location: 4/5
  • Taste: 5/5
  • Service: 5/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 5/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 5/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 3/5

Dishny Restaurant
25 Rue Cail (10°)
Metro: La Chapelle
Indian Restaurant

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Places I still want to visit in Paris

I will be leaving Paris in August, 09. My employer is shutting down their engineering in the Paris office and I’ll be heading back to California. I’m trying to make the most of the remaining weeks, mostly by leaving the city and visiting other countries in Europe.
Little India, Paris France
I’ve been saving magazines and web sites for places I’d like to visit before I leave. i’ve been meaning to make a list that I can update as needed. This seems like as good a place as any to start it.

  • Jacques new restaurant: La Bélière. I’ve already written about my favorite chef. He’s got a new restaurant and Jazz bar. I’m planning on going this week to see his latest creations. review coming soon
  • Rungis market, the largest market in Europe. It’s a massive distribution center for all kinds of produce, cheese, meat, and fish from around the world. This is where restaurants, market sellers, and stores go to get their supplies. It’s open to the public, but fruits and vegetables are only sold on week days.I will be visiting Rungis soon with the owner of Paris Sweet Bar cafe as a guide.
  • Dans Le Noir: the restaurant where you eat in total darkness.
  • L’Atlantide: supposedly the best couscous in Paris. I’ve been told they have good vegetarian options.
  • I’ve been holding on to an old Air France magazine filled with addresses for Indian restaurants and shops in Paris. Dishny and Krishna Bhavan on rue Cail both sound inviting. New Review: Petite Mumbai de Paris
  • I also have an old Gourmet Magazine (September 2008) with some great ideas: 11/12th arrindissements, 19th/20th arrindissements, 10th arrindissement by Alexander Lobrano

Old Jawad, an elegant Indian/Pakistan restaurant

I came across Old Jawad the other night while trying to find a recommended Indian restaurant (Rani Mahal – look for a review very soon). I was seriously tempted to skip the original restaurant and try Old Jawad instead. It’s a very elegant restaurant tucked into a corner near the Opera.
Old Jawad - Indian and Pakistani restaurant
The menu included the basic Indian dishes, with a mixture of meat and vegetarian options. The interior is beautiful and the menu promises a fusion of traditional and modern touches. The prices were also very reasonable. You should be able to have a good meal, minus wine, for under 20 euros a person.

I found a few reviews; the following one in French summarizes the attention to luxury and food.

Très bonne impression

Idéalement situé face au théatre des Bouffes Parisiens, le Old Jawad est un indo pakistanais de qualité. La décoration, chic juste ce qu’il faut et moderne, donne une ambiance chaleureuse et cosy. On jouit largement de l’espace avec des tables bien disposées où on ne profite pas de la conversation des convives voisins. Le service est très efficace et sympathique et en plus l’apéritif et le digestif sont offerts. Une bonne adresse avec un rapport qualité/prix excellent.

Old Jawad
1, Rue Monsigny (2°)
Metro: Quatre Septembre, Pyramides
01 42 96 16 61
Indian/Pakistani Restaurant

Sadika Indian restaurant

Sometimes, the best way to find a good ethnic restaurant is to ask an immigrant. I say sometimes because I have no idea where to find good American food in this city. I have no interest in eating American food while in France. But I digress.

I was shopping at one of the local discount stores the other day. I asked the Indian store owner if he had a suggestion for good Indian food in the area. He quickly suggested Sadika, just around the corner. I knew the place, it is across the street from Antalya, my favorite Turkish restaurant.

Sadika Indian Restaurant

Sadika is a traditional Indian restaurant. It features the standards: Palak Paneer, Dal Makhani, Samousa, Naan, Korma, etc. Typical of Indian restaurants in Paris, the meat dishes far outnumber the vegetarian dishes. I keep searching for a true vegetarian Indian restaurant with spicy food.
Samosas in Paris
Sadika’s fixed price menus are generous and reasonably priced. I had the basic dinner menu at 13.50 euros. It also started with a Roti and trio of chutneys. The meal also included two Vegetable Samousas, Naan with Cheese, Aloo Palak (spinach and potatoes), Saffron Rice, and my favorite Indian dessert: Gajor Halwa (carrot pudding).

Sadika is in the 12th arrindissement near metro: Dugommier (6) and Daumesnil (6,8). It’s a small restaurant and isn’t very crowded. You’ll get good service, friendly waiters, and good Indian food at a good price. I’m still looking for an Indian restaurant in Paris that knocks my Achile socks off. Sadika is the best that I’ve found so far.

Sadika Spécialités Indiennes
251, Rue de Charenton (12°)
01 43 42 47 15
Metro: Dugommier, Daumesnil
Indian Restaurant
  • Overall: 4/5
  • Location: 3/5
  • Value: 4/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 4/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 4/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 4/5

Bollywood Lounge – Hip Indian Food

Bollywood Lounge in ParisThe Bollywood Lounge sits in the popular, tourist-friendly left bank near Notre Dame. It’s colorful interior will draw your attention. It plays on the seduction of Bollywood and promises a sophisticated, hip interpretation of Indian food.

I have not eaten here yet. However, their menu (.pdf) is available online. Unfortunately, it only gives vegetarian food lip service and instead focuses on Chicken, Lamb, and Seafood. It’s probably due to the high rent neighborhood and the higher fees these dishes can capture.

Bollywood Lounge does offer a vegetarian Thali, but it only consists of dal, raita, rice, samosa, and eggplant caviar for 14 euros. You can also order off the vegetarian side dishes menu. While this restaurant looks promising, I’m going to continue my search for good Indian food in Paris elsewhere.

Bollywood Lounge
57, rue Galande (5°)
01 43 26 25 26
Metro: Maubert Mutuality, Cluny la Sarbonne, St-Michel Notre Dame
Indian Restaurant
  • Overall: 3.5/5
  • Location: 5/5
  • Value: 3/5
  • Vegetarian Friendly: 3/5
  • Vegan Friendly: 3/5
  • M.E.F. Friendly: 4/5