A TRIP TO BOMBAY
Owner prides Indian food on authentic offerings
Within a little over month of opening, Bombay Dreams Indian Cuisine is quickly becoming a hit with Shreveport-Bossier City residents.
While it may be slightly intimidating to try a new type of cuisine, at Bombay Dreams owner Rajiv Asthana welcomes customers just like a new friend.
Asthana, a San Francisco native, has years of experience in the hospitality industry working as a food and beverage manager on cruises and in hotels.
“I have been in the industry for so many years. It’s a very fragile business. You have to take care of your own customers,” Asthana said. “It’s both combination between food and public relations. It’s not only that, it is my passion. I love being social with people.”
Asthana said he first considered opening a restaurant when his friends from West Monroe encouraged him to visit Northwest Louisiana.
“When I first visited Shreveport-Bossier City, I loved it. I saw the Boardwalk and casinos and I love the people here. They are very friendly,” Asthana said.
“I figured out that there are only three Indian restaurants [in Shreveport-Bossier City] and my friends were telling me, ‘Raj, come on, it’s enough on the seas, open your own place.’ “I thought this would be the best and ideal place to open it because No. 1 I wanted to [open a place] where people are not so much familiar with Indian food and No. 2 I wanted it to be real authentic Indian Cuisine – no shortcuts. I wanted to let the people know what is real Indian cuisine.”
To open his first restaurant, Asthana hired two chefs he knew through mutual friends. Both chefs are specialized in Indian cuisine.
“A lot of restaurants train chefs, but I don’t want that,” Asthana said. “You can taste the different flavors with different food, that is the quality of a chef.”
Asthana is a different kind of owner, he not only manages the staff, he always works openly with his customers. On any given day he can be found greeting and welcoming back his now regular customers.
Bombay Dreams offers a buffet style lunch and a full menu for dinner. The lunch buffet changes daily with the exception of the tandoori chicken and chicken tikka masala. Both staples are favorites among customers, Asthana said.
The tandoori chicken is essentially an Indian twist on barbecue chicken. The taste has an aromatic favor of Indian spices. The chicken is cooked in a clay oven and tossed with onions and other vegetables. Chicken tikka masala is boneless, skinless meat cooked in a rich and creamy tomato sauce with a mild flavoring. Asthana said most of the items served for the lunch buffet have a mild level of spice, though for dinner, customers can choose their spice level.
Back on the buffet, don’t leave the vegetables off the plate. The vegetable korma is a treat for both veggie and nonveggie lovers. This dish is specially made with a combination of fresh vegetables cooked in cream with spices. The flavor is delicious and will make anyone want to eat their vegetables first.
Another veggie favorite is the mixed vegetable pakoras. This dish is served as an appetizer for dinner but made a special appearance on the lunch buffet. These vegetables, also known as fritters, are one of the best ways to get the nutritional value and enjoy a sweet flavor.
And about the chicken curry – this is intense and packed with an addictive flavor. The spices and herbs are warm and savory. After the chicken is devoured, let the fresh nan help clean the plate. The nan is warm and grilled bread but still soft and delicious.
One of the best things about the food, Asthana said, is that Indian cuisine is healthy.
“People in India have the least amount of heart attacks and cancer. The reason is that Indian food has a lot herbs and spices – like turmeric is one of the best things to heal a wound,” Asthana said.
Asthana hears many of his customers already suggesting a second location in Shreveport, but he wants to wait and only cater to his Bossier City location for now.
“To give authentic food, to let the people know of your culture and your food, that is the most important thing,” Asthana said.