Meet Rohit Shinde, the young man behind Easton’s newest Indian cuisine
By Manning Lee
Photo by Stephen Walker Rohite Shinde takes a break from his restaurant’s busy lunch time to pose by this graphic mural depicting his home country.
Meet young entrepreneur and restauranteur, Rohit Shinde. He is 28, originally from a small village near Mumbai, India. Shinde grew up in a middle-class family — his father is a policeman and his mother works in the textile industry. Mumbai is considered the industry capital of India and is home to many opportunities and most of his family.
But Shinde had a different dream for himself that would lead him far away from home. After finishing high school, Shinde headed for college in Glasgow, Scotland to study hotel management.
“My college taught me every aspect of hotel management,” he explained. “After graduation I had a choice either to stay and work in Scotland or come to the United States. In 2014 after graduation, the Hyatt Properties in Cambridge hired me. That’s when I came to the Eastern Shore.”
Shinde’s first year on the Eastern Shore proved difficult. Culture shock came from all directions — not only was life in a new country difficult, but Shinde was used to Mumbai. A rural area like Cambridge and the Eastern Shore were different than anything he’d been used to.
But Shinde persisted and eventually pushed through the discomfort of adjusting to his new life. He focused on his training at the Hyatt, making mental notes and asking questions. He studied everything he could to prove himself, taking his time learning how each department worked. He felt satisfied with all he’d learned about the hospitality industry.
“I finally realized how this really was the land of opportunity and there were so many things I could do if I had the courage. That’s when I decided to open up my restaurant. I could’ve opened up a pizza place or sandwich shop, but I chose an Indian restaurant because it was what I knew and there weren’t any Indian restaurants around. People love Indian food,” he said.
His first restaurant, Bombay Tadka, on Race Street in Cambridge opened in April 2018. He named it Bombay — after the colonial name for Mumbai and Tadka — the name of an Indian cooking technique where fresh spices are roasted in ghee. Tadka brings out the aromas and tastes Indian food is known for.
The support from the community was overwhelmingly positive. People told him how Bombay Tadka reminded them of their travels to India. Coming to his restaurant makes patrons feel as if they were back in India all over again.
In fact, the response over the first two years was so great that Shinde recently was able to open his second location in Easton in January in the spot where Guiffrida’s Pizzeria on Idlewild Avenue used to be.
“It was an easy decision to come to Easton because there is something so different about it. Many of Easton’s residents come from someplace else — like D.C., Seattle, California, New Jersey, or Montgomery County. What I’ve found is that Easton’s just a slow-paced town close to the big cities. People come across the Bay Bridge to slow down from their fast-paced lives there. Perhaps they only live on the Shore part-time, but when they come to Bombay Tadka they tell me how glad they are to have more ethnic food choices in Easton and how much they love our food,” Shinde explained.
While Shinde trusted Easton would love his food, he also knew that many locals had never tried Indian fare. In order to build his clientele, he introduces several foods at lunch every day at his all you can eat lunch buffet.
“Once they’re comfortable with foods on the buffet, they’ll be confident ordering items from the menu,” he said.
For first time visitors to Bombay Tadka, Shinde recommends an appetizer called Gobi Manchurian that is a lightly battered cauliflower deep fried and sautéed with sweet and hot sauce. Another delicious appetizer is the chili chicken sautéed with onion, bell peppers, and green chili with a yogurt-mint dipping sauce. A classic “must have” for beginners is the Butter Chicken, sautéed in a tomato-based sauce with butter and a tasty blend of spices.
Above: Buffet items include fish chili and palak pakoda; Left: Rohite with sparkler at a 2018 Diwali Festival in India; a corner of the restaurant’s decor shows rich colors and textures
For now, Bombay Tadka serves mostly Northern Indian cuisine, which is characterized by its use of spices and frequent use of dairy products like yogurt, milk, and ghee. However, starting in the summer of 2020, Shinde plans on introducing traditional Southern Indian cuisines to the menu.
While the Southern Indian cuisine also uses the aromatic spices, it is known for using more grains and rice as its staples. Rice is very important to all the Southern dishes, but it’s also a key ingredient to the popular ancient bread, Dosa, which will be on the menu. The Southern cuisine uses coconut sauces as well as lentils. Also coming this summer, a few mornings each week Shinde will offer breakfast foods like egg and rice dishes.
Walking into Bombay Tadka is a feast for all the senses. One is met with the aromatic spices of India pleasantly wafting through the room. Jewel and fiery tones line the walls and ceilings giving off a delightful ambient light. Bombay Tadka has the look and feel of India.
What’s exciting about Shinde isn’t only that he emigrated, or that he’s not even 30 and already owns two restaurants. What’s fascinating is that he dreamed a life for himself and now he’s making it happen. The best part about having Shinde in Easton is having Bombay Tadka down the street to whisk us away to a place where we can experience the aromatic delights of India. He makes Easton a little bit more of a delicious place to live.
508 Idlewild Ave, Easton