In Minnesota, Indian Restaurants Offer a Taste of Home

The chain restaurant Pizza Karma serves dishes that blend Indian and American flavors. 

“Our restaurant not only serves delicious Indian meals,” says Johnson Madamu. “We also create an India-like ambiance.” 

Madamu is co-owner of India Spice House, a restaurant in Woodbury, Minnesota. It’s one of many popular Indian restaurants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, which is known as the Twin Cities.

In a text message, Madamu explained what draws diners to his restaurant: “When they hear Indian music or look around to find beautiful paintings of the Taj Mahal and other Indian paintings, they’re reminded of India.”

According to Rentech Digital, there are more than 7,800 Indian restaurants in the United States. Many new  restaurants have cropped up in the Twin Cities area, including Spice House in Woodbury and Namaste Cafe in Minneapolis.

Raghavan Iyer, who was born in Mumbai, helped to popularize Indian food in the U.S. In 2001, Iyer published the first volume of his cookbook series. He called it Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking, referencing a brand known for pancakes and other familiar American staples.

Iyer, who died last year, wanted to make Indian food accessible to cooks in the U.S. In 2017, he opened Pizza Karma. The chain restaurant serves dishes that fuse American and Indian cuisine. Popular items include Tandoori Naan Salad, a salad topped with traditional Indian bread, and Paneer Tikka Pizza, a pizza that has naan as its crust and is topped with paneer tikka.


Butter Chicken, which is traditionally known as murgh makhani, originated in the city of Delhi.  

Mudamu said that Biryani and Butter Chicken are the two most-frequently ordered items in his restaurant. Biryani is a rice dish served with various types of meat. The marinade for Butter Chicken includes tomato, yogurt, cumin, and other spices.

“India Spice is your destination for authentic food because most of the ingredients are nutritious and directly sourced from farms,” Mudamu noted proudly.

Indian food dates back more than 5,000 years. Spices used vary across the country, and the ingredients are based on the region. “One of the main differences between North Indian and South Indian food is more bread is used in the North, while the South opts for rice and coconut,” said my father, Abhishek Singh. He has lived in both areas of the South Asian country, which is home to more than 1.4 billion people. 

My mother, Shivangi Singh, grew up in North India. Like many others from that region, she loves street food. “Indian restaurants here give me the feel of India,” she said. “When the menu has Samosa and Chaat, I’m reminded of New Delhi.” Samosa is a potato-based snack that is fried, and Chaat is made with chickpeas, boiled potatoes, and spices. 

According to a 2023 study, Indian food is the fourth-most-Googled cuisine, which demonstrates its growing popularity. 

Top photo courtesy of the author; bottom photo: © Cavan Images / Getty Images