Patrons come from far and wide to enjoy the piquant curries and garlicky kebobs at Portland’s Bombay Cricket Club. The owners, Karim and Sherri Ahmad, have relatives throughout India, Lebanon and Israel. When the couple opened the restaurant in 1995, they decided to include both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines on their menu. “Some people really didn’t like the idea that we were playing with different cuisines,” Karim says, but adds he and his wife believe, “Indian cuisine really complements Middle Eastern cuisine, and vice versa.”
Karim grew up experiencing the culinary pleasures of both worlds. “We used to have hummus, falafel, baba ganoush and all the curries,” he remarks. Although he offers both cuisines, he does not serve fusion cuisine. Each dish on the menu is part of a long culinary tradition. Says Karim of his homemade flatbreads: “Our naans are the tribal naans – the ones that are made in the Northern territories in India and Pakistan. They complement both the hummus and the Indian food.”
When asked which cuisine is most popular at his restaurant, Karim says that customers tend to mix and match the two. “Believe it or not, it’s a combination. People eat Indian food and baba ganoush – they tell us we have the creamiest hummus in town.” He recommends that new customers begin their meal with vegetable pakoras (fritters), hummus and zathar naan (tandoori-baked flatbread with roasted herbs, olive oil and sesame seeds). For the main course, many diners order chicken tikka masala. “We do 30 or 40 take-out orders of this a night,” says Karim. In this dish, chicken is cooked in a tandoori oven and then smothered in a tasty saffron sauce. Another favorite is lamb shahi, in which slowly simmered lamb is sautéed with
tomatoes and seasonings.
Diners love to accompany their meals at Bombay Cricket with mango margaritas, which are made with mango pulp that has been imported from India. Karim says that India produces the best mangoes in the world. His commitment to quality ingredients extends from his produce to his spices. “All the ingredients we use are the freshest I can find. Our spices we try to bring in from India, and we try to use them as fresh as possible.”
Karim explains that the fresher the spice, the more completely its essences and oils are incorporated into the dish. He raves about the quality of the saffron used in his cardamom rice. The Ahmads say that around 90% of their customers are repeat visitors. Interestingly, Karim says, rabbis in Portland frequent Bombay Cricket Club. “Our friends in the Jewish community have helped me the most. They come from New York and Israel. I cannot thank the Jewish community enough.” For those who have not yet visited his restaurant, Karim declares, “You have to come, and we will show you our hospitality.”
Food and travel writer and jazz pianist Kerry Politzer is a recent transplant from New York. She greatly enjoys the Portland food scene. She has written for WhereTraveler, In New York and Dessert Professional. She publishes a blog on the Portland-NYC culinary scene, The Rose and the Apple.
Bombay Cricket Club: 1925 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland | 503-231-0740 | BombayCricketClubRestaurant.com