He is as fluctuating as light. Animate and solemn, he accelerates around the room like a beacon; he is high energy yet focused. Tapan Bose is a man who found the American dream.

Bose, 45, originally from Calcutta, India, is the new owner of the India House Restaurant on Roosevelt. Newly remolded with a new chef and new and updated menus, India House is one of Washington’s oldest Indian restaurants.
Bose’s love of good food comes from years in the industry, where he started in India, literally at the bottom in a five-star hotel.

“I was a dishwasher,” Bose said, grinning, “at the famous Taj Mahal hotel in Bombay, India. It has 1,500 rooms and famous people come there to vacation.

Promoted to waiter, he attended the hotel’s course on hotel administration and food technology which led to a position as bartender of the Holiday Inn in downtown Bombay.

To full fill his dream of coming to America, he spent his off hours in an Indian-American library, soaking up information on American culture and learning the language. His time and effort paid off. When he was 29, Holiday Inn promoted Bose. He was sent to White Plans, New York, U.S.A.

“My goal was to own a restaurant,” Bose reflected, “where I could serve Indian food that was fresh and savory with India’s wonderful spices like Garam Masala, a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and cloves. Good wine, like a Paul Thomas pear wine, complements the fire of Indian food.

Bose moved to Seattle in 1990 to help a friend run Ragu India Restaurant in Bellevue. He found employment with the Olive Garden and the Space Needle, where his talent for food and wine pairing grew.

Confident and experienced, Bose knew he was ready for his greatest challenge, to own the restaurant of his dreams. His first step at India House – was to create an exhibition Tandoor kitchen.

The Tandoor kitchen used throughout India is a rounded-top oven made of clay. “Our oven is always at 850 degrees, and it is enclosed in glass for people to enjoy as they walk by,” said Bose as he instructed one of his chefs to prepare “Papadam” (Indian crispy bread). The Chef took the dough, slapped it directly onto the inside oven’s walls, and left it to bake; in seconds, it began to bubble and brown.

The Chef expertly peeled it off in one piece and then sliced it neatly into quarters. Meat is usually skewered and thrust into the oven’s intense heat. “A chicken half can cook in less than five minutes,” Bose beamed proudly.

The house specialty “Barah Kabab” (rack of lamb) is first marinated for 24 hours in olive oil, lemon, and fresh garlic. Then it is covered in a paste of tomatoes, onions, and yogurt. After roasting, it is brushed with ginger, cumin, coriander, and dry mango powder.

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