Chef Paddy Rawal came to the US with a hundred bucks in his pocket. Yeah, we’ve heard the story before, but it’s true. Fast forward a handful of years, and he’s the owner of Raaga. Rawal takes special measures to ensure the authenticity of his cuisine (heck, he’s even got a tandoor oven where he flattens dough into a pancake and throws it onto the oven’s wall like a Frisbee, where it sticks, suspended, until it bubbles), but doesn’t tie himself down to tradition. Yeah, there’s chicken tikka masala and fried samosas on the menu, but Rawal infuses his dishes with unconventional spins (Chinese, Italian and yes, Southwestern). His chicken saffron marinates in a cashew cream; eyelet strands of saffron tint the sauce; and fennel and cumin provide undertones, with a shadow of heat—this is where the Southwest comes in, as green chili makes its honorable debut. Rawal’s always dabbled in world cuisine. In 1989, he opened the first Mexican restaurant in Bombay, almost a blatant foreshadowing of what was to come. It seems like a contradiction, Southwest and Indian, but Rawal finds the connecting threads, the earthy aromas that crust in a tandoor and boil in a stew.

544 Agua Fria St., 820-6440
Lunch and dinner Maonday-Saturday, $10-$15