Masala is a special place. Lined with a row of windows that looks out onto Teele Square, natural outdoor light meets the warmth of the restaurant itself. Inside, with a beautiful dining area and a glass window looking into the kitchen, Masala gives every customer a sense of both openness and connection. That, in fact, is what makes the whole experience so unique.
As soon as we arrived, we were greeted with a plate of complimentary papadum, a thin and fragrant cracker with three sauces, including a spicy chutney. For dinner itself, we sampled a variety of food, including samosas, garlic and peschwari naan, a lamb rogan josh, and a creamy rice pudding for dessert. Everything was delicious; I was only sorry I didn’t have room for more of the extensive selection.
After dinner, we were warmly welcomed by Dammar, Masala’s owner. He talked about how Masala serves both the local Nepalese community – nearly half of customers on weekends are Nepalese – and helps engage people who are less familiar with the cuisine.
“Before,” Dammar told us, “I sold only 10% of my menu – now I sell 40%.”
It is a dynamic process for him, a two-way street where his guests learn about his food and culture – they start to know the names of different dishes, and ask for new recommendations – while Dammar also loves to ask the guests’ opinion on what they have eaten.
Dammar’s own story shows how comfortable he is working between cultures. Before arriving in Boston, he travelled to over 80 countries as a chef on Carnival cruises. He described working with crews of 150 people from 140 countries, making food 24 hours a day for thousands of people. Trained in French cuisine, Dammar’s wanted to share a passion for his own cuisine, the taste and textures of Nepalese cooking.
This passion has caught on, as we could tell by the number of different kinds of people sharing the restaurant with us, whether a regulars who knew all the wait staff, or a group of friends out for a weeknight meal. This restaurant is clearly well-respected and well-loved, as a unique place to connected to the people and the process behind the delicious food that you are served.
Masala is located at 1127 Broadway, Somerville. Find more information on Masala here: http://www.somervillemasala.com/
YUM: A Taste Immigrant City is an evening of culinary tastes from immigrant-run Somerville restaurants and local world entertainment, which benefits the work of The Welcome Project, Somerville’s largest immigrant and advocacy organization. The Welcome Project serves over 200 families each year.
Photo credits: Helen Fowowe.