Compiled by Deb Mandel, 2022
1979 – present
17 Central Square, Western Ave.
Indian food in New England was born here. In 1979, Mohan Singh bought a Central Square pizza house and turned it into an Indian restaurant – something not found anywhere else in Boston at the time. Not only did locals soon form lines out the door, but food lovers from all over the Northeast came to dine cuisine deemed exotic at the time. Singh was born in Jullanda, Punjab, north of New Delhi and received his earliest culinary training by watching his mother cook.
India Pavilion is mostly northern Indian, but has expanded its flavors over time. Building on the success of his original, Mr. Singh built a kind of culinary ecosystem in Cambridge and has owned three additional restaurants here: Gandhi, Central Square (closed c. 2008), Akbar, Inman Square, whose name was changed to Haveli in 2003 and underwent a “glamorous facelift” (1991-2014), India Food and Spices Market, Central Square (1984-2020), and Frozen Yogi (closed c. 2019).
Singh kept current with the extremely popular family-run Inman Square spot, Punjabi Dhaba, which opened in 1998; it serves its cuisine on authentic trays used at roadside restaurants in Punjab.
Over the years, Singh maintained a strong work ethic and found the ingredients for success, “Keep the quality and the quantity. That’s my motto. I never let that down. I also keep my prices moderate.”
On Thursday May 5, 2022, the City of Cambridge hosted the 2nd annual Cambridge Legacy Business Luncheon to celebrate some of the oldest businesses in Cambridge as part of National Small Business Week. Indian Pavilion was one of eighteen local businesses presented with an award recognizing its contribution to Cambridge’s retail environment. Each of the businesses recognized were in operation for over 25 years or more and nominated by a member of the Cambridge community.
“Business: Akbar Indian Restaurant Opens in Inman Square” The Cambridge Chronicle, 18 April 1991, p.15.
Harrington, Leigh. “Spice World.” The Boston Herald, 18 November 2018. (includes photo)
Tremblay, Bob. “Curry Favored: Restaurateur a Trendsetter in Indian Food Business.” Milford Daily News, September 14, 2003. Last accessed 30 March 2022.