Progressive Indian Cuisine Finds a Home in Lower Manhattan

At Chef Sujan Sarkar's Baar Baar, 'progressive' Indian cuisine pairs flavors in combinations both familiar and new.

Meghna Rao

March 7, 2019

Progressive Indian Cuisine Finds a Home in Lower Manhattan
Sujan Sarkar

After my first visit to Baar Baar, a newly-opened Indian gastropub between Noho and the East Village, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the tastes that I’d found — the hint of truffle in my mushroom upma, the scent of turmeric in my Hyderabad Collins, the texture of goat cheese against the rounded peas in my kulcha. It was unexpected.

By my second visit, I was at a loss for words. This time, it wasn’t the ingredients. I had eaten so much, I could barely speak. It was a coming together of carbohydrates and lavishness: rich, syrupy sweets, naans with layers and layers of cheese, butter chicken with palpable amounts of heavy cream.

A mishmash of flavors, the unrelentless heaviness, and my complete lack of self-control. It was Indian cuisine at its very core.

Through a winding series of connections, I got in touch with Baar Baar chef Sujan Sarkar, who had conceptualized the entire thing: the restaurant, the menu, the decor, the music. I met him on a quiet Tuesday night at a side room — a rare lull in business, he explained — where he spoke to me about his search for ingredients, Indian globalism, and the future of Indian cuisine.