Bollywood Indian Kitchen
1368 Madera Road, Simi Valley

Admittedly, getting out to Simi Valley is rare for me. Living up Ventura Avenue makes the far end of the county nearly inaccessible for a weeknight meal, unless driving an hour one way has been planned for far in advance. As luck would have it, an old friend reached out and invited us to Bollywood Indian Kitchen, nestled in the heart of Simi, and the opportunity to visit came at last. The trip had me reconsidering my hesitancy; the meal was superb.

From traditional tikka dishes to the more obscure but equally delicious curries, Bollywood has it all.

After you reach 30 years of age, it seems that life slows down a bit, for better or worse. In my case, friends made in my 20s have somewhat dispersed, whether via a move across country (or out of the country, for that matter) or simply by drifting apart. It happens, it’s human nature. Fortunately, friendships can be rekindled, as was the case with Steve and Andrew. Both had never been to Bollywood though they live a mere five-minute drive away (45 minutes for myself, I timed).

I’m a vegetarian and my wife is vegan, so Indian restaurants are a perfect middle ground for those who have a more varied diet. After catching up over a 22-ounce bottle of Flying Horse, an Indian lager that is only acceptable over curry, we browsed the menu. You’ll find traditional dishes such as tandoori chicken, chicken tikka (both $13.99) as well as a wide variety of naan and rice dishes. All prime for a weeknight takeout for those seeking something familiar and comforting.

There are also rarer dishes that beg for attention. Bhindi masala ($10.99), a dry curry roasted okra dish, caught my eye, and so we chose it, an order of vegetable biryani ($8.99) and the so-called “sweet naan” ($3.99). Everywhere else “sweet naan” is known as Peshwari naan, naan stuffed with raisins and cashews. Perhaps calling it sweet naan avoids being asked about it repeatedly.

Our friends chose the chicken curry ($13.99), lamb curry ($14.99) and the garlic naan ($2.99). In all, though we were not sharing, the table had what would amount to a good representation of what Bollywood had to offer.

My friend Steve spent three years in Japan as part of his work, and being as obsessed with the Japanese culture as I am, I had to know if he had the opportunity to explore the country. Sadly, he told me, no. The area he was stationed in was remote and far removed from the big city lights of Tokyo, though he did pass through once. Our dishes arrived to the tune of a Bollywood YouTube playlist above our heads as Steve spoke of Japan, and suddenly we were in India instead.

The curry okra was a dish that I had tried once before in Birmingham, England, and fallen in love with. Here it was quite similar, though with a touch less heat, which is fine. Okra is a tricky vegetable to get right because oftentimes, if cooked improperly, it can become slimy, a word often associated with slugs rather than food. At Bollywood, the okra was handled properly, with a hint of crispness in each bright bite.

The vegetable rice, a staple to any of our Indian nights out, was executed well, too. You’ll find this to be similar to other well-regarded Indian restaurants throughout the county, so order with confidence.

Steve and Andrew told us that the lamb and chicken curries were wonderful. I’ll have to take their word for it. If it’s any indication, both were finished dutifully. As we finished, my wife using the Peshwari naan to soak up the remnants of masala (though, and I’ll never tell her, I feel the Peshwari is more suited for dessert rather than a main course) Andrew ordered another dish to take home, an endorsement of Bollywood’s quality.

The restaurant offers a daily lunch buffet as well, so perhaps, when the mood strikes, a weekday visit to Simi will be in order to sample the rest of the restaurant’s goods. Until then, at least for now I’ll know that a 45-minute drive will be well worth it if we end up at Bollywood.