Chef’s Corner: Puran Joshan

Cooking up Tandoori Favorites and North Indian Flavors Since 1991

Puran Joshan
Paul Wellman

Tenure: Celebrating 25 years in Santa Barbara, Joshan has been serving up exotic North Indian cuisine since opening his family-owned and family-operated restaurant on State Street in 1991. All of their spices come straight from India, and the rich, authentic flavors hail primarily from Punjab, the northwestern Indian state that borders Pakistan. “Growing up, I was inspired by the smells and flavors around me,” said Joshan. “I wanted to bring those home-country, authentic flavors to America.”

Dish he digs: Joshan likes saag paneer, which is fresh spinach cooked with homemade cheese and seasoned with aromatic herbs. Flavor of India is known for chicken tikka masala and curries, but try their mango chicken: tender pieces of chicken cooked in a delicate, creamy mango sauce. It goes great with the mint chutney, which is made daily from 13 different ingredients, including the green chili that gives the sweet sauce a spicy kick.

“Our secret is that we make everything here from scratch, from the bread to the sauces,” said Joshan. “Our kitchen is home. … We spend more time here than at home!”

Wash it all down with a lassi, which uses creamy, house-made yogurt, a traditional staple in Indian cooking. Options include mango, sweet, plain, and salted.

The scoop: Excelling in everything from freshly baked tandoori breads and aromatic biryanis to moist, skewered meat right out of the oven, Flavor of India engages all the senses, offering exotic flavors and dishes that keep guests coming back. “When a customer comes in, they are treating us,” said Joshan. “We have seen our customers grow up and bring their own kids to the restaurant. It’s very special.”

3026 State Street, Santa Barbara, (805) 682-6561,


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