Bollywood Theater PDX delivers authentic Indian street food

Bollywood Theater’s authentic take on Indian street food continues to wow Westerners at both Portland locations. Viki Eierdam

Bollywood Theater’s authentic take on Indian street food continues to wow Westerners at both Portland locations. Viki Eierdam

Troy MacLarty opened his N.E. Alberta location of Bollywood Theater PDX in 2012 and promptly outgrew his space in a week. The 6-burner stove and five foot prep table couldn't handle the Portlanders hungry for the authentic and flavorful Indian street food that MacLarty and his crew were crafting in their cramped quarters. 

Today, MacLarty has a second location on Division (a 4,700 square-foot space) and has expanded his original Alberta location, as well. The kitchens send out 2-3,000 plates daily but the truly amazing thing is that it is still an ALL FROM SCRATCH KITCHEN. 

Chef Troy MacLarty goes over a menu item and its numerous ingredients at the Division kitchen of Bollywood Theater PDX. Viki Eierdam  

Chef Troy MacLarty goes over a menu item and its numerous ingredients at the Division kitchen of Bollywood Theater PDX. Viki Eierdam  

The price of menu items does not reflect the precision with which each plate is composed and the lengths that MacLarty goes to when procuring authentic ingredients. On his travels to India, he will ‘stalk’ a street vendor for hours researching a technique, picking apart a dish and deciding what to bring back to Westerners salivating for this flavorful cuisine.

It is also thanks to MacLarty that other area restaurants have access to spices that were, not long ago, unavailable in the Portland metro area. Scott Eirinberg, owner of Reluctant Trading Experiment, is MacLarty’s go-to man for the spices he imports from India and he keeps a nice stock at his retail store inside the Division location.  

Kati rolls are their biggest sellers and they roll the flat bread four to six times daily for a total annual count of 125,000 kati rolls a year! 

They make their own ghee (a type of clarified butter), 13 of their 18 masalas, marinated paneer, paratha, kati marinade, cabbage slaw, green chutney, sweet & hot (an Indian condiment similar to spicy ketchup), bhel puri (the closest thing to a salad with 19 different ingredients), papri crackers and it goes on and on. 

Bhel Puri, an Indian salad made with from-scratch ingredients. Viki Eierdam 

Bhel Puri, an Indian salad made with from-scratch ingredients. Viki Eierdam 

The only thing not made in-house is puffed rice which they tried making but the outcome wasn't worth the time to replicate and the $50,000 machine to do it justice takes up A LOT of space, according to MacLarty. 

The ingredients that go into Bhel Puri, including from-scratch green chutney, tamarind chutney, fried chana dal, papri crackers chaat masala, sweet & hot and sev. Viki Eierdam 

The ingredients that go into Bhel Puri, including from-scratch green chutney, tamarind chutney, fried chana dal, papri crackers chaat masala, sweet & hot and sev. Viki Eierdam 

With all that goes into the food served at Bollywood, it is stunning that his menu items are so affordable. When he opened his first location, he'd never presided over an Indian kitchen but his joy for the culture and cuisine have waylaid any trepidation. The immense popularity of Bollywood (lines out the door on weekends) and strong following of Indian clientele is proof that diners are leaving satisfied.