Aurora Indian spot owners hope to expand

May 11, 2012 (AURORA, Ill.)

It's the first in what the owners hope will be a chain of fast-casual Indian restaurants.

For the last few years, Columbia students and South Loop workers have been able to swing by Chutney Joe's for a quick take on Indian food.

Now a pair of entrepreneurs is hoping to take the concept of fast-casual Indian dining to the next level with a concept that could pop up in just about any suburb in America.

All of the usual signs are here: naan, the Indian flatbread, getting baked in a tandoor, or vertical clay oven; paper-thin dosas - the signature crepe of Southern India. Plus, the aroma of Indian spices throughout the kitchen. It could be any family-run Indian restaurant in the region, but this is OMango, a new fast-casual concept in west suburban Aurora.

"We combined 'OM' which is the fundamental of Hindu philosophy. So it as authentic as it can get with mango which is India's natural fruit also means fresh healthy combined it together it became OMango," said Sandeep Bhargava, co-owner of the restaurant.

Healthy is right. Nothing is deep-fried here, and the ingredients, like quinoa and rice, are flavored with typical spices like mustard seed, cumin and coriander. The key is serving it in an approachable, fast-food-like atmosphere, that's both clean and efficient.

"I think the only difference is that we believe that Indian cuisine is very health by design. We want to make sure people understand how delicious Indian food can food be, but how healthy it is at its core," Bhargava said.

Back to that dosa for a second. The sheet of ground rice and lentils is given a small stuffing of potatoes and peas seasoned with curry leaves and mustard seeds, . Chicken tikka is marinated and grilled, served with a bright mint chutney and a small salad. The namesake fruit shows up in several dishes.. including a chicken curry plate, as well as a healthy wrap.

"We just want natural Indian spices to work with the vegetables, chicken and tofu paneer and give that real flavor," he said.

Bhargava and his business partner, Karen Powell, are hoping they can expand the concept, as Indian food becomes more popular. One thing they want to emphasize, is that despite rumors to the contrary, not all Indian food is spicy. In fact, their menu allows for all kinds of adjustments.

"Anyone who wants really spicy they can add the chutney and make it spicy. We don't want food in general to be too hot and spicy," said Bhargava.

OMango 1056 N. Rt 59, Aurora (630) 449-5100

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