When Cumin opened in East Hyde Park in 2002, it was something new in Indian dining here. The chef and owner, Yajan Upadhyaya, served food that was both more traditional and more modern than most Indian restaurants. He drew on regional traditions from all over the Indian subcontinent for inspiration, and sometimes used Indian flavors in brand-new dishes.
He was a curator and educator of Indian food, and much of what he served was delicious: fresh, cooked well, often in the tandoori oven, with a judicious use of spices and flavors that made each dish distinct.
Eventually, he sort of backed out of Cumin, and it became what it is now: an adventurous fine-dining restaurant. There hasn’t been another restaurant like the original here since.
Upadhyaya has been in Boston for awhile, but he returned to Cincinnati about a year ago and now he’s opening a new restaurant that will be very much in the spirit of the original Cumin.”People kept asking me if I’d try it again,” he said. “How could I say no?” The new place is called Mantra on the Hill.