Paawan Kothari rolled out her lunchtime Indian pop-up two weeks ago, in what would seem like just about the most random Mission venue she could find: the bistro La Provence. But then, Kothari's been using the kitchen there since last December, when she launched Green Coriander, a meal delivery service.
Lunch mimics Green Coriander's weekly delivery menu even as it borrows its name. The chef, Youssef El Amrani, cooks a short, monochromatic roster of white-flesh proteins ― tofu-paneer-chicken ― in a mashup of north and south (Kothari has roots in Hyderabad, in southern India). Forget the kind of spice-charged, ghee-slick cooking of your typical tandoori palace, or the elaborate set pieces of the dosa joint. The cooking here is homey, and the dishes have soft outlines, framed with Kothari's conversion to the organic and the low in fat.This week's three-course menu offers a souplike, curry leaf-scented dal, tweaked very slightly with tamarind. Opt carnivore, and you get the gentlest chicken korma you've tasted, all soft-textured flesh and a tomato sauce that shades dark from toasted coconut and poppy seeds. A cauliflower-centric vegetable mix cooked in coconut milk is so mild you get a bit bored. The third course: Kothari's very sober chai, with sweetness and spice so restrained it makes you a little ashamed of all the Coke-sugary versions you've ever guzzled.
If it tastes familiar? It's because Kothari got her start a year ago via the Chai Cart. Nice to see she's gotten off the streets ― even if the place she's landed is probably too far off the Mission's trafficked sidewalks to garner much attention.
Green Coriander at La Provence: 1001 Guerrero (at 22nd Street), 643-4333; lunch served 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri.; open for chai at 10 a.m.