Samosas, filled with potato, peas and curry seasoning with cucumber chutney.
Indian Vegetarian Restaurant “Ganga” / Ресторан индийской вегетарианской кухни “Ganga”
ул. Карла-Либкнехта, 121
(Entrance inside office building “Европлаза,” through the turnstiles on the first floor)
Open from 11am to 10pm
Meals from $6.50

Ganga is a very new restaurant in Irkutsk, having opened just two months ago. Like Cafe Govinda downtown, Ganga is a vegetarian restaurant featuring Indian food (with some Russian-Indian fusion involved in some dishes). Located not far from the famous tank statue on 1-ya Sovietskaya, Ganga is inside of the larger Европлаза building, which is crowned by an advertisement for the restaurant inside. To find it, you go inside the main doors, through the turnstiles to the right and into the next door past the elevators on the left. Inside, Ganga is a beautifully designed and decorated restaurant. The first thing to greet you when walking in is a large statue of Ganesh, the Indian elephant god. Next, you’ll meet one of the friendly waitresses, who are very keen to help you with anything unfamiliar on the menu, and offer suggestions. Probably the best deal at Ganga is the lunch special, offered weekdays from 12 to 3:30 and gives you a several-course meal including soup, salad, main dish, and dessert for 200 rubles. Each day has two different lunch special options to choose from, so you can plan your week accordingly :).

For the rest of the time outside the lunch special, there are a wide range of other options on the regular menu to try, including daal (the classic Indian lentil soup), traditional Indian appetizers (their samosas and pakora are delicious), and even south Indian specialties such as dosa and sambar (highly recommended, their sambar is also delicious!) Ganga is not the best place to try if you’re in a hurry, as their lunch special is a full five-course meal, and is no fun if you’re in a rush. Their standard menu items also take a bit longer to prepare, especially during lunch special hours, so expect a possible  wait of around 20 minutes for your meal if ordering from the regular menu during that time. When I first came with a friend, we decided to order one lunch special to split (200 rubles total), along with an extra appetizer to share (150 rubles), so that we could try a variety of things. We also each had a chai masala for 80 rubles a piece. All in all, even the one lunch special was a lot of food, so there was more than enough between the two of us, for 255 rubles per person.

Ganga is also never full, so it’s a great place to take friends. It has a good amount of space so feel free to organize larger group dinners here, or linger long after your meal chatting with a friend. The waitresses will stare, but that’s only because they have very few other customers to attend to, and being a new restaurant, they are very concerned with how you enjoyed the food and atmosphere. Constantly looking for feedback on their Vkontakte page, they are happy to hear your thoughts! I would highly recommend checking out Ganga, especially if you’re a vegetarian living in Irkutsk. It’s definitely something new that you don’t find very often in Russia, and even less so in the heart of Siberia.

Danya Spencer

Danya Spencer

Danya Spencer holds a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Languages – Russian & Chinese from Lewis and Clark University. She is currently studying in the year-long Home and Abroad Program with The School of Russian and Asian Studies. This program combines study abroad in Russia, an intensive professional internship focusing on translation, research, and writing.

Danya attended Home and Abroad
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