I feel your pain. You want to start an Indian streetfood restaurant, but you do it in Oslo, where invariably if you stuck to the traditions and cooked family style, your restaurant would be threadbare.
Why? Because the Indian/Pakistani population would eat at home, or local places like Lahore Dera, and the residents with an exciteable palate would run screaming from the pungent aromas, "oily food", and tongue numbing barrage of tastes. In short, if you want to sell real Indian food to locals in an evolving food scene, you have to dumb it down and do yourself a disservice, to survive. The hope being that exponentially, you can train their palates and introduce a more honest product down the line. Build up their fundaments, like a yoga class for the tongue.
If there's one cuisine in this world that I can confidently exclaim I know well, it's Indian. Having not only spent my childhood going to school there, but also travelled from Kanyakumari to Ladakh, from the Wagha border to the hillstations of Nagaland, every corner of the subcontinent has been victim to my roaming appetite.
Oslo has a couple of Indian restaurants worth mentioning: New Anarkali, Mantra; but most of the time you're going to pay a premium for the same sweet, unspiced mediocrity.
Holy Cow is no different.
A rather hip looking place cradled between the true fulcrum of cheap-eats, Grønland, and the central station with it's parade of dejection, I decided to give it a go, knowing full well I wasn't going to enjoy it. We grabbed a high-table, some stools, sat down, ordered the Thali to get a broader taste of a few different curries and sat twiddling our thumbs, for what turned out to be quite a long twiddle. It was surprising, as the restaurant only had 3 other customers and they were already eating, however i'm usually ok with waiting as long as the food is fresh and piping hot.
It was fresh, but tragically underwhelming. The chef deserves praise for managing to assemble an attractive looking collection of bowls, and yet render them totally devoid of any flavour. It was almost so bland that you wouldn't have been able to tell which was chicken and which lamb, albeit for the difference in texture. A boring dal and a sad raita stood as supporting actors destined to lose out on the award.
I peeked behind me to see an Indian tourist couple poking dejectedly at their food and knew exactly what they were thinking. There has to be a balance to this pandering to local tastes where you can at least make the food TASTY even if you hold off on the chili's, asafoetida, pungent garlic / ginger profiles. Norwegians can handle a lot more than you are giving them credit for at this restaurant.
We paid. Said our goodbye's, and I was left to walk the long streets that swallowed me whole in the bereft knowledge that again a pretty penny had been extracted from my bankaccount and been replaced with a void of unsatisfied dejection. Holy Cow, for the pride of India step up your game.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored by the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"