On April 2nd, Sumi and Swaroop Bhojani had a festive, merry ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch their Hut-K Chaats, in the former Bombay Grocery (Bombay moved a few doors west last year). The brand-new restaurant was bursting with what seemed to be well-heeled, professional-class Indians, sparklingly attired in salwar kameez. The women had bindis glued to foreheads; the men had iPhones glued to ears. Most had expensive haircuts.

This is the second sign of renewal in the delightfully run-down ethnic shopping district near Packard and Platt. The first was last year’s opening of the large, squeaky-clean Galleria across the street–the retirement project of a successful Detroit-area Korean grocer. The Bhojanis’ choice of location wasn’t coincidental. They’re hoping to catch the traffic that shops at the Bombay Grocery.

India, like this neighborhood, is on the way up. And where health is concerned, India’s new prosperity has proved to be too much of a good thing, says Swaroop, who is by day an oncology research scientist at the U-M. No longer a country of starvation and diarrheal diseases, India is now rife with obesity, diabetes, and–forgive the bluntness, but you could see this coming, couldn’t you?–constipation. All of which Swaroop is determined to conquer with his menu of mainly lo-cal, high-fiber, and often organic snacks and small meals. (He tells a good story, though it’s too long to tell here. If “Naveen’s Two-Thanks Roti” ever makes it to the menu, ask him how it originated.)

An enthusiastic cook, and obsessed with the relationship between diet and health, Swaroop began trying to rewrite the Indian snack (“chaat”) menu when he was a PhD student at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore twenty years ago. Typically, Indian chaats are deliciously greasy and almost entirely lacking in fiber or anything else that’s good for you, and, worse, Indians like to eat them doused with sugary chutneys.

Swaroop discovered himself to be a mad scientist in the kitchen and set to work finding a cure for “lifestyle diseases,” swapping out sugar and white flour for bright, tasty concoctions of mint, cilantro, almonds, mango, carrots, dried fruit, red peppers, and organic grains. It worked on him: his blood sugar, formerly in the danger zone, is now normal. “Raw greens put together to make a chutney is amazing,” he says. Recently he’s turned his attention to juices, experimenting with wheatgrass and kale, which he believes have cancer-preventing properties (an attention-getting claim coming from a cancer researcher, though his day job is in the field of nuclear medicine and radiation oncology). Cancer prevention is more than an academic issue to him. He lost a teenage brother to bone cancer, a tragedy that drove him into oncology research.

Sometimes, he admits, he goes too far: “Some people don’t like that chlorophyll taste.” His nine-year-old son Umang recently got a dose of spinach ice cream and didn’t thank him for it.

Swaroop’s wife, Sumi, a far calmer, more practical presence, quit her job as a Montessori teacher to be Hut-K’s manager and main cook (Swaroop took a short leave of absence from his university job to oversee the startup, but will soon return). Sumi has developed a few of the recipes on the menu, but she describes herself as a fairly conventional cook: “I’m more of a protocol follower. I’m not like him. I need to know something before I make it. He’ll take a recipe and add chocolate powder to it …”It’s true!” he finishes her thought. “I’ve made roti with chocolate, bananas, peanuts, jackfruit. She learned to cook the right way,” he laughs, “and she’s very restricted with the rules. I didn’t know the rules, so I can do anything.”

Another factor that put the Bhojanis on the path to green eating is their religion. They both grew up in the Jain faith, virtually an ancient prescription for healthy vegetarianism. The overarching precept of Jainism is nonviolence and respect for all living things. (Gandhi wasn’t a Jain by birth, but he was heavily influenced by it.) Less well known are the particulars of Jainism, which advise throwing out or giving away food at the end of each day, not eating from dusk till dawn, and avoiding root vegetables four months of the year. Practicing Jains, the Bhojanis are members of the nearest temple, in Farmington Hills.

“Hut-K,” by the way, is Mumbai slang meaning “different” or “non-mainstream,” usually uttered in the spirit of the old hippie expletive “far out!”

Hut-K Chaats, 3022 Packard. 786-8312. Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.,

Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Mon. www.hut-k.com.