So sad. You have an exceptional Indian meal and while chatting with the owner, he tells you he may not be around much longer.

Why? He’s looking to sell and go into what he claims is the more lucrative gas station business. It’s hard to argue with the logic. Restaurants are fickle establishments, with narrow profit margins.

Such was dinner recently at Papee da Dhaba, a shoebox of a restaurant tucked away off the main drag in Hicksville.

Now you just have to get there before it changes hands.

Papee is loosely translated from Hindi as “authentic Sikh fellow,” while dhaba is a colloquial term for an open-air, roadside restaurant. Here, there is no open-air eating, but the laid back vibe remains intact, complete with an Indian TV news channel blaring in the background.

We found it hard to go wrong with just about anything on the long menu that’s heavy on Punjabi and Northern Indian fare.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A starter of mirchi pakora is a long, spicy chili pepper that’s slit lengthwise, stuffed with potatoes, dredged in a chickpea batter, fried to golden crisp and sliced into bite-sized pieces. It looks intimidating when you see chili seeds waiting in each bite. Dig in and you’ll find a mellow burn that’s eased by the potatoes, the batter and a spritz of lime.

Kesari paneer, thick cuts of Indian farmer’s cheese, are skewered, dredged in spices and roasted in a tandoori oven until they develop charred edges and a mozzarella-like meltiness. Think haloumi meets the subcontinent.

For entrees, snag the sharaabi kukkad (“drunken chicken”) if it’s on the menu, a herbaceous chicken that’s bathed in a whiskey marinade before being cooked until tender in the tandoor oven. Round out the meal with tender lamb rogan josh, and the creamy kali mirch (black pepper) chicken, a slow cooked curry of cream and onion that’s laced with lots of ground peppercorns. Just make sure when they ask, you opt for chicken on the bone. It’s the Indian way.

Papee da Dhaba: Roadside Indian Cuisine is at 5 E. Marie St., Hicksville, 516-681-0011,