If you’re around the north side of downtown Castle Rock, there’s a chance your nose might tickle with the smell of fresh curry cooking in the kitchen of one of the newest tenants to inhabit the restaurant scene. Once lured into Tamarind Indian Cuisine, it will feel like you have just stepped off a transatlantic flight into an eatery in the bustling country of Nepal.
“We did our research and this is really the only place that has Indian food in the area,” said owner, Pawan Dhaurali. “The response so far has been pretty good.”
If you have never consumed this type of cuisine, be prepared to experience unique tastes that lend a true multi-sensory delight. Heavily influenced by its neighbor to the West, India, mixtures of spices like curry, cardamom, tumeric, cumin, chili pepper are abundant in the majority Indian food recipes.
In general, though not typically a huge fan of buffets- as they prompt overeating rather than enjoying the true taste of what is being consumed- I decided to take a gamble and bet that this $9.95 lunch sampling was in a league of its own.
Upon entering the establishment, we were given the choice between several 4 tops and a handful of booths. Since I had a youngster in tow, a booth sounded like the best option. Glancing over the room, things appeared neat and clean and ethnic music was enjoyed in the background. I also observed several people on hand: one attending to the full bar, another serving customers and a third keeping the buffet line fully stocked with fresh food.
My waiter, who was most likely Nepalese, spoke broken English and slowly suggested some popular items from the kid’s menu. Rather, I decided on something brothy, with mild spices as a better option. The Mulligatawny Soup ($3.99) with an order of Naan bread ($1.99) was ordered along with my ticket to the lunch buffet.
A regular consumer of tea, masala chai ($1.99), a spiced, sweetened black tea mixed with milk, also sounded delicious. Referring to the combination of spices that can be tasted, like the cuisine, it often includes cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper, fennel, and anise.
While we waiting for drinks and the soup, we shuttled over to the lunch buffet to take a peak at what made my mouth water on that particular day. Starting at the salad bar end, I was pleased to see large iced bowls of dark, green, leafy salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, oranges and carrots, alongside various choices of regional dressings like Raita: a condiment served with Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine. Think of a healthier, lighter, ranch style dressing.
As I moved down to the hot food section, I passed a massive rice cooker filled with white rice and dumped a generous helping on my plate to provide a foundation for the other concoctions. Though it was tough to narrow down my choices, I grabbed a few small meat samosas (similar to a crispy European ‘meat pie’), along with a few big spoonfuls of my favorite, Saag Paneer, some Chicken Curry and something I’ve never tried, Aloo Govi.
The chai tea waited for us back at the table. Of course its spicy aroma was as divine as it tasted on my lips. Nibbling on the salad and fresh fruit, the soup showed up in a beautiful Indian style, metallic, soup bowl with a basket of Naan bread (not gluten free!). Caution: it comes out pipping hot!
Giving the soup time to cool, we munched on the warm, buttery, Naan and dove into the chicken curry. “Curry dishes, Chicken Masala and Chicken Vindaloo are popular,” commented Dhaurali.
I was happy not to catch a lot of spicy heat but to recognize tastes I had previously enjoyed at other good Indian food restaurants. We both enjoyed the bite-sized pieces of tender chicken were bathed in a light yogurt mix of curry, garlic, paprika and coconut atop the moist rice.
Next, I was onto the deliciously creamy Saag Paneer- a classic Indian dish that I absolutely love. Made with cubes of Indian Paneer cheese, generous portions of cooked spinach and bathua greens are the staple of this well-known dish. Appropriately portioned, the Saag dish did not leave me disappointed.
But to my surprise, the Aloo Gobi was the unexpected hit! Not for the faint of heart, the simple cauliflower and potato mix was hot-pepper-spicy as the rich curry, cashew paste it was dressed in delighted my every bite.
And the soup, having finally cooled, was ready to be spooned into the mouth of my little one.
A somewhat picky eater as of late, she absolutely loved what I can best describe as Indian chicken soup. After trying a taste myself, I could see why she found it be so good. Though I didn’t notice apples that usually are part of the recipe, I did taste red curry, carrots, celery and chicken with a hint of thyme in the yummy mixture.
Having a whole bunch of excitement to calm in our stomachs, we both needed a little dabble of sweets to top things off. I went back for a second time to grab a few more fresh oranges and a hearty spoonful of carrot pudding for us to share. Not your everyday dessert, it is full of shredded carrots with exotic spices and pistachios. Based on it’s dreamy taste, its a light dessert that we will be a future craving.
For the extremely affordable prices and healthier composition of the majority of the dishes served, I hope Tamarind gets the business it needs to afford the high rent along Perry Street. With regional music providing the relaxed setting, it’s obvious that it’s a family owned business where friends have been recruited to work and provide warm smiles to clientele.
Lastly, Tamarind also rates high in our books because it is inviting to kids and has good accessibility. We were also we happy to find a cup of Mukhwas, or “mouth freshener” in a bowl with a spoon near the door. Usually present at most authentic Indian food restaurants, the sugar cube, anise, sweet spices mix is tossed in your mouth to freshen your breath and aid digestion. The only hangup we foresee some might have is that the bathroom, which is clean and nice, is located outside the restaurant and the limited parking fills up fast.
“Dinner has been pretty busy but we hope more people will come to our all- you-can-eat lunch buffet,” Dhaurali added. “They can try many different things from the menu.”
Tamarind Indian Cuisine
514 Perry Street, Unit A100
Castle Rock, CO 80104
Hours: 11am – 9:30pm
7 days a week*All you-can-eat Lunch Buffet*
Hours: 11am – 2:30pm
7 days a week