When I was 22, I dated an Indian guy for a while. His mom had the cutest pet name for me: White Devil.
Having grown up on Taco Bell and Kid Cuisine microwave dinners, my experience with Indian food had been pretty minimal, but Ashish introduced me to the coriander and cardamom-scented world of korma, biryani and butter chicken. Even though the relationship didn’t last, my love of Indian food did.
So when a friend told me her favorite spot for Indian was Bawarchi Biryanis in Louisville, I made a mental note to give it a shot the next time I was craving curry.
(I’ve since discovered that it’s a chain with locations in Centennial and Fort Collins, too.)
The décor and atmosphere are not what I’ve come to expect from Indian restaurants — Bawarchi is almost jarringly bright and filled with Home Goods-style poppy paintings and fabrics — but the menu is typical and, as the name implies, biryani-heavy.
It wasn’t a biryani, though, that turned my head. It was the Chicken Vindaloo. This dish can be so overpoweringly spicy at times that all you taste is fire. The vindaloo at Bawarchi is certainly hot, but not so much so that it blisters your tongue and leaves your taste buds numb. This vindaloo balances a little sweetness, a slight tang (due to the vinegar), the spice from the chilis (it hits you at the end) and a creaminess that coats, rather than scorches, the tongue.
Bawarchi gives you the choice to pour the potato- and chicken-studded gravy over rice or to dip naan into the rich sauce. (Next time I’ll choose both. Both is usually the right answer.)
It’s rare that a taste sticks with me so strongly. Too often I try so many different foods in rapid succession that the flavors get muddled and, sadly, forgotten. But the delicious complexity of the roasted seeds in the vindaloo (I assume mustard, coriander, fenugreek and cumin all make appearances in Bawarchi’s version) will have me going back for more.
Chicken Vindaloo at Bawarchi Biryanis ($11.99): 390 McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 303-955-8228 (other locations); bawarchilouisville.com