RENTON, Wash. — It’s lunchtime at Rice N Curry and Guminder Kaur is busy in the kitchen preparing Butter Chicken, using the recipe she learned as a child from her mother.
“Everything my mother cooks, she cooks from the heart, and all of her recipes are remarkable,” she said.
This is Delhi cuisine, rich in flavor and attentive to timing. The chicken in the Reshmi Chicken Tikka is marinated for two days before it's skewered to a kebab. The dahl in the Dahi Bhalla is soaked for exactly 12 hours overnight.
“We come in the morning. If it all turns out green then it is ready to cook,” Kaur, said. “If it does not turn green, it is not cooking.”
So much comes down to timing, but when it came to opening her restaurant Kaur's timing couldn't have been worse.
“Soon the pandemic hit and it was brutal,” she said.
Brutal because the restaurant hadn't yet opened and the bills were mounting.
“Honestly I was very, very scared,” Kaur said, “because all of my savings I put into this restaurant.”
Kaur applied for state and federal loans that never came.
“Multiple times I was about to give up,” she said.
Her family promised to keep her afloat and so did the small business community. The owner of another Indian restaurant sent customers over and the neighborhood printing shop wouldn't charge for the menus.
“He says it is a pandemic time,” Kaur said. “It's okay.”
Small gestures that reveal Renton's big heart.
“Renton is like home,” she said.
And that butter chicken?
“It melts in your mouth,” she promised.
“There's a lot of love to the food that they make,” Yutaka Miyake, a regular customer, said.
“It's authentic,” David Pierce, said. “I mean you can't beat something that's actually the way it's supposed to be. It's not an American recreation.”
Suddenly the timing couldn't be better for Indian food in Renton. Rice N Curry is getting rave reviews on Yelp.
“I'm getting repeated customers which is a very good sign I think,” Kaur said. “So far I think it's a good sign.”