At Long Last – Good South Indian Food in Boulder!
December 29, 2011
My husband and I both love Indian food, but had been rather dismayed at the paucity of good choices in Boulder since our old favorite, Mij Bani, closed some years ago. What you mainly had to choose from around Boulder was toned-down, Americanized North Indian food. Creamy, buttery curries with not much depth of flavor, an array of Tandoori meats, and overly greasy, fried items on buffet tables. One-note tastes, not-too-spicy, and not a huge amount of variation among dishes. So for quite a while we had to contend with getting our fill of excellent Indian food on vacation. But all that has changed now.
I have several coworkers from Southern India, and I had asked a few of them, ‘So, where can one go for good Indian food anywhere in our vicinity?’ The answer, almost without fail, was Jai Ho. Unfortunately, it was in Aurora, a 45 minute drive if traffic was good, and a lot longer if not. So we put it on the back-burner for an occasion when we happened to be going to Aurora anyhow (which of course never transpired). But then one day recently, one of my coworkers stopped by my office and informed me that Jai Ho was opening in Boulder. I’m sure my reaction was embarrassingly overdone, since I do tend to be a little excitable regarding food and restaurants. But I have to say, I’ve become a little obsessed with this place since dining there a couple of times.
On our first trip, I went expecting to have quite good food, but I had no idea just what a treat we were in for. One of our most-missed items from Mij Bani was dosas (huge, thin, sourdoughy, crepe-like pancakes filled with tomatoey potatoes, or other delights), so we knew we needed one of those. We asked for a suggestion as to what type we should get, and our waiter recommended a Ceylon Chicken Dosa. We were torn between two fish dishes, so he also recommended the Kerala Fish Curry (we had eaten a Keralean fish dish in London some years back, and I recall it as one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten, so I was hoping that would be what he steered us towards). We also got Vizag Veg Veppudu (a spicy vegetable dish), as well as some Navaratan Naan (a lusciously rich flat bread with dried fruit and nuts).
The service was a little slow that first night, and we were quite hungry and starting to be a tad unimpressed, but then the food came. The moment I took my first bite, all was forgiven, and I was completely enraptured by the warmth and depth of the flavors. With each bite the tastes became more layered, more complex. It was actually pretty hard to concentrate on eating too many bites of any one dish at a time, because each one commanded attention. About five minutes into the meal, my husband decreed that there was really no reason to go anywhere else for Indian food anymore, and I had to agree. Everything we got was astoundingly delicious.
We returned just a week later (as it turned out we were both secretly craving it, but we don’t usually repeat restaurants that soon). And we were just as delighted with the second round of dishes we tried. This time we got a Jai Ho Special Dosa, Kuppam Meen Kuzhambu (another fish curry), Veg Annamalai (another vegetarian dish), as well as more Navaratan Naan.
The menu is a dizzying array of choices, many of which mention a regional style which we are both sadly too ignorant about to inform our decisions, but we haven’t chosen anything disappointing yet, so with a bit of googling and advice from my coworkers, we plan to keep exploring it.
A word of caution – things are a lot spicier here than your average Americanized version of an Indian restaurant, so if you have problems with spicy food, you might want to ask them to tone it down a bit. (As an aside, I did some searching online, and have discovered that a cup of tea, brewed from a stick of cinnamon placed in boiling water, works amazingly well at getting rid of post spicy-dinner heartburn.)