By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Bob Patel just “puts together” the curry served on Fridays at the Hitchins Foodmart, aka the Hitchins Post. His wife is the cook, he clarifies.
“She even showed me how to put it together,” he laughed. But he follows her directions unwaveringly, right down to the basmati rice they use – rice they go as far as Cincinnati or Louisville to purchase.
Once you taste his wife’s curry, though, you understand why all that attention to detail matters so much. The woman is truly an artist.
Her curry is a milder curry, but still extremely flavorful. Bob noted they did tame the spices somewhat for the local palate, but the marinated chicken that goes in the curry still packs a little heat. It all comes together beautifully in dish, and whether you add it to rice to cut the heat a little more, or dunk straight in with your bread, it’s delicious.
Curry is a standard and staple of Indian food, Patel explained. What gravy is to Appalachia, curry is to India. It can go over or with all kinds of dishes.
“Curry’s the base for most Indian dishes,” Patel said. “Things like chicken or paneer.”
His wife’s curry, a blend of tomatoes, heavy cream, and other ingredients and spices, is her own recipe. She likes to play with new recipes and cook, Bob said, joking that it works out well since he likes to eat.
So far, though, it’s just her curry on the menu. The paneer, a dairy dish with a tofu-like texture, isn’t on the menu at the Hitchins Post with the curry yet either. It’s just chicken for now. But it’s worth trying if you haven’t had it. If you have, you’re likely to come back again.
Keith Barnhill, who lives in Lexington now but grew up in and still has ties to Willard, is one who comes back regularly.
“If I’m home, I’m here every Friday,” Barnhill said.
He said he’s eaten Indian food at two or three restaurants in Lexington, and had curries in London, England, “but Bob’s is among the best,” he said.
It was a pleasant surprise finding out they had such good curry at the Foodmart, Barnhill said.
“I never thought I’d be eating my chicken curry in Hitchins, Kentucky,” he said, laughing.
While they don’t do the curry every Friday, they do it most Fridays. Patel tries to have the curry ready so the first orders can go out around 11:30, starting with heating the curry before adding the already cooked marinated chicken. The curry is served with a side of basmati rice and two pieces of fried flatbread. If you want to try it, you might want to call and place an order early so they won’t sell out before you get there. There’s only a limited amount made and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Curry isn’t something you can just “whip up” a new batch of.
While the curry isn’t especially hot, you should note that the chicken that comes in it does have some spice heat. If you like moderately hot, spicy foods you will have no problem with the levels of heat. If you have a sensitivity to spicy food, or aren’t sure how you will feel about the heat, remember that dairy based drinks like milk, or sugar, can help with any burning in the mouth and throat. If you’ve never had an experience with Indian food, though, the Friday curry from the Hitchins Foodmart is a delicious introduction.
And it sure beats a drive to Lexington or Cincinnati.
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