Indian food is not everyone’s cup of tea but I really enjoy this spicy, flavorful cuisine on a regular basis. I know the names of all the dishes can be a bit tricky to understand but it’s totally worth the effort given the unique flavor profiles that Indian food brings to your table! And if you’re a vegetarian, even better…
While a lot of Indian fare falls into the N. Indian and Pakistani variety, India is a huge country with 29 different states. My friend Joe, has family roots in the state of Kerala, down at the southern tip of India and he wanted to bring some friends together to try out Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe in Chapel Hill. Vimala’s specializes in Indian food from the Kerala region so who am I to say no? Here’s how it all went down…
Now I have been to Vimala’s a couple of times but it had been a long time since my last visit. Anyone wanting to check out Vimala’s, understand that the restaurant is in the back of a larger plaza and hidden behind Kipos Restaurant. Go through the courtyard and you’ll see the arch with signage for Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe. Inside, the space is a bit tight with order counter and then two separate rooms to the back: one for the bar and another for a more private dining area.
I head into the bar area and say hi to Joe, his wife and meet his group of friends. Vimala’s is pretty busy but we’ve pretty much taken over two of the rooms! There’s a short list of beers but they’ve got some decent NC craft beers which is my drink of choice given the spiciness of what were about to eat. Beer is usually a great pairing for Indian eats!
Dinner tonight will be served buffet and family style, we start off with some lentil and plantain fritters, yum! The lentil fritters are perfectly fried with some back-end spice and I love the plantains. More reminiscent to me of Central American fare, it makes sense given where Kerala sits geographically. Some lamb fritters are really interesting: a mix of shredded lamb and some sort of starch but I’m not sure exactly what!
After the appetizers, Vimala brings out the main courses and it is a FEAST! Some spiced rice, veggies in coconut gravy, and papadum as a good base of carbs. And then there are two curries (salmon, chicken) and a beef dish along with a variety of chutneys and sauces.
While not all Indian fare is hot, it certainly tends to be spicy and that’s certainly the case here at Vimala’s. Loved the beef which reminds me of beef rendang from Malaysia/Singapore. The salmon was luscious and I’m thinking a spin dish since I’m pretty sure most salmon are in the northern hemispheres. But who cares, it was delicious! And I love how Vimala’s uses the traditional steel plates which are humble but real.
At the end of the meal Vimala comes out and speaks to the crowd. She has a long and colorful history but understand that she is passionate about her community, paying a living wage to her staff and sourcing ingredients locally. A huge kudo to her!
Stuffed and full, I thanked Joe for the lovely meal and headed home to Raleigh. But it was a nice reminder of how there are always cool restaurants and places to try out in this third point of the Triangle we call Chapel Hill. Thank you so much, Vimala, Joe and Donna for hosting the evening’s delicious dinner…
Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe
431 W Franklin Street, Suite 16
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Location on Google maps