Before I moved to Utah, I spent two formative years living in the heart of Manchester’s (UK) renowned curry mile. It’s a sensory stretch of road that does exactly what it says on the tin, not to mention doing so with enough neon that even Vegas might wince and suggest some restraint.
Theres a lot I miss about living smack bang in the middle of such a vibrant corridor – dansak and dopiaza, bhuna and balti. It’s a cuisine we lazily and clumsily lump together as ‘Indian’ food but in truth is a diverse mix of South Asian culture and complexity; Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian, Nepalese and more. That’s a discussion for another time though.
Moving to the Beehive, you can guess where I headed to first – and in fact some 21 years ago – the very first restaurant I ever visited here in Utah was Star Of India. It became a regular haunt of ours for good reason. It’s also where I ended back at last week, after an inexcusably long hiatus.
It’s the only place in town I know that serves keema matar ($14.95). The dish, usually a drier composition of seasoned lamb and peas, is served up as a creamier curry here. I confess to preferring the almost medicinal charms of the clove and cardamom based dish I’m more familiar with – but this still works. Ordered medium, the dish carried detectable warmth. This presumably means ordering hot will actually produce a dish that has more than a brief dalliance with capsaicin. A rarity in Utah.
Shajahani biryani ($13.95) was a splendidly executed dish by any measure. Big chunks of fork-shreddingly soft chicken. Gobs of subtly seasoned amber-hued basmati; the fun stuff you can run through your fingers like grains of sand. Yes, there’s a reason I don’t have many house guests.
Star Of India’s biryani came with a handsome portion of thin yogurt. Again, order this dish hot and go wild with the stuff. Hot, cool, creamy, earthy, zesty.
I placed the above order to go, and it came home with me in one perfect piece – impeccably packaged – always worthy of note. Star Of India is now three decades deep into the business and three locations as well by my count. Their most recent home is on the ground floor of the Ramada hotel West of downtown SLC. Check em out.
1659 W North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. What they’re saying about me: “Not inaccurate”, “I thought he was older”, “I don’t share his feelings”.
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