Tikka N' Curry spices up South Loop dining options with fast, fresh Indian food

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are plenty of fast food options near the Chicago Board Options Exchange, but most of those South Loop options are of the burger, fry or sub sandwich variety.

A new concept - promising fast, fresh and flavorful Indian food - has already a gained a loyal following in the short time its been in the area. It's a pilot concept for what the owners hope will be many more.

EXTRA COURSE: Indian desserts at Tikka N' Curry
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Steve takes a look at two of the usual desserts Tikka 'n Curry makes each day - the gulab jamun and the rasmalai.

The easiest way to describe Tikka N' Curry is sort of the Chipotle of Indian. You make a few choices while the cooks assemble your food. Fast casual Indian to be sure. But this concept, which is really hidden away along South Financial Place, across the street from the Options Exchange building, is tweaking that concept, by making several of the dishes to-order.

The amount of work that goes into the mise en place, or prep, each morning is pretty obvious. Tikka N' Curry aims to prepare for the day just like any restaurant would, but they're only open for five hours each weekday, so the emphasis is on lunch.

"Our curries are made every morning, our proteins cooked every morning our vegetables are cut every morning," said Harsh Patel, the Manager at the store. "You choose between a salad, protein bowl or a wrap."

And that might include stewed chickpeas or a refreshing salad of tomatoes and cucumbers. But the key is their assortment of homemade gravies and curries. You choose a protein, like, say tofu, then you choose the curry, and it's all quickly sauteed together before being plated, garnished with cilantro and then brought to you.

"We usually get our customers their food within a minute after they receive the order, one or two minutes," Patel said.

A feast includes four sides with a rice or freshly-baked naan. A simple rice bowl, like the korma, can be assembled in about a minute. First, the cooks ladle the curry - in this case, a creamy base made with cashews, tomato, milk and crushed cardamom - into a pan with chicken. The dish is whisked together in less than a minute, garnished to your specs.
You can also add a sturdy, flaky samosa filled with mashed potato and peas, or a cooling side of cucumber raita; the yogurt balances any heat you might encounter. Even their assortment of four yogurt-based lassis are made from scratch, coming in flavors like mango, pistachio and rose. It's part of their mantra, which is serving high-quality food, made-from-scratch, in just minutes.

"We offer the quality and the flavor at the same time," he said.

Tikka N' Curry
400 S. Financial Place
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