Chef Biju Thomas has designed restaurant menus, written cookbooks for athletes and worked with professional cyclists to provide tasty and nutritious meals. He's also a native of Kerala, India, which is the primary culinary influence behind his fast-casual eatery, Biju's Little Curry Shop, which opened yesterday in the River North neighborhood. Although curries are the main focus at Biju's, don't expect heavy, cream-based sauces typical of Indian lunch buffets around town; Thomas focuses instead on the lighter, more vibrant spices and sauces of southern India.
See also: Zephyr Brewing Opens in River North
Thomas describes this week as a "soft, soft opening," but says Biju's should be in full swing by the weekend. By then, customers should be able to order beer and wine along with their coconut curry chicken, chicken vindaloo, kerala garlic beef and other curries.
The fast-casual setup is familiar to Denver diners: Starting at the beginning of the line, customers can select a salad bowl, rice bowl, Naadan bowl or Kochi roll. If a couple of those choices seem unfamiliar, the Kochi roll is a wrap made with chapati (similar to a flour tortilla) and the Naadan bowl is "how we eat at home," according to the menu, "a little bit of everything, with a warm chapati."
Rice options include basmati, brown rice or biriyani: spiced rice mixed with dates, cashews and raisins. Additional toppings include shredded coconut cabbage, curry potatoes and dal (lentil curry). A variety of sauces in various heat levels show off the spices and textures of Kerala: moor (herbed yogurt), mint and tomato chutney, samandhi (red chiles and toasted coconut), adacheri (tamarind and birds eye chiles) and gun powder (ghost pepper salt).
The menu also includes a few sides, like sweet plantain, toasted chickpeas and papadam. Biju's is operating on a limited menu this week, so fair warning: Thomas says all options may not be available right now.