BANGKOK — Tucked away in a residential neighborhood near the ever-crowded Asiatique, Curry in Boxes is a hidden gem that claims to offer an authentic Indian home-dining experience.
Don’t get this apparent marketing catchphrase wrong, though: it really is a down-to-earth home. Where majestic mahals downtown have opulent gold-plated cutlery, this homespun establishment blends in almost entirely with the other low-rent shophouses in Soi Chan 51.
There is only one table, without chairs, which can only accommodate one group of diners at a time. However, the fare is top-notch with prices starting as low as 100 baht.
“People around me don’t open their hearts to Indian cuisine due to its smell and appearance,” co-founder Chaloampol “Amy” Pimwan said. “Even if they do, it’s quite difficult for them to push through the doors of uninviting Indian restaurants around Bangkok.”
“I want my place to be welcoming for those who are uninitiated to Indian cuisine. The atmosphere is very casual. It’s like having a dinner at a friend’s house,” Amy continued.
It is where a living room is transformed into a makeshift dinette, with attempts to achieve a Mughal decor through Persian lanterns, embroidered mural, and miniature ganesha statue. Breathe in the aromatic incense to maximize the mood for India, before getting distracted by the noise from neighbor’s soap opera.
Throughout three hours of meals and chit-chats, Amy sat down with her customers, serving drinks (which could be anything from the nearby autie store) and talking through each dish. The chef, Sunil Kumar, a native from the northern Indian state of Haryana, prepares the food in an open kitchen by himself.
The foray into Indian cuisine began with the Thali Set (250 baht), which consists of six different offerings. Newcomers should kick off with the staple: velvety and creamy butter chicken. As its spices are mild, the dish is a safe bet for those who have yet to adjust their tongues to more tangy gastronomic adventures.
Next come thicker and spicier curries. Pahadi chicken, a native dish from the Indian highlands, tastes similar to the stir-fry kai pad prik kang, but with a richer taste. The pulpy spinach chicken goes down with a slight puckering flavor. The set also comes with two home-rolled naan, yellow basmati rice, and grilled chicken tikka as side dishes.
Experienced or native Indian foodies might skip ahead to the restaurant’s signature dish: the butter chicken balls (140 baht) – a fusion between India’s best-loved dish and Thailand’s lesser-known larb tod fried meatballs. Alternatively, take a break from meat with the vegetarian Aloo Gobi Sabji (80 baht). The medley of cauliflower and potato is cooked almost dry, isolating the bold flavors of garam marsala. The restaurant uses an in-house blend of more than 20 spices inherited from the chef’s mother.
In fact, Amy claims that every ingredient used in the restaurant – from spices, paneer cheese, to dipping sauces – are prepared at home.
“We treat our customers like our family members. Everything has to be prepared by ourselves so we can confidently say that we offer homemade cuisine,” Amy said. “It’s healthier for our customers as our cooking contains no artificial flavors or preservatives. The only flavor enhancer we use is salt.”
“But to be honest, the chef is stingy,” Amy laughed.
Amy explained that she intended to make Thai people fell in love with Indian food, but simultaneously did not not want to cheat by bending the flavors.
“Every menu is cooked to Sunil’s original recipe, but we only include menus that are familiar to Thai taste buds,” Amy said.
Due to limited space, Curry in Boxes is intended to be a food delivery service (hence the name). Amy claimed that the experimental dine-in option, which she wanted to be a place where she can socialize with her customers, is fully booked out to October. There are no plans for opening a full restaurant as the amount of orders she received at the moment is out of hand.
Curry in Boxes is open for delivery everyday from 12pm to 9pm. Orders must be placed on their Facebook page one day prior delivery. Dine-in is open on weekdays for dinner from 6pm until late, and on weekends for lunch from 12pm to 3.30pm and for dinner from 5.30pm to 9pm. Reservations must be made on their Facebook page prior to the visit. The restaurant is located on Soi Chan 51 and is reachable by taxi or motorcycle taxi from BTS Saphan Taksin.
This review is unsponsored and based on an announced visit.