Food & Drink

Orchid Indian Restaurant is your chance to enjoy good Indian cuisine

By JULIAN BRUNT

Coast Cooking

You want to take the family out for a meal, but you are tired of all the old favorites. You've had your fill of burgers, pizzas, fried seafood and shrimp tacos.

It's time for something completely new, but you also want it to be healthy, with some veggie or even vegan options, and you don't want to break the bank. So what's a poor soul to do?

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There is one intriguing option in Gulfport or Biloxi that fills that bill, and that's Orchid Indian Restaurant in Gulfport, which offers food that is different and delicious.

Don't worry if you are not familiar with the Indian culinary style. Orchid has a lunch-time buffet that will allow you to pick and choose until you find a few things you like.

You also can order off the menu, if you are an old hand and know what you like.

The buffet has 16 options, and the selection includes lots of vegetable dishes and a handful of meat choices.

If you are dubious, try the chicken tikka masala, along with a garlic naan, the famous Indian flat bread.

Imagine roasted chicken in a creamy, Indian-spiced sauce, so delicious it is considered the national dish of Great Britain. Once you try that dish, you will be hooked.

Bijal Trivrbbi -- "Nicky" to her American friends -- moved to the Coast in 2010, and found out right away there were limited options for Indian food.

Good Karma was an option, but Trivrbbi wanted to introduce the Mughlai style of food from her home in Northern India.

"My friends told me they loved my cooking, and so I decided to open an Indian restaurant," she said. "I met Chef Ram Patel (a chef with 14 years of professional cooking experience), and we formed a partnership."

If you ask Google, it will tell you that there are at least 38 regional cooking styles in India, and that's just the famous ones.

The Mughlai-style that Trivrbbi loves and serves is noted for its use of nuts, cream, yogurt and a long list of spices that make up what we call curry. Every restaurant has its own recipe, as do many families.

Trivrbbi said almost every Mughlai dish has lots of garlic and ginger, so it is a bold and spicy cuisine.

Many people think of Indian food as being too hot, and it can be, but only if you ask for your food to be Indian hot.

Indian food is spicy, but that does not always translate into fiery hot.

"Indian food is spicy," she said. "We use lots of spices and herbs. Cumin, mustard seed, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon sticks are the most common."

Wow! What a list.

Another peculiarity of Indian food is the use of a tandoor oven. It is a very hot, gas-fired, clay oven that produces a wonderful smoky flavor.

Every meal comes with naan, the flat bread that is made in the tandoor oven.

If you get the chicken tikka masala suggested above, ask for the garlic naan. Break off a piece of the naan, and use it as a scoop. It is hard to imagine anything as delicious, creamy, savory and satisfying as this dish can be.

"Lots of other things are cooked in the tandoor oven," Trivrbbi said. "Tandoori chicken is famous, but we also cook shrimp, fish, lamb and goat, and paneer (a homemade cottage cheese that is very popular in Mughlai cooking) in the tandoor. This clay oven adds a very interesting, smoky aspect to our food. No one else around here uses a real Indian tandoor oven."

If you want a unique dining experience full of flavors you may not be used to, but that you will find delicious, hearty and satisfying, Orchid Indian Restaurant is sure to be a venue you will want to visit time and again.

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