KALAMAZOO, MI — In just its first two weeks of business, Cumin Indian Cuisine already has its signature item: Butter Chicken.
Cumin Indian Cuisine opened on Aug. 1 at 3321 Stadium Drive beside Sweetwater’s Donut Mill. Among its biggest draws so far has been its lunch and dinner buffets. The star of the buffet show is the tender, moist Butter Chicken. The charbroiled chicken is covered in a creamy tomato sauce and goes well with rice and the freshly-baked naan.
It’s one of many traditional Indian options offered during the buffet, but one the owners have identified as its No. 1 dish.
“We take our time on it,” said co-owner Hardeep Singh of the Butter Chicken.
The dish is part of the buffet and also can be ordered as a meal ($11.99). For its first month of business, everything is 15 percent off.
During my visit last week, the buffet boasted a variety of meat and vegetarian options: Malai Kofta; Tandoori Chicken; Vegetable Pakora; Chana Masala and Vegetable Jalfrezi, among others. While only the white naan was available at the buffet during my visit, Cumin also makes three versions of its white naan (topped with onion; garlic and Masala Kulcha with a blend of chilies and spices). The restaurant also serves potato naan and a trio of wheat options.
The Singh family hails from Punjab, India, with members from the cities of Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib. Members of the family first moved to Michigan about 17 years ago.
The family owns Pal’s Indian Cuisine in Kentwood and decided Kalamazoo was a natural fit for another Indian restaurant. The owners said the buffet is popular for a quick lunch during the work day and has been popular with families on the weekends. They’ve also become a popular take-out option for college students, the owners said.
The small space, formerly home to a Chinese restaurant, seats around 50 people inside and another 10 on the patio. Cumin also does take-out and works with local delivery services in Delivery.com, Grubhub and Seamless.
Co-owners Balwinder Singh, of Kalamazoo, and Hardeep Singh hired Royal Chef Sukhi Singh, who brings more than 20 years experience to the restaurant. Singh also said the restaurant also blends its own spices and sauces.
“People come in and they love the food. They think it’s different from the others,” Singh said.
The restaurant only serves halal meat, the owners said. Halal meat is a specific method of killing an animal for food in accordance with Islamic law. Among some of the requirements: The animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife; it must be conscious prior to slaughter; it cannot be a forbidden cut of meat; all blood must be drained from the animal.
Singh said several customers shared favorable reviews of the various goat dishes.
“Everything comes fresh from the clay oven,” he said.
Based on its popularity, the owners are considering expanding its hours.
Originally published on www.mlive.com