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Once home of the longtime India Palace eatery, then the somewhat revolving-door location of places like China One and Indian One, this spot recently became Gurkhas Kitchen. Staffers tell me the new owners are a Nepali family, including brothers, sisters, spouses and cousins, who all have worked across the Springs’ Indian restaurant scene and decided it was time to start something of their own.

One partner, who serves us, says he formerly operated a restaurant in Nepal, then became a cook in the Army; he tells me “Gurkhas” refers to “disciplined soldiers.” I later read online that these are Nepalese people with military prowess, and I stumble upon an amusing quote: “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.”

Consider yourself warned, but nobody needs to fight here — unless it’s over the last piece of naan at the daily lunch buffet line. I skip the buffet for a night visit and notice a much more inviting interior space, with fresh-painted orange walls, brighter overhead lamps and several paintings of Mount Everest. I also note quite reasonable menu prices, for example $1 less than many places on items like side naan bread and lassi drinks. Entrée portions are generous, both in sauce and protein quantity. Most importantly, I discover the food is roundly outstanding, potent with spices and heat (as we order our dishes a not-at-all-mild “medium plus,” with “hot” being an all-out scorcher).

We start with a paneer pakora, squeaky, firm tofu-like cheese blocks deep-fried into thinly breaded fritters, stained orange in part by turmeric and served with a piquant tomato gravy dip. Next an order of wonderfully doughy and aromatic garlic-basil naan and “mixed pickle” relish, commonly known as achaar, a highly sour and zingy relish that’s the condiment counterpoint to sweet chutneys. I wanted those on hand for when the Chicken Korma and Lamb Bhuna arrived.

The first got my attention with a menu description of a yogurt sauce spiked with nuts and spices that include cardamom, saffron and rosewater, which I can’t pick out individually, but they fold into a complex flavor pop (mixed with chile heat in our case) in a thick sauce that clings to juicy chunks of dark meat. For the Bhuna, traditionally a Bengali cooking method/dish wherein the spices are pan-fried in ghee to unlock their ultimate potential and make a thick paste/sauce base, the gamey lamb cooks with ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes and curry, plus green chiles (and hotter red peppers at the “medium plus” level), resulting in a darker, rich gravy that bleeds into rice wads we delightfully scoop with the naan bread. A strawberry lassi could be dessert, reminding me of the pink vein in commercial Neapolitan ice cream. While a vegan chai arrives molten hot, velvety and thick from coconut milk, with underlying black tea perfume and the expected, warming chai-spice-blend flavor, plus a floral and faintly sweet honey finish. (I confirm the honey’s inclusion; I don’t have the heart to explain most vegans eschew honey too.) 

Food & Drink Editor

Matthew Schniper is the Food and Drink Editor at the Colorado Springs Indy. He began freelancing with the Indy in mid-2004 and joined full-time in early 2006, contributing arts, food, environmental and feature writing.