Sandpoint's Curry in a Hurry isn't your typical sit-down restaurant, and neither is its owner, Peter Hicks, who learned to cook while touring with Aradhna, a north Indian musical group.
"When I was touring in India, my bandmates and myself were left to cook for ourselves, and none of us could cook well. We asked our married friends if we could get cooking lessons from their wives, and ended up getting about five different lessons," says Hicks.
Hicks continues to expand on his cooking knowledge, occasionally assisted at Curry in a Hurry by a guest chef. Most recently, Elsie Lyth, who lived in India, Nepal and Bangladesh for 20 years, cooked dishes such as Punjabi Rajma curry (red kidney beans) and butter chicken.
The menu changes weekly, always with one vegetarian option, such as saag aloo with spinach and potato, and two meat options, like coconut chicken curry and chicken tikka masala (yogurt-marinated chicken in a spicy sauce). Entrées include rice and a traditional accompaniment, such as dal (lentils) or chana masala (chickpea curry), as well as naan flatbread ($12-$15).
"We are an order-based takeout restaurant, because I don't want to waste food," says Hicks, who was born in India and relocated to Idaho from Georgia three years ago with wife Fiona, a photographer, and their young family.
Typically, Hicks posts the menu on Facebook on Sunday. Customers order, receive a confirmation message with the price and order number, and pick up their order Monday — they're currently using a Pine Street alley location behind Pend Oreille Midwifery and Solar Roadways.
Using Facebook, says Hicks, also allows him to get to know his customers ahead of time. He serves complimentary masala chai, or spiced tea, to customers while they're waiting.
So far, says Hicks, the feedback has been positive. And while it's possible they'll expand to a second day, this father of four doesn't want to open a traditional restaurant.
"I want to be available to them as they grow." ♦
Curry in a Hurry • Sandpoint • Facebook.com/SandpointCurry