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Spice Up Your Life At Guru Indian Restaurant

By Annette Lowery

My family and I enjoy eating out. We especially like to sample different ethnic cuisines like Tai, Mexican and Italian. But when I was asked to write a an article on the new Guru Indian restaurant in Central Park, I was skeptical. I'm not familiar with Indian Cuisine, so I didn't know what to expect. I assumed, however, that the food would be heavily spiced with curry, and I'm not a big fan of curry. In fact, I avoid I whenever I can, but a dislike of curry is no reason to avoid Guru. From its family-friendly atmosphere to the freshly baked bread and the many unusual spices that are used in the restauarant's cooking, Guru was a pleasant surprise.

Owner Dave Mathur, who also owns the Taste of Tandoor restaurant in Woodbridge, says his customers persuaded him to open a restaurant in Fredericksburg. He was also encouraged by a Free Lance-Star article published last year that asked readers what businesses they wish would move to the area. And Indian restaurant was near the top of the dining list.

Mather immediately put my mind at ease by explaining that curry is actually a sauce, not a spice, and it's used in Indian cooking to add flavor. He noted the the chefs at Guru cook with 29 different spices, including clove, saffron and turmeric. There are 60 different items on the menu.

My companion and I perused the menu selections while sharing the Mango Lassi, a mango flavored smoothie that was fruity, creamy and delicious. Next we sampled a platter of appetizers that included a combination of Murg Tikka (boneless chicken breast strips marinated in yogurt, herbs and spices and grilled over charcoal), Palakh Pakora (fresh vegetable turnover stuffed with potatoes and green peas and flavored with cumin and other spices). The appetizers were served with two dipping sauces: a mildly spicy cilantro sauce and a sweet tamarind sauce.

For our main course, the other suggested that we start with Reshmi Kababs. The word "reshmi" means silk, and the boneless pieces of white meat chicken truly were smooth as silk. The kabobs, like many other items on the menu, were cooked in a Tandoor, or charcoal-fired clay oven. Mathur noted that all the meats, poultry and seafood at Guru are marinated overnight and then skewered and broiled in the tandoor.

My companion and I also ordered two lamb entrees. The first, Rogan Josh, featured tender pieces of lamb cooked in a yogurt-based curry sauce. The second, Saag Gosht, was a tasty combination of lamb and spinach. All the entrees were served with fluffy Basmati rice. Our meal was accompanied by an order of Naan bread, a traditional white bread made of fine flour and baked in the tandoor. The restaurant's menu features eight different breads, a traditional white bread made of find flour and baked in the tandoor. The restaurant's menu features eight different breads that are freshly baked per order. Mathur explained that the bread dough is placed on the wall of the tandoor and baked to perfection. The bread is apparently very low in carbohydrates, which makes it a good choice for customers who are on the Atkins diet.

For dessert, we sampled several items, including Kheer, an Indian rice pudding sprinkled with nuts and raisins, and Mango Kulfi, a traditional Indian ice cream. Both were delicious. As we finished our dessert, a friend who had just finished dining at Guru stopped by our table to tell us how much he enjoyed his meal. "I've been eating in Indian Restaurants since 1968," he said, "and this is as good a restaurant as I've ever found."

Guru is located near Tables Unlimited in Central Park's Uptown section. The restaurant, which offers a lunch buffet seven days a week, is open weekdays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekends. It's open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. And until 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

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