ROCKPORT – Since she was a teenager living with her grandmother in Gujarat, a state on the western coast of India, Dee Patel, of Rockport, has loved cooking Indian food.
Recently, Patel has taken her passion of cooking to the next level by opening a takeout restaurant, Namaste Indian Food, which she hopes will meet the high demand for Indian food in the Midcoast.
The Rockport takeout-only restaurant, located at the Ledges By The Bay at 930 Commercial Street in Rockport, had its grand opening last Friday, June 7. Currently, the restaurant will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
It will be back open again on Friday, June 14.
Patel said that her initial plan is to start small to see how the community responds to her cooking.
It seems that the local foodies craving authentic Indian dishes did respond last weekend since Patel sold out of food on all three days.
It has been about two years since this reporter has taken a road trip south for authentic Indian food, so I decided to give it a try during lunch on the opening day. The combined aromas of curry and garlic reached my nose when I placed my order of a “combo” which included an entrée, “Chole Masala,” a curry dish with chickpeas with tomato crème sauce served with garlic naan bread, seasoned basmati rice and papad, Indian flatbread. Since the portions were large, I initially decided to save half of the meal for dinner, but that did not happen. It was delicious.
So, how did this business venture start out for Patel?
First, she was frequently asked the same question, “do you cook Indian food?”
There was also the encouragement from her coworkers, for approximately the past two years, at the Pen Bay Skin Center in Rockport. They would ask Patel to bring Indian food, especially anything made with curry, to their office potlucks.
Patel said they also served as her “taste testers” for any new recipes.
“I love experimenting in the kitchen and having fun trying new recipes, but some of the dishes I will be serving at Namaste are my grandmother’s,” said Patel.
The vegetarian menu will be different for each of the three days Namaste is open. The standard menu will include curry dishes, paneer, samosas, naan, dabeli, an Indian snack food comprised of crunchy potato stuffed in a bread sandwich roll, and gluten-free and vegan options.
Patel first moved from India to New Jersey, then to Augusta and now in Rockport where her family purchased the Ledges with a commercial kitchen. Her sister-in-law, Krishna Patel, is managing the front desk with greeting customers and taking orders.
Orders can be made in person at the takeout restaurant or by calling or texting 992-6347 for pickup. Updated menus will be featured on the Namaste Indian Food Facebook page.
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org