Food & Drink


Turmeric Indian eatery meets the moment with desired spice
News  /  Food & Drink

A fiery medley of coconut curry chicken with Eggplant Bharta (Photo by Matthew Schniper)

This review starts with a cold. My cold.

And while what you’re about to read won’t hold a candle to Gay Talese’s legendary 1966 profile Frank Sinatra Has a Cold — for obvious reasons, multifold — I will say I thought back to the studied journalism piece for the simple analogy of the effect of being robbed of one’s powers. And the toll that takes on one’s abilities (and in Sinatra’s case, everyone in his inner circle).

Now, I fully realize that a common head cold debilitates everyone to some degree in the tasks they do to earn money. I’ve worked sick countless times, slogging over the keyboard trying to be articulate through a brain fog. But that’s not what gets me. It’s what comes before: the eating.

5535 Powers Center Point, 719-308-2514,, Noon to 9 p.m., Wednesday through Monday

If I can’t taste to my maximum potential, and few folks can with a stuffy head because olfactory senses are dulled, I shouldn’t be out dining for work. To a lesser extent, it’s like when the most unfortunate of chefs got sidelined during COVID, losing their sense of taste. I interviewed several locally about how they adapted, miraculously getting by. The work doesn’t stop. It never does. And you know what’s fun about journalism, while we’re loosely on the topic? Deadlines.

They don’t stop when I get a cold. So I too have gotten by when necessary, leaning on my dining companions’ confirmations of what I can cleanly discern, and their input otherwise. I’m overly cautious with my judgments. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation and I try never to get stuck in it. Until, one recent night, gazing over my calendar of obligations, I boldly — stupidly, perhaps, through the congestion — asked myself “What if I just went with it? You know, leaned in, as they say.” (I actually dislike that phrase, so read that with a sarcastic tone. I’m still capable of being funny when I’m sick. Ask anyone.)

Like, what if I used my cold as a springboard to eat something that I crave when stuffy, to clear my head? Something spicy, that manifests a mild sweat and gets the head draining. Something spicy enough that I childishly imagine the capsaicin as an anthropomorphic, muscular superhero down there in my gut punching out the germs, one by one with really clever catchphrases. (This is naive, by the way, as I once confirmed on my way home from Kolkata that the hottest kimchi I’ve ever eaten, during a layover in Seoul, did not kill the giardia I’d already lost 10 pounds from, despite my visualizations. Three rounds of antibiotics later…)

Anyway, back to something spicy: so many options. Thai, Mexican? No, I’m in the mood for Indian food, and there happens to be a newly opened place named Turmeric on my lead list. What luck! I’d already called a few weeks before to ask whether this was a new location for the fantastic Indian eatery of the same name that closed some time ago in Florence; turns out not. I later learn it’s the effort of the Sharma family: brother, sister and parents, with a combined 40-plus years in the industry (including in this area) and dating back to living in India. I’m told they always wanted to run their own place while toiling in other peoples’, and so finally they’ve occupied this former China Menu location off the north end of Powers Boulevard, in the same complex as Pies and Grinders, Happy Time Korean and Jei Sushi.

Because I have a cold, I responsibly phone in a to-go order. (Oh, you thought I was gonna dine in and spread the love? Tsk tsk, I may have dumb ideas like reviewing on a cold, but I’m not an uncaring idiot.) Good news: The online ordering system’s super easy and efficient with text updates, and my food’s ready in 20 minutes. In waxed paper boxes and recyclable plastic containers vs. foam (thank you). I zip it home before anything substantially cools.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve absentmindedly ordered a pistachio kulfi for dessert, in my snot-addled brain somehow thinking of knafeh, which is Middle Eastern spun pastry. Totally different thing than — wait for it — ice cream that’s doomed to melt on the drive. (Why is this even a to-go menu option, my ego asks, rushing to my defense.) So yeah, I end my meal with a really delicious, rich, sweet cream shot (Hello cardamom! I taste you loud and clear.) from a ramekin (not very big for $6) thinking, “damn, I bet this is great as ice cream.”

Rest assured, this review is not off the rails, I got this. It’s fine. Everything was fine from there backward. Before I scorch my stomach lining as intended, I aim to get my taste buds going with the Kachumber salad, a lightly pickled (vinegary) cucumber and red onion mix (with a couple value-less, watery tomato slices thrown in) flavored with cilantro (don’t taste it) and chaat masala (a complex spice blend with welcome sour, tart notes). While the cucumber’s starkly itself in a cooling, snappy way, the red onion’s still somewhat raw and overly sharp in its quantity, really blasting the tongue, threatening to undermine the flavors to come. Instead of a starter, I’d treat this more like a relish to accent bites throughout the meal, which is how I utilized the mixed condiments I order: raita (cooling spiced yogurt), mango chutney (sappy, fruity sweetness) and achar (the very definition of a mouth hammer, puckeringly sour).

Before dabbling with those and my main order, I also eat some momo, potsticker-shaped steamed dumplings with a minced veggie core (versus a chicken option), in need of little chewing as everything’s dough-soft, and served with a thick tomato-sesame dip that lends all personality to the dish with a bouquet of Indian spices.

Finally, to the spiciness I came for: I’ve ordered a plate of coconut curry with chicken, medium, because the online menu’s options go from mild to medium to spicy, and I have no idea if spicy will equate to Thai hot or not, which is always the mystery of first-time-dining a spot. But I’ve ordered the Eggplant Bharta spicy to find out, so I have a ballpark litmus test.

Starting with the curry, I can say fans of butter chicken will dig it, and medium does not equate to weaksauce; I already start to smolder and get a warming sensation through my core. The tender chicken chunks swim in a creamy coconut milk sauce that tastes to me like it’s laced with an onion gravy; I think I also taste fenugreek seed, with a black pepper element too. My friend that I share a bowl of leftovers with the next day says he detects asafoetida, a South Asian spice that I read supposedly balances the sour, sweet, spicy and salty elements of certain recipes. It’s almost off-puttingly pungent when smelled fresh, before cooked. I know this because he brings me a sample from his spice rack to sniff. Which of us is correct? Likely the guy without the cold. But who cares, we both greatly enjoy the curry. Adding the mango chutney to it really enhances the flavors, accentuating the existing sweetness. 

To the Eggplant Bharta, ordered spicy: You’re gonna want to keep the raita condiment on hand for cooling, because this dish is straight fire. Turmeric’s spicy is spice-ee. The tandoori cooked eggplant gets served mashed rather than cut in segments, making for a paste consistency, flecked with peas and caramelized white onions. I taste faint garlic through the lingering burn.

From what I could still taste loud and clear, Turmeric should not be reserved just for when you’re sick and need heat therapy. It’s a fine new Indian option far enough away from the others in town to serve a niche neighborhood-area audience if not a commuting crowd. The Sharma family should be proud.

If so, we'd love for you to share it with your friends and followers! Sharing this article can help spread valuable information and spark important conversations. Simply click a share button below!