Lotus root

For the very best of Indian cuisine, greater Austin now benefits from what Arkansas has lost. Tulsi Fine Indian Cuisine opened in Round Rock on July 7.

Restaurant manager Rahul told me “We started our journey from Arkansas,” where owner Shekhar Rikame first established Tulsi Fine Indian Cuisine.  “We had two restaurants there, and we moved on to Texas. The boss started an Indian grocery store in San Antonio, quite big, nearly 8000 sq ft. In that store he opened a small kitchen. Then he came up with a third project (Tikka House) which is in downtown, near the Marriott (Shops at Rivercenter), and he’s in the process of setting up a big restaurant in San Antonio.”

Restaurant manager Rahul

The menu has been revised from its days in Arkansas, Rahul said: “we always go as per the customers needs.” The menu features items “from all the regions of India from north to south: it’s everything in one small menu. I think there are a few dishes you won’t find in other Indian restaurants here.” The staff from Arkansas followed the owner here, a tribute to loyalty and dedication to creating the best Indian food.

To begin I had Manchow soup, a thick ginger-flavoured soup with fried noodles. So flavourful it grabbed me by the neck and choked me – just the way I like it! Maybe not for tenderfoots, but a real Texan will love it. My dining companion had the lentil soup, which is listed as a house specialty. He liked it very much.

I had several items from the appetizer menu. First one, which I had not seen before, was crispy lotus root (pictured in the lead photo), made from the roots of the lotus flower. It’s in a spicy red sauce called Schezwan, with garlic and ginger in it. So good, this is now my favourite vegetarian appetizer!

Chicken lollipops are chicken wings, and Indo-Chinese creation that is “the most popular item on our menu.” They are not like BBQ wings, but done in a different style. They are served with the same red sauce used for the Lotus root. Also on the menu is Chili Paneer, another Indo-Chinese option popular all over India. Konkani fish fry is from Mahul hometown of Mumbai (better known by its former name Bombay). The fish fry is made Maharashtrian-style. “The recipe is from my boss’s Mom,” said Mahul.

Rahul said that chaats are popular all over India: real street food that is crispy-spicy-tangy. They are basically savory fried pyramid-shaped pastries filled with various things. The Samosa chaat, for example, is smashed samosa with garbanzo curry with mint, tamarind sauce and yogurt. They have six variations of chaats, all priced at $7.99. From the appetizer menu, I had something similar: a 2-piece vegetable samosa, with potatoes, peas and spices. Very satisfying, for only $3.99.

The Jhinga Dynamic lives up to its name. Lightly battered crispy prawns in a house aioli sauce are fantastic, a delicate taste that I not experienced before. Mahul said this is a specialty of the northern part of India.

Andra Lamb curry

For the main course I had Andra Lamb Curry (pictured), priced at $15.99. It is a dish from southern India. The lamb was tender, mixed with onions, tomato, and coconut with various spices. I am a big fan of Lamb Vindaloo, which is also on the menu. The Andra lamb is just as delicious, and is served with a bowl of white rice. For his main course, my companion had Shrimp Saagwala, which is cooked in spinach. It passed his taste test, which is not easy. If you don’t want the shrimp in shells, ask your waiter to discard the shells when you place the order.

Julab Jamun

Dessert was a real surprise. Called Julab Jamun, what you get are two spherical objects made with milk solids. They are nested in sugar syrup suffused with saffron and green cardamom, which completely change the flavour of the basic Julab. I will have this again on my next visit (maybe even a double order!). My companion had the rice pudding; he is accustomed to having nutmeg or cinnamon on there as a topping. The pudding itself was great, but he thought it needed something – perhaps some Indian spice – to give it a kick. The seven desserts are priced from $3.99 (for the Julab) to $6.99 for the Falooda, a Mughlai cuisine version of a cold dessert. It has origins in the Persian dish faloodeh.

Service was exceptional, and the portion sizes were generous. I highly recommend Tulsi for anyone who wants exceptionally fine Indian food at a reasonable price. It is certainly the most innovative I have had anywhere in Austin.


Address: 2800 S I-35 Frontage Rd Suite 120, Round Rock

Visit their website: tulsifineindian.com


In San Antonio, visit Tikka House: 849 E Commerce St.

Lotus root

By Dr. Cliff Cunningham

Dr. Cliff Cunningham is a planetary scientist, the acknowledged expert on the 19th century study of asteroids. He is a Research Fellow at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. He serves as Editor of the History & Cultural Astronomy book series published by Springer; and Associate Editor of the Journal of Astronomical History & Heritage. Asteroid 4276 in space was named in his honour by the International Astronomical Union based in the recommendation of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Dr. Cunningham has written or edited 15 books. His PhD is in the History of Astronomy, and he also holds a BA in Classical Studies.