Rickie’s Indian Restaurant (South Barre, VT)

One of the whole reasons I started this blog is that, living in Northern New England, we don’t have a lot of options when it comes to ethnic food. Indeed, for some options like “Vietnamese”, “Indian”, and “Cuban” being the most notable, there can literally be hundreds of miles from one restaurant of that ethnicity to the next. This is particularly the case with Indian food; over the entirety of VT, I can count the entire population of Indian restaurants on one hand (and NH, with twice the population, doesn’t have that many more). So, when I actually hear of an Indian restaurant that I haven’t been to before, it’s notable. In this case, it was about a year ago I first heard of Rickie’s Indian Restaurant in South Barre, so when some recent travels ended up with my passing through Barre around dinner time on a Saturday, it was worth my time to stop by the Citgo station in South Barre on Route 14 to try out their Indian food.

First of all, let’s get something straight here: Rickie’s Indian Restaurant isn’t really hiding inside the gas station (like Oriental Wok Express hides inside the West Leb Mobil station), it actually is the gas station; the gas station, convenience store, deli counter, and the Indian food counter are all run by an Indian couple, Gary and Kelly Singh and their family (“Rickie” is actually their youngest daughter). After buying the convenience store back in 2011, they decided to supplement the convenience store’s deli menu with their own Punjabi-inspired Indian food, even going to the expense of installing a proper tandoor. It’s still a rather subtle operation; aside from the small sign outside and the hand-lettered whiteboard menu, there’s little evidence that’s there’s an Indian restaurant here. Actually, that’s not correct; from the moment you walk inside, there’s the distinct, fragrant aroma of spices (cardamom, hot pepper, turmeric, clove, ginger, and garlic) that announces to the world, “we’ve got Indian food.”

Looking over the menu options, I attempted to start off with some chicken saagawala (chicken and spinach curry), but there was a bit of a tactical error: the Singhs take off Sunday, and starting mid-day on Saturday the menu starts to get a bit thin, with several of the more delicious items not being available again until Tuesday. So instead, I opted for some basic chicken curry and rice, sitting down and watching the various other customers, a mix of people making your regular convenience store purchases and those also coming in for Indian food (mostly with Rickie’s doing a brisk takeout business).

A few minutes later, my order arrived, and it was a rather nice burst of spicy aromatics. This was a rather nicely-flavored curry; while much of New England doesn’t go for “hot and spicy”, this was actually a rather spicy and tasty curry sauce (which, unfortunately, doesn’t photograph all that well), with a generous amount of chicken in it. To be honest, I found the sauce to be rather thinner than I care for (bordering on a “curry soup” more than a curry), but it definitely wasn’t watered down; this was a quite flavorful sauce. Solving the consistency problem by mixing some of my rice directly into the curry, the result was an enjoyable Indian food dinner.

While Rickie’s isn’t likely to supplant Hanover’s Jewel of India for my regular Indian dining (for geographic reasons as much as food preference; I’m not often around Barre for lunch or dinner), it certainly was enjoyable enough that I wouldn’t mind coming back at some point (hopefully not on a Saturday) and try some more of their menu items, and maybe some naan as well from their tandoori. For gas station Indian food, it certainly can’t be beat.

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