India's cuisine: Not just for festivals anymore

Gandhi restaurant is the newest addition to Carbondale's culinary scene

By Troy Hooper
OpinionReal AspenMarch 17, 2011

For the last 15 years, one of the longer waits in the food courts of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival and Carbondale Mountain Fair has been for those savory naan wraps bursting with spicy flavor.

But now it's far easier to get a hold of Indian fare here without first punching a ticket at an annual festival or fair.

The purveyors of those same naan wraps have opened a restaurant, Gandhi, in a shopping center in Carbondale, across from City Market and next to Casual Culture, on Highway 133 and Main Street.

The bar at Gandhi
Troy Hooper

It is just the second Indian-style restaurant in the Roaring Fork Valley — the other is Nepal restaurant in Glenwood Springs, a near-hour drive from Aspen — and it's dishing up a delectable dining experience.

Yellow-curry-colored walls that contain two spacious dining rooms and a stately bar help provide much of the ambiance at Gandhi. The enigmatic sounds of Sufi music fill the space, along with Hindustan art and a growing legion of local customers thankful for the latest arrival in Carbondale's understated culinary scene. There is outdoor seating too.

Completing the atmosphere are the aromas wafting from the kitchen.

Eight varieties of fresh clay-oven-baked naan breads are featured on the menu. Chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian dishes can be had in variations of curry, masala, vindaloo, saag and other styles. Tandoori specialties include chicken tiika, cornish hen, seekh kebab, paneer tikka, prawns and seabass. Appetizers capitalize on the art of the fritter. Kheer, gulab jamun and ras malai are served for desert.

The bar is stocked with popular microbrews, wines and spirits. But non-alcoholic Indian beverages like mango lassi, nimbu paani, coffees and tea are offered along with juices, bottled water and soft drinks.

H. Singh Dhaliwal and Raj Dhaillon
Troy Hooper

Raj Dhaillon and H. Singh Dhaliwal, co-owners of the Gandhi enterprise, say they “deliberately chose Carbondale because it's a community.” They relocated here after years of experience operating Gandhi and India Clay Oven ventures in the Denver Tech Center, Monterey, Calif., Las Vegas, Nev., and other locales. Carbondale's well-traveled, crunchy clientele is a better fit than Aspen's "touch-and-go" tourist traffic, Dhaillon and Dhaliwal say, but Gandhi nonetheless caters to diners from Aspen to Glenwood.

Aspen is about 40 minutes to the east of Gandhi. Glenwood Springs is about 15 minutes to the west.

“This is God's country,” noted Dhaillon. “It's very peaceful.”

Gandhi is open Tuesdays through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Lunch entrees, which include the aforementioned naan wraps, are $8.95. Dinner entrees range between $12.95 and $18.95. An order of naan bread is three bucks.

Namaste.

Gandhi offers indoor and outdoor seating.
Troy Hooper


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