Bite into just about any dish from Lamba’s Royal Indian Food and prepare yourself—this exquisite Indian cuisine will bite right back. Think of it more like a love nibble that will warm you from the inside out. The heat comes from a combination of traditional Indian spices and, often enough, a healthy dose of serrano peppers—something you might expect more from a Mexican meal, but which works surprisingly well in the otherwise traditional cuisine served up weekly on the farmers-market circuit by Garrima and Gurpreet Lamba.
The couple, both born in India, met stateside. Gurpreet, a naturalized citizen, had been living in California when he met Garrima, who was visiting from India. They decided to marry and eventually found their way to Houston, where they opened up an Indian food store. But Gurpreet, so impressed by his wife’s cooking prowess—which she learned from her mother and her grandmother, who at 98 still loves the kitchen—saw potential. They decided to try selling prepared dishes at a local farmers market.
As they worked to build their business, Gurpreet began researching. “He was looking online and saw farmers markets in Austin,” says Garrima. “We realized our best bet was Austin when he found there are not too many Indian restaurants there.”
Gurpreet began commuting to Austin on weekends. “We were driving up and down from Houston all the time,” says Garrima. Luckily for us, this past fall, they decided to move here.
Originally, the couple sold their fare only at the Barton Creek Farmers Market. These days, though, they serve up eight or nine heat-and-eat delicacies weekly at several other markets, as well: HOPE Farmers Market in Austin, and farmers markets in New Braunfels, Steiner Ranch, Bastrop and Cedar Park.
Lamba’s chicken curry is already legendary. The palak paneer, like a deep green, cheese-cube-embellished spinach smoothie, melts in your mouth. Parathas—which look a bit like quesadillas—come stuffed with potato and lentil or spinach. All of it keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer, inspiring their growing number of regulars to stock up.
This past fall, the business got a huge word-of-mouth boost when they were invited to set up shop at ACL Fest as part of the HOPE Farmers Market concession area. “It was unbelievable,” says Garrima. “We didn’t have time to breathe at all. We had lines and lines of people.” Beyond the obvious pull of dish diversity, Lamba’s appealed to the diet-conscious in the crowd, with gluten-free, wheat-free and vegan options.
Garrima has finally exhaled—letting go of the concerns she had at the outset. “I worried—How will we support this and make it happen? I give all the credit to Gurpreet. If he wouldn’t have pushed me, it wouldn’t have been successful.”
Lamba Royal Indian Food
Barton Creek Farmers Market, Sat. 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Cedar Park Farms to Market, Sat. 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
Bastrop 1832 Farmers Market, Sat. 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
New Braunfels Farm to Market, Sat. 9 a.m.–1 p.m.
HOPE Farmers Market, Sun. 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Steiner Ranch Farmer’s Market, Sun. 10 a.m.–2 p.m.