It would not be a huge stretch to make the argument that Indian cuisine is the cuisine of the world.
In ancient times, traders would risk life and limb to bring the treasures of the subcontinent—spices valued on par with silver, gold and gemstones—by ship and camel caravan to the great empires of the west and near east.
During The Renaissance, countless expeditions were launched to find a new route to India in an attempt to control the spice trade. Wars were fought, empires built and lost over the precious ingredients. At the height of the British Empire, India was her crown jewel and the aromatic flavours of the nation's myriad dishes were compared to Ambrosia, food of the gods.
In modern times, the Indian Diaspora, unmatched worldwide except perhaps by Chinese emigration, has spread the gastronomic influence to cities, towns and villages across the globe.
And now, it has come to Yorkton.
Last week, the much-anticipated reopening of The York House as Love Fine Indian Cuisine was greeted with much excitement as approximately 220 invited guests packed the house for the official opening.
Owners, and brothers, Inder and Bijendra (BK) Sharma struggled to name the place experimenting with typical monikers such as "Bombay Palace" and "India Palace" but they wanted something different.
Then one day as they were discussing it, BK said that Manos and Carrie Tsagouris—whom Inder described as "the most beautiful couple I've met in my life in business"—had given them the restaurant with love, to cherish and raise up like a child.
"The moment he said that word I got the name Love," Inder said. "We named this restaurant because it came with love and we wanted to keep that word intact with York House. So, it is Love. Food is love and love is God."
The celebration October 16 featured a buffet selection of some Indian classics including samosas, aromatic basmati rice, butter chicken, Tandoori chicken, dahl and, of course, plenty of naan fresh from Love's tandoor, the traditional, cylindrical clay oven of Indian cooking.
"It was very nice," said Mayor Bob Maloney, who, along with Chamber of Commerce president Amie Zamonsky and Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit cut the ceremonial ribbon. "I can hardly wait to see the whole menu."
Inder was overwhelmed by the turnout and support.
"This was beyond my expectations," he said. "I don't think I can ever forget this opening because the people were so warm. It seems everybody was very comfortable and they made us feel very comfortable in this town."
Inder lives with his wife Rama in Los Angeles where he runs another Indian Restaurant.
BK came to Canada as a cook eight years ago, ultimately settling in Esterhazy where he took over George's Pizza (now BK's Pizza). Last December, he opened a second establishment in Esterhazy, BK's Steak House and Grill.
Inder said the steak house was a good testing ground for the new Indian restaurant in Yorkton. They put a few Indian items on the menu to feel out the appetite in the area for the dishes.
"Response was great," Inder said. "In fact, that restaurant sells more butter chickens than the steaks, now."
The response Wednesday night in Yorkton was equally favourable. Inder collected 85 comment cards after the event, 95 per cent of which, he said, rated the meal as excellent. The complaints he received about the food were mostly that it wasn't spicy enough.
Not to worry, though, BK said, for those with the palate for it, he will bring on the heat.
In addition to the cuisine change, the new owners have brought in some subtle décor changes to York House consisting of Indian artwork that adds an eastern flair. They will also add Indian music to further enhance the atmosphere following the suggestion of several guests at the grand opening.
"We are listening to the people," Inder said.
Love opened its doors to the public October 18 for lunch. While the grand opening had been generally well-received, complaints about long waits for food marred the actual opening. Inder said they are ironing out the bugs in their systems.