Fired up about Cumin Kitchen

Photo by Carmel Musich/DeVries Photography.

Derek DeBoer stood at the counter of the Cumin Fresh Indian Kitchen in Grand Haven. He was picking up an order.

“I came from Muskegon for this,” he said. “What does that tell you? This is some of the best Indian food you’ll get.”

Cumin Kitchen serves dishes from India, Napal and Bhutan. Photo by Carmel Musich/DeVries Photography.

Co-owner Leela Gurung overheard him. She smiled.

Gurung, her husband Bharat Gurung and her brother, Dal Chuwan, have owned and operated Cumin restaurant since March of 2022. Gurung had worked for the Indian eatery’s previous owners. When that owner decided to sell, he wanted to sell it to Gurung’s family.

“We were not ready,” Gurung said. “They (the owners) were visiting our house every hour.” Gurung’s family took the leap, even though “Our heads were loaded,” she said.

The Gurungs and their extended family are from Bhutan — a small nation on the eastern edge of the Himalayas, between India and China and near Nepal. Leela came to Grand Haven alone in 2010. Chuwan arrived in November 2011, and Bharat in December of 2011.

Bharat and Leela Gurung, and Dal Chuwan. Photo by Carmel Musich/DeVries

Many of the restaurant’s original entrées have remained; new ones have been added. “More Nepali items,” said Bharat. Vegan items have been added, as well.

“Fresh” is in the eatery’s name to emphasize the menu’s ingredients. “We do it live,” Bharat says. “It takes time.”

The small restaurant is next door to the Secretary of State office. It has about a half-dozen tables for dining and is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch. They close midday for a few hours, and reopen again for dinner at 6 p.m. Take-out is popular.

A misconception of those who have never tried Indian food – including me – is all about the level of spiciness. We think of curry and freak out.

Leela says it isn’t like that. The food, even with curry, is not spicy unless you request a little heat. That ranges from level one to level five, and it comes with a last-minute addition of, (surprising to me) cayenne pepper. It adds heat but not flavor.

Popular items are the naan bread; Gurung suggests the garlic or cheese version. Also, momo dumplings. Try the mango lassi smoothie.

I ordered chicken thukpa — a thick soup. A much bigger serving than I’d expected, filled with a lot of noodles, large chunks of chicken and not too much broth. I switched the cilantro for extra green onions.

My daughter chose aloo gobi, a dish with spiced potatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes, and cilantro. She requested heat level two. Basmati rice came separately.

My son-in-law’s choice: Tandoori chicken. A large smoky-flavored leg.

Gurung says it’s common for regular diners to increase their level of spiciness over time. Bharat’s and Dal’s heat level choices are sometimes more than five. Leela’s, three. Mine, zero.

But I’ll be back.

Cumin Fresh Indian Kitchen is located at 1106 Robbins Road, Grand Haven.



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