|Vegan curried pumpkin enchilada with quinoa|
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A Great Find
It's hard to say what is more amazing - the food at Avatar's Punjabi Burrito or the owner! Let me start by telling you about the owner.
Ashuk Kumar graduated from Berkeley in 1988 with a degree in Business. Coming from a prestigious school like Berkeley, I'm sure he had many wonderful and lucrative opportunities. In fact, he worked at Cisco for 6 months. But this wasn't his passion. His passion was food. So with the small amount of money he saved while working at Cisco, $10,000 from his mom and a bank loan, he bought (of all things) a hamburger place in Sausalito.
What he did next was pretty crazy. Way back then, when people were still smoking in offices and no one talked much about things like gluten, Ashuk put out a big board in front of his new establishment. It said, "Non smoking restaurant", "Gluten Free", and "Vegan, Sodium Free and Carb Free Upon Request". Instead of hamburgers, he developed a "fusion" menu combining the flavors and cuisine of the places that he had lived and traveled - Mexico, Jamaica, India and Italy. Ashuk laughed as he told me how the hamburger clientele left in droves because of the "weird food" and the ban on smoking. I'm sure he wasn't laughing then after investing his life savings in this new concept.
He caught a break when some executives from Autodesk, a nearby company, told all of their employees about this wonderful new restaurant. The next day, 72 people showed up at his door! The rest is history. He opened another restaurant in Mill Valley 17 years ago and less than a year ago, he opened Punjabi Burrito in Petaluma.
Now about the Food
Although Ashuk has been a vegetarian for 46 years, this is not solely a vegetarian restaurant. Seafood and some meat dishes are on the menu. From Mexican enchiladas, Italian ravioli to Jamaican jerk chicken, all of his dishes are influenced by Indian spices. But what's on the menu is not important. Ashuk will usually ask you what you like and then show up with something he promises you'll love! Although he is usually at his Sausalito location, he assures me that his Petaluma team can also customize meals to your liking.
I do believe my favorite vegan dish is the curried pumpkin enchilada. I'm not sure of the ingredients but their are distinct flavors of mango, tamarind, chutney and curry. Now that I've tasted this, I don't believe I can live without it! I'm truly addicted!
|Ashuk explains the menu to 16 hungry vegans from Compassionate Living Outreach at a Meetup in March|
|Blackened seasonal vegetables which chick peas|
|Vegan mustard greens and spinach enchiladas with rice|
Give it a try!
If you live in northern California or come for a visit, give this restaurant a try!
Punjabi Burrito is located at 131 Kentucky Street in Petaluma.
Ashuk's other two restaurants are:
The original Avatar's located at 2656 Bridgeway Blvd in Sausalito and
Avatar's Punjabi Burrito located at 15 Madrona St., Mill Valley.