With so many restaurant choices, old and newer, in the Southwest Florida market, the food industry is facing an increased demand for fresh, ethnic cuisine. Something familiar, yet improved. That’s why Indian cuisine is coming on especially strong right now.

Flavors of India owners are well-versed in both the restaurant business and in preparing Indian Food. Their sister restaurants, also named Flavors of India, are currently operating in Cocoa Beach and Sarasota.

Ayoob Mallothkuni is the manager of the Port Charlotte location, and said that the restaurant serves both Northern and Southern-style Indian dishes.

“Most people are familiar with Northern foods, like chicken tikka masala and butter chicken,” he said. “But our chef is from the South, so we also have foods from there. Northern cuisine is mostly cream-based, while Southern is mostly coconut-based.”

The Southern style of Indian cooking primarily focuses on vegetables and seafood, making it a great choice for vegans and vegetarians, while the Northern chefs utilize more meat and dairy products. Both styles are known for their use of fresh spices, most notably curry, and each are exceptionally flavorful.

Besides their use of fresh ingredients, Ayoob says that Flavors of India also makes sure that the spices they add into their food are at their peak of taste and freshness.

“All of our spices are freshly ground right here,” he said. “Our fennel, coriander and curry, and even our masala, is made here.”

While many of the customers who have come to dine at Flavors of India since its opening have been visitors from Great Britain and Europe, Ayoob said that more and more locals have become familiar with the cuisine served there. One of the primary reasons for that is because of the buffets the restaurant offers, which give diners the opportunity to sample many different dishes at once.

Ayoob said that the lunch buffet, which runs 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, includes a wide variety of Northern and Southern selections.

“It changes a bit every day, but we will always have two salads, two types of rice, two chicken dishes, one goat dish, four to five vegan dishes and two desserts,” he said. “Then once a month, we have a vegan dinner buffet.”

Diners are also welcome to order off the ala carte menu during lunch time.

If you can’t make it to the restaurant to dine in, they also offer takeout, catering services and even delivery within a three-mile radius, if your order totals $50 or more.

When asked what lies ahead in the future for Flavors of India’s Port Charlotte location, Ayoob says that he has been encouraged by the community’s interest so far in experiencing what the restaurant has to offer.

“When we open one of the restaurants, we usually are thinking about what will happen when we’re out season,” he said. “But now we’re getting a lot of regular customers, who keep coming back, so we feel good about that.”

Flavors of India Port Charlotte is located at 1032 Tamiami Trail, #11. It’s open weekdays, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9:30 p.m. for dinner. Lunch on Saturdays and Sundays is served until 3 p.m. For more information or to place a takeout or delivery order, visit the website at www.flavorsofindiaportcharlotte.com or call 941-889-7411.

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