Curry Masala

Curry Masala is the only Indian restaurant in Rapid City. “Someone has to serve the vegans, vegetarians and gluten and dairy allergic people” says Al, who is doing the community a service as well as running a successful business in downtown Rapid City. Many of the local patrons are searching for options that are able to meet their diet restrictions, which only Indian cuisine can provide.

There are no frills when it comes to the ambiance or the menu at Curry Masala. Formerly a pizza joint, the space now has few Indian posters and ethnic music in the background of the small but cozy dining area. The menu contains few options which indicate that the ingredients are fresh and everything is made from scratch daily. You won’t find the typical tandoori, tikka masala or naan here (although they are served from time to time). There are one-of-a-kind original dishes that incorporate influences of north and south Indian cuisine.

For appetizer, try the spinach pakora, a delicately fried vegetable fritter served with tamarind and mint chutneys. Entrée selections include rice dishes (biryani, pulao), curries (chicken, beef, fish) and homemade vegetables (cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes). I highly recommend the mango lassi, which is made with mango pulp, buttermilk and cardamoms. It is nothing like you have ever tasted before!

All the recipes are passed by mothers and grandmothers of owners, Al Rodriguez and Justine Ashokar’s families from southern India.

Traditional Indian food is very different than how we know of it here in the west. In Indian households, ingredients are fresh and healthy. Butter, heavy cream, artificial coloring and white flour are never used in home-style cooking. Spice mixtures are made from scratch and attention is given to eating a well balanced diet. Curry Masala has carried on this tradition and offers simply prepared dishes using organic, locally sourced ingredients. It is a real treat for those who wish to eat out but also have to watch their physiological needs. As advertised, Curry Masala offer food that is of good quality, healthy and delicious!

Justine also teaches Indian cooking classes at Curry Masala. If after a lesson you are inspired to go home and try the recipes, you can also buy the spices on site. There is a little storefront at the restaurant. Curry Masala has two locations in Rapid City – a casual cafe on 2050 W. Main St. and a sit town style restaurant at 510 St. Joseph Street.

Sami’s organic lamb lasagna

Over the past few years, I have stayed away from lasagna, even though I love it. Reason being I was trying to heat healthy when given the option, and avoiding red meats. But when my friend, Sami brought over a large pan of her homemade organic lamb lasagna, I gave it a try and was hooked! A slight twist on the traditional Italian classic but retaining all of same textures and balances. It was the perfect combination of tender meat, not too tangy sauce, al dente noodles and the right amount of cheese. Everyone loved it!

With Fall around the corner, this is a comfort dish that will keep your entire family satisfied. Also, it makes good leftovers.

Sami purchases meats and vegetables from local farms that deliver to your door every week. Gegorgia Organics has a list of them where you can search by zip code. You pay a flat fee and state what size basket you would like. Some places require a weekly pickup. It makes a huge difference in the flavor, if you use organic vs. regular ingredients.

Organic Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground lamb or goat (grass-fed beef ok too)
  • 1.5 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (29 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 12 dry lasagna noodles (whole wheat better)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pint whole ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup choppsed fresh parshley (I used 2 tablespoons dried parsley since I didn’t have fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In large skillet brown ground meat, onion and garlic. Mix in basil, oregano, brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Can make this ahead of time.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees using convection setting. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles, and cook until al dente; drain. Lay noodles flat on towels, and blot dry.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, parsley and 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Layer 1/3 of the lasagna noodles in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover noodles with 1/3 ricotta mixture, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Top with remaining noodles, ricotta mixture and sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
  5. Spray foil w/ nonstick oil and cover the whole thing. Bake 40 minutes; take foil off and bake for another 15-20 minutes (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn). Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

If you like this recipe, consider making a small donation to our nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give.

Cooking for good!

Linda Watson helps people save money, eat well, and make a difference by cooking seasonal food from scratch at less than the food-stamp allowance. Her book, Wildly Affordable Organic is all about delicious recipes that are made from scratch using fresh ingredients. Why good? “Because you will save money and feel better” she says. You will also increase your self-sufficiency, reduce suffering, and help slow global warming.

Linda first experimented to see what it feels like to live on a food-stamp budget and how does one eat healthy (let along organic) being on it. Allocating just $1.53 to each meal, she challenged herself to create family-friendly recipes that were simple, delicious and affordable.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it actually is not. Linda gives very simple tips throughout her book, along with her recipes. She talks about buying family-size bargains, making your own spice mixtures, cooking dry beans from scratch, freezing seasonal fruits and much more.

Even if you are a busy professional, you can Cook for Good by planning ahead and strategizing your meals. Linda claims that you can cook about 60% of your food from scratch in less time than it takes to watch a TV show!

I first met Linda at the IACP conference in Austin, TX back in June 2011. The moment I started talking to her about what she does, I could tell she was really passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Linda believes that helping people get enough good food to eat isn’t just a matter of giving them money, although money is essential. Linda also campaigns at state and national level to encourage the government to fund and make more convenient its financial support for hungry people.

To learn more about how you can help yourself and the planet, visit Cook for Good.

I will be giving away a copy of the book, Wildly Affordable Organic on Twitter! If you like to enter to win, all you need to do is follow GoEatGive on Twitter. Drawing will be held on August 31, 2011 and the winner will be notified through Twitter