Kiran Verma was an eighteen-year-old bride when she left India in 1973. “It was an arranged marriage,” she says. “I moved to Texas with my husband, who was attending the University of Houston.” More than twenty years later, the self-taught chef brought upscale Indian food to Houston by opening Ashiana, and it wasn’t long before she decided to offer a Thanksgiving brunch. “I thought, ‘Why not do turkey with a Northern Indian theme?’ ” she recalls. The experiment was a huge success. Diners came once, then twice, and soon, going out for tandoori turkey had become a local tradition. Verma sold Ashiana and opened Kiran’s, in 2004—it moved into its new, stylish home on Richmond last year—but she couldn’t stop doing Thanksgiving brunch even if she wanted to. “My original customers are now bringing their children and grandchildren,” she says. If she sees a familiar name on the reservations list, she tries to include one of that person’s favorite dishes. “I have been so fortunate to be loved by my guests. They say, ‘It’s beautiful!’ ‘It’s delicious!’ They inspire me year after year.” In return, Verma has often shared the recipe for her lavish tandoori turkey with its many Indian trimmings. This year, as usual, Kiran’s will be open for brunch on Thanksgiving. “But,” she cautions, “we will close at three or four. Our employees need to celebrate with their families too.”
Recipes for Tandoori and Beyond
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.