Gymkhana: Fishkill's Under-the-Radar Indian Food Destination | Restaurants | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Thunder stolen: “behind a non-descript façade in a bland Fishkill Westage drive you will find a menu that’s anything but.” That’s the first line in a short essay published in the hefty, diner-like menu at Gymkhana Cuisine of India.

The setting is a sprawling asphalt wasteland off bustling Route 9 two blocks north of I-84 in the shadow of a Walmart Supercenter. But plenty of employees at IBM in Poughkeepsie and others in the know have discovered the place.

Gymkhana specializes in styles from Kerala, a region on the tropical Southern tip of India that the menu touts is “known for its aromatically spicy cuisine—seafood in particular,” but also incorporates flavors from across India. Familiar dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori Chicken, Biryani rice, and Vegetable Korma, along with an assortment of curry and tongue-searing vindaloo options, are on the menu.

click to enlarge Gymkhana: Fishkill's Under-the-Radar Indian Food Destination
Courtesy of Gymkhana Cuisine of India

Heed the hot pepper icon. Their dry-rubbed, five-spice twist on usually innocuous Bombay-style alu gobi brings the heat along with a taste and texture that differs from many other Indian restaurants. More rare fare includes their signature dish, Gymkhana sham savera, an appetizer ($8.25) consisting of spinach dumplings stuffed with cheese and smothered with a tomato honey sauce. One regular from nearby Garrison recommends salli boti, a lamb curry sweetened with apricots and topped with crunchy straw potatoes. Surprises include spicy Schezuan Fried Rice and Schezuan Noodles, described as an “Indo-Chinese delicacy” ($16.95, add $3 for chicken, $4 for shrimp).

In an unexpected fusion twist, Gymkhana also offers three pasta dishes: Makhani pasta served with ziti; Mughlai shahi pasta, which features a creamy cashew sauce with Indian herbs, spices, fresh spinach leaves, and cheese tossed with corkscrew-shaped cavatappi, and garlic shrimps cavatappi “seared with golden brown garlic, crushed red chilies, tomatoes, herbs [and] spices.”

Ghee Wiz

The name Gymkhana mashes up the word gym, connoting healthy, and the Hindi term for food. Partners Sanu Pathrose, Linto Devassykutty, and Viljo Varghese are childhood friends who graduated from the Indian Culinary Institute and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.While working together at an Indian restaurant in Connecticut, they heard about a former Pizza Hut location in a half-abandoned strip mall in Fishkill and opened 15 months ago. An abstract stone pattern behind the bar, three squiggly lamps hovering overhead and two large paintings of women with green skin accent the slate-gray industrial décor.

click to enlarge Gymkhana: Fishkill's Under-the-Radar Indian Food Destination
Courtesy of Gymkhana Cuisine of India
A dosa, a thin savory crepe, made from a fermented batter, is a staple of Keralan cuisine.

Varghese works the front of house while Pathrose and Devassykutty are the main chefs. Their cooking style offers the requisite riot of spices, but the delicate sauces are devoid of gummy mouth-feel due to the judicious use of ghee, clarified butter used to bulk up many Indian dishes that is sometimes deployed in a heavy-handed manner.

“We have more than 20 styles of sauces,” says Devassykutty. “Many are garlic- and ginger-based, but we bring the spices in from India. We use fresh curry leaves and real chilies, not chili powder.”

All You Can Eat

And the price is right. For customers who keep track, the Take-Out Club offers 15 percent off of every sixth order greater than $35 and for Lunch Club members, every seventh buffet is free.

The buffet ($15.95 weekdays, $21.95 on weekends) serves several standards but also rolls out innovative recipes like aloo Baigan, a blend of potato, eggplant, and aromatic spices not found on the regular menu. Murgh daniwal is a light chicken curry dish with house-made yogurt, cilantro, and fresh-crushed coriander seeds. Kheer, a rice pudding, is cooked with saffron, dried nuts, and raisins.

Appetizers range from $7.95 to $12.95. The 60 or so entrees go from $14.95 for a dal dish to $25.95 for the Gymkhana mixed grill, which comes with mix of chicken, lamb, and vegetable, and kebabs, lamb chop, and Malai shrimp.

In addition to carrying 22-ounce bottles of Indian beers Taj Mahal and Flying Horse ($9.95), Gymkhana also offers 12-ounce bottles ($6.95) of Kingfisher from Bangalore and the 1947 brand, brewed in Pennsylvania, which commemorates the country’s independence with the slogan “bold year, bold beer.”

click to enlarge Gymkhana: Fishkill's Under-the-Radar Indian Food Destination
Courtesy of Gymkhana Cuisine of India

A 19-bottle wine list ranges from $28 (Domaine de la Colombe, a French rosé) to $90 (Moet & Chandon champagne and Quilt Wines cabernet sauvignon). Signature cocktails ($11.95) are poured with Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire gin for the Negronis and the Martinis. The Old Fashioned is made with Woodford Reserve bourbon.

At Gymkhana, focus on the food, the beverages and the hospitality. With a kitchen that stays open fairly late for these parts (excepting the national chains), it’s an oasis in an over-developed exurban desert.

Location Details

Gymkhana Cuisine of India

18 Westage Drive #12, Fishkill

(845) 250-0101

Marc Ferris

Marc Ferris is the author of Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America's National Anthem. He also performs Star-Spangled Mystery, a one-person musical history tour.
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