Indian food on the run: Curry in a Hurry moves up Mass. St. and into a full-on operation

Sammi Sangam's Curry in a Hurry, 1111 Mass., offers quick takeout Indian entrees, snacks and beverages along with everyday convenience fare including soda, candy and chips. It's the kind of food that's perfect for a workday desk lunch.

Sammi Sangam's Curry in a Hurry, 1111 Mass., offers quick takeout Indian entrees, snacks and beverages along with everyday convenience fare including soda, candy and chips. It's the kind of food that's perfect for a workday desk lunch.

Place

Curry in a Hurry

1111 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence

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Copper Coyote Ramberg has become a steady customer of Curry in a Hurry, 1111 Mass., because of the take-out provider's daily vegetarian options.

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Sammi Sangam's Curry in a Hurry is one part Indian food destination and one part convenience store. It's located just across from the Douglas County Courthouse at 1111 Mass.

Mexican food has Taco Bell. American food has McDonald’s. Italian food has Fazoli’s.

Somewhere in the patchwork of American fast food there is a place for Indian food, or so believes Sammi Sangam.

Enter Curry in a Hurry, Sangam’s uber-quick Indian food operation that opened late last month at 1111 Mass.

“As far as I know, there are probably hundreds of Indian restaurants in this country, but there’s no Indian fast food, like Indian McDonald’s, Indian Taco Bell,” he says. “Americans are always busy — let them have Indian food in the way they want it — quick. In a minute to go.”

And that’s just as long as it takes to get Indian fare at his storefront across the street from the Douglas County Courthouse. Every day, there’s a meat-based curry and a vegetable-based curry for sale — for example chicken tikka masala and vegetable korma — plus rice, and snacks including naan and samosas available pre-packaged and ready to go for customers. Pick up food and a fork, pay and go.

Diners can also grab a glass of mango juice or chai for something authentic to wash down the meal or pick up one of the stores many convenience store items such as soft drinks, chips and candy. In fact, the city has the store zoned as a convenience shop, not a restaurant, which should come at no surprise given Curry in a Hurry’s origins.

Curry in a Hurry first opened as an aside at Sangam’s Shell gas station at 1733 Mass. Sangam wanted to feed his customers, most of whom were college students often foraging for dinner among the station’s prepared foods.

“The whole idea was born to help college students. At the gas station, 80 percent of our customers were KU students,” he says. “And they were always looking for some kind of quick snack or quick food and the idea was born of why don’t we provide this.”

Eventually, Sangam struck up a relationship with the landlord of 1111 Mass., and, after a year’s time, Curry in a Hurry was able to move into the spot vacated by Kwality Comics. The transition took four months as Sangam and his family shut down the Shell operation and prepared the new space. When the shop opened up its doors April 27th, Sangam says he was pleased to see customers from the Shell station who had waited out the transition, and he’s seen many new faces too — which has already led to adjustments.

“A lot of neighborhood people are stopping by and we are having conversations with them, wanting to know exactly the stuff they want here,” says Sangam who is catering some KU graduation parties with Curry in a Hurry’s popular samosas. “And probably (we) will categorize and start offering those to them.”

One of the first new customers was Amanda Davis, who hadn’t tried the original location, but knew she had to give Curry in a Hurry a shot when she found herself craving Indian food.

“It was really fast and definitely didn’t disappoint,” says Davis, who blogs about food at jayhawkgirlskitchen.blogspot.com. “I think curry certainly jives with the idea of grab-and-go. The way that Sammi has things set up makes it very easy for someone to walk in, grab some dinner and walk out within about 2 minutes. Naan can even be it’s own utensil if necessary.”

Davis’s husband, Josh, says he loved the food his wife brought home from Curry in a Hurry and also says that if reality TV is any indication, Sangam and his curry are way ahead of the game.

“I actually was pulling for Spice Coast, a quick Indian food concept restaurant, which was one of the three finalists on NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant,” he says of a concept presented as “Indian Chipotle.” “I think in urban areas as well as progressive college towns, quick Indian food would do really well. I am not much of a cook, so when Amanda is gone at work I tend to go for convenience/fast-type foods. I frequently mention the lack of quick ethnic options, and that is why I am so excited about Curry in a Hurry.”

Comments

Megan Green Stuke 2 years, 10 months ago

We had this for dinner last night. A friend picked it up and brought it over - and cleaned Sammi out. He must be doing decent biz over there. And for good reason; it was MARVELOUS. Oh, samosas...

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damnitimpissed 2 years, 10 months ago

I... This makes me so happy that I actually teared up a little. :D

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Dover 2 years, 10 months ago

I found the hours in ljworld.com's marketplace. They open daily at 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and then re-open for dinner from 5-8 p.m. Closed Sundays.

I went to grab dinner last night and was impressed. Really good rice and samosas, and the curry was divine. I will be going back here frequently. I'm craving it for lunch today, actually.

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TimW 2 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone know his hours offhand? Or whether he takes credit cards or is cash only?

Looking forward to stopping by and giving him a try within the next couple of days.

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cleifer 2 years, 10 months ago

Amazing food and perfect location -- downtown but at the west end so you never have to hassle with finding a parking spot.

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annieneri 2 years, 10 months ago

I hope Sammi gets the best business ever. I saw the article, ran over there for lunch, and was pleasantly filled. I brought a sampling of everything back to work and now we ALL think it's great. Way to go!

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bobberboy 2 years, 10 months ago

Great idea but I think I'll open a drive-thru Indian fast food place.

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chansirlong 2 years, 10 months ago

Excellent article on a great restaurant. I love Sam and his delicious food.

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heyheymama 2 years, 11 months ago

I love it! Sammi does rock! i saw this ad and decided to try it at lunch and when i saw him he knew me right away as i use to be a regular at the gas station. The food is great and it is so clean and convenient right where it is, everybody go there!

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bobberboy 2 years, 11 months ago

cause finding parking on Mass. and going in ain't "fast food"

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yoornotmee 2 years, 11 months ago

Sammi rocks! I ate his Curry in a Hurry daily when I was pregnant. When the transition started he kept some chicken tikka masala stashed in the corner of the drink cooler just for me and he gave me his personal phone number for all my curry needs. For about two trimesters I couldn't stand to eat non-Indian food. I could cook some of it myself and I had friends from India who invited me over for a few dinners (yummmm) but when I was on bedrest I had to order the meals. I love India Palace but eating from there adds up quickly! Curry in a Hurry is fast, affordable, and satisfying to both the taste buds as well as the belly. I'm so glad Curry in a Hurry is a business of its own now! I'll definitely be in their store for some yummy curry soon :)

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jackconnor1 2 years, 11 months ago

The only way Curry in a Hurry is anything like McDonalds or Fazolis is the short wait time. The food is so much better than what either of those places offers.

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Katara 2 years, 11 months ago

This does sound tasty!

For the record, Kwality Comics moved 2 doors down into the space where the collectible book shop was. They are still in business.

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2 years, 11 months ago

i'll never forget how kind and friendly they were at the gas station when i was walking my little poodle puppy around the block many times a day and would stop in for a drink, yay for sammy!

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travis 2 years, 11 months ago

This has been my lunch many times in the last couple of weeks. I love the puris.

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somedude20 2 years, 11 months ago

It is great curry not heavy like other places. You would be doing yourself a favor by trying it (and the price is right too)

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