The ‘Curry Queen’ of Lyme Brings New Flavor to Old Saybrook


It’s the most popular item on her menu, but finance analyst turned restaurateur Nalini Srinivasan has never tasted chicken tikka masala.
Still, it was a plate of those moist chunks of chicken, marinated in a spiced sauce, that she asked chef Navin Mishra to prepare for The Day on Tuesday along with steamed basmati rice. She observed that chicken tikka masala originated in the United Kingdom.
“This is the most favorite of all Westerners,” the Lyme resident said.

Less than a month into her new career as the owner of Curry Queen on Elm Street, Srinivasan said her goal is to serve the dishes people know and love while working to expand their palates.

Srinivasan said her affinity for South Indian food — with its reliance on the lentils so prevalent in the region from which she emigrated as a teenager roughly 60 years ago — is one of the things that makes her restaurant different from others in the area. She envisions hosting some variation of a “South Indian Saturday” event each week to highlight her homestyle cuisine.

She referred to masala dosa as a prominent example of South Indian fare, describing a flat, gluten-free pancake of lentils and rice stuffed with potatoes.
It’s a new career path for the woman with two master’s degrees in finance who started out with the World Bank Group as an operations specialist in Washington, D.C., and Russia. She went on to become a budget analyst for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, retiring from the federal agency in 2015. Her husband, prominent Indian economist and professor T.N. Srinivasan, died three years later.

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