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March 01, 2020

The Desert Leaf
Story by Linda Brewer, Photography by Robin Stancliff.

Tamarind is a large, tastefully decorated restaurant with an extensive menu. The Patel brothers, Bob and Bobby, planned it that way. The pair, who explained that they adopted American names because their Indian names are difficult for English-speakers to pronounce, have lengthy experience in the restaurant business in California and also own a motel in Tucson. They opened Tamarind on April 1, 2018.

Hospitality featuring the cuisine of their native India is in their blood. “Our family comes from Gujarat State. In Gujarat we love food. We Gujaratis are truly foodies,” says Bobby Patel. “In all the families people are cooking—mother, father, and kids are cooking and eating good food.” Gujarat is India’s westernmost state, with a varied topography and long coastline. It is famous for both its cuisine and its business culture. Its food has been described as the best example of vegetarian cuisine, although some dishes are made with fish, chicken, and shrimp.

Bobby says that people from India who now live in Tucson, and Americans who have traveled to India, enjoy eating at Tamarind. Over the years Americans have come to appreciate Indian food. “People get tired of eating the same food where everything on the plate tastes the same,” he explains. “They want something different. In an Indian meal, every dish has a different taste. There are layers—sweet, hot, tangy, and mild.”

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