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Indian cuisine offered in Ceres
Until now, Ceres residents had to travel to another city for authentic Indian cuisine. No more does one have to leave Ceres to whet that appetite.

Sunlight Indian Cuisine opened June 10 in the former digs of the Me & Ed's Pizza parlor at 1775 Mitchell Road, next door to In Shape City Health Club.

"We get a lot of our customers from Livingston, Merced and Turlock and they asked for us to have a restaurant closer so we picked Ceres," said manager Dharminder Verma, son of owner Ashok Verma. "There is a large Indian population in Ceres and Hughson and there is a large Indian (Sikh) church on Hatch Road."

However, a lot of customers who enjoy the food are not of Indian descent.

Ashok, a native of India, crafted the menu of his new Ceres restaurant after the successful Star India Sweets & Catering which has operated for five years in Modesto. Verma decided to go into the restaurant business after operating an Indian food catering business out of his garage.

Dharminder Verma, Ashok's son, manages the restaurant and said customers can expect authentic Indian food cooked by three chefs who come from the Bay Area but who originally learned cooking while living in India.

Indian food involves a lot of vegetables, cheeses, chicken and potatoes with spices like curry, chilis and bell peppers. Food entries also include lamb and sea food. Popular menu items at Sunlight are Veggie Samosa, which is a fried pastry stuffed with mashed potatoe and onion, peas and lentils. Desserts include potato and rice puddings. Tandoori breads, a flat type of Indian breads baked with spices, are served. Gajrela, a mixture of sweet carrots and sweet milk, is also popular.

The business expanded by remodeling into the space that formerly housed Curves for Women to provide a 200-capacity banquet hall for gatherings, receptions and weddings. It was rented out June 14 for a fundraiser attended by Rep. Jeff Denham.

The restaurant offers a $6.99 lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring Indian foods of the medium spice range.

Sunlight Indian Cuisine is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week and may be reached at 538-3300.