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Thursday, July 5,2012

An alternative to the Indian buffet

By Clay Fong

Curry N Kebob fills a unique niche among Indian eateries by not featuring the ubiquitous buffet. Most options here cost a buck or two less than typical all-you-can-eat offerings, and service is reasonably fast, permitting those pressed for time to enjoy a subcontinental lunch.

Run by the same folks who operated the Maharaja restaurants in Boulder and Louisville, Curry N Kebob showcases Northern Indian and Bangladeshi fare. This unpretentious eatery features order-at-the-counter service, and meals arrive at the table in traditional metal plates and bowls.

The menu notes that all entrees are gluten-free, and many vegan, vegetarian and halal options are available, so there’s something here to suit just about anyone’s needs. A full a la carte menu spotlights a range of curry and kebobs, including spinach-based saags and tandoori fish skewers. There are lunch and dinner specials featuring a choice of one of a half dozen or so entrees sided with rice, potato turnover, naan flatbread and dessert. At dinner, this combination costs $9.95; at lunch it’s a modest $7.95.

On the day that colleague Joe and I visited for lunch, the choices included spinach and cheese saag paneer, a creamy mushroom mutter, and alugobi, a melange of mixed vegetables. There’s always at least one meatless choice available, although poultry beckoned for both myself and Joe.

By now, some of you may have surmised that my Indian dining beverage of choice is a mango lassi, and this venue’s $2.50 version nicely juggled the tastes of tart yogurt and mellow tropical fruit. It wasn’t too sweet, either, and to its credit, its texture wasn’t too thick — after all, this isn’t a Shamrock shake. 

We requested garlic naan with our lunches, and this choice did not disappoint. On occasion, this flatbread comes drenched in enough clarified butter that it flies out of your hands. Not so here, as this example arrived with just the right brushing of ghee and a sprinkling of herbs. Also, some versions come with off-puttingly sharp-tasting slivers of garlic. Here the potentially pungent ingredient was muted into a pleasantly nutty seasoning.

Joe’s entree of chicken makhini, also known as butter chicken, was more nuanced than other versions. Built on a base of dairy and tomato, most versions wield their creaminess like a blunt instrument. This interpretation was more nuanced, balancing this dish’s richness with herbal aromas, and it made a fine foil to the perfectly textured and subtly aromatic rice. Another winning side was the crisp and flavorful samosa, stuffed with curried potato.

My chicken vindaloo, served at a medium spicing level, could have used more heat with respect to both temperature and seasoning. Traditionally known for its fiery nature, this dish wasn’t much peppier than Joe’s makhini, although it was tasty.

The included dessert was described as an ambrosia, in this case, creamed fruit cocktail. I suspect I would have been happier with a simple but wellexecuted kheer, or rice pudding.

However, from a value perspective, Curry N Kebob is tough to beat. A less inhibited approach to spicing in some instances would help this eatery up its game, and elevate it to the top echelon of local Indian fare.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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