Curry In A Hurry
Murray Hill, NY
Review by SuSu
Food is not about mere nutrition, of course, which is why people get all excited about it. But if you are a "foodie" and in New York City, it's completely possible to get good food for little money, with little pretense. Former American President Bill Clinton -- a high-falutin' southerner -- has a weakness for unpretentious cafeterial fare, as evidenced by his affection for Curry In A Hurry.
The place opened in 1976 and is owned by Kalustyan's, the famous spice merchant half a block uptown. The concept of Indian Buffet is universal in the US -- on weekends, Indian restaurants offer an all you can eat buffet of popular favorites for an inexpensive fixed price. Curry In A Hurry serves everything buffet style -- thus the "hurry" part of their name. You can simply point to what you want, or imbibe in a combination: main, vegetable, starch, soda -- sounds like any other combo platter, but it's an Indian buffet owned by a bigwig spice merchant. "Main" is stuff like chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, vindaloo or other curries; "Vegetable" is a real treat, since Indian food has a long tradition of vegetarian offerings. No steamed broccoli here! It's stuff like saag paneer (cheese in spinach), aloo ghobi (cauliflower, potatoes, veggies in curry sauce), stewed eggplant, etc. "Starch" includes pilaus (rice cooked/mixed with spices, veggies), specialty breads, biryanis. Naan is included.
The most expensive combo plate costs about $8.95. It's dished up quickly, it's hot, it's inexpensive. You bus your tray upstairs, get a drink from the soda dispenser, pick up a salad and condiments at the "chutney bar," and stuff yourself stupid.
They say if you want to go to a good, authentic Chinese place, peer inside and see if there are Chinese eating there. Using the same theory, this place must be good, as it's packed with those of Indian descent. It's not astonishingly spicy, and if you really must, you can do a la carte ordering from a menu after sitting down upstairs -- but be forewarned that they dish up the food from the same cafeteria line as for those who shuffle past the steam tables.
They'll even bring foil and containers for leftovers (and you WILL have leftovers, and if you do, one should never waste them. Think of the great lunch you can bring to work tomorrow!) if you ask. And if you're a novice, this is a good place to start your Indian culinary journey, since you can look at the food before you order it. You can also ask the countermen what they recommend ... they will quickly assess your need and make a good recommendation. I got the chicken biryani that way.
Despite the kistchy couplet name of the place and the cramped quarters, it's really good. Try it.
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