Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Curry Leaf
Lexington Avenue and 27th Street, NYC (212) 725-5558
Review by Susu

There is a spice store on Lexington Avenue which Padma Lakshmi (she's a fashion model-cum-Food Network program host, and I suspect George Lucas got two Star Wars names out of her name!) frequents. It's called Kalustyan's, and it sells just about anything and everything you would need to cook Indian food at home, including pots, pans, books, tiffin boxes (stacked cylindrical metal lunch boxes), etc. In America's bicentenniel year, the owners made Indian food more accessible by creating a restaurant called Curry in a Hurry, and it features steam tables to serve Indian food cafeteria style, an extension of the "Indian Buffet" prevalent in just about all Indian food restaurants.

A new place has opened, called Curry Leaf, by the same owners. It's situated in a space that looks like it might have been a sushi restaurant. The wood paneling and columns and screens cried out, "Japanese wannabe" without any Japanese-ness about it. Kind of a pseudo-samurai motif.

We've gone twice, once with a guy who considers Indian food to be the only one worth getting up for. Both times, were were pleased. We ordered many of our "as usual" dishes so that we could compare this kitchen with others, as well as some stuff that sounded/looked good. We've tried:
  • Papadum -- spicy lentil flour wafers
  • Vegetable Pakoras -- assortment of cut vegetables dipped in chickpea flour batter, deep fried
  • Lamb Biryani -- lamb marinated in yogurt, mint, spices and herbs, cooked in Basmati rice
  • Chicken Tikka Masala -- chicken marinated in yogurt, herbs, spices, cooked in the tandoor and cloaked in a tomato, butter and cream sauce
  • Lamb Bhuna Punjabi -- lamb cooked with tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices
  • Malabar Fish Curry -- fish curry (salmon) in a coconut-based gravy, specialy of the Malabar coast in southern India
  • Bhuna Fish -- red snapper marinated in herbs and spices, then cooked with a thick onion and tomato gravy, a specialty of Bangladesh
  • Saag Paneer -- homemade cheese, cooked in spiced spinach
  • Aloo Gobi -- potatoes and cauliflower cooked in a mild curry sauce
  • Naan -- white leavened flatbread, baked in the tandoor
  • Kheer -- cardamon-flavored rice pudding
  • Kulfi -- rich pistachio ice cream
  • Mango Lassi -- sweetened mango and yogurt smoothie-type drink
The pakoras were good, chickpea flour is always heavy and flavorful. I just don't classify it as an appetizer. But as pakoras go, they were good. The papadum were fresh and spicy, served with various sauces and onion chutney, made my eyes water! We had watched Naan being baked in the window of Curry in a Hurry -- balls of dough formed over a pillow and stuck onto the side of the oven, so it drips into its characteristic "teardrop" shape -- and these were just as fresh and tasty.

The seasoning is heavy, and the gravies and sauces thicker than at other places, but the food was very nice. It's all accompanied by boiled Basmati rice, which is a dry, long-grain variety, and fragrant.

The only dish I didn't really care for was the Bhuna Fish. I don't feel the sauce did the fish justice. It was so overpowering, that it took a while for me to realize that this was the fish dish.

The most memorable dishes included Aloo Gobi, Malabar Fish Curry, Lamb Biryani and Lamb Bhuna Punjabi. The Kheer was thin, not what you'd be used to as rice pudding, but it was delicious.

All in all, enjoyable, reasonably priced, good variety. What more could you want? (We later discovered that Bill Clinton likes Curry in a Hurry, but he *is* from Arkansas! Southern food, after all, is basically best served cafeteria style!)

Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. Enjoy!