Follow the spice trail to Curry N Kabab

Photo by CYNTHIA V. CAMPBELL -- Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Massla (creamy sauce), basmati rice with mixed vegetables, and a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots and feta cheese fill the plate at Curry N Kabab. Show caption
Photo by CYNTHIA V. CAMPBELL -- Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Massla (creamy sauce), basmati rice with mixed vegetables, and a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots and feta cheese fill the plate at Curry N Kabab.

Buffet and a la carte menu both delightful and diverse

One step into Curry N Kabab and your appetite perks up. The aroma from the buffet table laden with foods from India draws you into this simple neighborhood café. While you may not be able to pronounce the names, many of the dishes contain spices familiar to south Louisiana diners, such as pepper, garlic, onions, cilantro and cayenne. Other spices, including ginger, cloves and cinnamon, harken back to merchants traveling along the ancient spice trail.

At either lunch or dinner, customers can choose from the buffet ($9.95) or select a meal from the a la carte menu. The buffet is the best choice for people in a hurry. If you choose a la carte dishes (each item priced separately) the food is prepared to order and takes time.

Choosing the buffet at lunch, we selected small samples of each item. The chicken curry with tender morsels of chicken in a dark brown curry (sauce) tantalized the taste buds with peppery hot cayenne pepper. The mild chicken tikka masala cooked with a creamy tomato sauce melted in the mouth. Well worth trying, the curried goat contained small bites of bone-in goat, browned and cooked in a rich curry enhanced with aromatic cinnamon. The fish, dusted with a mild seasoning and covered with a light batter was good, but the least interesting.

The buffet contains a number of non-meat dishes. The flavorful channa masala draws upon the cooking style of North India, with split lentils (peas) cooked in a thickened mild curry. Especially delightful was the spinach palak paneer, with the vegetable cooked into a thick paste-like texture and blended with melted paneer cheese and a hint of onion. An easy choice, the aloe bhugla reminded us of our great-aunt’s potatoes sautéed with parsley and a piquant touch of mustard. Another vegetable, the chopped cabbage, sautéed with tomatoes, green bell peppers and onions was another hit. Also, it’s always wise to blend the spicy curry dishes with rice, and the buffet has two choices: plain and mixed with vegetables. A side table contains ingredients for a build-it-yourself salad of lettuces, baby tomatoes and chopped red onions with a crumbled feta cheese and a choice of American styled dressings.

Buffet diners have a choice of three types of tandoori baked naan: seasame, garlic and plain. This is delicious, warm flatbread. For a real treat, you can order one of 13 versions of naan.

At dinner, we enjoyed taking our time reading and selecting individual items from the a la carte menu. The vegetable samosa ($2.95) makes a great appetizer. Two crispy triangular shaped fried pies, filled with a cumin seasoned mixture of potatoes and peas, were served with delightful curries: one a green peppery yogurt, vinegar and cilantro blend, and a second featuring a thick sweet-tangy tamarind sauce. The restaurant prepares sekh kababs that are not grilled on a skewer. The meat is chopped in a fine texture, mixed with various spices, then formed into rolls and roasted until well browned. The chicken sekh kabab ($10.95) is a minced chicken with spices including onion and mint. The lamb sekh kabab ($11.95), created with minced lamb was exceptional, with a slight lamb taste and baked to just the right texture in the clay oven. These were served with a generous helping of smothered onions and green peppers over a bed of cold, crispy lettuce leaves. An extra touch was the addition of fresh lime that could be squeezed over the entire dish.

For dessert we tried a sweet vermicelli pudding. This cold, creamy mixture of thin vermicelli and raisins blended with a thick milk and cream base makes a comforting contrast to the spicy curries in the main dishes. Desserts change daily on the buffet or can be ordered a la carte ($2.95).

Curry N Kabab is a family-run restaurant. Customers are often greeted by the owner and the staff willingly answers questions about Indian cooking. Children are welcomed. No alcohol is served, however, there is a variety of soft drinks and tea.