Thursday, July 18, 2013

New Curry Leaf Restaurant Opens In Laurel

Eggplant curry -- bagara baingan -- at Curry Leaf
You need the good old media to find the new good new places.

Food blogs are fine, but we can't beat folks like Todd Kliman of the Washingtonian who turned us onto the new Curry Leaf restaurant in Laurel.  As Kliman has posted in recent chats, Curry Leaf's chef came from Udupi Palace, a stellar vegetarian restaurant from years ago.

Curry Leaf has a menu that runs a range from snacks to curries, Kashmiri lamb to south Indian curd rice.  It's an impressive array, and that's a reason to drive into Laurel.  Howard County has wonderful Indian restaurants, but Curry Leaf offers different dishes, different variations, a chance to try another take if you have fallen in a rut in your favorite place.

Start with the lemon rice.  That was Kliman's suggestion, and it was a dish that I had never seen in 25 years of eating Indian food.  Long rice turned yellow with tumeric, flavored with lemon juice, then spiced with fresh curry leaves and mustard seeds.  The lemon rice is light and fresh and studded with cashews for a little crunch.  It comes with Indian pickles and raita that you add as condiments -- little dashes of flavor and creaminess.

Lemon rice and raita
Overall, we had an entire meal of dishes that were new to us.  We love Mango Grove's baingan bartha, but Curry Leaf's eggplant came cooked whole -- they're the small, black skinned ones -- after being slit open and surrounded with a curry of coconut, peanuts, green chilies and spices.  Spicy, tender eggplant and a sauce that we poured over rice.

We left quite happy and already thinking about other new dishes to try.  Like Mango Grove in Columbia, the menu includes south Indian dishes like dosas and Indo-Chinese dishes like Chicken Manchurian.  I have my eye on a paneer dosa, some Sri Lankan breads, and a special called Haleem simmered overnight with wheat flour, lentils, meats and spices.

With a papdi chaat to start -- that's crisp cracker-like snacks topped with yogurt and chutneys -- and an excellent sweet lassi to drink, we were stuffed and carried out half of the lemon rice to star in packed lunches.  (If you want lunch at Curry Leaf, they have a buffet that looks expansive.  Maybe a dozen signs were ready for the next day when we ate dinner.)

Overall, Curry Leaf is a place that you should know.  Terrific if you want to try a new Indian kitchen.  Really convenient if you want to meet friends who live south in Laurel or into Prince George's County.  The space used to be a Korean-Japanese restaurant, and it was a central spot for us to meet a friend who used to live off the BW Parkway.

You should definitely check out Kliman's weekly chats.  That's where I saw his mention of Curry Leaf.  The Washingtonian only publishes monthly, but Kliman eats all over and writes short, descriptive posts and answers questions.  And you should definitely check out the local Indian even if you don't want to drive to Laurel.  We have everything from Nepalese to southern Indian, and I have posted dozens of times about restaurants like Royal Taj, Curry & Kabob, House of India, Akbars, and more.

Curry Leaf
13919 Baltimore Avenue (U.S. 1)
Laurel, MD 20707

NEAR:  Curry Leaf is on U.S. 1 in Laurel about a mile and a half south of Main Street.  It is an easy drive from Howard County.  Going south, Curry Leaf is on the left side of the street in a strip shopping center with a video store and an African-Caribbean restaurant.

Curry Leaf on Urbanspoon


Dan said...

Laurel is my old stomping grounds (before movin on up to HoCo obviously), so I felt I needed to comment.

Looks like this is where Asahi Sushi used to be, which had some of the best sushi deals around (great quality too). Sad they are no more.

If you want good Indian in Laurel, I can't recommend Sapphire Restaurant & Lounge enough. Great weekend & lunch buffets with tons of variety. They're on 197.

Wildkitty said...

Curry Leaf did go in where Asahi used to be. I'm still mourning the loss of my favorite sushi place :(. I tried Curry Leaf shortly after they opened. Their food is good and the service was excellent but when the meal was over my friend and I both agreed Sapphire Restaurant & Lounge will still be our go to place for Indian food in Laurel.

PhilK said...

Went by the Curry Leaf yesterday - old Asahi - done up nicely.
Loved the food - thought the dishes were really bursting with flavor. Loved the chicken chettinad and goat curry.
Unfortunately really do not rate Sapphire anymore - think they are not sure whether they want to be Indian or Thai !!

Anonymous said...

We've lunched there twice so far. Excellent food both times.

Anonymous said...

Their website's down and Yelp notes them as "closed". Is this true? We really liked Curry Leaf.

SHZ said...

We love the food at this place. Due to logistics, we predominantly do take-out. However, this has allowed us to sample several dishes, since we usually have our inlaws join us. We agree that the lemon rice is outstanding - we usually order 2 of them so we can enjoy the leftovers. We also love the egg curry, which not only tastes wonderful, but is accompanied by a delicious mini-paratha (aka ceylon parantha). Their uttapam (onion chilli) is outstanding and reminded us of the amazing South Indian food we used to enjoy in NYC (e.g. Chennai Garden). We also enjoyed the gobi manchurian, (despite its bright orange/red color). If you want something decadent and buttery, the haleem will be right up your alley. In general, we found that the vegetarian dishes are the most memorable.