|Eggplant curry -- bagara baingan -- at Curry Leaf|
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|
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.
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.