You know you've come to the right neighborhood when you can smell Indian spices in the air instead of over-used French fry oil! It was a wonderful welcome back to Kabob and Curry, a spot we've neglected since its sister restaurant Rasoi moved into Pawtucket. Though the eateries offer different menus, they are consistent in several ways: the dishes are carefully prepared, the curries fine-tuned, the vegan and vegetarian options plentiful, the supply of complimentary pappadam (with accompanying onion chutney, tamarind and mint sauces) generous, the wait staff friendly and attentive.
The colors in the two-story restaurant on Thayer are gold with red and royal blue accents. The decor is kept simple, in contrast to the food, which has layers of spices and herbs that sometimes linger just beyond your ability to identify them but which work together beautifully.
We sat down to a quick supper with vegan friends. We ordered a vegetarian sampler ($7.99), which offered two vegetable samosas, two vegetable pakoras, one aloo ki tikki, and one paneer tikka. Samosas are like fried dumplings with potatoes, peas, and spices (these were great!). Pakoras are also small hand-snacks -- these had some whole chickpeas in them. The aloo ki tikki was a small potato cake -- mmmmm. And the paneer is a dense farmer's cheese, pan-fried with some delicious beet chunks.
For entrees, three of us zoomed right past the tandoori specials, the biryanis (rice with friends), the 10 chicken variations, the seafood, mutton, and lamb entrees, and straight to the vegetarian listings. Where else would it take a studious consideration to choose a veggie dish? Shall if be the chick peas with masala sauce, the spiced lentils, the roasted eggplant, the onion gravy with vegetable dumplings, the nine-jewel veggie curry, the creamed spinach with paneer or potatoes or tofu? See what I mean?
Chris (vegan cook extraordinaire) chose the vegetable mango curry ($10.99); Barry (passionate musician) the goan vegetable curry ($10.99); and I (the cautious reviewer) the alu gobhi (steamed cauliflower stir fried with potatoes and spices, $10.99).
We were all smiling happily over our meals.
Chris's dish had mushrooms, cauliflower, carrots, peas, potatoes, and green beans in a mango and cashew nut sauce. It was one of those can't-stop-eating-'em flavors. Barry's had a similar assortment of veggies, in a hot and tangy sauce, quite good and not as fiery as I expected. Mine was also less spicy than I thought it would be, but tasty nonetheless, with cumin and mustard seeds.
Bill, the true carnivore of the bunch, was immediately drawn to the tandoori entr?es and particularly pleased when he noticed the tandoori sampler ($16.99). Tandoori vegetables, chicken, and shrimp dishes are also offered, but Bill's a "try-a-bit-of everything-in-life" kinda guy, so he was thrilled to have lamb, fish, shrimp, and chicken, all marinated in various spices and put into the hot tandoori clay oven to seal their flavors. The mesquite wood added a smokiness that was very appealing to him.
We perused the dessert menu to split something, but except for the rice pudding, which is sometimes made with coconut milk, everything was cooked with regular milk or cream, leaving out our group's two vegans. The gulab jamun are cream dumplings in rose water, the gajrela is grated carrot pudding cooked in milk, the kulfi is home-made ice cream. Bill and I were both lured by the rasmalai, soft cheese dumplings in a saffron and green cardamom milk reduction, but, alas, they were out of that dessert. Next time.