The menu is a deep document. I could spend months exploring Curry Leaf, only to put a dent in the possibilities. Suffice it to say I’m eager to share word about a good place to eat in a pocket of the suburbs that could use more such reasons to hit the road.
A highlights reel would feature, in addition to the lunch buffet, crisp mashed potato patties draped with yogurt and mint chutney — an aloo tikki chaat to remember. Krishnan’s dosas are crisp, hot and slightly sour; try one of the rolled-up crepes, based on rice and lentils, with a filling of spinach and mushrooms. Spinach also stars in the chef’s very good dumplings under a cloak of tomato-cream sauce. Yogurt-marinated chicken emerges from that tandoor succulent and nicely smoky. And I have yet to meet a bread here I wouldn’t want to sop up the remnants of a dish.
Not every plate is licked clean. Saffron-tinted lamb korma is as relentlessly rich as that classic, draped with cashew nut gravy, gets. And if you’re in the mood for chicken 65, head over to Jewel of India in Silver Spring, where a superior version of the Indochinese specialty (blazing with fresh green chilies and hot vinegar) awaits. Gulab jamun is sweet, even by the syrupy standard of the spongy balls of cottage cheese.
For dessert, I prefer a few spoonfuls of loose, cardamom-perfumed rice pudding or, if available, shredded sweetened beets in a sticky mash of almonds and cashews.
The restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol, but its mango lassi whipped up with homemade yogurt is plenty refreshing, and Curry Leaf allows diners to bring their own beer and wine.
For some of us, though, the cooking — a smorgasbord of pleasure — is spirit enough.
13919 Baltimore Ave., Laurel. 301-497-2017. www.curryleafmd.com.
OPEN: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. daily.
PRICES: Appetizers $3.49 to $9.99, main courses $8.99 to $19.99; lunch buffet $10.99 weekdays, $12.99 weekends.
SOUND CHECK: 72 decibels /Must speak with raised voice.