Sweat beads on his forehead as he anxiously looks at the contentious border between India and Pakistan. Green neon glows ominously as the ancient fan casts a slow, loping shadow. Nuclear showdown at hand? Nope, just a diner enjoying some home-cooked Indian food at Curry n Kebob, at the north east corner of Valmont and 28thStreet.
You just came in from the street and can’t help imagining a starkly different scenario, but in truth that scary border is on a table map (he’s planning a camping trek), the eerie light is from the neon “Open” sign, and the sweat? Well this food can be spicy, baby, so a moist brow is to be expected.
Curry n Kebob’s owner, Zuned, hails from Bangladesh, and it appears authenticity rather than flash and style are his principle concerns, thank God.
He claims he will whip up almost anything fresh if you ask for it, but you just stopped in with a buddy to see what was ready to go, right now. You had a serious jones for no frills Indian grub, and this looked good.
You walk up, all casual-like to the cash register, and a rapid-fire exchange begins. “Help you?” the sari-clad woman asks, “Masala”, you say. “Chicken-lamb-fish-shrimp-beef??” ,”umm”, again “Chicken-lamb-fish-shrimp-beef??” “Chicken” “How hot? Mild-medium-spicy?” She deftly punches the buttons and handles your order details while her beautiful brown skinned daughters carry out her commands with well-practiced skill, until…you ask a daughter “How spicy is it?” The smooth ordering machine grates to a halt. The clock ticks. You have hungry folks behind you, buddy, what are you thinking? But the shy smiling daughter—looking relieved with the momentary hitch in the system—pauses then says, “I’d go medium. You should be able to handle that.” You do go medium, and the ordering process spools back up, like a jukebox being plugged back in, mid-song.
Hole in the wall vibe; this place has it. The décor consists of a giant soda cooler, an empty refrigerated display case with busted shelf, mis-matched silverwear bins and the Daily Special written on a Dry Erase white board. Plastic tables and chairs, a few token Indio-Asian artifacts tacked on the walls. You’ve been here, or to a place like it.
You sit, you wait, you catch up with your buddy fresh back from the Dominican Republic where he ate things like boiled egg and mashed plantains. Then your food arrives. Your chicken masala is rich, tangy and just right, spice-wise. It is not a light meal, but did you want one? No. Your buddy’s chicken vindaloo is spicy, as ordered. He uses many more napkins than you. You both churn though your plates with grunts of appreciation.
You leave, feeling full and kinda burpy, but glad you happened across a sweet little spot where such hearty satisfaction results from a mere ten buck spend. Best Indian ever? Nobody said that, but a great hideaway with rib-sticking, tasty food and excellent homey service. Now if Pakistan and India would just set aside their differences, relax, and have some naan together…