North 28th Street at Valmont Road bustles with activity any Friday evening. Car dealer windows aglow offer cyclists a glimpse at another life. Gas stations bathe pedestrians in spheres of daylight cast beneath pure white LEDs. Pale pink hangs in the western sky, silhouetting our iconic local foothills. And goat is on the menu at Curry-N-Kebob, Cuisine of India.
The unassuming storefront at 3050 28th Street, (720) 328-4696 (NE corner of 28th & Valmont), belies the space of discovery amid the aromas and textures inside. This latest venture of Zuned Khan and longtime chef Mr. Singh, offers a unique take on Northern Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine. The environment is cozier than the pair’s previous ventures– the Maharaja restaurants in Boulder and Louisville. The steady stream of take-out patrons hardly lets the door close though, and sit-down tables are never vacant long.
They have struck gold again!
True to any great ethnic dining experience, the “special” menu holds the finest treats at Curry-N-Kebob. The printed main menu boasts a belly-bursting bounty of creamy, tomato, potato, and stewed or baked seasoned meats, including common “Indian” curries, kebobs, saags, and tandooris. The “special” menu though reveals a glimpse into where Khan’s heart truly lies, displayed on tall boards across the wall between the kitchen and restaurant area.
Sweet and sour yellow lentil-based Dansak; roasted pureed eggplant Baingan, roiling in North Indian spices; and paella-like Biryani rice dishes, packed with firm steamed vegetables, nuts, raisins, and a choice of protein in a creamy coconut sauce are but a taste of the one-off specials. A modest white board, just behind the registers, offers yet another “special” menu, one adventurous edge beyond Khan’s standard savory specials.This mercurial “exotic specials” board opens a door to a truly ethnic place.
Recently, the posted exotic entrees revolved around mild stewed goat: Goat shank roasted in butternut chili karma sauce tempted the senses and goat Biryani elevated mere Basmati rice to a decadent dish, rich with smoky dry-roasted characters. The award went to the goat Vindaloo though.
Though not common for Americans, goat is an inexpensive readily-available protein in North India and Pakistan, more frequent in traditional fare than land- and labor-intensive traditional American meats like chicken or beef. Similar but distinct from lamb, goat generally offers a tender, lean red meat without grassy gaminess. The alchemy that is spicy Vindaloo sauce (cayenne pepper, coriander, garlic, cumin,ginger, cinnamon, crushed brown mustard, jalapeno pepper, cardamom, turmeric, black pepper and cloves) uniquely complements the mild texture of goat. Prepared under Chef Singh’s guidance, this locally “exotic” dish is both a sojourn into aromatic ecstasy with fragrant spices rising in the steam and a grounded, human culinary experience.
Sustenance from the people, what people eat in a region and how, the spirit of terroir, takes us away from the ordinary and reveals, even if only a glimpse, how another lives. That is food! And seeking that experience is why many of us travel.
From fried onion Baji cakes, and made-to-order sizzling, cauliflower-forward tomato pureed Aloo Gobi and piquant steeped spinach and chic pea Chana Saag, to traditional stewed goat dishes, Curry-N-Kebob nourishes the traveler’s soul as much as the body. A step inside is a step off North 28th, into a space of discovery from which your palate will not soon forget.