San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright (c) 2015 San Jose Mercury News
April 30, 2015
INDIAN FOOD ALL WRAPPED UP
CURRY PUNDITS DISHES OUT A MASH-UP OF LIVELY FLAVORS
Author: Linda Zavoral, firstname.lastname@example.org
Edition: Valley Final
Estimated printed pages: 3
Curry Pundits dishes out
a mash-up of lively flavors
After decades in the Brokaw/Hostetter corridor in North San Jose, the Mercury News moved to new offices downtown a little more than six months ago. No more cafeteria down the hall. No more Pacific Rim restaurants down the street. We had to explore the new neighborhood for lunchtime options.
That's how we came to find Curry Pundits, one of the many eateries that subscribes to what the industry calls the Chipotle system of fast casual food. The wildly successful Chipotle didn't invent the "build your own" assembly line, but it certainly perfected the customization model. And this business of news deadlines -- Web, blog, print -- doesn't allow us to venture far from HQ, so "fast Indian" a block away, near Santa Clara and Second streets, is a great choice.
At Curry Pundits, you pick your base (bowl, flat bread or tortillalike roti); then your rice (basmati or brown); your filling (chicken, lamb, paneer/cheese, tofu, vegetables); your curry (the spicy vindaloo, the medium tikka masala, the mild moilee, or saag/spinach); and your chutneys (mint, tamarind, chile-garlic). Stewed garbanzos come with your choice.
At the end, you will be asked one of those "fusion run amok" questions: Do you want lettuce? Just say no. Lettuce doesn't belong in a bowl of curry any more than mustard belongs on a tuna sandwich.
We Mercsters who frequent Curry Pundits already have our favorites and swear by them:
Paul the Web producer orders his "currito" style, with chicken kebab, tikka masala, garbanzos, basmati rice and mint chutney. He never unwraps the burrito until he gets back to the office. It needs to "steep" first, he says. "Not only does this allow the currito to cool, but it also gives time for the rice and beans to mix among the curry and chutney."
Leigh the research librarian prefers the curry bowl with grilled veggies, garbanzos, basmati rice, saag curry and a side of the tamarind chutney. "I like it because there are lots of chickpeas in it, and the spinach curry isn't too spicy. It has a nice creamy texture that blends well with the veggies. The tamarind chutney adds a bit of sweetness to it, too, which I like."
And I always get the lamb bowl: chunks of marinated lamb kebab (it's tender, and I've never had a gamey bite or piece of gristle), stewed garbanzos, tikka masala sauce, with drizzles of both the mint and tamarind chutneys. Plus some vindaloo on the side, to heat things up a bit when I get back to the office. And a little saag sauce. Like a good bowl of chili, the sum is much greater than the parts.
If you prefer your lamb or chicken already stewed in curry, you can upgrade to a platter ($8 to $11). Those come with rice or naan.
The bowls and curritos are huge. And they're priced at $7.50 -- worth noting in these days of $10 sandwiches. If you finish one, you'll be full for hours. If you drink a mango lassi ($3) along with it, you can definitely plan on leftovers.
Although we have become creatures of curry habit, we ventured beyond our faves in the interest of reader service.
First we tried the vegetarian samosa chat. This is essentially a potato-and-pea samosa dunked in a pint of stewed garbanzos with spicy gravy. It's an odd concept, because you normally want your deep-fried samosa to stay crisp, and the liquidy garbanzos negate that effect -- unless you eat very quickly. Nevertheless, we agreed that this dish was surprisingly good, filling and crazy cheap. It costs just $3.50. For $1.50, add naan to dip in the sauce.
Then we sampled the Bombay Frankie ($7.50, two per order), a thin, "egg-laced" whole-wheat wrap filled with your choice of meat and vegetables. You can go half-and-half, so we opted for the stewed chicken tikka masala and grilled veggies. It's a nice, spicy combo, but there's no way that veneer of egg gets noticed among those bold flavors. And overall, well, it just can't compete with the bowls and curritos we've created for ourselves.
Clever name, Frankie, but I think we're sticking with our favorites.
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Photo: Curry Pundits.
The Bombay Frankie is an egg-laced whole-wheat wrap filled with your choice of meat and vegetables. You also get mint and tamarind chutneys.
30 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
Open daily for lunch, dinner and late-night snacks, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 9 p.m.Sunday
Record Number: 3260470