Indian


Naan N Curry is an Pakistani-Indian restaurant on Breckenridge Road a block or so north of the Breckenridge intersection on Pleasant Hill Road. It offers an inexpensive buffet at lunch, one very easy to get to and get into. Just pick up a plate, choose your foods, and pay once you’re done. The clientele are mixed. There are plenty of South Asians here, and watching whole families show in traditional dress is visually exciting.

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Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

The buffet has perhaps 15-20 choices or so at lunch, a salad bar that contains chutneys, among other things, and slices of jalapenos that have pretty reasonable spice to them. The buffet is notably clean, not as confused as the one in Asma’s Cuisine.

There was one notable dish out of the ones served here. The cabbage curry is quite good and worth your time and effort. Other dishes were lacking something, perhaps even disappointing. I’ve never had a single solid piece of beef when I show here. All I see in the beef dishes are plenty of bones. Outside of the cabbage curry, the dishes lack spice.

Asma’s is a spicier, more interesting buffet in my opinion, nor does Naan N Curry rise to the level of the buffet in Moksha Kitchen. Now, you won’t suffer from eating here, but if you’re wanting plenty of flavor, consider alternatives.

Naan N Curry
3083 Breckinridge Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 912-9924

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This place had come as a recommendation of an Indian friend of a work colleague, and so one weekday I waited for my party to show so we could try the place. It is one of a few eateries in a modest strip mall on Johnson Ferry Road, close to where Ashford Dunwoody merges into this road. It’s also not all that far from Peachtree Industrial as well, so either major road can be used to get to this eatery.

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The mall itself hosts a number of small eateries, none I recall being reviewed. So this whole area is gold for a food blogger.

good naan.

good naan.

lamb curry, lunch serving.

lamb curry, lunch serving.

This place is favored as a lunch spot by my coworkers in Dunwoody, and in that role, I think it’s more than adequate. The vindaloo one of us ate was regarded as pretty mild – note that vindaloos shouldn’t be mild, they should be able to raise sweat on your brow, but staff were affable, and the foods were otherwise quite good. I had a lamb curry that day and I enjoyed my dish. Other than vindaloo, my partners had samosas that day and tandoori chicken and enjoyed them.

I will note that my party had one ethnic South Asian (who was the one who wanted more heat in the vindaloo), and the other had no ability to handle hot and spicy foods. So if you have a party with varying tolerances for heat, this might be a good choice as well.

Moon Indian Cuisine
2144 Johnson Ferry Road
Atlanta, GA 30319
(770) 817-1097

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Buffets are among the toughest things to critique, and even when you get it right, the character of buffets is prone to change quickly. That great little find in January turns into the mediocre deal in May and turns into “g’bye-see ya!” in October. If a food blogger says a buffet is good, you need to get there soon.

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Chloe recently raised the “it’s good!” flag on Moksha Kitchen and I thought it was appropriate to try it. We came at lunch during the week and some first impressions are: small, clean, unusually tasty, and unusually easy to eat from, even if you’re not a fan of milk and butter. My wife loves things like tandoori chicken and breads. She doesn’t handle foods with lots of milk, yogurt, butter, or cheese well, with a few notable exceptions (e.g. she loves certain kinds of dal makhani, but it has to be spiced just so).

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This was a buffet that could feed my whole family. The breads are good. The foods are well spiced. There is plenty of naan. They had a smoky tandoori chicken the day we showed, just excellent. The goat jalfrezi, the masalas, the mix pakora (a collection of breaded vegetables), the chickpea dishes, were hits at our table. They had a breaded pepper that was just spicy enough. The restaurant is clean and neat, the service is excellent.

So, go now. Eat. Do it before the demands of providing a superior buffet wear on this restaurant and it goes away.

Moksha Kitchen
294 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 473-9288

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Biryani House is a small, neat Bangladeshi eatery just west of the Highway 29 – Indian Trail intersection in Lilburn, in a small strip mall south of the road, next to a halal grocer. This kind of small store is becoming a pattern along Indian Trail, and finding time to look into each one a little tricky. These are restaurants that, because of their small size, allow the patron a chance to get away from the steamed foods of Indian buffets. What you get here is freshly prepared. And if you have a preference – mild or spicy – places like this can accommodate you.

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Biryani House features counter style service.

Biryani House features counter style service.

These are the ideal spots for chicken 65. Anything fried, that needs to be hot coming to the plate, will be best prepared in a South Asian restaurant of this kind. And the chicken 65 here did not disappoint.

A good chicken 65.

A good chicken 65.

Unusual in this dish are the spices and aromatics that accompanied the meats. The spicing was relatively mild (even though I asked for spicy) but grew on you as you ate. This was one of the better chicken 65 dishes I’ve had in Atlanta, good enough to go back and order take out.

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I had beef kabab as well, unusual in that they used whole meat instead of ground beef. Spices were found in a layer outside the meat. I didn’t know going in the restaurant was Bangladeshi, so I wasn’t expecting anything other than generic IndoPak foods. But I’ve been surprised with every dish I’ve tried so far – not a bad thing really.

Staff here are friendly, and easy to talk to. I had no problems asking for additional spice on my chicken 65, for example.

Biryani House
535 Indian Trail Road
Lilburn GA
(770) 638-1626

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Chai Pani is a newcomer to the Decatur food scene, one featuring Indian street food, and for the time being, very well received. It occupies the space in Decatur that Watershed vacated, the one next to Farm Burger. If you’ve not been to this part of the world before, please note it’s useful to take along ten or so quarters. A lot of the parking close to this restaurant is metered, and parking adjacent to the building hard to come by.

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Outside.

Inside.

Inside.

Mango lassi.

Mango lassi.

The style of service in this restaurant changes depending on when you arrive. If you go during lunch on a weekday, it is counter top service. You help yourself to drinks, cutlery, and a number is placed at your table for delivery. At night and on weekends, they have staff take your order at the table.

Okra fries. Recommended in general, reminiscent of good fried okra. Good for those with carb limits.

Okra fries. Recommended in general, reminiscent of good fried okra. Good for those with carb limits.

One thing I’ll mention up front is that this isn’t the easiest place for a diabetic to be. Most dishes are heavy in starch, and wraps and rolls tend to contain rice. All is not lost. The chicken burgers and lamb “sloppy joe”s are workable entrees and as a not-so-starchy side, I’d recommend Chai Pani’s okra fries. There are, of course, large dinner salads, that in our experience, are good.

Bhel puri. Puffed rice, chickpeas, flour crisps, onions and cilantro.

Bhel puri. Puffed rice, chickpeas, flour crisps, onions and cilantro.

Corn bhel. Also really tasty.

Corn bhel. Also really tasty.

The real draw here, are the chaat, the street snacks, a kind of eating I’ve not run into before. When I took my daughter and the bhel puri arrived, she said, “I’ve seen this served in a cone on television”. Both bhel puri and the corn bhel are reason enough to come here. A plate of this, some roti, a soda and a couple samosas would leave my wife happy as can be.

Sloppy Jai (lamb sloppy joes). The shoestring fries are excellent.

Sloppy Jai (lamb sloppy joes). The shoestring fries are excellent.

Chicken burgers, again, with those excellent fries. My wife finished the fries off.

Chicken burgers, again, with those excellent fries. My wife finished the fries off.

If there’s one consistent effect when you come here and eat, it’s that there is an amazing “first-bite-wow” effect when eating here. Americans aren’t used to hot Indian spices. They get the majority of Indian food from buffets, where all the aromatics have been steamed off the food. But here, with almost every bite, you get a hit of fresh spice, recently ground or cracked, and often cooked in oil or ghee to release the aromas and the flavors. This “hit” is what is so intoxicating about this place, especially when you first bite into a dish you’ve never tried before.

Kathi kabab roll, and bowl of daal., The daal runs a little thin.

Kathi kabab roll, and bowl of daal., The daal runs a little thin.

Papadam, a hand sized spicy cracker. The  other bread offering is roti, a tortilla sized unleavened bread.

Papadam, a hand sized spicy cracker. The other bread offering is roti, a tortilla sized unleavened bread.

Samosa.

Samosa.

What can we recommend? Almost everything seems good at this point. I wasn’t as pleased with the kabab wrap because it had more rice than I could handle for a meal, but the grilled chiken was excellent. Sloppy Jais I think everyone should try. The more timid maybe can go with a chicken salad, a samosa or two, and one of the bhels. Spend as much time as you can with their chaats, because those really are the star here. And oh yes, the beers here are good, with half a dozen respectable craft beers available.

I’m coming to think this is a great place to be introduced to Indian food. Have a friend who is a little picky? Take them here first, before throwing them into the whole of Indian cuisine. Yes, a tandoori chicken spot isn’t a bad first time spot either, but those are often mom and pops with a hole in the wall ambience. This place is clean, brightly lit, fun. Worst case, your friend has a glass of wine or a beer, nibbles at a chicken burger, downs some fries and maybe have a bite or two of a chaat, all in good fun.

Chai Pani is very highly recommended.

Chai Pani
410 West Ponce De Leon Ave
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 378-4030

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Haveli Indian Cuisine is part of a small Atlanta chain of restaurants, unnoticed by newspapers and social media. I’m not sure why. Lively spicing and rich flavors are the hallmark of this restaurant, along with a tendency to cook their foot on the spot — though these days they do have lunch buffets.

Photo taken when Haveli was first opening.

Outside sign of more recent vintage.

Their samosa have a kick to them and are good eaten in or takeout.

Nicely spiced.

Their naan isn’t bad either.

dal makhani

Tandoori chicken and tikka masala work well here, and Haveli’s curries have some kick to them. They have a dish called a jalfrezi which seems an Indian equivalent of ropa vieja, rich in tomato flavors and really worth some consideration.

Lamb jalfrezi. I really enjoyed this dish.

Mutton curry. Earthy meat with some bones, sauce has some spice.

I’ve eaten in and taken out, both more than once, and right now, I’m tending to eat out more than in. I like the staff, sweet natured generally and helpful. The inside is serviceable instead of pretty, and has the feel of a restaurant still ironing out their kinks. On occasion they lose their air conditioning. I would call ahead if you’re considering dining in.

Haveli Indian Cuisine
1480 Beaver Ruin Road
Norcross, GA 30093
(770) 820-0070

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Darbar is a brand new eatery on Pleasant Hill Road, east of I-85, one still in the process of being made. They have a large working space, and although they’ve begun the task of shaping it into their own, it still has a partly unfinished look. I’m sure that over time they’ll remedy that, but if you arrive in the next few days just realize that some eateries have a long gestation period.

The menu  is small, the choices just a few. There are kababs, some curries, some combos of kababs and curries, breads, rice, desserts. I ordered a seekh kabab and a chicken qorma (a curry) when I came. Staff came out, insisting that I buy naan, that their food was spicy. I had to say I was a diabetic, naan and I don’t really get along.

I was happy for the spicing though. Too much Indian food in this city is dumbed down for Atlantans who can’t eat spicy foods. About half the so-called “Cajun” in Atlanta is a shadow of what Cajuns really eat. Darbar has plenty of spice in their food, and not so much that it’s overwhelming. If I eat, say, a grilled jalapeno or two, I end up wanting bread by the end of the meal. Not here. There was enough spice to let you know it was there, but not enough to ruin your day. I liked the spicing a lot.

Darbar, House of Kababs
1455 Pleasant Hill Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30044
(678) 205-8777

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