By Laura Reiley
Times Food Critic
SEMINOLE — Digisha and Sachin Amin are longtime Seminole businessfolk, with Seminole Drugs and the Dolce Salon and Spa to their name. Curriez Indian Cuisine is their first restaurant venture, and it shows a bit. Things can be a little frenetic, and servers aren't always rich in menu knowledge.
That's okay, though, because it's a nice addition to the dining landscape in Seminole. Opened at the beginning of September, it serves up a vast menu of Northern Indian dishes, written in microscopic print on a single sheet of shiny paper. Curriez provides catering and tiffin service (traditional Indian home delivery), offers all halal meat, and prepares vegetarian dishes in a separate cooking area from the meat dishes.
Lunch buffets ($7.95 weekdays, $11.95 weekends) feature stacks of fluffy naan, basmati, four vegetarian dishes (maybe a chickpea curry with a little heat, a sunny yellow potato and cauliflower dish, a soupy lentil dal and paneer makhani, which pairs soft Indian cheese cubes with a creamy tomato sauce), a laudable tandoori chicken, mild chicken curry and a traditional cardamom-inflected rice pudding. On Wednesday night, the same buffet, with the addition of lamb curry, is offered for $13.95.
The heat level at Curriez seems comfortably low; if you're ordering a la carte and want it notched up a bit, just ask and the three chefs in the kitchen — Vikas Sharma, Omprakash Parmar and Badal Pradhan — can oblige. On our visits, lamb and veggie dishes proved most flavorful and varied, each platter enough for four healthy servings of something like oniony baigan bharta (roasted eggplant, $9.95) or chunks of lamb cooked in a thicket of fresh mint ($14.95).
You may find yourself munching on way too many complimentary papadam while waiting for your dishes to convene tableside (on one visit things were especially slow). Don't fill up, because even an Indian food rookie will appreciate the breads. Bhatura ($3) is a large, deep-fried balloon of white flour, and aloo paratha ($3.95) brings a flaky, pancakelike bread layered with potatoes and spices. Curriez's special naan ($5.95) reads more like pizza, topped with chicken, cilantro and a hint of garlic. Kids may zero in on that one, while poori ($2) is more fun than tasty, a huge poof of fried wheat bread that, when punctured, deflates slowly, steam rising heavenward.
At most Indian restaurants, desserts tend to baffle the Western palate. All right, I didn't really love Curriez's gulab jamun ($3.95), pastry balls bobbing in syrup, but the house rasmalai ($4.95), housemade cheese dumplings in a sweet, milky sauce topped with sweet pistachios, is classic but accessible — one might even say, the seminal Indian dessert, now available in Seminole.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, is at www.blogs.tampabay.com/dining. Reiley dines anonymously and unannounced. The Times pays all expenses. Advertising has nothing to do with selection for review or the assessment.