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Indian Take-out in Murray/"Curry" Hill

There are probably six or eight Indian restaurants in the East 20s and 30s . What is the best one for take-out?

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  1. Roomali
    Saravanaas (vegetarian-only)
    Pongal (vegetarian-only)
    Copper Chimney

    Not necessarily in that order.

    Though I know you are looking for one place, its hard to say, as I want different things at different times.

    The Roomalis at its namesake place are terrific for quick bites. The dosas at both Saravanaas and Pongal are, in my opinion, equally good with a slight edge to Saravanaas. Copper Chimney has solid dishes. Oh, and don't discount Curry Leaf, which can be hit or miss but usually has good chicken makhani, masala and others...

    The best samosas are, oddly enough, from Curry in a Hurry...but I avoid just about everything else from there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dkstar1

      Strongly agree re Saravanaas and Roomai. The latter, in particular, is still going strong. I used to be a fan of Curry in a Hurry, but it was merely OK when I hit it recently. The food wasn't terrible, but it was very greasy and I could taste little spice besides salt.

      I like the samosas they serve upstairs at Kalyustans even better than Curry in a Hurry. They're supposedly the same as the ones they serve at Curry Leaf down the block, but the store version is always fresher.

      I actually preferred the food generally at Curry Leaf to Pongal and Copper Chimney, but it's been a while since I hit any of those establishments.

      1. re: dkstar1

        I tried Copper Chimney during their buffer and found the food so rubbery I didn't bother going back for a second round. I wonder if it's better for dinner, or we just had very different experiences?

        Roomali can be great, but don't you always feel like the rolls need a condiment of some sort? I always take it home and add a chutney, or even apricot jelly if I'm desperate, just to cut the spice.

        Curry in a Hurry on the other hand stopped spicing their food about 10 years ago. I still eat there more then the others but I stick to the Chicken Tikka, and Spinach. The samosa dough is great...the filling is eh. I've also liked the samosa from the scary take out hole in the wall across the street which has surprisingly good food.

        I wouldn't imagine Saravanaas travels well.

      2. Roomali has fantastic chicken bihyari and chicken tikka wraps. With a little of the extra cilantro / green hot sauce-- no need for anything else. 2 Rolls for about $8 is a fantastic deal. (I can usually eat only about 1.5)

        Kalyustan's upstairs is fantastic-- if you go for the lunch platter you get 3 items which can include falafels, samosa's or some of their great vegetables.

        Make sure you ask for hot sauce, and be ready to take a nap after. For less than $10, you're done eating for the day!

        1. Well we wound up ordering take out from Curry Leaf and it was excellent! I particularly recommend the Chicken Tikka and Papadams. The Dal was also good.

          1. Famous Curry and Kebab is quite good for takeout; I wrote about it here:


            it is a very no-frills place (hence, perfect for takeout) and the food is very satisfying, with more of a kick than the typical.

            some of the dosa stuff available at saravanaas might not be good for takeout, but maybe their thalis are.

            5 Replies
            1. re: bigjeff

              just want to give additional props to this place as I tuck into my takeout right now. so delicious: for $6, a heaping pile of seasoned yellow rice, studded with fried onions, fresh herbs, onion and other veg, topped with my choice of 3 vegetables (a dollar more for 2 veg + 1 meat). the okra is perfectly cooked, soft yet still holding body and shape; the dal is perfect, creamy yet still chunky, nice flavor and spice, and the channa (roasted or dried chick peas?) is also excellent. fresh herbs throughout, excellent portions, decent heat, but I'm also popping little chili peppers into my mouth occasionally. go earlier so the selection is better, and I've yet to figure out their schedule of offerings from day to day, but this place is great. check it out for excellent takeout. (East 31st street on the north side, just east of 5th avenue and just past Todai).

              1. re: bigjeff

                You turned me on to this place, bigjeff, and I want to give you props again. It is my 'rainy day' place (my office is across the street and a walk to Curry Hill is sometimes out of reach), so I've had just about everything they offer at lunchtime. I have come to really appreciateg the things that you have listed most of all (okra, dal, channa- the great thing is that they're cooked 'just enough', not overly mushy) but also wanted to suggest the kebabs. They are precooked and reheated, sad but true, but still juicy and flavorful with a decent spicy kick. Man, I'd love to have one fresh off of the grill. Still it is a much better option than the meat curries, which leave me cold- they tend to be too dry, and the meats are not incorporated into the sauce very well at all. Go veggie platter or kebab platter and you'll definitely get some good value.

                1. re: TongoRad

                  This place sounds promising! Is there seating or is it strictly takeout?

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    there is seating, but its strictly taxi-driver style; the restaurant is quite roomy in the back and there is usually some indian TV on; if you eat-in during lunch, they do have a "salad bar" but its mostly the very plain salad with some sauces.

                    1. re: bigjeff

                      Tried Famous Curry last night and quite liked it. As others have noted, the veggie dishes are the real stars. Daal was creamy without being mushy. And the other dish -- shredded carrots with some mystery veggie I thought was cabbage but turned out to be something else -- had a nice spicy kick. The only downers were the chicken tikka masala, which was a bit dry, and the place itself, which was an oven on such a hot night (no air conditioning). This is not destination dining by any stretch but a great choice if you're in the area and want a quick, cheap bite. Thanks for the rec!

            2. dkstar is also very smart and you got some good recs there.

              That said, Curry and Curry is, in my mind, the best Indian takeout in that nabe, over on 33rd. Cheap and yummy. Lines at lunch. Roomali is good if you're in the mood for a non-traditional Indian burrito fix.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Nick F.

                Curry and Curry is excellent, and really cheap. Typically take out from there will last me two meals. The rice is fantastic as well, some of the best I've ever had, the dishes are just spot-on Indian food, executed well.

                I need to do more exploring around Curry Hill before I can declare Curry and Curry champ though.

                1. re: heWho

                  After extensively exploring the area, I can say unequivocally that Curry and Curry is my favorite Indian restaurant in the area for takeout. The curries are bold, flavorful, authentic. They don't dumb anything down, it's in your face Indian food.

                  That atmosphere inside isn't exactly fine dining, but it's good for lunch, especially given the lunch specials. Standout dishes (excuse the spelling) are the Malai Kofta, the very spicy Vindaloo, the Chicken Tikka Chili Masala (NOT the same as the Chicken Tikka Masala which is just alright), Goat Curry, and the Biryani.

              2. I'm going to guess that Tiffin Wallah will let you order take-out. I've tried most of the restaurants in the area, and TW impresses me as one of the best. Curry in a Hurry is awful and Curry and Curry is mediocre, to my taste.

                The Vegetarian New Yorker: http://vegny.blogspot.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: shivohum

                  Tiffin Wallah does take-out. When I was there the day I wrote my previous post, I ate in and saw lots of people doing that. They give you a standard rectangular plastic take-out container and let you fill it up from the buffet. It was my impression that they've streamlined their operation so that only the buffet is available at lunchtime rather than the full menu.

                  Personally, I'm fundamentally opposed to taking out from a buffet because it cancels out the biggest advantage--the second trip. I'd be willing to allow it if a patron had tasted the buffet on given days enough to know how much to take of each.

                  It was good--I like Pongal a bit better but then again they didn't have chana the day that I went and that always leaves me a bit unsated. It is more efficient though, probably because they're not serving the full menu.

                2. I don't really have anything new to add but want to add to the love for Roomali, Pongal, and Famous Curry.

                  Famous Curry is also the closest to me and my rainy day/busy day go-to (since it is cafeteria-style you don't have to call or think ahead). I go there so often that the staff makes me feel terrible if I skip a month or two, and I have to make up excuses other than the true "if I ate here as much as I wanted to, I'd have to be wedged back out the door like a fat little pakora." I get the meat + 2 veg with veggie rice (you can get the yellow, which I find delicious but mealy--just my taste, regular or veggie), chicken tikka masala (oh, I completely agree with the previous poster that the meat is DRY and not well-incorporated with the sauce, but I am addicted to the smooth, creamy, rich sauce meeting the spicy veggie curries over the rice and it's worth it even picking around the chicken pieces...), the chana, and the potato curry with the skinny strips of potato. Some of the guys there will ask if you want a spoonful of masala gravy on your rice even if you don't order the chicken, but others seem to disapprove of this practice. They also give you a veggie (onion?) pakora with your meal (recently raised to $7 for meat + 2 veg from $6.50) and bear in mind you can get items from the limited salad bar too, though they don't provide covered containers for salad bar take-out and you'll have to balance it on top of your meal on the way back to the office. :) I usually get some sauces (there are usually those tiny covered containers hidden behind the metal silverware rack) but the meal fills me to bursting without any additional nibbles or dessert.

                  Honestly, though the food IS delicious, what keeps me going back to Famous Curry is the speed and ease of ordering and the charming staff who always greet me with a big hello and smile. Compared to Minar, where the chicken tikka is admittedly better but there is a long, unpleasant wait being jostled by fellow diners, broken occasionally by the thrill of being shouted or scoffed at by the servers, I would take Famous any day...

                  Pongal is my top choice for eat-in veggie buffet (though I think I am going to try Tiffin today) but I haven't gotten take-out there... Roomali is SO DELICIOUS--I get the chicken tikka roll sans onion and it is just the perfect blend of heat and acidity from the sauce, refreshing crunch from the iceberg lettuce, savoriness from the tikka, and filling, soothing nutritiousness from the scrambled egg. It gets busy though so be prepared for a potentially long wait.

                  Thus ends my love letter... for clarity's sake, Famous Curry is the one on 31st just W of Madison, Pongal is on the main strip of Curry Hill (Lex btw 27/28) and Roomali is on 27th just E of Lex.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: hennybee

                    hennybee, glad you like famous curry! I love this place, and I've tried to eat around all the neighboring places; this place is consistently the best. its all delish. Tiffin wallah is nice too, very simple offerings, maybe 7 or 8 per day, but perfect and at $6, an excellent deal.

                    1. re: hennybee

                      I'd go to Minar primarily for the dosas. The rava masala dosa, in particular, is above average and always good in a pinch. They're also not too crazy if you get there on the early side.

                      My second favorite roll at Roomali is the Channa Pakora Roll- sort of like a kati roll cross bred with a felafel. Just as satisfying as the Tikka Roll.

                      1. re: TongoRad

                        just curious; why would you go to minar for a dosa when chennai garden or saravanaas or just nearby? I haven't had it at minar, but I like it at those other two places

                        1. re: bigjeff

                          It was just an extension of the 'staying close to the office' portion of the discussion, since hennybee has a similar approach. If I were to compare the two places close by that's how they shake out for me- one is good for platters, the other is good for dosas.

                          The things that I'll go to Saravanaas for are on the thalis- pickles, rassam, some of the vegetable curries. I'm not too in love with their sambar to tell the truth. Chennai Garden for the buffet.

                          None of these places have a sambar or masala dosa that really compare to where my last job was located (Flushing- Sai Bhavan and the Temple Canteen), so in a pinch I'll take something that's close by and above average.

                          1. re: TongoRad

                            Agreed that Saravanaas does not have very good sambar. I think Tiffin Wallah is a superior version of Chennai Garden, and Tamil Nadu Bhavan has some nice dosas that have a kind of "homemade" taste to them, with the dough being a little bit tangier than is usual at these restaurants.

                      2. re: hennybee

                        I went to Famous Curry today and it was shuttered--there was a sign saying "CLOSED FOR VACATION UNTIL JULY 30" (crossed out to read "AUG 1") and someone scrawled "put a date on the sign m-f" (?--there were actually 2 dates on the sign). It's now August 5th, and there was construction going on inside. They're just renovating, right? RIGHT??

                        1. re: hennybee

                          I saw the sign last week as well- I figured they'd be open by now. I went to Minar and got a steam tray platter instead of my usual rava dosa, and didn't enjoy it as much as Famous Curry's. Let's cross our fingers that they'll be open soon.

                          1. re: TongoRad

                            yup, ate there last week and they have indeed renovated; the back area is now tiled and, they did a little work up front too. I tried some of the chicken wings for the first time, a dollar apiece and, pretty damn tasty. I had my first semi-miss although, I think it was actually ok, just too heavy for me. I think it was a tangra-style chili chicken because the chicken pieces (bone-in) were lightly battered and then stir-fried in a spicy sauce with ginger, fresh chilis, onions, etc. delicious, but rich. but the veggie sides as usual were awesome. and that bulked up "yellow" rice is still amazing (chunks of potato, channa, all manner of herbs and other mystery bits).

                      3. curry in a hurry on 28 and lex. other interesting places right there in little india

                        1. I'm amazed no one commented on Haandi. OK, sure, Curry Leaf is probably better, but it's also more formal and I don't think of it as take out.

                          Haandi, though, is more value oriented (even with the recent price increase) and the food is better than most of it's ilk in the area. No atmosphere, but with food this good, who cares?

                          See also

                          and this old review from the Voice

                          31 Replies
                          1. re: NYChristopher

                            I thought it was ok this place, but famous curry has got the value/deliciousness equation down perfectly.

                            1. re: bigjeff

                              Given all the praise for Famous Curry, I feel I must now try it. THanks for the tips.

                              1. re: NYChristopher

                                I am so *so* SO relieved they reopened--I'm going there today!!!

                                edit to add: Closed for Electrical Problems?!?!

                                1. re: hennybee

                                  yow! I think they are closed; the building right next door is under major construction (the entire lot is gone, actually, and its all construction fencing) so, I am really sad.

                                  been going to LASANI instead (on west 29th between 5th and broadway, just above the mosque on that block, north side of the street); pretty good prices although I much prefer famous curry.

                                  I'm sad.

                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                    I miss it too :((((( *sniff*

                                    I've been getting takeout from Gaam on 30th between 5th and Bway, which used to be Dimple--it's all veg now and the lunch box #3 is really delicious. $7.50 for veg. balls w/ tomato sauce, chick peas, rice, and 2 pieces of your choice of 3 breads. I'll have to try Lasani too.

                                    But I still and will always miss Famous. :'(

                                    1. re: bigjeff

                                      As someone who used to live across the street, I have to put a vote in for the other place on the block ... two doors closer to Fifth Avenue, a couple steps down ... right next to the Majid.

                                      The folks at Lasani are nicer, no question, but I found the food to be bland. When I was in a pinch, it was fine, but I preferred to leg it out and hit Haandi on Lexington.

                                      1. re: NYChristopher

                                        ya lasani can be a little boring; the place you're talking about is named Chandni or something like that, next to the electronics fix-it store? i like it too, but, sorta greasy/heavy; the place is always packed tho; cabbies downing platters with gusto

                                    2. re: hennybee

                                      Now Gaam is closed too after only a month or two. :(((

                                      On the bright side, I have a new Indian/Pakistani partner in crime at work who took me to Haandi last week and she says a friend tipped her off to a new place that's as yet unmarked but everyone is raving about... we're waiting for the treasure map.

                                      1. re: hennybee

                                        Can we re-visit quick take out places around Lexington and 28th-ish.
                                        I had to go to Kalustiyan's and popped into Curry in a Hurry. It was barely edible. No spice and tasteless. There has to be something better without grease swimming on the top of the food.

                                        1. re: pups224

                                          ya that place ain't no good. I definitely don't like Chaandi (the place on 29th street, btwn b'way and 5th) cuz the food is sorta rough, been eating at Lasani (two doors down, second floor). I used to eat at the place on 26th and Lex, about a block up or maybe the same block as Saravanaas (on the east side of lex); it was about 3 steps down into the basement, a long skinny space with the food up near the front. good as i recall, but its been a few years. anyone eaten at the kati roll place? it has a buffet now or something . . . not sure?

                                          1. re: bigjeff

                                            The place down the 3 steps is called Kasturi. It's not the friendliest place, and the food usually looks dried out to me. There was a lot of strange activity there after 9/11 for whatever reason, and I think several change over in ownership. Food might be good again, but it doesn't look like the cabbies even eat there anymore. The place does stay open to about 3-4am though.

                                          2. re: pups224

                                            Hmmm .... hadn't met the curry crowd before.
                                            Onion kulcha with the bottled mango drink is nirvana
                                            at Curry in a Hurry.

                                            1. re: pups224

                                              There are only two places I go for Northern Indian/Pakistani food in the neighborhood: Haandi and Lahori Kabab. The latter does terrific snack foods: kheema samosas, seekh kebabs and the like. Their kheema matar and haleem look very appetizing, but I have yet to leave enough room after snacking for a proper meal there. Haandi, however, has been a standard for good Indo-Pak for years.

                                            2. re: hennybee

                                              hey hennybee, any luck with the new unmarked place? was criss-crossing the neighborhood last week and didn't see anything new.

                                                1. re: NYChristopher

                                                  NYChristopher, the new place in question was Dhaba, which has now gotten a lotta press. not so much a hole-in-the-wall.

                                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                                    Thanks! Though I have relocated to Philadelphia, I still get to Manhattan often and will have to check this out.

                                              1. re: hennybee

                                                hey just went there last night, back in action! they didn't have the crazy fortified rice, but they had everything else; veggie platter is still 3 veg over rice for $6, not sure how much the meat + 2 veg is. I had an eggplant dish which tasted vaguely asian like "yu-xiang" eggplant (fish-flavorings eggplant), very nice okra, and very nice dhal. going back today for lunch, hope they are open!

                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                  ok those fools have the most inconsistent hours, but the most delicious and generous servings of food. now, it's $7 for basically, any 3 things over rice. so it can be 3 veg, or 1 meat and 2 veg. I had an insane amount of beef curry, with my fave okra and channa. gooooood! and just, so much food it is scary. good for 2, surely.

                                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                                    YIKES! You're telling me that Famous Curry has been reopened since December?? I have been stalking that place, how did I miss it?

                                                    Today was the first day I saw it open, and renamed "Sonali Restaurant" but looked the same. I had already ordered from somewhere else (DRAT!) but I peeked in. Looked like a bored young man in a baseball cap behind the counter instead of my old pals.

                                                    As far as the other place, the "no-name" place now has a name, Dhaba, which is no longer a secret and was even in the NYT. It's not the hole-in-the-wall type but the food is AMAZING. My favorite taste-wise out of all the places in the area now. Really not the place for a quick, cheap takeout lunch, though--the lunch buffet is a worth it at $10 but a la carte is too much. For the buffet, they give you a ridiculous amount of food, serving 2 fried appetizers (fried SO perfectly) + chicken legs + naan in addition to the spread on the buffet! (Which is chicken tikka masala + 3? veg curries + kheer, etc.)

                                                      1. re: hennybee

                                                        Dhaba is very, very good, and a level up from any of the other buffets in the area. The appetizer tray is a nice touch. My only criticism is the delicious naan comes out sporadically, to the table individually, so it's easy to run out, and then have to eat most of your meal without bread to dip, and roll.

                                                        Also, watch the clock. If you arrive close to the end of the buffet, they'll seat you and give you the impression you can linger, but they start to shut down the buffet during the actual time frame it's supposed to be operational. So in actuality, this buffet shuts down 30-45 earlier then advertised. The food will be lukewarm, without refills, they'll take the sweets away, etc.

                                                        1. re: hennybee

                                                          ya it has funny hours and indeed, looks like some different people but, I think it rotates because I do see the same guys occasionally. their yellow rice is a little different and the price might have increased, I paid $8 for a large takeout container of 1 meat + 2 veg although they are pretty lenient and may throw in extra/more. Not sure if veggie only is $7.

                                                          1. re: bigjeff

                                                            Which one are those prices for, BigJeff?

                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                              The prices are for bigjeff's and my obsession, which used to be Famous Curry and now has a paper sign in the window "Sonali Restaurant." (31st btw Mad & 5th next to ex-Joey Thai now Taan Thai) I just mentioned it to my coworker and she said she went in yesterday lunchtime and was told rudely that they weren't open by the bored-looking kid in the baseball cap. (Even though the door was open and they had food in the steam trays...?)

                                                              1. re: hennybee

                                                                place looks like an official launch! some kid handed me a menu this morning: Sonali, at 15 East 31st Street. Walked by and the guy with the really really bad dye-job was still there (sorta like straightened einstein hair but with really bad orange henna); prices are: $8 for meat combo (chicken, goat, beef) plus 2 veg, rice or naan, dal and salad or, $8 for fish combo plus 2 veg, rice or naan, dal and salad or, $7 for 3 veg, rice or naan, dal and salad.

                                                                hopefully they will be consistently open (I walked by around noon but looked like they were still prepping so I think this is still a p.m. cabbie-dominant place) what with the new name and all.

                                                                oh, and last time, I had a great veggie combo of green papaya, okra and channa dhal. awesome.

                                                                15 E 31st St, New York, NY 10016

                                                                1. re: bigjeff

                                                                  Yum! I still haven't managed to go by at the right time. Empty steam trays and cleaning up at 2 PM the other day.

                                                                  You mean the guy with the bangs? I always thought of his style as more of a pageboy/squire kind of 'do--I figured (having absolutely no actual knowledge) that it was a religious or a cultural thing as no one would have such silly hair by choice. He kind of creeped out my coworkers but I miss that guy!... and the big guy... and the little dude... and the woman...

                                                                  I'm gonna keep trying!

                                                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                                                    man, I just came from Sonali and found this thread when I was trying to google the name. I'm new to roaming around this area for lunch --looking for hole in the walls. Walked into this place and it was depressing. No one eating in there. The Indian Doc Brown seemed happy that I walked in. There weren't so many choices in the steam trays that I've seen at other places. I thought $8 was kind of a lot for a hole in the wall lunch special. Anyway, I felt bad for them so I got it. That stuff was good. Had a nice sweet touch to the sauces. I'll post some pics on my blog soon.

                                                                    ...I walked in around 1pm if that helps you guys.

                                                                    1. re: chinolam

                                                                      cool thanks! ya I think this is less a lunchtime spot than a dinner and late dinner spot. been to curry & curry? nearish I think, 33rd near lex. been meaning to try that.

                                                      2. re: hennybee

                                                        FINALLY got there while they were open, agreed that the price increase (when I started frequenting there I think it was $5.95) makes it a bit painful coupled with the disappearance of the free little fried onion thing. It still felt a bit like coming home, though, and the food was good. Little different than before, miss the chana as much as you, jeff, but the potato/spinach/bean/?? curry was damnnn good. Everything's even a little spicier now with hidden dried chiles everywhere! Yum.

                                                        1. re: hennybee

                                                          ACK, I tried Sonali recently and had a bad experience. I got the $8 combo -- I asked for something spicy and they recommended a chicken and lentil dish. It wasn't spicy at all, and the chicken tasted lousy. I can't remember the last time I ate such poor-tasting chicken. In the combo, I also got some dark chickpeas, which looked much more interesting than they were, and a yellowish potato concoction with some other tasty vegetables (maybe something like turnip and/or cauliflower?) in it. The last thing was the only one I liked. Lame.

                                                2. Gaam has now been replaced by Punjab Palace, its at 11 West 30th (just a few blocks west of 5th Avenue). I went in and the food look alright, nothing spectacular; the place just opened so there wasn't much business at all, the servers/managers/waitstaff were not friendly or welcoming so I walked out after looking and went to my old standby, Famous Curry (now Sonali) and I'm really glad I did. The place still kicks ass and now I'm a regular; went in and got all kinds of nods and greetings and hellos, and the place was jam-packed as ever with cabbies grubbing down. Usually I can split a combo (with an order of naan plus the rice) with my gf, no problem. Last time we went (about 2 weeks ago) it was $7 for naan and rice plus 3 veg; this time it cost $9.80 (weird number) for naan and rice plus goat curry and 2 veg so their pricing is a little inconsistent but, I think it pays to build a rapport with the folks behind the counter (all the same guys). The goat was delicious, tender, okay spice level (I always ask for a handful of fresh chilis to munch on) and the green papaya and dhal were fine as always. Until I really find a better place, I think I'll just keep going here.

                                                  I did get a papri chaat to go from Curry & Curry (the place on east 33rd) and it was really good, esp. for $3.95 (or maybe it was $4.95); generous helpings of the crunchy stuff, chickpeas, potatoes, all kinds of sauce, served in one of those aluminum pie-plate things. not overflowing but good. rich enough that I took it home and dumped the whole thing over a 1/3 of a head of lettuce and a chopped up tomato; perfect antidote to the heaviness. yum! I love me some Curry Hill!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: bigjeff

                                                    Sonali today!

                                                    I'm not impressed by the look of Punjab Palace either--they had a $5.99 lunch special advertised but only available w/ chicken curry? Boring! Buuuut it's interesting that they offer breakfast. I've never had an Indian breakfast before...