Naan -N- Curry + Nikki J. = Masala Miracle

Meet Nikki one more time. She has more pairs of black leggings than any reasonable person, loves dogs, and sometimes wears tutus publicly for long periods of time.

As Nikki and I walked down Telegraph back to our hotel, we decided we would eat at one of the many Ethiopian restaurants we saw coming in, but we strolled past an Indian and Pakistani place that smelled good, so we changed our minds and went there instead.  Walking into Naan -N- Curry, you are greeted by dirty (well-used?) carpet, warm reds and oranges, gold chandeliers, and a little bit spastic greeter/order-taker/seater/question answerer.  We were seated at a booth and began to look over the menu.

Reviewing the choices, my expectation that an Indian restaurant in Berkeley would have substantial vegetarian options was exceeded.  There was an entire column dedicated to vegetarian dishes, which included cheese (homemade!) and tikka masala; cooked spinach with cheese; green peas cooked with cheese in a curry sauce; potatoes cooked with spicy sauce; yellow lentil; bitter melon cooked with ginger, garlic, and onion; potato with cauliflower; spinach cooked with potatoes with a blend of spices; mixed vegetables in a curry sauce; mixed vegetables with tikka masala; eggplant cooked with onion, tomato and spices; garbanzo beans with sauce; okra cooked ginger, garlic, and spices; cheese cubes cooked with ginger, garlic, onions and bell pepper; and then, of course, there are several rice and naan (mmmm) choices.

After looking at the menu, we got up and looked at the buffet, which Nikki ran with, but there were a lot of chicken dishes in there, so I picked the mixed vegetables with tikka masala, a dish I had never tried and one that I was not entirely certain what it was.  I made the immediate marsala connection, knowing that’s a sauce I love, but, of course, I was way off (a lot of wine and completely different recipe go into that R!).  I wondered if someone would come to take our order before realizing this restaurant strangely combines DIY and full service elements, so back to our hyper friend we went.  We placed our order and paid for our food.  Note: make sure you return that Bic!  He won’t forget you have it!

Nikki went to the buffet, and I waited for my food, which was served relatively quickly.  I appeared to have ordered a feast.  I had a full plate of vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas, and broccoli) in sauce, a large plate of basmati rice, and a pizza-sized serving of naan.  Oh, by the way, all of those were ordered separately, bringing my total to a skosh over $10.  I needed silverware, so I asked the man who brought me my food and was answered with a blank stare, “…oooorrrr can you show me where I can get it myself?”  He pointed near the buffet, so I got up to get it and also spooned myself what this Greek girl thought looked like tzatziki, and I was very happy to find out that it was in fact the cucumber delight.

Back at my table, I was finally ready to eat.  I tried each item independent of one another.  The rice was perfectly cooked, light and fluffy.  The naan had that slight crisp on the outside, but it pulled apart without crumbs and had the chewiness for which you hope, and the tzatziki was refreshing and passed Greek skepticism.  The tikka masala vegetables, a bright orange vat of saucy chunks with the occasional green pea peaking through, stared up at me.  I went for it, and oh my masala!  I love it!  What is better than trying something new and being completely down for it?  It’s a like a mini victory all for yourself.  I tried my naan in the sauce – great!  The veggies on the rice – delicious!

I kept eating, but wait, I’m thirsty.  I feared asking the “waiter” for anything again, so I looked around the restaurant.  I saw some beverage options in the back, but they were surely for people who paid.  Then there was a full sized cooler with glass walls and a large typed sign on it: water.  It looked like such nice water, though.  Could I take it without permission or payment?  Thirst conquered uncertainty.  I got up and grabbed us a glass pitcher.  Thankfully, I knew where the cups were since I had already fetched my own silverware.  Back at my table, I was finally fully stocked to enjoy the rest of my meal, and that I did.

Naan -N- Curry Berkeley: a little weird, but the food was so scrumptious that would happily go back, an old pro now, who knows my way around the place…you know, as if I worked there.

Open from 11 am – 11 pm every day, Naan -N- Curry Berkeley is located at 2366 Telegraph Avenue in Berkely, CA.

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