One of the great things about going to college is the opportunity to mingle with people of every race and ethnicity. Glendale Community College is no exception, and it has the food to prove it. Across from the school is an island of eateries, a veritable international commissary boasting Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern, American, Greek and now Pakistani food in the form of Kurry & Kabab.
Opened by a Pakistani family and co-owned by the owner of India Sweets and Spices in Atwater, the plain-looking restaurant serves food that is anything but plain. Steeped in Northern Indian and Pakistani culinary traditions, the curries, biryanis, kababs and samosas differ from Southern Indian foods in part by their complex blends of heady spices. In addition, all the foods at Kurry & Kabab are halal, a term having to do with Islamic dietary laws. These laws determine what may or may not be consumed (for example, pork) and how an animal must be slaughtered.
Halal is important, but the owners’ top objective is to offer a new culinary option to students and local residents. To that end, they serve a changing daily special, which includes one or two curries, rice, yogurt and a drink ($3.99 - $5.99). We tried the chicken curry, which had a delicate amber-colored sauce, a slight clove flavor and big chunks of chicken, as well as the potato curry, a thick green stew flecked with black onion seeds (kolongi). Toasted, the kolongi gives the curry a wonderful peppery flavor. To cool down the curries’ heat, pour on a little of the yogurt that’s been mixed with tiny bits of tomato, cucumber, parsley and mint.
Their biryanis, made with fragrant basmati rice mixed with meats and vegetables, are heavily seasoned and quite addictive. The mutton biryani, however, is difficult to eat. The sheep’s meat is cut in such a way that the large bones are sharp and hard to maneuver around. Plus, the meat has been boiled, which takes out the odor, but also much of the flavor.
My favorite dish was the chicken tikka masala ($7.99, including naan). It’s not on the menu, so ask for it. Their tandoori oven gives the chicken an aromatic, slightly burnt exterior and a tender interior. The chicken is submerged in the velvety masala, a tomato-based sauce with the complex blend of roasted spices that they’re so good at here.
I had a real problem with the dining room, however. On both visits, tables had crumbs and hair on them. And some of the mismatched chairs still sport large manufacturer’s stickers. They weren’t swarming with customers, so there was time to spruce things up.
But you don’t come to Kurry & Kabab for the atmosphere. You come for halal food. You come for the shelf full of unusual spices for purchase. Or you come for a quick meal that’s different and nutritious. After all, variety is the spice of life — spice being the operative word.
LISA DUPUY has written about food, entertainment and travel for over 20 years. She can be reached at LDupuy@aol.com.
What: Kurry & Kabab
Where: 1500 Canada Blvd., Glendale
When: Monday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Prices: Curries $3.99-$7.99; Biryanis & Kababs $5.99-$8.99; Samosas $2-$3
Contact: (818) 507-1871