Bangal Curry Is Bang-On
We take recommendations very seriously here. So when Lunch’er brownbaglunch commented on my write-up of Ruchi and recommended Bangal Curry on Church Street as a good Indian alternative, I was excited to try it as soon as I could get over there. I wasn’t disappointed.
Thank you, brownbaglunch. I haven’t had much chance yet to give Church Street the exploration it deserves, but I was happy to start with such a winner. The food at Bangal Curry is very good, and you get a ton of it for $5. I’m tempted to end this post right there because, really, what else does a Midtown Lunch’er need to see?
Mouthwatering photos, that’s what. You’ll find plenty of them after the jump.
Bangal Curry is a tiny place, just a counter and a few small tables. Even if there were more space, I wouldn’t really want to eat in, as the dining area is dark, dingy, and uninviting. All the food is pre-made and comes from a hot bar, but Indian food is pretty well-suited to withstand this treatment.
The service at Bangal Curry is very friendly, if perhaps a bit overaggressive. There’s a lot on the menu to peruse, and I find choosing what to eat much harder when someone is shouting at me. It’s friendly shouting, but it’s shouting nonetheless.
Fortunately, I can save you from that experience by telling you what to order right now: Vegetarian combo. It’s what brownbaglunch told me to get, and I’m glad that I do what I’m told. For just $5 you get a large plastic carton stuffed totally full of food. Here it is about to burst:
And here’s the glorious sight that greeted me once I opened it:
No one can criticize Bangal Curry for their portion sizes. As you look at it, try to imagine that song they always play in cartoon shows when they reveal a big pile of treasure. That’s definitely the soundtrack for the vegetarian combo.
One potential drawback of the combo is that you don’t get any say in what goes into it. Within about 15 seconds of my finishing the word “combo,” the gentleman behind the counter had lined a container with rice and piled on heaping servings of four different dishes. I don’t know if these are the only four vegetarian dishes they serve or if they’re just what come in the combo, but this is what you get. I didn’t ask, but this is pretty clearly a No Substitutions kind of place. Even if you wanted to try, I don’t think you’d have time between ordering and having your order filled.
As he was handing me my combo, I asked him to identify the constituent dishes. He answered something along the lines of, I kid you not, “Indian vegetables.” This seemed to be all the explanation I was going to get as there was a growing line of people behind me that he needed to yell at in a friendly manner, so I just moved on. If anyone knows the Indian names of any of these dishes, please let me know.
In this corner,we’ve got mixed vegetable curry. It’s made up of carrots, potatoes, green beans, and onions in a nice, mildly spicy curry sauce. It was quite good, but was definitely the least exciting of the four.
Things got more exciting fast with the saag/spinach. It wasn’t served with paneer and cream sauce like you usually see, but was instead dressed with a much lighter and more flavorful sauce. It was very tasty, not greasy, and perfectly spicy. It was also made with real pieces of spinach, not the gross shredded frozen stuff you sometimes get, and it had good spinach flavor that came through well even with all the seasoning. There was also more of it in my box that appears here; it’s just hidden under other stuff.
I’m reasonably confident that this is chana masala, and it might have been the best thing in the box. Its chickpeas stewed in a curry sauce pretty similar to the one on the veggies, but better. The best part is that it’s got real peppery heat to it. I never expect anything coming off a buffet line to be actually spicy, as they have to cater to the weak-tongued crowd. But these beans were legitimately spicy. Color me impressed.
The last dish is stewed cabbage, and it gives the chickpeas a run for their money. It’s supremely tender, and the sauce is rich and buttery, but not at all greasy. It’s a very savory dish, and though it’s good on it’s own, it also provides a nice textural and flavor contrast to the rest of the combo.
So until one of you Lunch’ers tips me off to another Indian gem down here, I’ll be going back to Bangal Curry for my Indian food needs. Not tomorrow, though: I’ve still got leftovers.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- An incredibly massive amount of food for just $5, which would be a good deal even with OK food.
- This food is way more than OK and actually might be some of the best Indian downtown.
- Lightning-fast service.
THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- There’s no choice in the vegetarian combo, and I hate chickpeas/cabbage/spinach/whatever.
- I don’t like to take my lunch to go, and the interior of Bangal Curry is a lot like my friend’s damp basement.
- Can the dude just maybe take it down a notch with the shouting?
Bangal Curry, 111 Church St. (btw. Park Pl. & Murray St.), (212) 267-8342 *closed*, 65 W. Broadway (btw. Murray & Warren), (212) 571-1122