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A Taste of India Comes to Jonesboro

By Audrey Hanes, Photography by Brittney Guest Osborn

In November of 2019, longtime restauranteur and entrepreneur Max Patel partnered with executive chef Sandeep Singh to bring the complex, robust flavors of Northern India to Jonesboro’s restaurant scene with the introduction of Curry Leaf Indian Cuisine.

Patel has lived in Jonesboro on and off for three years and currently travels back and forth between Jonesboro and Tennessee, where he owns three other restaurants in the Nashville area. After noticing a void in Indian flavors in Jonesboro following the closure of a local Indian food restaurant, Patel decided to utilize his two decades of authentic Indian food experience by opening Curry Leaf on Fair Park Boulevard.

“We are bringing authentic Northern India food to the community,” said Patel, who is also an entrepreneur with 17 different corporations in three states. “Jonesboro is a good fit for an Indian restaurant. … The community has been so great from our very first day open. They have been supportive of us, and so we try to support the community right back. We are so lucky to be here in Jonesboro.”

Joining Patel is his business partner and executive chef Sandeep Singh, who Patel has known for close to a decade. Singh trained in India before attending culinary school in California and making his way to Jonesboro.

“I have been cooking Indian food since I was 16,” said Singh. “My goal was to become a professional chef, and I am still learning everything new day by day.”

Singh’s style focuses on tastes typical to Northern India, which is known for its spice mixes and tandoori oven-baked dishes. The use of dairy products like butter, cream and ghee is also common to the style of cooking. The extensive menu includes soups, salads, appetizers and sides, as well as chicken, goat, lamb, seafood, tandoori and rice dishes. There are also eight different bread options, including Butter Naan, Garlin Naan and Bullet Naan, which is flat bread topped with green chilis and spices.

“We have many dishes that are popular, like our chicken tikka masala, the goat curry is really good and Lamb Rogan Josh,” said Patel. “Our seafood is really good, too. We make everything fresh every morning. We have a homemade tomato gravy for tikka masala, and we use all homemade ground ingredients. It makes the dishes really special, and, of course, our chef has secrets I cannot share.”

Vegetarian options, such as Baighan Bartha, a dish of fresh eggplant sauteed with onions, peas and tomatoes, and Malai Kofta, which is comprised of soft croquettes made of cheese and potatoes in a rich, creamy sauce with almonds, are also favorites on the menu.

Another popular dish on the menu is Butter Chicken, a boneless tandoori-roasted chicken in a butter base with tomato and cream gravy, seasoned with herbs.

“As a professional chef, I like to cook all the dishes, but my favorite to cook is the Butter Chicken,” said Singh. “When I cook it in our special gravy, that smell of perfect spices always makes me happy.

“It is all very personal to me, because I cook all my dishes with my feelings; to make my customers happy with their meals is my main priority. Around the world, millions of people don’t have food to eat, so when God is giving me the strength to cook, I will provide my ability in a professional way.”

Curry Leaf Indian Cuisine has become known for its abundant buffet, which is available daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Because of the current pandemic and to keep its diners safe, Curry Leaf requires its servers to fill up plates for their patrons per their instructions for each trip to the buffet.

“We do catering, as well, and would love all the help we can get to stay in business,” said Patel. “We are down 45 percent in sales with 50 percent of our tables closed, but we follow all health guidelines and still encourage customers to come in. We want the Jonesboro community to bring us back again.

“When I see smiles on my customers’ faces after having delicious meals, that makes me happy. I am very proud of being a restaurant owner.”

Curry Leaf, located at 2110 Fair Park Blvd., is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The buffet is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each of those days. For more information, call (870) 206-7072, email info@curryleafar.com or find Curry Leaf Indian Cuisine on Facebook.