Curry Mantra’s location in the Tuesday Morning plaza on Watson Boulevard in Warner Robins belies its elegant interior, with crisp white cloth napkins in peaks at each setting. The color scheme is calming and the decor is not your typical Indian tchotchkes.
Our server was new to Indian cuisine, but she takes home a different item from the buffet every day so she can be more knowledgeable for her customers.
Lunch is definitely the best bang for your buck, with a weekday buffet for $8.99 or a weekend brunch buffet for $11.99 that includes a second serving table. We happened to come at dinner time, so we chose several items off the menu and shared them family-style to get a similar buffet effect.
We started with a big $6 plate of paneer pakora, which is battered and fried marinated Indian cheese. We also had a $5 plate of harabhara kabab, which are not on sticks at all but are little pucks of spinach, cheese and potato, fried until crispy and delicious.
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Other appetizers include samosas, vegetable pakora and mirch pakora, which are fried long peppers. Next time, we’ll be trying the tilapia amritsari, shallow-fried with garlic and ginger paste.
It was too hot for soup on our visit, but the mulligatawny, lemon coriander and tomato cilantro all sound great for fall weather. There’s also a tandoori chicken tikka salad for $9 that gives the usual garden salad an exotic twist.
For entrees, we chose to stick with vegetarian and chicken dishes for our crowd. The tandoori platter for $16 served chicken grilled in a clay oven, marinated three ways: plain yogurt, yogurt with red spices, and yogurt with green herbs. The green was by far my favorite, marinated with mint, coriander leaves (aka cilantro), and celery in perfect balance.
The paneer makhani for $12 was also a big hit, with cubes of mildly flavored Indian cheese in a rich tomato butter sauce. Our final entree was the classic chicken tikka masala for $13.
We asked for all of our food to be mildly spiced -- for the good of the group -- as our server advised us that each level was a step up from what we might expect: mild was medium, medium was hot, and hot was crazy. Everything we had was the perfect spiciness for all of us -- though we ordered a side of heat if anyone needed more.
For desserts, we ordered three of the four Curry Mantra offers, each priced at either $3 or $4.
The gajar halwa -- a grated carrot pudding -- was a little too chunky for our pallets, and the condensed milk kulfi ice cream was a bit too gritty, but the gulab jamun was just right. The description of “milk solids immersed in sugar syrup” doesn’t do it justice; it’s like doughnut holes soaked in liquid sugar.
Curry Mantra is a new gem. Hurry in before the crowds find it.
Address: 4025 Watson Blvd., Suite 290, Warner Robins
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m. Friday; 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sunday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 91
Price range: $9-$15
Rating: 3.5 stars