Just a minute or two down U.S. 1 from Columbia is one of Howard County's latest additions to the Indian restaurant scene: Kabab Indian Restaurant, which opened in June.
"We liked the look of the building," owner and chef Jiwanlal Bhanot said. "It was convenient to both Columbia and Laurel." Bhanot, who also owns Banjara Indian Restaurant in Baltimore, co-owns this restaurant with Parmjit Sharma.
The hospitality of Indians is legendary. In Sanskrit literature, the three famous words - atithi devo bhava, or "the guest is truly your god" - sum it up. Indian culture places a high value on sharing meals with guests - invited or not.
In this case, the guests are very much invited.
You can start your exploration of Indian cuisine with one of Kabab's numerous appetizers. Choices include Onion Bhajia (thinly sliced onions fried in spicy chickpea batter), Jingha Pakora (mildly spiced shrimp dipped in egg-and-bread-crumbs batter and fried) and Meat Samosa (crispy pastries filled with mildly spiced ground lamb and peas).
"We have two tandoor ovens," Bhanot said, referring to the traditional clay ovens that produce a distinctive taste.
Kabab offers a number of tandoori entrees, including Murgh Tikka (boneless chicken marinated in yogurt, lime juice, chilies, green peppers and onions), Boti Kebab (large cubes of lamb marinated in tandoori spices) and Tandoori Prawn (shrimp, skewered and grilled with marinated vegetables).
The menu also offers chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian entrees. Among the choices listed as chicken specialties are Chicken Saag (prepared with spinach, green chilies, ginger, garlic and tomatoes), Chicken Badaam Pasanda (boneless breast of chicken simmered in a cream sauce with almonds), Chicken Jalfrezi (prepared with tomatoes, green peppers and tangy tamarind) and Chicken Methi (prepared with fenugreek, fresh herbs and special spices).
Lamb is a staple of Indian cuisine. Consider Lamb Rogan Josh (morsels of lamb cooked with saffron, yogurt and spices), Shahi Korma (lamb braised in a delicate cream sauce with nuts and raisins) and Lamb Mango (lamb with mango, aromatic herbs, ginger, garlic and other spices).
Among the seafood entrees are Salmon Tikka Masala (pieces of salmon roasted in a clay oven and simmered in tomatoes, green peppers and onions), Crab Malabar (backfin crab prepared in the style of coastal Indian cuisine with a touch of fennel seeds), Shrimp Vindaloo (jumbo shrimp cooked in a tangy curry sauce with potatoes) and Lobster Malai Khas (lobster tail in a mild sauce).
Kabab offers a quick passage to India with its lunchtime buffet, which is served Monday through Friday. For $5.95, diners can sample popular Indian dishes, mild or spicy.
"There's always Tandoori Chicken and a curry-chicken-in-sauce dish, as well as Vegetable Pakora," Bhanot said. "The other choices vary - every day we change - but we always serve the most popular of our menu."
Where: 10024 Washington Blvd., North Laurel; 410-792-0002.
Hours: Daily - lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Prices: $8.95 to $15.95.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover