Cookin’ Up Curry with Mohammad Azad

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PHOTO BY ABBEY CRANK / FOR THE OPELIKA OBSERVER

By Emery Lay
For the Opelika Observer

Curry To Go is the newest authentic Indian restaurant in town. Located on 234 W. Magnolia Ave. in Suite A, Curry To Go offers a variety of Indian dishes, alongside selling vape options.

Mohammad Azad is the owner, hailing from his home country of Bangladesh. Sadly, due to political upheaval, Azad said he felt the need to leave his country and move to the United States, where he landed in New York. Azad said he has has not been able to go back to visit his home in Bangladesh for over five years.

During his 23 years in New York, Azad opened up his first restaurant, the original Curry To Go. The original was not only a restaurant but also a place that offered a grocery and convenience section filled with Indian goods. In 2020, Azad and his wife decided to leave New York and move to Alabama to be closer to family.

“When the pandemic hit, it was hard,” Azad said. “And my wife’s family wanted us to be here.”

As soon as they moved, Azad and his wife began looking for quality, authentic Indian food. Azad said that, much to his dismay, he could not find somewhere that reminded him of his beloved Bangladeshi food.

“I said, ‘You know what, let’s give Auburn something,’” Azad recalled. “For the people of Auburn and Opelika, they didn’t taste Indian food yet – price-wise, taste-wise … And in a student-based town, students need support, too. So, I said, if I find a spot somewhere close to the university, I will think about it.”

After living in Auburn for a while, Azad decided to open up his second Curry To Go shop. He said he is lucky to have such a great landlord to talk to and was able to easily move into his space on Magnolia Avenue. When choosing the space and furnishing it, Azad arranged the restaurant like his New York space.

“This is a New York-style setup,” Azad said. “It’s very little, but I try to do it this way. Because it’s not (only) for the student, but also for the people who work here.”

Curry To Go offers biryani and curries with different meats, as well as butter chicken, shahi chicken, goat nihari, dal tadka and lamb rogan joss. Of these, Azad said he loves beef curry, butter chicken and chicken tandoori — which he chalks up to becoming “old”.

The spice level of each dish is adapted to a typical American pallet — where a “high” spice content on the Curry To Go menu would simply be a 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 in Bangladesh or India. However, Azad said spices are always ready and waiting to be added to the dishes to reach the desired spice level of each customer.

Curry To Go also offers meal boxes for just $10. Each box includes rice and two curry from its broad selection. Azad said this was created in mind for students who are on the go.

When Azad left Bangladesh, he was a student himself. He knew not only what it was like to be a student on the move, but also specifically what it was like to be an Indian student missing the food of his home country.

He said he was surprised to find such a large community of Indian students at Auburn. Azad recalls even meeting a professor at the university who said since she had left London 25 years ago, she had not had Indian food.

“So far, the response is good, and they are very happy,” Azad said.

For dessert at his restaurant, it offers Gulab Jamun, fluffy bread-like balls made of milk solids, flour and a leavening agent, soaked in rose-flavored sugar syrup. Additionally, Curry To Go offers specialty beverages such as Masala tea and Mango Lassi. Azad acknowledges that Mango Lassi can stay fresh for up to three days, but Curry To Go insists on making it fresh every morning.

Today, Azad’s business is still running in New York. Here in Auburn, he is starting “small”, but given a good response, he hopes to one day to expand.

Curry To Go’s hours of operation are Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. until midnight. For more information, visit their website at www.curry-to-go.business.site/?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=referral, or call 334-209-1171.

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