Currying Favor

Fast food is always synonymous with inexpensive, but it doesn't have to mean mediocre, too. If you can face the lunchtime traffic, a remarkable bargain awaits at Raja Quality Restaurant & Sweets (5667 Hillcroft, 713-782-5667). Shield your eyes momentarily from the kaleidoscopic glare of the pastry case, and ask for the vegetarian plate ($3). Fluffy basmati white rice accompanies your choice of two vegetables, usually lentils, potatoes with cauliflower, saag paneer (spinach with Indian cheese) and channa dal (chickpeas). All of these are spicy enough, but the curry with onion pakoras (fritters) is a must if you crave heat. The turmeric level in this neon-yellow delight is just on the pleasant side of scorching. The price is low, the service is fast, and the portions are large, so leftovers are a possibility and satisfaction is a certainty.

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