Paul's reputation as one of the best Indian chefs in Southern California is the result of his early training in his native India, enhanced by his work at numerous five-star resorts there. His stints at some of Beverly Hills' best (he also led the team at Maurya) have made him a chef to follow, no matter where he roams.
These days, he's out in Pasadena, cooking up everything from perfectly seasoned naan (be sure to try the garlic version, as well as the mozzarella and pine nuts one, too) to lusciously spiced dishes, all while using the classic flavors of India
Yummy desserts at Mint Leaf include carrot halwa and malai kulfi — Photo courtesy of Mint Leaf Restaurant
Entering the exotic space, you'll feel as if you've stepped right off the train into a Mumbai eatery, with its golden lamps, dark leather banquettes, red tapestry chairs and burnished wood floors.
It's a warm place, one where everyone seems delighted that you have arrived to try out their extensive menu of authentic dishes gleaned from all over India.
The exotic dining room at Mint Leaf Restaurant in Pasadena, Calif. — Photo courtesy of Mint Leaf Restaurant
Start with an order of shrimp pakoras, those little flavor bombs made up of a tiger shrimp marinated in lemon juice, ginger, green chiles and cilantro, then rolled in chickpea batter and fried up quick. Dip them into the accompanying fragrant mint sauce, and you're on your way to a wonderful meal.
Try the achari tandoori mushrooms for starters, as well, those fat button mushrooms that explode with a fiery heat – if you dare!
Vegetable samosas at Mint Leaf Restaurant — Photo courtesy of Mint Leaf Restaurant
There are lots of different taste sensations to be had at Mint Leaf, ranging from typical samosas and pakoras (stuffed with vegetables, chicken or shrimp) to the less familiar, including a sensational Goan salmon curry and a dal makhani of lentils simmered overnight with fresh tomatoes and cream.
Vegans and vegetarians will find plenty of dishes to try, and the menu is clearly marked as to which dishes fit that requirement. Try the tofu vindaloo or okra masala for a vegan taste treat.
Those who eat anything will definitely enjoy Chef Paul's classic chicken vindaloo or lamb tikka masala, and the chef will adjust the heat of the spice to match your desire for fire.
Finish up with the unexpectedly sweet carrot halwa pudding for dessert, with its fragrant cardamom spice. Add in a bit of malai kulfi (Indian ice cream), and you're sure to be planning your next visit as you pay the very reasonably priced bill.
Mint Leaf's delicious naan bread — Photo courtesy of Mint Leaf Restaurant