When pulling up to the Mint Leaf in Groton CT, there’s no way you’ll think there is a great spot for Indian in this rather unattractive strip mall. But there is. And it’s got several hard to find (and harder to pronounce) snacks, dishes, and sides on the menu including bhelpuri, chaat, and pakora.
When you sit down at a table at the Mint Leaf, the servers promptly bring out papadum (homemade Indian chips) with a homemade chutney that is so good you’ll want to buy a jar or two to bring home (please start selling this, Mint Leaf!). After you devour all the chips, put the small dish of chutney to the side so you can enjoy it with your other starters… if it lasts that long.
Starters and Soups
The starters menu is killer at the Mint Leaf, with the abovementioned dishes—bhelpuri, chaat, and pakora—as well as perfectly golden samosas packed with spiced potatoes and peas. The samosas come with a beautifully flavored mint lime sauce that deserves to be slathered on the samosas, as the sweet, savory combination is a beautiful marriage of flavors. Another appetizer highlight are the momos (Tibetan/Indian dumplings). These were stuffed with chicken and had a wrapper thinner than paper, yet thick enough to not fall apart when picked up with chopsticks and dunked in the accompanying chili sauce. A very important characteristic if you ask me. The momos were incredibly authentic tasting—and I’ve dined on momos homemade by Tibetan grandmothers!
Onto the soups. During our meal at the Mint Leaf, one of my dining companions ordered the tomato soup (which he’s ordered during several subsequent visits). This soup is rich with the flavors of typical Indian dishes and perfect for cold winter days—it is most definitely not Campbell’s.
When it comes to the mean meals, stick to the Indian specialties and save your burger craving for another night. Though the lamb mint burger missed the mark with too little sauce and too little flavor, the Indian dishes really shine. The chicken tikka kababs, which is boneless chicken marinated in ginger, garlic, and cayenne yet isn’t overly spicy, was quickly devoured. The chicken was especially tender and juicy. The tandoori chicken kabab, marinated with yogurt, garlic, and cayenne pepper, was equally as flavorful. The kababs are definitely recommended.
Two members of my dining party, including myself, ordered off the Desi fare menu, from which you choose one protein and one sauce and get basmati rice to go along with it. I ordered saag paneer, which is my go-to Indian dish. The creamy spinach sauce was smooth and rich yet feels relatively healthy to eat, and this was on par with other saag paneer dishes I’ve eaten throughout the U.S. Sometimes the amount of paneer (a type of Indian cheese) included in this dish can be disappointing, but this was not the case at the Mint Leaf; there was ample paneer in my dish—more than enough for leftovers. Another dining companion ordered the chicken saag, and her dish came packed with tender pieces of chicken breast.
Let’s not forget the ample helpings of basmati rice served with our meals. There was more than enough to go around for two helpings, and when we packed our leftover meals to-go, the server brought out a full bowl of basmati rice for us to pack with our leftover saags and kababs. Now that is service.
Breads and Sides
To go with the meals, there are numerous options for naan (a leavened Indian flat bread), as well as parantha, kulcha, and roti. We ordered the garlic parmesan naan and the mint basil naan. Now, I love naan—it is one of my favorite types of breads. Both were flavorsome, although I preferred the garlic parmesan naan as the flavors were more evident.
I can’t wait to return to order more off the starters, rice (biryani!), and breads menu, because the rare options offered by the Mint Leaf are what really caught my eye. The food is authentic, flavorful, and the portion sizes are very generous.
Mint Leaf Restaurant and Bar
770 Long Hill Rd. Groton, CT, 06340