“Happy Halloween! May your day be full of treats!”
ps: a crazy delicious pumpkin cupcake recipe will be up tonight.
“Happy Halloween! May your day be full of treats!”
ps: a crazy delicious pumpkin cupcake recipe will be up tonight.
45 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10013
In the belly: fresh lumpia, mixed noodles with shiitake, Asian greens, and eggplant fritter, young coconut pie
Rating: Very enjoyable and different- both food and atmosphere. Dessert was unbelievably good.
Last week, Sandhya and I went to Cendrillon, a Filipino restaurant, for lunch. Other than us, there was just one customer, but the inside of the restaurant was so peaceful and pretty: high ceilings, gauzy curtains, exposed brick, sparkling, branch-like white lights, and a sky-lit backroom, filled with greenery. I had never eaten Filipino food before so I had no idea what to expect. What I found was the surprising presence of my parents’ favorite vegetable, the friendly purple yam, and really great coconut pie.
We started with the Fresh Lumpia: sautéed veggies (cabbage, mushroom, leeks) stuffed in a crepe made with…yes, purple yam batter. The crepe itself tasted faintly yogurty and soft, and the purple was a fun color to eat. It was drizzled with a tamarind-peanut sauce, which added some depth to otherwise fairly standard, but tasty, scallion flavors.
We also ordered the mixed noodles with shiitake, Asian greens, and eggplant fritter. This bowl of soup was picture-perfect: a purple eggplant, cut like a flower with dusky white petals, floated pristinely atop a woodsy-amber broth filled with noodles, scallions, and mushrooms.
And then, there was dessert. I’ve never eaten a coconut pie that celebrated so well the juicy meat of the fruit. Usually, coconut pies and cakes have shredded coconut; Cendrillon’s had thick, soft sheets of tender young coconut (buco/buko), held safe inside a flaky golden crust (lined with purple yam), and topped with a scoop of real vanilla-bean ice cream. What makes this pie even better is that the waitress asked us if we minded waiting ten minutes- they made all the desserts to order. Fresh baked pie? Less time at the desk? The choice was easy, and so very worth it.
lumpia: $6; mixed noodles: $8.50; buko pie: $7.50
Posted in indian home cooking, recipe, recipes: breakfast at home, recipes: indian, tagged batata powa, gourmet, gujarati, lickable, poha, potato poha, powa, spiced, tasty, yonion on October 28, 2007 | 6 Comments »
Batata Powa (or poha, as it’s called in Hindi) is a Gujarati dish made of fluffy flattened rice (powa) and potatoes (batata). Light, lemony and flecked with shredded coconut and tiny black mustard seeds, this dish is ideal for a simple and savory weekend lunch; in India, it’s often eaten for breakfast.
Batata powa is colored a pretty yellow with the addition of little turmeric, or haldi. A few weeks ago, my father lent me The Garden of Life: An Introduction to the Healing Plants of India, by Naveen Patnaik. The book, which is fascinating AND beautifully illustrated, explains the medicinal benefits of various spices, herbs, and roots used in India, according to the principles of Ayurveda. About turmeric, it says that in addition to its coloring properties, the root also provides relief when suffering from gastric disorders. According to a comment left on the blog Sepia Mutiny, when they were discussing the Ayurvedic properties of turmeric, it is also a great hangover cure; maybe this explains why the only time I crave heavy Indian food is after a night of partying.
1/2 pound of powa (flattened rice). Powa/poha is readily available at Indian grocery stores.
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 medium tomato, diced
1 large onion or 2 smaller onions, diced
1 cup shredded coconut
2 boiled potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 inch ginger, shredded
1 long green chili, sliced into thin rounds
juice from 2 limes
1 rounded tsp. black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. asofetida
1/2 tsp. turmeric
8 tsp. sugar
1 handful of curry leaves
3/4 cup peanut/vegetable/safflower oil
Wash the powa thoroughly in very cold water about 3-4 times. Place in a colander to let water drain out. Do not squeeze the powa, which will be inflated from the washing.
When the water has drained out, place powa in a large bowl, and gently mix with the tomatoes, cilantro, coconut, ginger, sugar, and lime. Add salt to taste. Set aside. The mix should look something like a snowy garden of vegetables and fluffy rice:
Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add the oil and mustard seeds. Cover pot with lid until mustard starts to pop and sputter, about two minutes.
Add the curry leaves, green chili, asofetida and onions. Cook the onions on medium heat for one minute; then turn heat to low and let them cook until they become translucent. Add salt to taste.
Add the potatoes and turmeric and stir. Pour in the flattened rice mixture, stir once and cover pot with lid for 2 minutes, over low heat. Turn stove off. Serve with chutney.
I have dozens of pictures of me with pumpkins. And pictures of pumpkins without me. In this one, I made friends with the cutest baby while sitting in my pumpkin throne:
Pumpkins are so jolly, so happily orange and round that I want to hug them (and sometimes, I do). They look picturesque on bright and chilly fall days. And I also love eating pumpkins, which is one reason I don’t mind fall’s colder weather so much: I know I’m going to be eating pumpkin muffins and cheesecakes, cinnamon-dusted pumpkin truffles from Godiva, pumpkin ravioli in sage or mushroom sauces, my dadi’s sister’s Sri Lankan pumpkin-coconut curry, and autumn colored pumpkin ice-cream.
So I apologize, seeing as it’s nearing the end of October, and I have yet to post one pumpkin recipe or review. I have many in my mind, believe me, but I have a tendency to put off the things I really want to write about…like pumpkins. But today I decided to do something with the can of organic Trader Joe’s pumpkin that’s been sitting, unopened, on my bookshelf for the past 3 weeks. So I searched for a recipe and found, in an issue of Bon Apetit, exactly what I wanted to make: Spiced Pumpkin Walnut Biscuits with a Honey-Cream Glaze.
This recipe is fairly simple but the resulting biscuits are so yummy. The pumpkin’s sweet, mellow flavor nestles nicely between the buttery walnuts, rich golden honey, and fireplace-warmth of the cloves. Topped with the thick honey-cream nectar, these biscuits were perfect fall-scented treats for this rainy Saturday in New York.
I adjusted the recipe a little to make it slightly spicier than the typical pumpkin pastry- I substituted 3/4 tsp. crushed ginger for 3/4 tsp. ground ginger and 1/2 tsp. ground cloves instead of ground cardamom.
Spiced Pumpkin Walnut Biscuits with Honey-Cream Glaze
adapted from Bon Apetit, November 1995
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled whipping cream
1/3 cup golden brown sugar
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
A few chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter large foil baking sheet.
Mix flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt and cloves in medium bowl until blended.
Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture looks crumbly. .
Whisk pumpkin, 1/4 cup cream, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons honey and lemon peel in another medium bowl.
Add pumpkin mixture and chopped nuts to dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly blended (dough will be moist).
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead gently until smooth, about 8 turns.
Roll out dough to 3/4-inch thickness.
Using floured 2-inch-diameter cookie cutter, cut out rounds. I used my ¼ cup measure to cut these rounds, since I don’t have a cookie cutter.
Reroll scraps to 3/4-inch thickness; cut out additional rounds. Place biscuits on prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.
Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons cream and 2 tablespoons honey in small bowl. Spoon/brush atop biscuits and spread.
I then placed a chocolate chip in the center of half my biscuits. I liked how the chocolate didn’t blend much into the pumpkin or overpower the flavor of the biscuits; it just acted as a little Halloween treat.
Bake biscuits until light golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool biscuits for 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. If desired, wrap biscuits in foil and rewarm in 350°F oven about 5 minutes.)
Posted in *restaurants: bombay, bombay adventures, cheap, cheesy meals, recipe, recipes: small savory snacks/sidedishes, streetfood, sugary sweet!, tagged fun-tastic!, indian/paki, kathi roll, kati roll, lickable, mexican, oily, spiced, tasty, tea / coffee adventures on October 26, 2007 | 14 Comments »
An American reader visiting Bombay emailed me asking for recommendations of my favorite places to eat in the city. On my list, many places are associated with good memories as well as good food. China Garden might not be the best Indian Chinese in the city (what IS the best Indian Chinese in Bombay? Anyone know?) but every time we visit India, we go there for consistently tasty food and large, noisy dinners with my mom’s side of the family. Add your favorite places to the comments section!
Posted in boston adventures, indian home cooking, recipe, recipes: indian, recipes: small savory snacks/sidedishes, tagged gourmet, gujarati food, handvo, indian snack, indian/paki, lickable, spiced, tasty on October 24, 2007 | 20 Comments »
I went home this weekend to see the fall colors, eat pumpkin chocolates, and rub my feet on our carpet. I also went to hang out with my dadi (paternal grandmother) who is here from India this month. Dadi has short white hair, nut-colored, spotless skin, and gifted hands. She sews clothes and crotchets scarves and quilts me bedspreads. She is the grandmother that makes ice creams and sells them to a lucky few. Above all, Dadi can cook. On Saturday, before we spent the afternoon leaf gazing, she taught me how to make four traditional Gujarati dishes. Then, on Sunday, she and my dad teamed up to teach me a couple more.
I am not an ardent Gujarati food lover by any means, but I think the cuisine has some uniquely tasty fare that draws the masses to the upscale Guju restaurants now sprinkled across Bombay and New York (like Soam, opposite the Babulnath temple, and Vatan on 3rd Avenue). These dishes can be difficult to recreate with a generic recipe since they never taste quite the same as when you eat them at your Gujarati friend’s home. But my grandma shared her special recipes- the recipes generations of her family have loved for years- so I thought I’d post them here for any hungry and adventurous cooks.
The first recipe dadi taught me was for Handvo, baked savory lentil cakes from a region in Gujarat called Kathiyavad. Don’t let the word “baked” fool you: this fragrant Indian style cornbread (sans the corn) is not low fat. But a slice of Handvo is stunningly savory and worth the time and effort it takes to make it. Handvo’s flour, made from coarsely ground lentils and rice, forms a rustic base, which when combined with the buttery shredded squash and milky coconut, brings a homey, country feeling to your belly. Green chilis and ginger work together to form a sharp, aromatic paste that, when mixed into the batter with the sugar, transforms into a calm, fresh flavor in the cooked slices. And sizzling white sesame seeds encrusted in the top and bottom add a nutty crispiness to the outer edges of this soft, savory cake.
Dadi’s Handvo Recipe
Prep time: 45 min
Oven time: 50 min
3 cups of shredded squash/gourd/cabbage. We used 1 medium “dhoodhi / loki” or Indian gourd, but we’ve used squash and cabbage before. Your vegetable of choice should yield about 3 cups of shredded material.
3 cups handvo flour (a coarse flour made of ground mixed lentils and rice). You can find prepackaged handvo flour (NOT Instant Handvo Mix) at your local Indian grocery store by asking for handvo loht (flour) or handvo daro (coarsely ground flour.)
A 32-ounce container of plain, preferably sour, yogurt
Salt to taste
8 tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. asafetida
2 tbsp. ginger chili paste. We blended 2 inches of ginger and 8 small chilies into a paste; you can vary the number of chilies depending on how spicy you like your food. 6 chilies to two inches of ginger yields a mildly spicy paste.
½-1 tsp. turmeric
3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tbsp. crushed garlic
4 tsp. chili powder
2 handfuls + 1 tbsp. white sesame seeds
juice from 1 lime
1 cup shredded coconut (can buy frozen from an ethnic grocery store)
1 cup + 1 tsp. peanut oil (can substitute with safflower or vegetable oil)
2 heaped teaspoons black mustard seeds
handful of curry leaves
½ tsp. baking soda
1 level tsp. baking powder
Mix 3 cups handvo flour with the yogurt in a large steel bowl; leave out overnight to ferment.
The next morning, sprinkle batter liberally with salt to taste and add the sugar and asafetida. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sprinkle shredded squash (or cabbage, or gourd) with salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze out excess water from vegetable and mix into the batter.
Add 2 tbsp. of the ginger-chili paste to batter and stir. Add ½ tsp. of turmeric. Batter should become a banana yellow color. Add the chopped cilantro and crushed garlic to batter, stir.
Set ½ cup of peanut oil in a small pot over low heat. When oil is slightly warm, add the red chili powder. Swirl pot to mix the oil and chili, about 10 seconds, and then stir into batter.
Liberally grease a 15 x 10 glass dish (or two smaller dishes) with oil, and sprinkle the bottom of the pan with a handful of white sesame seeds
Mix the shredded coconut into batter, and then add ¼ tsp. asafetida and juice from ½ a lime.
Taste the batter. Adjust it for salt/sugar levels to taste.
In a small pot, heat 1/2 cup oil. When hot, add 2 heaped tsp. mustard seeds, ½ tsp of asafetida, handful of curry leaves, and 1 tbsp of sesame. Wait until mustard seeds start to pop (so they release their flavors). Set aside.
In another small pot, add 1 tsp. of oil, baking soda, baking powder, and juice from ½ lime. As soon as the mixture starts bubbling, stir it into the batter and quickly pour batter into greased pan. Spoon the heated oil-spice mixture on top and put in the preheated oven.
Cook handvo on 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Handvo should rise and cracks should appear on surface. Handvo should be a toasty golden yellow in color. Serve with chutney.
Posted in *restaurants: new york, cheap, cheesy meals, drinks, fancy restaurants, manhattan, new york, new york*: west village, new york: italian, new york: snacks/small meals, tagged gourmet, lickable, tasty on October 18, 2007 | 5 Comments »
Ciabatta, toasted, insides scooped out, filled with 2 egg yolks and fontina cheese, baked, drizzled with truffle oil and sprinkled with black pepper and salt. Cooked, sliced asparagus forms a crown for this gem of a dish. The truffle smells and tastes so good, especially when blended with runny egg. The black pepper is accents the salty cheese and earthy truffle, and the crusty bread is the perfect edible bowl. Asparagus provides the relief from the intense decadence that is ‘ino’s Truffled Egg Toast with its bright, mildy sweet flavor.
Truffled Egg Toast: $8
ino is at 21 Bedford Street, between Houston and Downing, New York, NY. (212) 989-5769.
Posted in *restaurants: new york, cheap, manhattan, new york, new york*: murray hill, new york: indian, new york: snacks/small meals, streetfood, tagged chaat, indian/paki, kathi roll, kati roll, katie roll, manhattan, new york, oily, pav bhaji on October 18, 2007 | 5 Comments »
101 Lexington Ave
(between 27th and 28th streets)
New York, NY
In the Belly: spicy chickpeas roll, spinach roll, paneer tikka roll, papdi chaat, pani puri, pav bhaji
Rating: go if you’re desperate.
I am never allowed to eat chaat from the street when visiting Bombay because it’s totally unhygienic, especially in the rainy season. But it’s also incredibly good, so I eat it anyway, sneaking out with my cousins to bite into pav bhaji on humid Chowpatty Beach. Of course, later I lie, saying yes, I’m so hungry for dinner, I haven’t eaten anything since lunch, and then stuff myself all over again – but then again, that’s how to eat in Bombay.
This past Sunday, we had chaat cravings. First we went to Dimple, a chaat shop on 30th, between 5th and 6th. My friend DV and I were particularly eager for chaat: he wanted pani puri and I wanted ragda pattis. Dimple’s menu had both. But it was closed and while we were walking down Lex, unsuccessfully trying to convince the rest of our friends that we really needed to go to Jackson Heights for proper chaat, and that it was the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I spotted a sign that said
pav bhaji: $5.95.
So we clamored in the shop and interrogated the man behind the counter: Do you have pani puri? yes. Raga Pattis? no. Pav Bhaji? yes. We ended up ordering a bunch of food and then went down the dingy stairs to wait.
We waited forever. We explored the back of the shop (dingier, very dirty bathroom, man sleeping somewhere). DV’s cousin Arjun, who is from Delhi, noted that we had found a real hole-in-the-wall. He said, “Thanks guys. I feel like I’m back home now.”
After about 30 minutes, our food showed up. The papdi chaat was quite good, but the dahi was very cold. Oddly cold.
We got spinach, chickpea, paneer, and some meat kati rolls. The spinach one was terrible, and the chickpea one was just okay, but the chickpeas were dry. The paneer was the best of the lot, but I much prefer Roomali’s rolls. Katie Roll’s kati rolls are wrapped in a very thin, very oily roti- not the thick textured goodness of Roomali. Also, Roomali’s seating area is cleaner.
We then ate the pav bhaji which was garlicky and fresh.We collectively approved. However, the pani puri was a disappointment. After waiting for the potatoes to boil (literally: they told us when we ordered that they had to boil the potatoes for the pani puri so that dish would take longer than the others) I think everyone was pretty unimpressed: the pani had no taste and the puris were stale.
Katie Roll is a place to go if you need a fix- whether it be decent pav bhaji or bad pani puri- but next time I’m craving chaat, I’m heading to Queens.
pav bhaji: $5.95; chickpea roll & potato roll: $4; paneer tikka roll: $4.25; pani puri and papdi chaat: $3.95