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Posts Tagged ‘indian/paki’

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I understand why Indians get married in India, regardless of whom they marry. Indian weddings are so pretty (and this is just an engagement)…

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This looks like a wonderland, full of dreamy possibilities… like, how could something that starts by sparkling with so many pretty lights and that is fragrant with clouds of soft flowers possibly go wrong? Well, obviously, a million ways, but reality is suspended when you enter a world of Christmas lights and flowers, at least for me. While in Bombay, I went to this kid’s engagement with my parents. He is marrying one of my distant cousins. The engagement was held at the Willingdon Club and as soon as we walked in, we were surrounded by 50 relatives.

It was actually kind of enjoyable, a fancy family reunion. But for the longest time, I couldn’t find any other kids, so I made friends with the bar. Two glasses of wine on an empty stomach is enough to make me a social, smiling daughter :).

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The Willingdon Club is a hot location for the engagements and weddings of Bombay’s elite. Apparently, you need to book a year in advance at certain locations for a December engagement/wedding. Unfortunately, the food at the Willingdon Club was pretty awful. If I get married, I want the food to be fantastic at all my events. Glitter is fun, but it fades. The flavors of food, on the other hand, linger on…

Uninspired Punjabi fare dominated the offerings, though they did have some Continental food (baked pasta…eh) and a chaat bar which was apparently quite good, but I’m not a fan of pani puri, and by the time we were done schmoozing, all that was left of the ragda pattis were a few lonely chickpeas in a giant pan.

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Pictured above is one dessert I love. I’m a sucker for jalebis. These weren’t great, but they were more edible than the main courses. The starring dessert however, was this strange …Could it Be Pudding? Could it be Mousse? …pan of chocolate, surrounded by absurdly round scoops of vanilla ice cream.

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I didn’t quite know what to make of it.

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The Diner’s Journal on the NYT asked “notable eaters” to share their foodie wanderlust: on an all-expense paid trip to anywhere in the world, where would they choose to dine? The Times asked Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, who said he’d go to Delhi- to eat both the streetfood and restaurant food at Bukhara. My parents and brother are in Delhi right now and have been telling me about how amazing the roadside chaat tastes. Sitting here in New York at 5 in the morning, awake for the past 3 hours from a terrible whack of jetlag, and dreading the icy, icy air that awaits me on my way to work, I’m highly jealous of all that spicy Delhi chaat my family is eating. It is 3:30 pm there, and I’m sure they’re snacking somewhere.

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[my masi’s famous paneer tikka]

As for me? I would go to Bombay to eat Paneer Tikka. The paneer in India is delicious- creamy, subtle, and soft. Marinated cubes of paneer, their edges charred crispy black, and sprinkled with chaat masala make paneer tikka a vegetarian decadence- but only in India. Trying to replicate the dish here, with substandard paneer, just ends up disappointing.

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Happy 2008. I hope this will be a year of discovery, friendship, and tasty samosas.

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Kinara
473 5th Avenue (and 12th street)
[park slope]
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 499-3777

Today’s subject- good Indian food in a restaurant- has me humming “At Last,” along with my iTunes. Quality Indian food in a restaurant is a rarity, which is unfortunate, because I’m always craving Indian food but loathe to order it because of the inevitable disappointing outcome. However, last week I found a restaurant- Kinara- that serves Indian food above and beyond the typical fare- and now I’m humming. I guess I’ve been looking for a while.

A few weeks ago, I attended a panel discussion at NYU called Found in Translation: An Exploration of How Asian Cuisines Become Part of the American Culinary Landscape. One of the panelists was Maya Kaimal, author of Curried Flavors and Savoring the Spice Coast of India, and founder of Maya Kaimal Fine Foods. The other two panelists were Amy Besa, owner of Cendrillon, a Filipino restaurant I ate purple foods at a while back, and Grace Young, author of The Breath of a Wok, who was hilariously disparaging when describing the state of Chinese food when it first came to America. She also said, “I always travel with a wok.” The panel was moderated by Kathy Gunst, of PRI’s Here and Now.

(more…)

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For my family, Thanksgiving is an invitation to indulge in cheese and wine. Ever since my brother and I got older and we stopped going to family friends’ houses to nibble on the sides- mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pies- we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving at our house with pots of creamy fondue, burners of bubbling raclette, and platters full of vegetables.

My brother herbed up some goat cheese

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And we set out our sides: roasted pumpkin and sliced daikon (and green chilis)

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We offered a variety of cheeses to melt on the raclette grill: sheep’s goat cheese, truffle cheese, mustard seed and ale, raclette, harissa, and caramelized onion

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And an assortment of vegetables (on which we pour bubbling cheese):

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The full spread

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We’ve been having the same meal every year, but each Thanksgiving, our guests vary slightly. This year, my grandmother and her sister were visiting from India, in addition to my cousin’s grandfather’s brother. It was…how shall we say… a slightly older crowd. Last year, I was in India during Thanksgiving but my brother held down the fort by holding a “Kids’ Thanksgiving” with more wine than usual. I was pretty jealous. But this year’s was indulgent enough to suit my taste for excess. We finished our meal with a Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake, which was good but maybe a little heavy on the molasses and a little lacking on the ginger. Oh well, we ate it anyway.

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And then we watched old family videos and laughed at ourselves from fifteen years ago.

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I went to Indian Bread Co. last night for a second dinner. I was stuffed after my first dinner of dumplings but my appetite grew as I sat through this event. Then I remembered that Indian Bread Co. was in the area; I had recently reread the Nirali article on its owner, Nandini Mukherjee. Last night was my first time at this particular kati roll spot and to be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much. The hype over kati rolls seems to focus on Kati Roll, which I’m not a huge fan of anyway, because I think their rolls are unnecessarily oily.

I ordered a Paneer Tikka Masala roll and sat down to wait. Two of the other tables were occupied, but luckily the narrow shop wasn’t too busy. I asked for extra onions and green chilies on the side and when I picked up my roll, it came with a plate of amazingly stinky red onions (how I love love love red onions) and a cup of green, mint chutney. The chutney was obviously not the green chilies I had asked for, nor was it spicy, but it smelled like a minty forest and tasted great.

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I bit into the roll. I expected rubbery, dry paneer. But it was soft, almost creamy. It was fresh! And the masalaed, yogurt based marinade seeped its rich flavors into the small cubes of paneer. It was so unusual that I pulled out a piece, examined it, and passed it to my friend, who was eating an Achari Gosht Roll. He said, “Wow, I’ve never eaten such soft paneer before.” Well, I have! In Bombay, my masi makes paneer tikka at least twice while I’m there. Everytime, I blissfully stuff myself on marinated chunks of the freshest, milkiest paneer, tomatoes, capsicums, and onions (and then spend the subsequent hours with painful stomach aches but I don’t mind because it’s just so good). This paneer tikka reminded me of my masi’s. Other pros:

The paratha was not too dry nor too oily.
The chutney was evenly and liberally distributed throughout the roll.

A con:
The roll was tiny, about half the size of my usual Roomali rolls. The price is high for the size of these rolls but at least I know where to get my paneer fix now. Oh, and they also have stuffed parathas and “naaninis,” both of which don’t sound too appealing, but the “naanwich,” which I think is a pita-style sandwich made of naan and paneer instead of pita and falafel, sounds sort of intriguing.

And then we got chai, which was watery and totally blah. And it had cinnamon! I know Starbucks chai has cinnamon, but I’ve never been able to taste it our chai at home (which I know has no cinnamon) or other South Asian places in the city. For chai, I’d recommend going to Lahore Deli, on Crosby Street (so close to my job); their chai is fragrantly spicy and strongly comforting. Just the other morning, it was grey and drizzling, but the cup of chai I got from Lahore and sipped while walking to work reminded me why I like living in New York.

Indian Bread Company is at 194 Bleecker Street, between 6th Avenue and Macdougal, New York, NY. (212) 228-1909.
Paneer Tikka Masala Roll: $4.50
Chai: $1.50

Lahore Deli is at 132 Crosby Street, New York, NY. (212) 965-1777. Chai: $ 1.50

Related posts: Roomali is so much better than Kati Roll, 12 tastes of Bombay, Kati Roll, Brimful of Chat

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[Sri Lankan rice]

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