October 20th Ethnojunket to Brooklyn’s Little Odessa, Now Boarding!

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There’s a new ethnojunket on the horizon scheduled for Saturday, October 20, 2018 where we’ll sample the delights of Russian and Former Soviet Union cuisine along Brighton Beach Avenue. We’ll share Georgian cheese bread as well as Turkish and Russian sweets and treats along with amazing dumplings, authentic ethnic dishes, and so much more. The cost is $65 per person (cash only, please) and includes a veritable cornucopia of food so bring your appetite! You won’t leave hungry, and you will leave happy!

The photos below show a few of the delicacies we’ll taste. And for a sneak preview of just one part of the tour, check out my post about the amazing Gourmanoff. Is it a market or a theater? Join me and see for yourself!

For more information and to sign up, send me a note in the “Leave a Reply” section below (or write to me directly at rich[at]ethnojunkie[dot]com).

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The Khinkali is Behind Door Number 1, Manti

Instagram Post 10/17/2018

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How can you tell the difference between Uzbek manti and Georgian khinkali? I mean, they’re both big, beautiful meat-filled dumplings, generally boiled or steamed, that hail from Former Soviet Union states. At first glance, they do seem similar but the shapes are the most evident giveaway: manti are pinched closed, sometimes completely sealed, sometimes with little gaps, and they look a bit like a flower or a pyramid or perhaps a child’s fist. Khinkali, on the other hand are always twisted closed in such a way that they resemble a Chinese soup dumpling on steroids, with a little topknot to be employed as a handle for refined eating. (There are those who eschew consuming the topknot, claiming that it’s just too doughy to be anything more than a mechanism for conveying dumpling to mouth; others happily chew it up because it’s part of the package, literally and figuratively.)

Manti fillings (photo 2) vary depending upon provenance, seasonality, and recipe (they’re actually Turkic/Central Asian) and are typically found bursting with juicy, deliciously seasoned lamb and onions diced into tiny chunks (when they’re hot, unlike these), although pumpkin varieties are not at all uncommon. Khinkali from Georgia, a Christian nation (Uzbekistan is predominantly Muslim) usually contain a mixture of ground pork and beef.

And how do they taste? I thought you’d never ask. That’s where personal experience comes into play. And if you join me on my Little Odessa ethnojunket this Saturday, October 20 (pretty sneaky, right?), we’re likely to procure one or the other or both as we eat our way along Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn. If you’d like to join us for the adventure, please click here for more information and to sign up. Hope to see you then!
 
 

Accra Restaurant – Part 6

Instagram Post 10/16/2018

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One more photo from another amazing dinner at Accra Restaurant, 2065 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd in Harlem. The last time we went, Ayesha, the owner, told me that this dish was new on the menu and recommended that we try it. I am so glad we did!

Yam Porridge (aka asaro). Not what some customarily think of as porridge, and not the kind of yams some think of as Thanksgiving fare (those are actually sweet potatoes), these yams are seasoned and cooked down so there is a little mashed yam “soup” and some larger tender chunks. Topped with a sauce made from onion, tomato, and dried fish, it was another winner. If this isn’t comfort food, I don’t know what is!

PS: Get some of their amazing homemade ginger beer when you go! Non-carbonated, non-alcoholic, unique and delicious.
 
 

A Sweet Reminder

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A quick post about a quick stop I made in Brooklyn’s Little Odessa at Malyutka Bakery & Café, 231 Brighton Beach Ave, a new addition to the scene after a few neighboring bakeries got shuffled around.

Somewhere between a cookie and a scone, it hit the spot as I was checking out venues for my forthcoming ethnojunket along Brighton Beach Avenue on Saturday, October 20. Want to taste delicious Russian and Former Soviet Union food like this? Maybe we’ll even find a bench along the boardwalk and do a mini-picnic, weather permitting. Join me on the adventure! For more information and to sign up, click here. Hope to see you then!
 
 

Cardamom – Part 4

Instagram Post 10/15/2018

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More from Cardamom, the new Indian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens at 43-45 43rd St. The chef hails from Goa, the former Portuguese province in India; the menu includes a selection of dishes from his homeland.

Savoury (sic) Crispy Baingan gets the prize for the most unusual item we ordered. Truly crispy wafer thin slices of fried baby eggplant topped with yogurt inflected with mint and tamarind.

Lamb Caldin (or caldinho if your Portuguese roots are showing), a flavorful curry with a ginger/garlic onset and a coconut conclusion. Goan food has a reputation for a embracing a confident degree of spiciness but most of the dishes we were served never peaked above the medium level, perhaps a communication misfiring.

More to come from Cardamom….
 
 

Cardamom – Part 3

Instagram Post 10/14/2018

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Two more tasty dishes from Cardamom, the new Indian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens at 43-45 43rd St. The chef hails from Goa, the former Portuguese province in India; the menu features a few dishes from his homeland.

Prawn Balchao from the Starters list prepared in a tangy Goan style tomato chili sauce, with careful attention to presentation.

Bhendi Masala. Lightly seasoned pan fried okra with onions. If you think okra must always be slimy, this dish will disabuse you of that notion.

More to come from Cardamom….
 
 

Cardamom – Part 2

Instagram Post 10/13/2018

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Two more from Cardamom, the new Indian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens at 43-45 43rd St that’s offering a few dishes of Goan provenance. Located on India’s west coast, Goa was formerly a province of Portugal, consequently the food is strongly influenced by their culture and imports; you’re as likely to see the word galinha as you would murgh on a comprehensive menu.

[1] Flavorsome fried chunks of chix in Chicken 65, a dish that hails not from Goa but rather from Chennai. The origin of its name is the subject of irreconcilable debate: Does it contain 65 chilies? Was it fed to Indian defense forces in 1965? Did the dish cost 65 rupees? Was 65 the customary retirement age for chickens?

[2] Goan Fish Curry, described on the menu as “a staple dish in every household of Goa” and “Grandma’s secret recipe!” Coconut based, smooth and creamy, almost Goan comfort food.

More to come from Cardamom….
 
 

Kutaby

Instagram Post 10/10/2018

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Azerbaijani food is similar to the cuisine of Georgia (FSU Georgia, that is) but they lay claim to certain dishes such as kutaby as their own. A thin, tortilla-like crepe filled with ground lamb and luscious seasonings, folded in half and griddled, it’s an object of universal culinary lust for anyone whose lips have ever caressed it.

And, by the way, it may make an appearance at my upcoming Little Odessa ethnojunket (what a segue 😉), Saturday, October 20, where we’ll sample the delights of Russian and Former Soviet Union cuisine along Brighton Beach Avenue in Brooklyn.

For more information and to sign up, click here. Hope to see you then!
 
 

Khaman Dhokla

Instagram Post 10/6/2018

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This is dhokla (ઢોકળા), the delicious snack that hails from Gujarat, India. Soft, delicately spongy, and impossible to stop eating, this treat (that can also be enjoyed as a main dish or a side) shows up in numerous varieties. It’s made from a fermented batter of rice and chana dal (split chickpeas) the proportions of which vary depending upon the type; this one, khaman dhokla, is made from chickpeas only. There’s a bit of baking soda in the recipe as well that serves to make it even fluffier. It’s topped with mustard seeds and green chilies and served here with a yellow curry sauce on the side for dipping (or pouring over if you crave a high sauce to dhokla ratio). These were a serendipitous discovery made while wandering around Jersey City, NJ from Bengali Sweet House, 836 Newark Ave.
 
 

Cardamom – Part 1

Instagram Post 10/5/2018

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There’s a new Indian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens at 43-45 43rd St with an emphasis on the cuisine of Goa. Located on India’s west coast, Goa was formerly a province of Portugal, consequently the food is strongly influenced by their culture and imports; you’ll see chouriço keeping company with xacutti on a typical Goan menu. The food is not as spicy as that of other regions of India although it does have a kick.

From Cardamom’s Tandoor category, we ordered Lamb Chops in a tamarind, ginger and garlic marinade, all of which were in delicious, succulent evidence.

Vindaloo is listed in the Indo Portuguese section of Cardamom’s menu. It’s often regarded as a pan-Indian dish unless you dig a little deeper: more specifically, it’s a Goan recipe and the name, sometime spelled vindalho, stems from the Portuguese vinha d’alhos referring to wine and garlic. These days, vindaloo is more about vinegar along with the garlic, chili peppers and spices we’ve come to expect. At a recent lunch, given a wide choice of proteins, we opted for goat. Tasty, but not nearly spicy enough although YMMV.

More to come from Cardamom….