Chutney’s – Part 4

Instagram Post 1/3/2019

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Feeling the urge to go back to Jersey City for Indian food at Chutney’s, 827 Newark Avenue where everything was wonderful. If you’re a vegetarian (and some of my best friends are 😉) and you like Indian food, you need to go here; no menu scrutiny required – everything is vegetarian and absolutely delicious.

Mount Road Parotta with Salna – listed as a Chef’s Special (and it was special indeed), it’s a multilayered flatbread with a long-cooked tomato curry. I’m told this is a street food in India; if that’s the case, I want to live on that street.

Curd Rice – Curd refers to unsweetened yogurt. So simple: rice that has been steamed beyond the pale with yogurt, mustard seeds and cilantro. Comfort food for sure.

Onion Chili Uthappam – aka uttapham, it only looks like pizza. The batter is similar to that of a dosa, but these are thick as a pancake with (in this case) onion and chili cooked right in the batter.

Punugulu – crispy outside, puffy and pillowy inside, these deep fried treats are made from rice batter and served with chutneys and sambar on the side.
 
 

Eggmania

Instagram Post 12/17/2018

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This is one of those serendipitous experiences where the outcome far outstripped my expectations. EggMania, 14 Liberty Ave in Jersey City, was launched by five friends who were homesick and hungry for the egg dishes of their native India. Its sparse interior and casual fast-food atmosphere belie the unique lusciousness that emerges from the kitchen.

This order of Lachko, described as shredded green bell pepper cooked with cheese and runny eggs, served with a side of white toast (yes, really) and chopped fresh onion, will win no beauty contest, but certainly won a place in my heart for sheer deliciousness. I’ve already marked up the menu with selections I need to try upon my return.
 
 

Chutney’s – Part 3 (Dosa)

Instagram Post 12/13/2018

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More from Chutney’s, an exclusively vegetarian Indian restaurant at 827 Newark Avenue, Jersey City where everything we ordered was tiptop. As one would expect, the menu listed over two dozen types of dosa; here are two.

Dosa almost never quite fits on its serving tray, and indeed, that’s part of its charm. Paper thin and crêpe-like in appearance but generally crisper, dosa is made from a fermented batter of rice and lentil flours, griddled, and typically filled with a dollop of vegetables or cheese, in this case with potato masala, a popular choice.

End on observation seems like something out of NASA’s Image of the Day: here’s looking at aloo, kid.

Plain (i.e., not spiced) Rava Dosa, by way of contrast. Lacy and even more fragile, made with semolina and other flours (and more to my liking), this thin batter is not fermented. Sambar, a spicy thin soup for dipping, on the side.

Chutney’s chutneys, clockwise from left: coconut, tomato, and peanut.

More to come from Chutney’s….
 
 

Adda – The Lunch Menu

When I write about restaurants on Instagram, they’re usually brief takes accompanied by a photo or two. (You can see my feed right here on ethnojunkie.com, updated almost daily, by selecting the “Instagram” category from my home page – no signup required.) But folks sometimes ask for more extensive reviews and photos, so in response, here’s a comprehensive report on one of my favorites.


The Bengali/Hindi word “adda” refers to a place where people hang out and engage in stimulating conversation, often for hours and often over tasty food. It has a special meaning for me since I learned it decades ago from a dear departed Bangladeshi friend who taught me its meaning first hand, so I hoped the restaurant Adda would rekindle the warmth of that experience. From speaking to the restaurateur, I was pleased that we were on the same wavelength. The interior is casual and the food was excellent, the spice levels appropriate for each distinctly seasoned dish.

Here are a few of the extraordinary items I tried. (Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Chicken Biryani

I seldom order this: the rice and chicken are often dried out from sitting around too long, a hazard of a popular dish usually cooked in abundance in advance. Not here. It’s prepared as a dum, a technique where dough is sealed around the ingredients that permits them to retain their moisture and steam to delectable perfection. Served with raita on the side, even the dough was delicious. See second photo for the reveal.

Chicken Kati Roll

One of India’s many street food snacks, these paratha wraps were more flavorful and painstakingly seasoned than many I’ve had.

Kale Pakoda

There are folks for whom the mere mention of kale causes their nose to crinkle; I suggest ordering this dish as a remedy to that reaction. Kale Pakoda (you may know it as pakora) is made from kale drenched in a batter of ground chickpeas, deep fried and drenched with chutneys and an impeccable masala spice blend; it’s delicious enough to make the most diehard kalephobe request a second order.

Keema Pao

Keema refers to ground meat, in this case lamb, perfectly sauced and pao to the bready bun served alongside. Scoop up the former with the latter; enjoy; repeat.
 
 
Two more from the lunch menu at Adda that feature their amazing paneer, the fresh cheese commonly found at Indian restaurants everywhere. But what you find everywhere is not what you’ll find at Adda. They make their own paneer, of course, but unlike the squeaky, rubbery stuff you may have experienced elsewhere (no matter how good it tasted), this paneer is the real deal. It’s gentle on the tongue and redolent of the heady aroma of fresh dairy that cuts through the accompanying sauces, and might just turn you into a paneer snob.

Chili Paneer Tikka

Chili Paneer Tikka in a light ginger-garlic sauce that supports but doesn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the paneer. Simple and delicious.

Seasonal Saag Paneer

Not the glop you might be accustomed too. You often see what could easily be creamed spinach with a few afterthoughts of paneer tossed in as if to validate the name. Here the paneer and greens are in balance, playing off each other in a perfectly seasoned sauce.

Achari Chicken Tikka

When I see the word achari, I think pickled, which this delicious chicken was definitely not. We confirmed that what they served us matched the name on the menu and later, with a bit of research, I found recipes that could well have described the dish with its spicy tomato onion yogurt sauce. Despite my preconceived notion, this one was super.

Dahi Batata Puri

Pani puri are amazing. A common Indian street food, these snacks consist of a crispy shell filled, in this case, with a tender mixture of potatoes (batata), yogurt (dahi) and chutney, and sprinkled with sev (crunchy chickpea noodles). Pop one into your mouth whole, no biting please.

Masala Fried Chicken

No explanation needed: spicy fried chicken and potato wedges.

Stay tuned for the dinner menu!
 
 
Adda is located at 31-31 Thomson Ave, Long Island City, Queens.
 
 

Happy Diwali!

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Dear Friends,

I can no longer keep this to myself. I am an addict, hooked on mithai. What’s that? You don’t know about mithai? Mithai are Indian sweets and since Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is upon us, I can think of no better time than now to tell you my tale. So gather round your diyas and check out my post “Indian Sweets 101: Meeting Mithai” right here on ethnojunkie.com!
 
 

Bombay To Goa

Instagram Post 11/5/2018

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On a quest for Goan food, we made the trip to Jersey City (because mass transit doesn’t go to India) where we enjoyed a bite at Bombay To Goa, 785 Newark Ave.

A pair of entrees from the “Carnivore’s Delights” section of the menu:

[1] Mutton Sukkha. The word mutton generally implies goat in India and when you see sukka (or a similar spelling) on the menu, it refers to a dish that’s not swimming in gravy (the word सूखा means dry in Hindi): tender baby goat, in a thick, spicy, meaty reduction.

[2] Xaccuti de Galinha. Xacutti (or a similar spelling) is your cue that this is a coconut based curry. Galinha (chicken) harks back to the time that Goa was a Portuguese province. The coconut is roasted and enhanced with poppy seeds and dried red chilies. Piquant and flavorful, it was perfect with our order of [3] Goan Pulao.
 
 

Chutney’s – Part 2 (Guntur Idli)

Instagram Post 11/4/2018

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Today’s Instagram post from ethnojunkie.com:

Another delight from Chutney’s, an exclusively vegetarian Indian restaurant at 827 Newark Avenue, Jersey City where everything we ordered was tiptop. These are Guntur Idli. Idli are steamed, puffy, lightly fermented rice flour (sometimes blended with ground ural dal) breads popular for breakfast in India; Guntur, a city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, is the leading producer and exporter of Indian chilies. And indeed, lurking within these airy bites was a splotch of chili masala, not overwhelming but sufficient to elevate the idli from its customary supporting player status. On the side there’s sambar, a lentil soup usually incorporating tamarind, used for dipping, spooning, and general slathering.

More to come from Chutney’s….
 
 

Chutney’s – Part 1

Instagram Post 10/30/2018

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Is it that I have extremely good luck with restaurants in Jersey City’s Little India or are they all that good? I often say that if I had to go vegetarian for the rest of my life, I’d make a beeline for Indian food and never look back. Not that there’s anything wrong with straight ahead salads and bespoke medleys, but the sheer number of herbs and spices endemic to the cuisine in so many complex permutations and combinations coupled with its variety of cooking styles affirms that I’d never want for variety.

[1] Everything we ordered at Chutney’s, an exclusively vegetarian Indian restaurant at 827 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, was delicious. Crispy Fried Vegetables, lurking in the Appetizer section of the menu, not under Pakoras, were marinated with herbs and spices and deep fried; they proved to be an excellent starter.

[2] Mysore Bonda. Mysore is a city in South India; bonda is a South Indian snack made from flour and buttermilk, the flavor of which came through brightly in this light treat.

[3] Bisected mysore bonda. Do I need to tell you that they offer over 11 kinds of chutneys not to mention sambar, rasam, and other dipping soups and sauces?

More to come from Chutney’s….
 
 

Cardamom – Part 5

Instagram Post 10/21/2018

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Cardamom, the new Indian restaurant in Sunnyside, Queens at 43-45 43rd St, features the cuisine of Goa, the chef’s homeland, but not to the exclusion of other regions. 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.

[1] The most impressive dish we tasted at lunch that afternoon was Goan Tandoori Shrimp; it only took one bite to elicit a chorus of “oh yeahs” from our assemblage.

[2] Chicken Xacutti, a signature dish from the Indo-Portuguese section of the menu, boasts a complex blend of spices tempered with coconut. Delicious, but I would have welcomed more of a kick – again, possibly a communication misfiring since friends who visited here on another occasion were treated to a more robust level of heat.
 
 

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….