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….
 
 

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….
 
 

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….