Nov
26

Indian Food Day in NYC

My wife and I decided to spend Saturday in NYC, well it was probably more like I wanted to spend a day in NY and harrassed her until she agreed. We drop the kids off at her sister’s and drove into the city around 11am. It must have been my lucky day but I actually found street parking just where I wanted it, 5th and 20th. Major score!

Our plan was to just walk around a bunch of neighborhoods and enjoy what New York has to offer. Unfortunately it was the coldest day we’ve had, coming in in the 30s. Boy it was cold.  We decided to just walk down to Union Square and check out the fresh market until it was time to go get lunch. That place has some really great stuff. If I had a cooler in the car I would definately have picked up some sausages, rack of lamb and some bread. Oh well, next time I’ll know to be better prepared.

 After walking around for over an hour, it was time to hit the 1st of our restaurants. We walked over to the Bread Bar at Tabla. I’ve been there maybe 20 times in that last 4 years, but my wife has never been and I wanted her to experience one of my absolute favorites – the pulled lamb and mustard mash potato naanini! Place was pretty empty, perhaps another 2 couples were there when we walked in and another 2 came in after us. It was still pretty early for lunch. 2 other couples ordered the pulled lamb too. I guess everyone knows about it. Apart from the pulled lamb, we also ordered the black pepper shrimp. This was my first time trying the shrimp – those shrimp were huge – the term shrinp doesn’t do it justice. The shrimp was really tender, cooked to perfection and had a natural sweetness. The pepper was a little too heavy handed, but it’s definately a dish worth ordering. I probably would cut back on the pepper and add some lime juice. I have Floyd Cardoz’s (the chef at Tabla and Bread Bar) book and will try his recipe with some modifications one of these days.

Moving onto the pulled lamb naanini. This has to be one of the greatest creations of all time. I have introduced so many people to this and every single one loves it. The lamb is marinated and cooked to tender.  None of the spices are overwhelming and work so well together. The mashed potato is a perfect with the lamb. Both placed betwen 2 slices of crispy naan. The sandwich is huge and perfect to share. It comes in 3 pieces – why not just make it an even number and then sharing would be so much easier. Oh yes, and my wife loved it too. I did once try re-creating it at home from taste alone, and while it was pretty good, it wasn’t close to the original. I’ll keep trying. If I ever figure it out, I’ll be sure to post the recipe.

For dessert we shared the cheesecake. This has to be one of the best cheesecakes I have ever eaten. So light and with a mint syrup and pineapple. It just worked perfectly. The one thing that didn’t work was the Chai – what was that? It was basically steamed milk. Where was the actual tea?

After walking around a few more hours – we went down to Chinatown via the village and SOHO and then up to 45th and 6th with a detour in Washington Square where we watched s great street show.

We went up to 45th and 6th to go for tea and some Indian sweets at Sukhadia. I’ve been to the one in Edison which is great. Well this branch was no where close. We ordered some mediocre tea (I try tea everywhere) and laddoos (indian ball shaped dessert). The laddoos were cold and rock hard. Not worth the trip up.

 After walking around and killing a few more hours we headed down to Tamarind for our 8.30 reservation. We walked of course. I think we must have walked over 125 blocks (no typo). We needed some way to work off all this great food.

At Tamarind we were seated promptly. The place was packed and the tables were a little too close together. We ordered the cod with crab cake and Soolee as appetizers. The cake was flavored with fennel and onion seed. It was good, but more cod then crab. The Soolee was great, marinated lamb, grilled and on a skewer. For the mains we shared  a tandoori platter that had 2 types of grilled chicken, a lamb chop and tandoori chicken. It also came with creamy lentils. The lamb chop was fabulous and the grilled chicked was great too. While the tandoori chicken had a good tandoor flavor, it could have done with more spice since it was a little bland. The lentils were better then most. We also ordered the Kolapuri Chicken with naan. The chicken was tender, well spiced, not too overwhelming. All the spices were perfectly rounded. Having really enjoyed our dinner, we left thinking that the meal was great, but was it good enough to justify the highest Indian food rating on Zagat? We both agreed that it wasn’t. I think the food at Devi is probably the best Indian food I have eaten in NY. Devi recently closed and re-opened so not sure how the food stacks up now.

The service at Tamarind is immaculate. When we got our bill, I was surprised how cheap dinner was – it’s definately good value for money. A nice surprise to end a great day of eating and just experiencing a great city.

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