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Sep 23, 1999 01:51 PM

Indian food

  • a

When will New york City begin to have authentic Indian
restaurants? Jackson Heights has become a strip mall of
buffets, featuring reheated days-old dishes with
lackluster smears of dull gloppy sauce, little Indian
in Manhattan is duller... the two South Indian
outposts, Anand Bhavan in Jackson Heights and Mavalli
of Manhattan are fine on occasion, but for the Northern
cuisine it is getting worse. My wife, who has travelled
in Indian, finds no resemblance in the predictable
tandoori, dal, spinach glop, curries pieces of meat
fare abounding. Even a recent trip to London found
fresher ingredients and individualized uses of
seasoning. Also there has yet to appear a Bengali
restaurant, Western that is. Everyone is eating at home
it seems... Alas, groan....

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  1. The despair of having to write the above led to
    spelling mistakes ("Indian" in place of "India").

    2 Replies
    1. re: Allan Evans

      Has anyone tried this new place called Saffron, which
      is on Lex. and 26th? I've heard good things about it,
      but haven't ventured in there. Vegetarian, I think...

      1. re: Cathy

        I posted a review on the Manhattan board. Lovely
        people, but the food was not good at all.

    2. re Bengali food, that Kasturi Pavilion, New Katuri or
      whatever that is on Lex at around 26th and is
      recommended in our Chief Hound's book has quite a
      range of quite interesting and tasty vegetable curries
      and some fish curries, including hilsa, on their steam
      table and is worth visiting for those items (I don't
      know about menu items). It has no ambiance (unless you
      consider groups of cab drivers speaking bengali
      ambiance) and some of the vegg are quite unfamiliar
      and in some cases (like bitter melon) difficult for a
      westerner but I don't see that as a disadvantage. The
      small woman behind the counter is very nice and
      helpful, and the cooking feels like home cooking to
      me. Have you tried this one yet? Do you like Vatan?

      8 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        Hopefully Allan will answer about Vatan (anyone else,
        of course, is welcome as well), but FWIW I don't like
        it much, and I didn't much like Jhupdi (its
        predecessor). It's fun, it's kind of cool sitting on
        cushions in the Gujurati village setting, but the
        food's not even a shadow of the quality you find in NJ
        (specifically, Edison and Newark Ave in Jersey City).
        Gujurati food is unfamiliar for most people, so I can
        understand why a mediocre rendition of such delicious
        dishes might please those who haven't had really GREAT

        Kasturi can be terrific (especially for rare fish
        curries and the interesting vegetables you mentioned),
        but it's sooo hard to know what's best to order on any
        given day (buffet? menu? special order?). In general,
        their quality is all over the map, depending on chef,
        hour, and lots of factors I've not yet been able to


        1. re: Jim Leff

          I happen to have liked the food at Vatan quite a bit
          on my one visit - I seems to me (this is just an
          impression) more like what would be prepared in a good
          gujarati home rather than snacky street stall chow. It
          was quite varied within a rather austere range of
          ingredients (vegetarian of course, a lot of dairy, and
          legumes). Having not been to Jersey City or edison or
          India either, for that matter, I can't compare.

          My experiences at Kasturi have been at lunch time and
          I picked what looked good ready prepared on the steam
          table. They have had fish each time and lots of other
          fresh options. I'd like to go ng to go back but $6
          buys a huge takeout lunch, bigger than I really need!

          1. re: jen kalb

            The 2 times I went with Jim to Kasturi, I remember that
            the steam table's the way to go. Ordering from the
            menu was a disappointment.

            1. re: Gary Cheong

              Speaking of London Indian food, is there any place in
              the area to find what they call "Bel Pouri"? (sorry
              about the spelling) I think it was Southern,
              vegetarian, and very crunchy food, found mostly around
              the Euston Station area.

              1. re: Liza

                The restaurants around Euston station are quite fine. I
                tried Bhel Poori and all was balanced with a simple and
                consummate sense of spicing, proportion and flavor,
                everything impeccably fresh. The chef is from
                Bangladesh and cooks pan Sub-Continental (North &
                South). Would love to explore more around Euston. It
                seems London is exploding with a renewed interest in
                Indian cooking. By contrast, their Jackson Heights,
                namely Southall, is dreary, as all do their marketing
                there and eat at home.

                1. re: Allan Evans

                  Here's a recipe for snacky stuff I put together this weekend. This
                  tries to emulate the 'Bhel Puri' you may have seen in Indian
                  restraunts. The authentic stuff does have some ingredients in it I
                  have no idea how to reproduce, but this came close enough.

                  Bhel Puri

                  1 small onion - chopped - about 1/2 a cup - omit if you don't like raw onions
                  but this really is the best with the onions in. They add
                  crunch, and major flavour. Reduce the quantity if you like.
                  1 med tomato - chopped - about 3/4 of a cup
                  1 jalapeno - chopped fine - about 1 tbsp, more if you like heat
                  3 tbsp Cilantro Chutney (recipe below)
                  2 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
                  1 tsp hot sauce - optional
                  2 cups puffed rice

                  Toss all of the above in a bowl, check for taste, add lemon juice, salt,
                  more chutney, more ketchup, whatever (:-)), to taste. Serve immediately.
                  The puffed rice will become soggy on keeping.


                  You can add a cubed baked potato to the mixture. yummy!
                  Crumble up your favourite tortilla chips/baked wonton skins/any crispy stuff
                  and add with the puffed rice.
                  Add a chpped cucumber.

                  I've been having this for dinner the last couple of nights, and have gone to
                  bed very satisfied, no cravings whatsoever! :-)

                  Cilantro Chutney:

                  1 bunch Cilantro (leaf corriander, cannot substitue parsley)
                  1 small onion (about 1 inch diameter)
                  1 tomato (same size as onion)
                  1 jalapeno pepper (more if you like heat)

                  1 tbsp lemon juice (more to taste)
                  1/4 tsp salt
                  1/4 tsp ground cumin (available in Indian grocery stores)

                  Blend the first four ingredients in a blender in this order: start with the
                  tomato, then add the onion and pepper, and lastly the cilantro, this way you
                  will not have to add any water to blend, the whole mixture will be watery
                  enough once you are done. If you do have to add water, add the minimum amt

                  Add lemon juice,salt, and ground cumin. You can adjust these to taste. The
                  result should be slightly tart.

                  This will keep indefinitely in the fridge in a sealed jar.
                  I usually double all the ingredients, and it's all gone within a week. I eat
                  this with everyting.

                  Hope this helps



                  Join our IndCuisine list for recipe requests and more about Indian food by sending blank mail to :

            2. re: jen kalb

              Listen, I hope you (and everyone else) have only good
              experiences at Kasturi--I mean, I DID include it in my
              book! I nearly didn't, just barely made the
              cut, and with a comparatively low food quality rating,
              in spite of my having had some really tasty and rare
              treats there. It's really hard to get a grip on that

              "Having not been to Jersey City or edison or India
              either, for that matter, I can't compare"

              Well...get ye to New Joisey!

          2. re: jen kalb

            I ate at Vatan's earlier incarnation in Elmhurst. The
            first time it was an assault on the palate and senses.
            The second time a re-run. The places you mention are
            Eastern Bengali (Bangladesh) which is different than
            Western Bengal (more mustard oil, stronger, whereas
            Western bengali food is sweeter).

          3. Allan, I forgot to ask if there are any particular
            Indian restaurants in London you enjoyed recently. If
            you want to respond, maybe do it on the International
            board. Thanks!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jen Kalb

              I went to Raja in London last February which featured
              Gujarati and Keralan Indian food. They had the best
              beet dish I ever had with this lemon/curry leaf rice,
              and the owner told me they were scouting for a location
              in Soho in New York City. Here's hoping they open up

            2. Amen. What's worse, the decline started, alas (a
              lassi??) right when I moved into the nabe. Why oh why
              couldn't I have wound up in Elmhurst?

              But it's even worse than you think....Anan Bhavan is
              abysmal now (not sure when you last tried it).

              A few rays of hope, though: Kebab King, a Pakistani
              joint on the corner of Broadway and 37th Road is always
              full (not sure why I've not gone in...been putting it
              off). I suspect Tabaq 74 may have improved. And there's
              wonderful (if disinfectant-smelling) 5 Star Punjabi not
              far away in Long Island city.

              In Manhattan, the place I reviewed in my book, Cuisine
              of Pakistan (a.k.a.Kashmir 9) at 478 Ninth Avenue
              (between 36 & 37, does very respectable northern stuff.
              Not extraordinary (and there's no love in it), but
              skillful and enjoyable. Definitely several notches
              above the competition.

              "When will New york City begin to have authentic Indian

              Hey, it BEGAN once...Jackson Diner was fantastic at one
              time (and the other local places had to try harder in
              order to compete). I'm so sorry I ever "outted" that

              1. Hi Allan

                Have you or your wife tried cooking Indian Food at home. I am sure with all the Indian Grocery Stores there, you can buy authentic indian spices and try something intsead of depending on eateries outside

                Join our IndCuisine list for recipe requests and more about Indian food by sending blank mail to :