Aloo Paratha Breakfast @ Lovely Sweets & Snacks, Fremont
- Melanie Wong
One of the rewards of chowing around Fremont is the diversity of South Asian treats available morning, noon and night. A first for me was eating Indian food for breakfast at Lovely Sweets & Snacks. I arrived at the posted opening time to find the door still locked. Inside I could see a couple staff busy behind the scenes. I waved but they ignored me. Then, still waving at them, I called on my cell phone to ask if someone might open the door, and the reply was, "No English, no boss." Now I understood why the delay.
After a few minutes, one of the women did open the door. I pointed at the menu board and asked "aloo paratha, please?" in a voice loud enough for the kitchen worker to hear. The two of them conferred, and soon I could hear the sound of a rolling pin working soft dough, the happy sizzle of flatbread hitting the griddle, and before not too long I had a steaming hot, potato-stuffed paratha in front of me.
Too hot to handle, I had to wait for it to cool down a few degrees before I could tear off a piece. Dunked in the chilled luscious dahi phulki, the combination of hot and cold sensations could wake up any sleepy mouth. Savory with toasty masala spices, the dahi had soft balls of gram flour and some fresh cilantro greenery. The mango achar pickle suffered from too much of what my friend Alexandra calls "toilet bowl cleanser" essence. The paratha was the chewy, tender kind rather than a flaky type and made with full-flavored whole grains. Half was more than enough for breakfast and I saved the rest.
A cross-cultural experience and a tasty, filling breakfast for only $2.50.
The Union City outpost, open less than a year, still has a banner out front announcing that it's under new management. On it, the name is shown as "Lovely Sweets & __________". I asked the manager if there was some mystery associated with the complete name of the place that the "snacks" was obliterated from the signage. He explained that the name is actually Lovely Sweets & CUISINE at this branch since they have a fuller menu of Punjabi-style dishes including meat items and not just vegetarian and chaat-type snacks. A daily lunch buffet is offered, which I skipped, and the same Saturday special of maki ki roti and sarson da saag, as well as a full case of sweets.
Wanting to try the fresh, homemade paneer in another form, I ordered the Malai kofta, $7, and picked roti over rice as my starch option, plus a mango lassi, $2.50. Unlike any I've had before, these kofta were nearly all fluffy cheese studded with cashews and sultanas and little other vegetables in the blend. The rich and luscious cream sauce was sweet from carrots and more sultanas and tasted fiery hot with cayenne. It needed more acidity and I wished that it had some tomatoes in it to cut through the butterfat. This version was interesting and enjoyable, but I don't think I'd order it again.
The large serving of dahi phulki that came with it had toasty spices and softened chickpea balls (phulki or boondi). Again, a little sweet in taste with thick and heavy body, the yogurt offered a cool down from the fiery heat of the kofta sauce. All of the dairy products - the fresh paneer, the sumptuous yogurts, and cream sauces are done so well at Lovely Sweets.
The best part about this meal was the pair of fresh-off-the-tawa roti. They still a little inflated when they were served piping hot. Maybe I imagined it or the slight yellow tinge planted the suggestion, but these tasted like they had some coarse ground corn flour in them. In any case, they were toasty and absolutely delicious on their own and even better dragged through the kofta sauce and the yogurt.
The mango lassi was a good size portion for the price. Frothy and tart, it was a welcome cold dairy antidote for the searing chilis of my meal.
Lovely Sweets & Cuisine
(same shopping center as Food Maxx)
30059 Industrial Parkway, #3
Union City 94587
Tuesday-Sunday 10am -9pm
At lunch time, a daily thali is offered for a bargain, $5.99. The time I returned for lunch, I was happy to hear that mattar paneer (peas with fresh cheese) would be part of the plate. Lovely Sweets makes its own paneer daily and the tender, sweetly dairy cheese is completely unlike the rubbery tasteless blobs served elsewhere.
Seasoned to medium hot, the mattar paneer and showed off the fine hand with spices well. The red kidney beans were mind-blowingly fiery and I had to gulp down every bit of the cold dahi to quench those flames. A vegetable dry curry made with mostly carrots and peas was a safer bet enjoyed with the saffron rice and some thinly sliced red onions. A toasty, freshly made roti completed the plate.
re: Melanie Wong
The photo below shows the tray of parcooked aloo tikki patties on top of the counter. They're 75¢ each and come with a little container each of red and green chutneys. These might be the best aloo tikki I've run across.
The cooking is completed to order by deep-frying quickly to a golden brown heating the potato cakes through. Then they're sliced in half along the circumference for service. Freshly fried, the oily crust turns golden and delicately crisp while the insides become molten mashed potatoes laced with spices and some bigger and firmer vegetable bits.. The spices seasoning the patties have a well-roasted glow that amplifies the house-signature of toasted cumin. The pale green chutney scented with mint and coriander in a yogurt base I drizzled on top had a wallop of capsicum heat. The sweet and tart notes of the red tamarind sauce counteracted the flames and added another layer of brown savory spicing.
re: Melanie Wong
From the sweets side of the offerings, I've tried a ras gullah and the ras malai. The ras gullah (75¢ per piece or by the pound) is one of the specialties here. However, it's not to my taste. Dryish, powdery and gaggingly sweet milk balls dunked in even sweeter syrup, this exemplified the type of Indian sweet that I don't care for.
I did like the ras malai though. Tender and spongy rather than rubbery, the fresh cheese balls were studded with pistachios and bathed in a thick sweetened sauce of boiled-down cream with pistachios and sweet spices.
Lovely Sweets & Snacks
41031 Fremont Blvd.
9:30am - 9:30pm
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks ... publically humiliate me :-)
oh wait, it did that myself when I posted that.
Could you tell that I had no clue about Indian food? Yeah, they can get rid of that in the archives. My number one request is an edit option in the new software.
Thanks for the info about the Union City shop and the food. When I tried LS in Fremont and Sunnyvale, I was focusing on the sweets part. The sweets at both shops were not to my taste either, but Sunnyvale was better.
However, I had just fallen in love with Passage to India Bakery and Lovely Sweets ... sweets, were just not in the same class.
I keep meaning to try Vik's pani puri and compare it to Lovely Sweets, Sunnyvale pani puri. If it is better, I will genuflect in reverence at Vik's becuase I really loved it at Lovely Sweets.
You know, even when your lovely descriptions of food aren't enough to sell a dish, the picture usually has me running to the resturant. However, let's say ras malai is not photogenic (g).
The UC dishes look delicious.
I just experienced my first Thali plate while doing a Nepali food crawl. Any history behind the reason for using these metal plates? I don't recall coming up with too much info when goggling around about Nepali food. It's probably something that should be asked on NAF, but I have a feeling it wouldn't produce any response and anyway, not an option.
The Fremont location isn't about opening on time. My experience was pretty similar. I think I hung out at least 15 minutes before they would let me in and then waited more after that. I would say go an hour after the official opening hour.
Sunnyvale is the opposite. They acknowledge you walked in the door immediately and were very helpful in explaining the food to me.
Thanks again. The delicious $2.50 breakfast was beyond my Indian food skills at that point to know to order. Great idea.
Why should you be embarrassed? There's a great sense of discovery in your post and that's what this site aims for.
If your chaat with puri had yogurt with it, that doesn't sound like pani puri. Pani means water, and in this case a green minty/spicy water.
You can forget Vik's for pani puri. After having another chaat made with puri, I wouldn't order it there.
For more about pani puri, check Neena's post linked below. Fremont has a couple places that make pani puri in the street food way with a bowl to catch the dribbles from your chin and to sip from, per the photo below. I'll have to post about them since you seem to be interested.