Deshi Biryani on a second thought
I wrote here about my first visit to Deshi Biryani.
I had their goat curry special then. Even against my exacting Indian food standards I couldn't find a fault in the meal. So I went back. Again for lunch. Good value and all that. But lightning didn't strike twice. This time I had the Ruhi Fish Curry special. Goddamn America! Errr....I mean Goddamn Deshi Biryani. The lunch threw me back to my undergrad years in India. Not in a getting-laid-every-night way. But in a dorm-food-is-crap kind of way. Really. The curry looked like an oil spill sample from the Pacific destined for some environmental lab and awaiting a toxic content report. There was water. There was oil floating on it. And the red could have been the color of the lifeblood left behind by some departing marine critter. And taste? No taste. It was lazy cooking. There was potato galore, both in the fish and in the mixed vegetable side dish. It's the damn potatoes tasting funny and abounding in an unwelcome space - mixed vegetables dish - that infuriated me. You fixed that kind of culinary smoke and mirrors in my dorm. To shortchange undemanding students preoccupied with more important things, like girls. As for the Dal, I don't know. Maybe that's how Bangla dal is supposed to taste. Rajasthanis in North India do Dal the best. Punjabis too but theirs can be heavy. But not all was lost. The accompanying salad was fresh and lemony. And despite the menu pricing the fish special at $8.95, I was asked for only $ 5.95. Maybe I shouldn't be complaining after all.
I had a similar hindsight review of Deshi Biryani. On my second visit (with Bengalis in tow that time) I quickly realized what Deshi Biryani is. This place is essentially a watering hole for yes, a few of the new local yuppies, but primarily for out of town South Asians who are visiting Jackson Heights for wedding supplies, the ability to see it, and shopping in general. My companions were quite convinced of this as well; the restaurant makes huge Bengali food sacrifices while moving towards a more Indian menu and it especially shows in dishes which should be very well done in any Bengali restaurant/house (ei. rohu mas, boal mas, keski mas, etc.)
Do you think a more fair comparsion would be to get the goat again? I have to say that I am a staunch defender of Deshi (being one of those "yuppie" types) and while I haven't loved everything unequivocally there are many standout dishes and it's a good addition to the neighborhood.