Who would have thought that the princely state of Awadh exists in Manhattan? The flag of Dum Pukht has been unfurled by Gaurav Anand, a passionate culinary crusader, and the crest of the royal house is embedded right on the door of Awadh on the Upper West Side. This is an outpost of old Lucknow with its famous Galouti kababs, Lagan ki Raan and Kakori Kababs. Recently the Village Voice, the NY chronicle of everything cool, declared Awadh the best new Indian restaurant in New York.
Can biryani save the world? As life-long fans we certainly hope so!
Recently Varli Singh of Diya Foundation for Children and Gaurav Anand and Shagun Mehandru of Awadh came together to host a Biryani Festival, which not only tasted good but did good.So now there’s a way to eat your biryani and have it too! Enjoy a great meal and at the same time help kids in need.
When in India, do as the Indians do! Kentucky Fried Chicken, known globally as KFC is the latest American food chain to have undergone a transformation in India.
The chickens are still coming home to roost but it has introduced a substantial vegetarian menu with its ‘So Veg So Good’ campaign to reel in lots of new customers who eat neither egg nor chicken nor meat.
Bombay Duck? Chote Nawab? Thelewala? No, you are not lost on a Mumbai street nor are you watching a Bollywood movie – these happen to be the names of new casual restaurants which have sprung up in New York City.
Not fancy like the Michelin Star rated Indian restaurants like Tamarind, Junoon and Tulsi, nor no-frills like the many small eateries in Curry Hill, there’s a new breed of Indian restaurants, offering authentic Indian eats in a fun atmosphere with low prices. Many of them have come up in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and West Village, a gathering spot for students and tourists.
We all know that Christopher Columbus was looking for India and its tangy spices when he took a wrong turn and stumbled into America instead. Now some enterprising Indians have brought India and its cache of cardamom, cloves and peppers right into America. These immigrants have brought not only spices but entire kitchens, cooking pots and chefs along, opening hundreds of restaurants, takeaway joints, mithai shops and Indian supermarkets. Americans are now eating spicier food, ‘samosa’ is an English word now and right in the middle of Manhattan there are ‘dosa’ carts!
Yes, the Big Apple is fast becoming the Big Mango! So how has this big change come about in American food habits?
Who would have thought Tribeca would turn into an outpost of Southern cooking – dosa, uttapam and sambhar, that is! For those who thought they have to go to Chennai or at least to Jackson Heights or Curry Hill for their sambhar and dosa hankerings, the place to head to is – Whole Foods Market.
Early immigrants would have just about fainted if they had heard that America’s tres chic Whole Foods supermarket has now got their finger-lickin’ fiery sambhar and choice of dosas and uttapams too.
Hari Nayak’s Semolina Dosa with Pulled Butter Chicken with Brie Cheese – recipe!
Who’s Matt? And who’s Meera? Well, Matt & Meera is the name of chef Hari Nayak’s newest venture, a happening new cafe in the heart of Hoboken, NJ, which is fast coming up as a young, multicultural haven. Nayak saw so many young intercultural couples in this area that he decided to take two typical Indian and American names – Matt and Meera – and combine them for his cafe.
“American food is a combination of so many different cuisines today and I like to give it a flavor punch with ingredients and spices from India and around the world,” says Nayak. “I don’t want to eat heavy Indian food every day but whether it’s a slice of pizza or a bowl of salad, I want to give it an Indian touch.”
Nayak, whose popular cook book ‘Modern Indian’ touched upon this very subject, goes fun and light at Matt & Meera, with American comfort foods to which he has added his own desi twist.
Summer is here and it’s a great time to indulge in the beauty of Central Park or just window shop in the dream stores down Fifth Avenue. There’s also a delightful place, a hidden gem, to sit down and rest your tired feet, chat with friends and grab a drink. The place is the Two E Bar and lounge at the Pierre, which is part of the Taj Group. Few people know of this intimate spot in the city where you can enjoy cocktails away from the madding crowd. Now every Tuesday you get to hear Jazz and drink cocktails inspired by Mad Men.
Foodies, there’s yet another new Indian restaurant in Manhattan – Benares, a cool, contemporary space where you can indulge in regional specialties from many parts of India. In a preview peek at the new eatery which seats 89 diners, one is struck by the sleek, haldi-yellow interiors highlighted by multicolored lamps and beautiful old Benarsi saris framed on the walls.
Peter Beck, who’s previously cooked up a storm in the kitchens of New York restaurants Chola and Tamarind, is the chef at Benares. The name Benares gets you slightly off-kilter – isn’t that city supposed to be a vegetarian paradise? This Benares has everything from seafood to Cornish hens to red meat in abundance, besides meatless fare.
“The Nowruz dinner is especially meaningful to me, as I am a practicing Zoroastrian and grew up relishing this fare. Today, my love for ingredients and spices is largely influenced by this cuisine, and I look forward to sharing these wonderful gastronomic delights,” says Jehangir Mehta, chef at Mehtaphor and Graffiti, who is recreating those tastes for New Yorkers with a celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year tomorrow.
If someone had told me that by lunch time I’d be sitting in a houseboat on the backwaters of Kerala, eating from a banana leaf, I’d have been highly skeptical. After all, I was right in the middle of Delhi’s buzzing mall culture. Well, that’s where Zambar is located, landlocked in the middle of retail heaven. It is one of the fun and innovative eating spots in the burgeoning mall culture of Indian cities.
And if you thought that food from the South means just dosa, idli, and sambar, Zambar is a delicious eye-opener. This fine dining spot celebrates the Southern coastal cuisine of four states – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
Zambar, a restaurant in Vasant Kunj in New Delhi, is an exploration into South Indian coastal cuisine, highlighting the catch of the seas – prawns, fish and crab with authentic recipes from the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. The dishes are a union between fresh seafood and pungent spices and ingredients including lime, tamarind, chilies, peppers and coconut milk. So till you can get to go and try Zambar yourself, here are two recipes for you from the chef to try at home.
Inundated with new cuisines, new restaurants and new foods? Then you need an antidote to the craziness of the Delhi food scene where new eateries crop up all the time. You need to take a walk back into time. You need to visit Embassy, around since 1948.
Haven’t heard of it? Well, if you are a Delhite, you surely know it. It’s the ancient gastronomic heaven where you go to binge on food that is delicious, is reasonably priced – and also invokes memories with each spoonful. After all, the restaurant has been around for six decades with its curious blend of dishes. Where else would you get Bomb de Moscova, Amritsari Macchi, Chicken Strognoff and unmatchable chole bhature and chicken chaat – all on the same table?
This is the tale of The Three Chocolatiers. Once upon a time there was a hotshot financial wiz, a smart biochemist who loved to bake, and a savvy chef who had sailed the high seas on the Q E 2, each going their own way.
A steamy passion for chocolate brought the three together to create Co Co Sala, a foodie kingdom dripping in high-end chocolate, coffee and cocktails. This attracted legions of chocoholics, made the fortunes of the Three Chocolatiers, and they all lived happily ever after.
Now isn’t that a sweet ending?
The story, however, is fact and not fiction. Co Co Sala is a hot and happening chocolate lounge, bar, restaurant, pastry shop and boutique on F Street in Washington DC, and three young Indian-American entrepreneurs are behind its big success – Bharet Malhotra, Nisha Sidhu and Santosh Tiptur.
12 Things You Didn’t Know About Tulsi
What strikes you on entering Tulsi is the sheer lightness of being – floating white shamianas, basil green accents and mirrored walls. It’s not your traditional Indian restaurant with the elephants, silk curtains and ornate touches – this is India dealt out with a showering can rather than a shovel, and the food is just as subtle, with a melange of regional dishes and a touch of fusion.
New York’s hot new veggie restaurant has a cool concept – eat out and save the earth. It’s the city’s first low-carbon restaurant chain. Opening nights usually mean a red carpet but it was a green carpet which was laid out for celebs like Mary-Kate Olsen, Mark Indelicato and Vanessa Williams for the opening of Radhika Oswal’s Otarian restaurant in Manhattan.
In fact, if Oswal, a billionaire environmentalist (yes, the two words do sound strange together!) has her way, you can enjoy life and yet preserve it. You can paint the town red while going green because Otarian in New York’s Greenwich Village is all about vegetarianism and sustainability, offering fun dishes with a low carbon footprint.
Curry Hill’s new eatery is such a guilt-free space it doesn’t even have a deep fryer! ”Even our papads are roasted,” says Mamta Mulloi, who owns this brand new little restaurant in Manhattan with her husband Dinu. Indeed, ancient Ayurvedic seers would have given their stamp of approval to the pristine menu at Yogi’s Kitchen and so will modern day vegetarians, healthy eaters, and those watching their wallets. For starters, the food is wholesome, based on India’s 5000 year old Ayurveda, the science of life-balance.
Then there’s the visual pleasure of eating from steel thalis, with little katoris encircling the thali with a touch of all the ingredients necessary for a nutritious meal. Says Mamta, “We don’t do a la carte because people will order one dish – and that will not have all the elements to make it a balanced meal.”
Meet some of the Big Apple’s hottest and happening Indian chefs…
They are the interpreters of Indian Cuisine, the innovators who aren’t afraid to experiment and create, adding new dimensions to the food they grew up with, giving an exciting buzz to the ho-hum chicken tikka masala and palak paneer which has become the norm of Indian restaurants around the world. Some of them are at the helm of New York’s most noted Indian restaurants and bring in the foodies.