My favorite quarantine recipes Part X

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Corn and Gorgonzola salad

If you’re just joining us now, let me catch you up on what’s been happening for the past 10 weeks. Being a bit of a foodie in a foodie city where all 18,000 food establishments are closed, I decided to embark on a personal challenge: to keep up my beloved culinary variety by cooking a different dish every day until the lock-down ends. And so, as I wring out my recipe books with new, used, cherished, nostalgic and beloved meals, I hope you  join me as I eat “out” every night of the week.

 

SUNDAY

It’s hardly surprising that Butter chicken is one of the hottest items on any Indian restaurant menu. It’s relatively mild, silky smooth and a little bit indulgent. But this recipe is not only butter-free, but it pretty much cooks itself too. The real work today was making our own Naan bread for the first time. It’s fun, rather easy (by bread standards) and it “bakes” in the pan.

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Slow cooker Butter Chicken with Home-made Naan bread

SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (if necessary, whisk to combine the liquid and solids before measuring)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions to skillet, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook another 2 minutes. Add garam masala, tomato paste and salt; cook and stir 2 minutes.

Place chicken pieces in a slow cooker, then add tomato paste mixture, lime zest and juice, coconut milk and chicken stock. Stir everything together, cover and cook on low heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. (You may let it cook up to 7 hours if necessary, but the chicken may be very soft and shred.) Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati or jasmine rice, and naan if you have some. Serves 4.

NAAN BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup ice water
  • ⅓ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

In measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 tablespoons oil, and egg yolk. Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.

Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fold partially risen dough over itself 8 times by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle, turning bowl 90 degrees after each fold. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising one more time, for total of three 30-minute rises.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place heatproof plate on rack. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into smooth, tight ball. Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9-inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using fork, poke entire surface of round 20 to 25 times. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels. Mist top of dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top surface of dough with water; and cover. Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (If naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate.) Flip naan, brush top with about 1 teaspoon melted butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat rolling and cooking remaining 3 dough balls. Once last naan is baked, serve immediately. Serves 4.

MONDAY

When Kale salad and I were first introduced, we didn’t really get along so well. It felt like I was chewing down on an old garden hose. But then I discovered that the leaves have a thick coating that instinctively repels even the finest dressings in the world, unless you “massage” them down – literally squeeze the $#!* out of them with a little olive oil and salt in between your thumbs and forefingers until they succumb to the pressure and turn dark green. That’s when all the hoopla happens, and this surprisingly crunchy, salty, creamy salad is a show-stopper.

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Kale salad with garlicky panko

KALE SALAD WITH GARLICKY PANKO

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

DIRECTIONS

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the panko and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate to cool.
Cut the stems from the kale and tear the leaves into pieces. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the kale; massage with the dressing using your fingers. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Transfer to a platter, top with the feta, garlic panko and serve.

TUESDAY

Summer isn’t summer without a good Gazpacho. There’s just something special about being able to drink sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes. This recipe easily serves about 8, and so we siphon off a little each day for just under a week. If you’re a purist, be warned: I took the liberty of adding some feta to this predominantly Spanish recipe. I know. I know. But it does give it a smidge more creaminess. Don’t hate me until you try it.

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Gazpacho with Avocado Salsa

GAZPACHO WITH AVOCADO SALSA

INGREDIENTS

For the Gazpacho:

  • 6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil (or less,depending on consistency)
  • 2 peeled cucumbers
  • 2 Tblspn white wine vinegar to taste
  • 2 square inches of feta cheese.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Avodaco Salsa:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tblspn chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

Gazpacho:
Blend all ingredients for at least 5 minutes on highest blender setting. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Salsa:
Dice the avocado and carefully toss with the other three ingredients. Layer on top of Gazpacho before serving.

WEDNESDAY

I found this recipe in the New York Times Magazine a few years ago, where it was originally called “Scratchy husband spaghetti”. Evidently, whenever the food writer’s husband would have a bad day at the office, she combined two of the most popular Roman pasta dishes into one. A sensational example of 1+1=55.

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Linguine Cacia e Pepe & Aglio e Olio

LINGUINE CACIA E PEPE & AGLIO E OLIO

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter
  • 1 whole head of garlic, or at least 10 cloves, peeled, sliced thin across the grain
  • Good quality salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 4 teaspoons of chile flakes
  • A generous 1/2 cup of grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Many, many, many cranks of the pepper mill

DIRECTIONS

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Simultaneously bring a 10-inch deep-sided sauté pan to medium-low heat.

Add the olive oil and butter and sliced garlic to the pan and let the butter melt, as the garlic begins to warm through.
When the pasta water gets roiling, add salt to taste. Add the pasta.
Add chile flakes to the warming garlic-oil mixture and swirl the pan a bit and let the garlic soften and start to turn golden as the butter starts to foam. When the pasta is al dente, pull it from the boiling water with tongs, let it briefly drip its excess water above the pasta pot, but then place it right into the garlic-chile-oil pan, letting the last drips of water go right into the sauce.
Turn up the heat under the pasta now and stir vigorously for about a minute.
Turn off the heat, add cheese and a lot of black pepper. Toss and distribute all the garlic and the cheese and the chile flakes using two forks like you are tossing a salad, making sure every bit is coated and luscious. Serve.

THURSDAY

I’m a big fan of big flavors. And the smoky heat of Gochujang (Korean fermented chilies) always hits the spot for me. These Barbecue Ribs are dry rubbed the night before, and then blasted 3 times with a jolt of vinegary, peppery spice while they cook low and slow. Don’t skimp on the peanuts and scallions. They add some brightness and crunch as the meat falls off the bone and your face gets smeared with sauce, from nose to chin.

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Gochujang Barbecue Ribs

GOCHUJANG BARBECUE RIBS

INGREDIENTS

For the Ribs and Rub:

  • 3 racks St. Louis-style spareribs (2 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper

For the Gochujang sauce:

  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder, such as ancho
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Garnish:

  • 1 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS

The day before you plan to cook the ribs, use a paper towel to help you pull the silver skin off the backside of the ribs. Combine salt, light brown sugar and black pepper to make a rub, then generously season ribs with the rub on both sides. (You may have some rub left over.) Place on a rimmed baking sheet, wrap in plastic, put in the refrigerator, and let sit overnight.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk until brown sugar is dissolved. (You can use a hand mixer if you’d like.)

The next day, prepare a charcoal grill (preferably a kamado, the egg-shaped ceramic grill) and warm it to 225 to 250 degrees. If your grill doesn’t have a thermometer, use an oven thermometer to try to keep the temperature consistent. Place ribs on a rack so they are not sitting directly on the grate. If baking in an oven, preheat to 275 degrees and cover ribs with tin foil. Cook 3 to 4 hours, turning and basting ribs with barbecue sauce every hour.

Glaze the ribs with the sauce once more before serving. Cut the ribs and then sprinkle with peanuts and scallions and serve. Serves 6.

FRIDAY

Just in case we didn’t have enough garlic going on this week, (I must be driving my poor neighbors crazy) this Spanish version of Garlic Shrimp has a few taste surprises that manage to cut through the luxuriously delectably garlicy olive-oil.

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Gambas al ajillo

GAMBAS AL AJILLO

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds shelled and de-veined large shrimp, tails intact
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small dried hot red chile, seeded and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, such as manzanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Crusty bread, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a large strainer, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and toss another 1 tsp salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rince thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet, combine the garlic and olive oil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very fragrant and just starts to brown, 5 – 8 minutes. Add the chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook over medium-low, stirring and turning the shrimp occasionally, until barely pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sherry, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in the skillet, passing crusty bread at the table. Serves 4.

 

 

SATURDAY

Don’t be misled by what looks like a complicated fish dish. In fact, the Roasted Sea bass is very simply baked with a little oil, sea salt and pepper. The oomph comes from the 3 different mushrooms that are an absolute knockout of deep, rich, sumptuously earthy flavors.

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Roasted Sea bass with wild mushrooms

ROASTED SEA BASS WITH WILD MUSHROOMS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for fish
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 small red onion, halved through the root end and sliced thin
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved
  • Salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless fillets Chilean sea bass, each about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 small lemon, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS

Mix the dried porcini mushrooms with 1/2 cup hot tap water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in the plastic wrap with a paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes.
Lift the mushrooms from the liquid with a fork and mince. Pour the liquid through a small strainer lined with a single sheet of paper towel and placed over a measuring cup.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
Heat the butter, olive oil, and rosemary in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion, fresh mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have shed their liquid and their cut surfaces have browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and minced porcini. Cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a wooden spoon, clear 4 spaces in the skillet for the fish fillets. (The spaces should be equidistant from one another so that the fillets don’t touch.) Rub each fillet with enough oil to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.
Nestle one fillet into each space in the skillet. Drizzle the reserved porcini liquid over the mushrooms (avoiding the fish) and immediately set the pan in the oven.
Cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through, 11 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness.
Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the mushrooms among individual plates and place a piece of fish on top of the mushrooms on each plate. Drizzle the fish with any juices remaining in the pan as well as a little olive oil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

BONUS RECIPE

Remember when I told you to throw away your Banana bread recipe for the one I’ve been making for 20 years? Well, now it’s time to throw that one away too! This has got to be the most banana-ry Banana bread ever – and it’s really rather dashing and statuesque too.

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The Ultimate Banana Bread

THE ULTIMATE BANANA BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

DIRECTIONS

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Stay safe. Stay sane, and most importantly – stay at home!

 

 

Keep Calm and Curry On!

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It was very much within my lifetime that London’s most traditional meal switched from Fish & chips, to Curry & rice. By contrast, New York’s Indian fare is nowhere near the scope and scale of London’s, but the clutter of turmeric-awninged establishments up and down Lexington avenue in Manhattan’s Curry (Murray) Hill are just the preview of the larger story. Thanks to an incredible fellowship of chefs from all across the Indian peninsula, Michelin and the New York Times have been generously honoring Indian restaurants with stars, stripes and other accolades. Here’s how they shake down for me.

Chicken Kati rolls – IndiKitch

Categorizing from fastest to slowest (Curry in a Hurry notwithstanding), IndiKitch is the papadum and samosa version of Taco Bell. Good, clean, tasty and fresh. You build your meal from carbs to cattle with chutneys, sauces and rices on the side.

For in-home delivery I have Dhaba on speed-dial right below 911, thanks to their vast menu of all-time classic favorites, made just the way I like them: Tandoori, Korma, Paneer, Masala, Vindaloo…even a collection of British-inspired curry dishes. If you love Poori like I do (a hot-air filled, angry, blow-fish looking pillow of bread – the size of which remains curiously dependent on the weather) you have arrived!

Pondicheri

One of the newer kids on the block is Pondicheri. What the exposed-ceilinged, cavernous Flatiron space lacks in intimacy, with one teal wall and a massive gray mural with what looks like a couple of giant balls of wool quickly unraveling across another, or the head-scratchingly ominous tangle of cables and wires overhead, it more than makes up for in non-traditional, but authentic pan-regional fare. The Houston import is more of a “community concept” than just a restaurant. With a huge enviro-agenda, cooking classes, pop-up event dinners and a super-busy in-house bakery, where chef Anita Jaisinghani churns out the most extraordinarily yummy Indian interpretations on popular western confections.

Bakery Counter – Pondicheri

Donuts dripping with rose-water honey, Financiers with pistachios and cumin, Rice crispy bars with nuts and curry, coffee cakes, cookies and ginger snaps that populate the breakfast and lunchtime counter. Dinner is a bit smarter. Down goes the lighting, and out comes the wait staff. The best way to navigate the mainly street-food menu, is to go for one of the freshest and tastiest Samosa’s on the island, followed by one of the Thalis platters, that provide a half dozen different dish-lets of kebabs, soups, poultry, ribs, greens and more. I thoroughly enjoyed the one called Earth for its standing-ovation worthy Butter Chicken.

Paowalla

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Tabla on Madison Park, turns out chef Floyd Cardoz is back, but this time he’s converted one of those typical West Village neighborhoodsy corner cafés into his next culinary canvas. Paowalla (named for the bicycle peddlers of traditional breads) offers so much more than just cumin/cardamom/chili delights. The carb-forward menu is a striking introduction to the real world of Roti and Naan, stuffed with cheeses, radishes, bacon and herbs. Cardoz also pulls together a few unexpected pairings, many of which make for happy surprises like Burrata submerged in a delicious puddle of Dal, or the tandoor-fried Black Pepper Shrimp, while others…not so much. The overly-soggy, coconut-laced Baked Crab might have been more comfortable under the protection of its shell, but I adored my first ever Dogfish curry, smothered in flavor, steamed in banana leaves and served with tart mango over brown rice.

Short and Saintly Rib – Tapestry

Going even further along the bridge toward experimentation, Michelin star winner Suvir Saran’s new downtown bistro is appropriately named Tapestry, in my mind suggesting the very fabric of what comprises our city, offering up a menu every bit as diverse as the kitchen staff, the clientele and the planet in general. Saran calls it “comfort food from around the world.” Maybe. I prefer: “The united nations of yum!” It’s where India whimsically intersects with Italy, Morocco, Mexico, Peru, Portugal and Louisiana – otherwise known as the F train.

Roasted Cauliflower – Tapestry

You can’t help smiling as you scan the remarkably affordable menu that has the chutzpah to combine a heavenly Arancini with green curry, or a tangy, sweet and crispy Okra salad with chaat masala. How about an irresistible Cauliflower roasted with hakka spices? Or the only time I can ever remember asking for left-overs to be boxed up: a super-tender Short Rib with cashew-poppy kurma. And the dish that just became my ultimate bribe ever – the utterly sublime Masala Fried Chicken. I still dream and drool about those flavorful sections of spicy, fried chicken tossed in a sticky, sweet and savory chutney, alongside a peanut slaw. And finally, almost triumphantly, a guava and passion fruit, flaming tribute to a baked Alaska called Fire and Ice. We’re not talking fusion here. This is pure kitchen magnificence.

Fire and Ice – Tapestry

That brings us to the northern end of the price/flavor scale. Indian Accent just celebrated its first birthday as one of New Delhi’s finest exports into Manhattan’s midtown maze. The dark, sleek and sexy interiors look, smell and feel nothing like your typical Indian restaurant. Almost formal – if you’re judging by the prix fixe options of 3 or 4-course menus, but casual enough to do without the tablecloths.

Indian Accent

Despite the litany of translations and explanations the poor wait staff have to decode – thanks to the lexicon of unrecognizable and unpronounceable items, there’s no collective sighing or rolling of eyes – yet. The plating is gorgeous. The flavors are remarkable. The cocktails are imaginative. The service is excellent. The prices are high.

Crab Claws – Indian Accent

Standouts (and judging by our neighbors on both sides who imitated us plate-for-plate) are the Potato Sphere chaat, which is a charming miniature birds nest of crispy potato shoelaces spun into a ball over a white pea mash, the utterly finger-lickingly delectable, butter-pepper-garlic baptized Crab Claws, the unsharably wonderful sweet and sour, fall-off-the-bone Pickled Ribs, the scrumptious Chicken Kofta (meatballs), and the magnificently tender Braised lamb with prune korma.

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Pickled Ribs – Indian Accent

Each main is accompanied by a choice of Kulcha (if an enchilada and a calzone had an Indian baby) stuffed with any number of interesting ingredients like hoisin duck or pastrami mustard. Yes folks, we’re a long way from curry in a hurry!

Potato Sphere – Indian Accent

https://www.indikitchtogo.com/store25/restaurant.php

http://www.dhabanyc.com/

http://www.pondichericafe.com/new-york

http://www.indianaccent.com/index.html