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nithya at hungrydesi

I'm a lawyer who loves to eat...mainly Indian, vegetarian food. A love to eating led to a love for cooking which led to my blog, Hungry Desi.

What did you have for lunch/brunch today?

Had upama (South Indian semolina porridge w/veggies) for lunch after a fun day at the zoo with the baby...then dinner was garlic dosas with sambar and a chayota squash stir fry.

What do you do with these odd veggies....

I make sambar (an indian lentil soup) with daikon.

Other uses for tandoori paste?

I like to mix a little into marinara sauce for a kicked up version (you can also use vindaloo paste).

Where to eat: Barcelona and Madrid

Here are some suggestions - these all happen to be vegetarian friendly (I know you didn't ask):

*Grupo Tragaluz is a co. of three brothers that own restaurants, bars and hotels around Barcelona http://www.grupotragaluz.com/. We've been to Negro (good food but it's kind of in a desolate location), Cuines De Santa Caterina (in a much more fun location) and Bestial is supposed to be good as well and near/on the beach I think (though I haven't been).
*There are a lot of great bars in El Born, Cuitat Vella and the Barri Gotic. It's also just a fun area to walk around b/c the Picasso Museum is there, old churches and squares, good people watching, etc. It reminds me of the Lower East Side in NY - lot's of good restaurants/bars that you can kind of wander into.
*Origen 99 - This place is near the Jaume I subway stop - http://www.origen99.com and good for wine and tapas.
* This is also quite possibly the best falafel in the world: Buen Bocado Address: C/ Escudellers, 31, Ciutat Vella, 08002, Barcelona.
*Mosquito (Asian tapas bar) C/ Carders, 46, Ciutat Vella, 08003,
Barcelona - We always stop in at this place. Here's a description of it from some website...maybe Sin Carne. During certain hours, they have Indian stuff on the menu - dosa, chaat, etc.
"This fine asian tapas bar tucked away on C/ Carders in the St Pere part
of town is a great place to come and dine, chat, listen to cool music
and relax. I've been here many times now and as the menu changes quite
frequently, I'm never bored. There are many vegetarian dishes and of
those that aren't, many of them can be made vegetarian, either by
substituting the ingredients or leaving some out. The atmosphere is
friendly and intimate. The portions are not very large (but isn't that
what tapas is all about?), so you'd need a couple each to fill you up.
It is the perfect way of sharing between your friends and therefore
trying out some new dishes you perhaps wouldn't have tried yourself.
Friday and Saturday nights now offer Japanese food from midnight til
2am. Prepared by authentic Japanese chefs, there is a variety of
options, although on the vegetarian front, you'll have to ask them to
make a few changes here and there. The staff are all very pleasant so
this is never a problem. Closed on Mondays, but open every day from
about 5pm til 1am and Friday and Saturday night open til 2:30am for the
Japanese session."

Vegetarians: would you eat something cooked in a skillet...

I wouldn't knowingly eat it...that being said, I don't go into the kitchen at each establishment where I eat out so I'm not sure if I have (though I do ask questions and make educated choices).

I also agree w/@dbcurrie.

@Linebackeru - if the knife wasn't washed in between, I wouldn't eat it. For example, at Subway, I ask them to wash the knife.

This sort of reminds me of salad bars at delis in NY where they use one pair of tongs per salad which means the tongs get dipped into meat then all of the veggies leading to lots of cross contamination. I won't eat that either.

Food Terms that should be banned from the media

I don't know about banned from the "media' but just banned from use in general:

Naan Bread and Chai Tea aka Bread Bread and Tea Tea.

Food Terms that should be banned from the media

I used to hate nom nom but my 13 month old says it when she eats something she loves. I have no idea where she got it - we have never said it to her. But yet, in goes some cheddar cheese and out comes an ecstatic "nomnomnom." How can I not love it? Of course, I don't think I could ever say it.

Spice Hunting: Mustard Seed

@samiab - I would give it a shot. Your dish might be a little less mustardy, but I bet it will still taste the same.

@Max - I've burnt one too many tarkas with mustard seeds by turning my back for a second!

Star Tavern: A Shining Example of the Bar Pie in Orange, New Jersey

@Sunnysideup, Better than Kinchleys? Wow. We will definitely have to give this a try on our next visit to NJ! Pictures look great.

5 Spices You Need to Start Cooking More Indian Food

Great new column. This is an interesting list...I posted a Top 10 Essential Indian Spices on my blog. These were all on there but I feel like you another must for North Indian cooking is garam masala.

Private Veg-Friendly Dinner in NYC

Thanks for all of the suggestions. We ended up deciding to go with Tamarind Tribeca.

@eatgirl - We had it narrowed down to Devi and Tamarind...close decision. Both are great.

@Sarar - I love Otto. Definitely very veg friendl My husband, daughter and I are celebrating my actual bday there tonight.

Dinner Tonight: Red Pepper Soup with Toasted Cumin Seeds

this sounds delicious! i make a similar red bellpepper pasta sauce from mahanandi (it has tomatoes in it plus some of these ingredients). i'll definitely try this. and i love the cumin seeds on top for crunch.

Dinner Tonight: Green Tomato Curry with Potatoes and Garlic

I make a green tomato kootu (stew) with toor daal, chili peppers, coconut and a few roasted ground lentils. The sour tomatoes go well with nutty dal. That's been the only Indian dish I've made with green tomatoes so far. This looks great, and I'll definitely give it a try.

@Nick - you're quite the Indian cook :)

Where to find black garlic in NYC

what do you do with what and what does it taste like? i always see it at kalystan's and am curious.

The Crisper Whisperer: How Do you Make Veggies Joyful?

My husband and I are lifelong vegetarians, so I've never really thought very hard about vegetables...as in, we just cook and end up being "smiley" about our vegetables and vegetarian food. Although, I do cook a lot of Indian food so I guess you could say that I use spices (though not always a lot) and different proteins like paneer, tofu and seitan to keep things exciting. I've been making baby food for my daughter, and while I give her a few spices, I also keep things simple. It's reminded me how delicious fresh vegetables can taste without any add-ons like salt or spice.

A few ideas though:
*Vegetable kabobs on the grill with either paneer or tofu. Marinate the veggies and paneer/tofu in a tikka masala sauce like you would chicken.

*We've been getting really soft eggplants at the farmers market. I buy the skinny ones and cube them then saute in olive oil until the eggplant is really soft and translucent then sprinkle on a little salt and either cayenne pepper or sambar powder.

*Red radishes and white radishes (daikon) have been another farmers market favorite. We cut them up (halve the red radishes and peel and cut the daikon into matchsticks) then toss with some cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices. Sprinkle a little salt, chat masala and cayenne pepper on top then splash with some lemon juice. You have a spicy, zesty and fresh salad.

What's your favorite Indian dish?

All of my favorites appear in various multiple places above, but I love this thread and I love Indian food so can't help but list them again: Mattar Paneer, Palak Paneer, Shahi Paneer, Aloo Gobi, Dal Makhani, Raita, Dosa, South Indian thali, Paneer Tikka, Samosas, Garlic Naan...that just skims the surface.

@hotnpopin - that's a fantastic idea! We should do a SE Indian Buffet Meetup. But can we do it in NY?! I nominate lunch buffet at Utsav or Bukhara Grill. Who else is in?!

The Crisper Whisperer: Zucchini Pancakes

These sound delicious...I have a bunch of zucchini from the farmers market and will have to try these! I just used some to make a first orzo and sauteed zucchini with parmesan for my 8 month old. She gobbled it up!

How to Make Yogurt

You need to go make friends with an Indian family that makes homemade yogurt and have them give you a little bit for starter. I get mine from my parents. Homemade yogurt is the best! It's so much creamier than store bought.

What is Your Absolute Favorite "Ethnic" Cuisine?

Bringing fried food on a plane (help!)

Ok I feel guilty for advocating lying. Just take them and take a chance on how they will turn out. And give a dirty look to anyone giving you a dirty look.

Btw my family and I pack all kinds of foods in our checked luggage to bring to each other. We've even carried (non-odiferous) food from our favorite restaurants onto the plane to bring to one another.

Bringing fried food on a plane (help!)

I agree with @ Taste Traveller. Plus you aren't going to be eating the fried food on the plane (well, assuming you can resist). That's usually when the smell factor becomes an issue. I doubt people will be able to smell it packed away in your bag.

And if you REALLY don't want to take them but don't have the heart to say no to your pregnant cousin, you could say you bought them but security made you throw them away. I know. It's dishonest. But just a thought if you really don't want to truck these along. Of course, there's probably some resulting bad karma from lying to a pregnant woman.

A Chocolatey Field Trip to Almondine Bakery in Dumbo

Mmmm I love Almondine! Their hazelnut raisin bread is the best. Since I've been home on maternity leave, we can actually get a loaf before it runs out. And I was temped by one of those ganache balls before and agree - it wasn't all I was hoping for!

Have you ever just been completly insulted preparing a meal?

@mhurst826 - my husband smothers all breakfast foods with ketchup. ick. and any non-Indian dish often gets a few shakes of some type of hot sauce before he even tastes it. i hate that!

okay so my story: we invited my husband's colleague and his wife + 2 kids over for dinner and had my brother and SIL as well. I made a full Indian meal - palak chole, pudina paneer and aloo gobi. Three time consuming dishes. Each dish was perhaps my best version ever. Husband, brother and SIL all agreed they were amazing, and I have a good sense for taste - they were great. Husband made raita and Indian salad (chopped up veggies), and we served frozen naan. They could not stop mentioning how GREAT the RAITA, SALAD and NAAN were! WTF? I mean, even if all three of those dishes were on their "do not love" dish of Indian foods, they could have said something. I was pissed.

Also, one time we invited his other colleagues over, who were our parents age and also Indian. They could not stop mentioning how impressed they were that we (1) ate Indian food and (2) knew how to cook it. But mostly that we ate it. It was pretty condescending.

I hope you didn't serve your son and his GF anything - that's rude and inconsiderate.

Dosa problems

I'm not an expert at dosa making, but here's what I've picked up from watching my mom and dad make many a dosa. I think they use oil btw. Use a ladle to pour the batter into the center of an oiled skillet and VERY QUICKLY use the back of the ladle to spread the batter by rubbing the ladle in a circular motion over and over working from the inside of the circle to the outside. You have to spread the batter before it sets from the heat. Then sprinkle a little drops of oil around the edges of the dosa. Cook until golden then flip and just cook the other side briefly.

NYC restaurants: oldies but goodies?

Moustache in the West Village, Bukhara Grill, Piccolo Angolo and Joe's Pizza on 6th & Bleeker.

I love this thread!

Private Veg-Friendly Dinner in NYC

I'm looking for suggestions for a private 30th birthday dinner in NYC. The majority of the group is vegetarian, so while I'm not limited to vegetarian restaurants, it needs to be somewhere vegetarian friendly. Indian or Italian would be preferable. Trying to keep price to $50/person or less. I'm pretty open in terms of location within NYC.

Healthy Baked Goods Recipes

I've (unfortunately) recently developed a sweet tooth and have been baking to satisfy my cravings. I would love to hear about healthy baked goods recipes (cakes, cookies, muffins, etc.) that others have tried and enjoy. Thanks in advance!

Draft Beer and the Glasses We Drink From

We were at a favorite neighborhood bar recently, and I noticed that they reuse your beer glass when you get another round. Is that standard? I can't recall now if other bars do that too. And does anyone think that's a little gross? I think the tap touches the beer in the glass which is swishing around with all of your germs right? Although, my husband didn't seem bothered by this.

Early New Year's Eve Dinner w/Baby

We just had a baby a few weeks ago but would like to go out for an early dinner on New Year's Eve. If we time it right, our daughter will just sleep through the dinner. Any suggestions for a baby friendly restaurant on New Year's Eve? We're open on the type of restaurant and location but in an ideal world it would be somewhere that's veggie friendly and downtown.

p.s. Please refrain from any snide comments about people who dine out with their children ;-)

Arthur Avenue - Where to eat dinner?

My husband and I are going to Arthur Avenue for the first time tomorrow night. We were planning to try the eggplant parmesan at Arthur Avenue Cafe but just realized it's closed after 6 pm. Any suggestions? Somewhere that has standout eggplant parm would be great! Thanks.

How to fix Aloo Gobi that is too tomatoe-y

I tried making aloo gobi in the oven yesterday by roasting everything. It turned out pretty well but unfortunately I used too many tomatoes. The dish is a little too tangy and tomatoe-y. My thought is to try to cut the tang with a little sprinkle of sugar.

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Best Coffee in New York City?

This morning I waited for 10 minutes for a cup of coffee at Dean & Delucas. It's in the lobby of my work building, so it gets points for convenience, but 10 minutes for regular coffee when milk and sugar is on the side is too much.

It got me thinking, what's the best coffee in New York City and where do I get it ? IMO points are awarded for milk and sugar NOT being on the side, quickness and of course taste.

Which also makes me wonder, is cart coffee really okay to drink healthwise :)

Advice for Slow Cooking

I just posted this recipe for Slow Cooker Daal Makhani using whole urad daal lentils on my blog. I soaked them overnight and then pressure cooked them for 8 hours...but they were still a little tough. Any slow cooking tips? Or any other favorite vegetarian slow cooking recipes?