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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vegan MoFo in NYC, Day 21: Korma

Indian food may not be the first cuisine you think of when you think of traditional New York foods - I guess that's usually Eastern European and Italian food - nevertheless, the cultural profile of the city is always changing (most recently Mexican, Dominican, and West Indian) and at this point, I think it's fair to say that Indian cuisine definitely factors into NY's cultural food spectrum.
There are some fantastic restaurants in Queens, particularly in Jackson Heights and Richmond Hill (where I grew up, holla holla!) In Manhattan, there is a stretch of Indian restaurants along 6th street between 1st and 2nd avenues called (a bit offensively) Curry Row. People like to joke that they all share one gigantic kitchen in the middle of the block (which also sounds offensive to me? Am I just being hyper-sensitive?). Either way, I DID pass Brick Lane Curry House, followed by Raj Mahal, followed by Taj, followed by Mitali East, which is across the street from Ghandi, cattycorner to Banjara... so. I would just go into the ones with the best decorations outside. Or try them all.


To get to the source, there are numerous Indian spice stores in the East Village stretching down near the Lower East Side. I've previously blogged about Kalustyan's, a spice emporium, if you can't find what you need in the smaller shops.
This is Dual, on 5th and 1st, one of the best stocked smaller spice shops.

                                                curry pastes, chutneys, pickled condiments
      soooo many spices: different curry powders, cinnamon, chilli, (this was the c section)
dried stuff for teas etc. lavender, chammomile flowers.... plus, like, arrowroot powder, asoefetida nuggets, tamarind paste, chlorella powder, and just so, so much more. It was incredible. And smelled nice. I was overwhelmed and walked away with only black salt (kala namak) which, as it turns out, is not black:


Anyway, while I could have eaten at any number of Indian restaurants, I am often wary of ghee being used, or even if the food is vegan, I find a lot of Indian food to be a little too greasy for my tastes. So I turned to Isa, again, for her 2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma from Appetite for Reduction.


While hers might not be the most authentic Indian food recipe, I feel like this is her New York Indian version. And, whatever. It is really flavorful. It includes zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, peas, veggie broth, light coconut milk, a ton of fun spices (I even added extra), cilantro, and some other stuff.
I served it once over mashed sweet potato, as Isa suggests - and once with steamed spinach stirred in.


To me, the dominant flavors seemed to be ginger and cumin. I could have gone for a bit more spice. This is perhaps due to the fact that my curry powder is way, way old. I may have to re-stock at an aforementioned Indian grocer. I treated this more as a soup than a stew but Google image search seems to show this as more of a thick topping over rice. Oh well. I definitely want to try making this again, if only to smell the garlic and ginger and onions cooking in coconut milk!
My favorite Indian restaurant memory is one of my friend's birthdays in a place on 6th street that had live musicians playing while we ate. So, cook up some korma and groove on while chopping:


What is yr favorite Indian dish? For people in New York (or who have visited), what is the best Indian restaurant you've been to?

22 comments:

  1. Oooh how fun! I'm so jealous of your black salt, I've looked for it in a million places and I can't find it! Please keep us posted on how you use it!

    Believe it or not I am not a huge fan of Indian food. I don't know why it is but I've never really gotten into it. I've heard that the Dosa guy is pretty much supposed to be the best Indian food ever. I don't know though haha.

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    1. I will mail you some! I doubt I'll ever need as much as that bag has.

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  2. You have too many options, I'm telling you. Maybe you're even spoiled a little and will never be able to live anywhere else. I know what you mean about the ghee and grease, but your dish looks great!

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    1. Options make my head explode! I need three choices, tops.

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    2. I can relate. Even a big store disorients me.

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  3. Like Sarah, I am interested to hear your review and use of black salt! Great pictures!

    Restaurants in general seem to make heavy foods even heavier! I only have had Indian food from a restaurant twice in my life, but have enjoyed a few homemade curry spiced dishes. I'll have to flip through her cookbook, this looks really good!

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    1. Yeah, do you own AfR? I've been using it a lot lately but I should really use it more!

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    2. I do own that one! I've really liked everything I've made out of that cookbook.

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  4. NYC has the BEST Indian. I went to a little place on "Curry Row" for years that made amazing banana pakoras. Yes, banana! When they closed, I was devastated.

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    1. Interesting! Almost as mush as yr banana soup!

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  5. There's a Fijian-Indian restaurant near my home in Canberra that makes the most incredible, incredible dal I've ever had. They've sworn to me that it doesn't use coconut milk or ghee, which leads me to think that they must be putting crack in it to make it taste so rich and good. I love hot, spicy, non-coconut curries... and a side of banana and coconut never hurts.

    I'd like to think I'll explore New York's Indian side one day, but who am I kidding? Everytime I arrive in that glorious city, I seem to make a beeline for health stores that sell Karen & Sisters/ Macro Vegetarian products :P

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    1. Haha, see, sometimes I don't trust restaurants even when they tell me a dish is vegan. Is that crazy??

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  6. I love how green your curry is! I tend to opt for non-coconut, super-spicy curries and dals myself. An yes, you're right, ghee is that sneaky lurker so often!

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    1. I usually like a bit of heat too. maybe I'll make something like that soon.

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  7. Curry row? Oh my god, ha ha. I'm the same way about Indian restaurants, they tend to be really heavy on the dairy products so I just usually avoid it. And yeah, definitely greasy - but that's something I tend to expect when eating out! Maybe it's just my city, ha ha. :) And I think channa masala is my favorite Indian dish, served with mango chutney and naan! Delish!

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    1. Right?? Anyway, yeah, channa masala is definitely a favorite. I also love the potato and pinach one. Aloo matar, maybe?

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  8. Oh man, curry in New York--I had the weirdest experience at one of those restaurants with my friend K. (a guy). We were NOT dating, but we were the only people in the restaurant & all the guys working there decided that we must be and that they wanted to make it super romantic for us...ha, anyway, the food was ok, but we ate as fast as we could to get out of there.

    Isa's curry looks like a great alternative to a weird experience though!!

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    1. Hahah at least it made for a good story. All I can say is "I made a curry."

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  9. i hear ya about indian restaurants. its hard to find a home style one. though i thought ny should have a couple. we have one decent one in seattle near my house and they added a vegan menu. the vegan curries and daals are much less greasy and have a home made taste compared to their other fare. i never liked their food, but tried them out after 2 years when i saw the vegan menu and was pleasantly surprised.:)

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    1. You make such delicious Indian stuff at home, it must be a good restaurant if you're willing to eat out!

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  10. Wow. You passed up all those restaurants to make your own Indian dish! That is some energy there. The closest I've come to making my own Indian is buying those jars of pre-made sauces at the grocery store -- Jafreezi and Rogan Josh etc.

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  11. That curry looks great, but I do always find that I have to double and triple spice Isa's recipes.

    I'm so wary of NY Indian. I feel like no matter what restaurant I try they're like, "yeah, yeah; no ghee."

    PS I get my black salt from Dual too!

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