Posts Tagged ‘Indian’

Meatless Fridays – Minar and Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart

Saturday, March 27th, 2010 by virginia

Although I haven’t given up anything in particular for Lent, I have been good about abstaining from meat on Fridays. Surprisingly it’s quite tough for me not to eat meat, especially when I see other people eating it, and also because I’m not the biggest fan of fish at this moment. I do, however, love fried foods, including fried fish. On my favorite blog, Midtown Lunch, I read about a streetcart that serves a cheap, filling, and tasty fried fish sandwich, and knew that I had to try it out.


My first attempt was on a snowy Friday, which turned out to be a mistake as the cart was nowhere to be found. Neither was my back-up cart, Moshe’s Falafel. Instead, Josh and I headed to Minar where I had my first completely vegetarian Indian meal. While he went for the meat lunch special and filled up on keema and coriander chicken, I had to go for the veg lunch special and navigated through the meatless offerings with some help from the woman behind the counter.

I ended up with a container of rice topped with lentils, saag paneer, and a potato pea curry. The saag paneer was the only dish I’ve tried before, and it was as good as always. It’s a thick spinach curry mixed with pieces of Indian cheese that has the same texture as firm tofu. It’s kind of like a spiced (but not spicy) cream spinach and is very flavorful and filling. The lentils were also hearty, but a bit bland. They were cooked in a very light sauce and didn’t have much seasoning. I did welcome the protein though. My least favorite was the potato pea curry, because I only got like three pieces of potato, and the rest was peas in a super watery gravy that didn’t have much flavor.

Lentils to the left, potato pea curry on top, saag paneer to the right

To help bolster my meal, I added a piece of fluffy, fresh baked naan for $1 more. The naan was warm, nicely puffy, and had pleasingly chewy. At $1, it’s a true bargain and a great addition to any meal you get at Minar.

Fluffy naan

The lunch special also came with a foil packet filled with lettuce and raw onion, and a small container of raita. The raita is cucumber yogurt sauce that is great over most of the curries, especially the ones containing lamb.

Raita, lettuce, and onion

My container of vegetarian offerings did manage to satisfy my hunger, but not my craving for meat. What can I say; I’m a true carnivore. I did like the saag paneer though, and would definitely order that again. The lentils were ok, but I really didn’t enjoy the potato and pea curry. It was definitely a filling meal though, and all for less than $10. Not bad. I do like the meat offerings at Minar better though, so next time I’ll have to go when it’s not a Friday during Lent. The lunch specials are pretty good deals and you’ll get a lot of food. There are lots of options to choose from so I’m sure you’ll find a combination that works best for you.

Kim’s Aunt Kitchen

My second attempt to get the fried whiting sandwich was a success, and boy, was I happy with what I got. Based on Midtown Lunch’s recommendations, I opted for the fried whiting on a hero. The sandwich was massive and featured two thick fried whiting filets on a toasted hero, covered in lettuce, tomato, and mayo. I couldn’t believe the size of this sandwich, and it was only $3.50!!

The fried whiting sandwich on a hero is eight inches long!

The fried whiting was delicious – still hot, nicely breaded, flaky, and not too fishy. Most people I know are too skeptical to order food from a streetcart, and probably would never order fish from a cart. But I’m telling you, they’re missing out! This sandwich was better than any Filet o’ Fish, for sure. It was meaty, freshly fried, and just hit the spot.

Sandwich innards - packed with fried whiting, lettuce, tomato, mayo

I also got a side order of French fries for $1.50. They were packed into a Styrofoam container so they got a bit steamed on my way back to my office, but for streetcart fries they were pretty good. They were the thinner cut fries that I like, lightly salted, and topped with ketchup per my request.

Thin cut french fries

Overall I absolutely loved Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart. My fried whiting sandwich was better than I expected it to be and completely satisfying. I would gladly skip meat for this sandwich, and I would eat it on non-Fridays as well. There are other options at the cart as well, including chicken and bulgogi platters with lo mein, but I’ll probably stick with the fried fish sandwich. Please trust me and get over any streetcart food fears – it’s worth a taste! And the cart’s motto is also great:

Food IS love!

Minar (multiple locations)
138 West 46th St. between 6th and 7th Ave.
New York, NY

Kim’s Aunt Kitchen Cart
46th St. between 5th and 6th Ave.
New York, NY

Tandoori Naan

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 by virginia

Like Jessica, we always have tons of leftovers whenever we order Indian food. Usually I’ll take it for lunch over the next few days but after we ordered in from Aaheli, I didn’t have enough rice left over to eat with the remaining curries. To supplement, I picked up a package of Tandoori Naan that I’ve seen in most supermarkets in NYC. I’ve always been curious about this naan as it looks relatively authentic when it’s in the package, with an irregular oval shape, large air bubbles, and browned spots all over.

Tandoori Naan from the supermarket

When I opened the package, it became quite clear that the naan was too dense and bread-like, and it kind of had a chemically processed smell to it. That put me off a bit but I surged ahead, hoping that it would be better once it was baked. I followed the directions on the package, which was to wet the bread slightly first and then bake it in the oven. It came out more pliable, slightly darker, but still pretty dense. I served up a piece with some leftover rice topped with both the keema mutton and chicken korma curries.

Tandoori Naan after baking, with leftover Indian curries and rice

Flavor wise, it was pretty bad, tasting more like a processed pita bread than naan. It didn’t have the nice fluffy interior and flaky exterior that I like about freshly baked naans from restaurants. I ate about half of it, and then gave up, as I couldn’t deal with the processed taste. There are actually two pieces of naan in one package, so the second night, I baked it for much longer, until it was more toasted and completely brown. That’s what I do with supermarket bagels because once you’ve had fresh, authentic NYC or NJ bagels, the processed stuff is just gross. I guess it works the same way with naan. Toasting it completely helped a bit, but it still wasn’t great or even good, it was just more edible.

Overall, I definitely don’t recommend buying the Tandoori Naan. I got it on sale for $1.99 but usually it’s priced at $2.99 for the two-piece package. That’s not too pricey but I still definitely don’t think it’s worth getting. If you have an Indian restaurant nearby, you’re better off picking up some fresh pieces to go, even if it costs a bit more.


Monday, March 8th, 2010 by virginia

Josh and I usually order Indian food from Baluchi’s but we’re always on the lookout for other good delivery places. One night we decided to try out the delivery from Aaheli, an Indian restaurant that we’ve walked past many times and always seems to have a lot of patrons, which is usually a good sign. We started out with some vegetable samosas filled with potatoes and peas in flaky crust.

Vegetable samosas

The samosas were fried well so that the crust was crispy and not too greasy, but we found the filling to be a tad bland. Usually there’s a distinct flavor of curry powder and other spices but this version was rather plain. Fortunately they brought us an assortment of sauces to dip the samosas in, including a coriander sauce, a tamarind sauce, and some mango chutney, which helped boost up the flavor a bit.

Samosa innards and accompanying sauces

For our main courses, we got an order of spinach keema mutton and chicken korma. Keema mutton is a dish made with ground lamb mixed with peas and various spices. Aaheli’s version had good flavor and lots of fresh ginger running through out that gave it a nice fresh touch, but I found the dish to be too oily overall. There was a significant amount of oil that had pooled at the top, which was a bit unappetizing. Too bad, because it was otherwise a pretty tasty version. The spinach was a nice addition that set it apart from the usual keemas that we get from other restaurants.

Spinach keema mutton

The chicken korma fared better, with tender pieces of chicken in a rich almond and cashew curry sauce. This version wasn’t overly creamy or too sweet, with an intriguing mix of spices, and it was one of the better versions that I’ve had. There were thin slivers of almonds mixed throughout, which added a nice crunch.

Chicken korma

Both of our curry dishes came with rice that was scented with spices, and we also added an order of naan for each of us. The naan was thick and fluffy, with a flaky exterior – perfect for dipping into the curry sauces.

Curry on rice with a piece of fluffy naan

Overall we thought the food at Aaheli was pretty good. The flavors seemed fresher and they added some ingredients to some of our favorite dishes that gave them interesting twists, such as the fresh ginger and spinach to the keema. While I did think some of the dishes were a bit greasier than usual, they were still really tasty. Price-wise, the delivery was more expensive than Baluchi’s, but mostly because Baluchi’s offers that great prix fixe deal that includes an appetizer, entree, rice, and bread for only about $15. Curries from Aaheli are about $10 for chicken and $12 for lamb, appetizers range from $4-$6, and breads are $2-$3 each. That’s cheaper than most other Indian restaurants in the neighborhood though, so I think it’s still a good value. It looks like Aaheli does offer a lunch buffet on weekdays that costs $9.95, and a weekend prix fixe deal that looks to be a very reasonable $10.95. Hopefully we’ll check those out one of these days and see if the food is even better when it’s eaten fresh at the restaurant.

826 9th Ave. between 54th and 55th St.
New York, NY

Fun with Leftovers – Alu Chaat and Curry Chicken Mash-up

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 by virginia

As I’ve said before, I absolutely hate wasting food and even if I don’t like a dish, I refuse to throw it away. Instead, I’ll try to figure out a way to make it better. If the end result is still not good, then I don’t feel so bad tossing it because at least I tried my best to salvage it.

So after we had pretty terrible alu chaat at Indus Express, with bland, almost raw potatoes, I took home the leftovers and tried to think of a way to “fix” it. Inspiration struck after our delivery meal from Pearls, where we got some mediocre curry chicken with almost raw onion slices. Why not combine the two and cook it together, so that the almost raw ingredients are cooked through and each adds an extra layer of flavor to the other?

And so that’s exactly what I did. I cut the curry chicken down into smaller chunks and heated it in a pan, letting the onions cook through more fully. I didn’t want to lose the freshness of the ingredients in the alu chaat, like the cucumber and mango pieces, so I waited until the chicken was heated through first before tossing in the chaat. I mixed everything together, so that the spices from both dishes mingled, and cooked it just enough for the potatoes to soften a bit.

To finish, I spooned everything over leftover white rice from Pearls that I had reheated, and mixed it all together. The result was an interesting and complex-tasting dish that leaned more toward the Indian side than the Chinese side, but the curry chicken and the alu chaat complemented each other perfectly, and any issues they had as individual dishes were resolved in the mash-up. The potatoes and onions were no longer almost raw, and the spices from each dish eliminated the previous blandness and lack of seasoning.

Alu chaat and curry chicken mash-up

Alu chaat and curry chicken mash-up

Overall I was thrilled with the results, and pleased that I didn’t have to waste any food. The dish I wound up with was interesting, tasty, and flavorful – exactly what I was looking for!

Disappointing Chaat at Indus Express

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 by virginia

Josh was running an errand near my office so we decided to meet up for a quick lunch, as I was desperately eager to take a break from work. We ended up Indus Express due to its proximity to my office, and because it would be fast since we both had a lot to do back at work.

We went with our usual order of a naan sandwich and a chaat. This time we opted for the basil chicken tikka naan roll. They definitely stuff a lot of filling into the naan but the flavors are a bit muddled. I couldn’t detect much basil taste, just a lot of different spices. We asked for the sandwich to be spicy hot, and it definitely delivered in that regard. My sinuses were cleared after eating that sandwich. The order came with a small pile of french fries (regular straight fries with some random bits of curly fries – weird!) and a sad little side salad that we pretty much ignored.

Basil chicken tikka naan roll

Basil chicken tikka naan roll

For our chaat, we debated between alu chaat and chicken chaat. Josh was lobbying for the chicken, which was described on the menu as boneless pieces of broiled chicken and sounded kind of boring to me. I pushed for the alu chaat, which listed spiced potatoes and chickpeas in the description. I thought the spiced potatoes would be seasoned like the filling of a samosa, or the kind that dosas are wrapped around. I won the debate but boy, was I in for a huge disappointment. The potatoes were basically boiled and unseasoned, and very unpleasant. Biting into a piece of plain waxy boiled potato, barely cooked through, is not appetizing at all. Which is too bad because the standard chaat toppings of mango, tomato, cucumber, onion, and the yogurt and tamarind sauces are really good. They just weren’t enough to hide the bland boringness of plain boiled potato chunks. Ugh. I definitely won’t order this again, and I should have deferred to Josh and gotten the chicken chaat instead. Plain broiled chicken is WAY tastier than plain boiled potato.

Disappointing alu chaat with bland, almost raw potatoes

Disappointing alu chaat with bland, almost raw potatoes

Overall this was not the greatest trip to Indus Express, though it’s not somewhere that we go often. There’s much better Indian food in the area but this is always an option when we’re looking for something super quick. We were in and out of there in 20 minutes, and I was soon back at my desk slaving away again.

Indus Express
48 West 48th St. between 5th and 6th Ave.
New York, NY


Saturday, November 28th, 2009 by virginia

Josh and I both love Indian food but it’s not something we eat too often, as most of our family members don’t enjoy it as much as we do. When we do have Indian food, we usually get it delivered for dinner. We’ve tried a few places in our neighborhood but our standard go-to place is Baluchi’s. There are branches all over the city, and even when we lived downtown we would order in from the one in Tribeca or visit it during lunchtime when everything is 50% off (even on weekends). I can’t really vouch for the authenticity, but the food is consistently good and their delivery/takeout prix fixe menu is really a great value.

For $14.95, you can select an appetizer and an entrée from a decently long list of offerings. It doesn’t include everything on the regular a la carte menu but there’s a nice variety and most “standard” Indian dishes are available. The prix fixe also includes basmati rice, a piece of naan bread, cucumber raita, and mango chutney. When you consider that most chicken/lamb curries already start out at $13.95/$14.95 when ordered a la carte, and appetizers start out at $6.95, this prix fixe is an incredible deal.

One night when Josh and I had a craving for some Indian curry, we placed a delivery order using Baluchi’s easy online system. We decided to get two prix fixes, one with samosas and lamb rogan josh, and another with aloo papri and chicken korma. Usually we get two orders of samosas, as they are our favorite appetizer and Baluchi’s has one of the better versions that we’ve had. The skin is thinner and usually still somewhat crispy even after being delivered. The filling of potato and peas is soft and flavored with curry powder. They top the samosas with chickpeas, and then drizzle on a tasty green sauce and a tamarind sauce. There is a mélange of textures and flavors that all really work well together. It’s salty, sweet, and a little bit sour.



This time we decided to try a new appetizer in addition the samosas. We opted for the aloo papri, which is described on the menu as a snack with potatoes, chickpeas, and yogurt. While it did have a messy pile of chickpeas, yogurt, tamarind, and green sauce, there were no potatoes to be found. There were little soggy crisps mixed throughout though that I think were fried lentil dumplings, like in papri chaat. I was a bit disappointed with this dish as it had similar ingredients to samosas, minus the potatoes, but less flavor overall and it was very mushy in texture.

Aloo papri and the case of the missing potatoes

Aloo papri, though no potatoes

Lamb rogan josh is my favorite Indian dish, and this is one of the best versions that I’ve had. There are huge chunks of tender gamey lamb stewed with tomatoes in a cardamom sauce. The dish is spicy in a flavorful way but doesn’t have any heat to it. I like to wrap pieces of the lamb in some naan bread and dip it in the curry sauce, then in the raita. The yogurt mellows out some of the spice and makes the curry a bit creamier.

Lamb rogan josh

Lamb rogan josh

Chicken korma is Josh’s favorite Indian dish, though I find Baluchi’s version to be a bit too creamy in flavor. The curry is made from an almond cream sauce and the pieces of chicken are mixed with fruit and nuts, giving it a nice sweetness. Though it’s a very mild curry, it’s also very thick and rich so I can’t eat too much of it. I usually end up mixing some of the korma curry with the lamb rogan josh curry to create a sort of creamy tomato-y curry sauce that I mix together with the basmati rice.

Chicken korma

Chicken korma

The basmati rice is mixed with visible pieces of dried spices, which I pick out before eating as biting into a clove or cardamom pod gives you kind of a shock. The flavors of the spices still remain with rice though, making it very fragrant. The naan bread is large and fluffy and always comes wrapped in a piece of aluminum foil so it stays warm. I really like that they give you both rice and naan, since it’s hard to choose between the two.

A little taste of everything with a big fluffy piece of naan

A little taste of everything with a big fluffy piece of naan

As I said earlier, while I don’t know how authentic the food is, Baluchi’s is still our go-to Indian restaurant. Now that we live on the upper west side, we order in from the 56th St. branch, but I’ve found the food to be pretty consistent between different branches. When we get delivery, we always get the prix fixe as it’s a bargain compared to other places. The portions are as large or larger than other restaurant deliveries, and the food is always tasty and flavorful. I highly recommend checking it out the next time you have a craving for Indian food.

Baluchi’s (multiple locations)
240 West 56th St. between 8th Ave. and Broadway
New York, NY

Indus Express

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 by virginia


I first heard about Indus Express on Midtown Lunch and was intrigued by their naan sandwiches. You get your choice of filling, like basil chicken tikka or lamb sheesh kebab, and they heat it up on a griddle and wrap in into a big fluffy piece of naan. I had already tried kati rolls at the 46th St. biryani cart but I always found the kati roll wraps to be too thin for my liking. The idea of using naan for a sandwich wrap seemed genius to me.

I met up with Josh for lunch and we decided to split a naan sandwich and a chaat. The special sandwich of the day was a mixed grill, which basically included all the meats available. It was a huge mishmash of chicken, lamb, and vegetables, all really well spiced and stuffed inside a piece of naan bread. I was excited to see them serving seasoned curly fries on the side. Those were a little cold but still tasty, and much better than the soggy homemade potato chips they served previously. There’s also a little salad on the side. It’s a lot of food for approximately $8.

Mixed grill naan sandwich and seasoned curly fries

Mixed grill naan sandwich and seasoned curly fries

I’ve had the samosa chaat previously and was horrified to see them microwave the already cooked samosas and then dunk them into the oil for a re-fry. This time I ordered the papri chaat instead, which was like big pieces of thick and crispy chips topped with cucumbers, potato, chickpeas, tomatoes, mango, red onion and cilantro. The whole thing was covered with yogurt and I think tamarind sauce. It was cool and refreshing and very tasty. We couldn’t even finish the portion in one sitting; I took half of it back to work and ate it as an afternoon snack later on. At only $5, this dish is a total steal.

Papri chaat

Papri chaat

Indus Express is close to my office so it’s easy for me to pop in and grab a quick lunch. There are lots of tables in the back as well so you can eat in if you’d like. I’ve ordered the lunch specials before but I wasn’t the hugest fan of their curries. Everything was a bit watered down and not as flavorful as the curries I’ve had at other Indian restaurants. The naan sandwiches and the chaats are really good though, and I’ll keep going back for more. They really do make a cheap and filling lunch.

Indus Express
48 West 48th St. between 5th and 6th Ave.
New York, NY