Showing posts with label Indian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

best thing i ate last week: green chile dosa at Paper Dosa in Santa Fe

One of my New Year's resolutions: post more frequently. So let's start 2018 on the right foot by getting back to these "best thing I ate last week" posts - a nice way to keep current without doing the usual more lengthy exegesis (and fewer footnotes!).

We just spent a few days between Christmas and New Year's Eve in Santa Fe, a place with some great food traditions which bridge Mexico and New Mexico, in much the same way that Tex-Mex has become its own particular idiom. One of the challenges I always face when choosing where to eat in these types of communities is how closely to hew to tradition, particularly with limited dining opportunities. Do I look for the most "authentic" places (whatever that means), or do I just look for good food?

I went in the latter direction for our last night in Santa Fe, and it worked out great. Paper Dosa (see more pictures in this Paper Dosa flickr set) is a South Indian place run by chef Paulraj Karuppasamy which began as a catering business, then started doing weekly pop-up dinners, and in 2015 opened as a full-blown restaurant. The menu features about a half-dozen appetizers and chaats, several choices of dosas and uttapam, rounded out with a few curries. It reminds me quite a bit of Hopper's in London, where we had a great lunch early last year.

Everything at Paper Dosa was eye-poppingly good, but the standout was a dish that sort of came full circle: a delicate dosa (a crepe made of fermented rice and lentil batter) stuffed with local green chiles and melted cheese, served with traditional accompaniments of sambar (a sort of lentil stew), plus coconut and tomato chutneys. This wasn't one of those goofy "fusion" dishes, like where some French or Italian dish gets some incongruous Asian ingredient thrown into it. It tasted entirely South Indian, and entirely New Mexican, all at once. And it was the best thing I ate last week.

Happy New Year, all, and welcome to 2018.

Paper Dosa
551 W. Cordova Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cobaya Rancho Patel with Chef Niven Patel

I knew when we agreed to do a Cobaya dinner way down in Homestead that, one way or another, it would be memorable. Actually, we had a pretty high degree of confidence that it would be memorable for the right reasons. Our chef for the evening, Niven Patel, is a Michael's Genuine alum, and is in the process of opening his own place – Ghee[1] – which will combine the flavors of his Indian heritage with the farm-to-table ethos of MGFD. About a year ago, I got a preview of what Patel had in mind when he did a pop-up dinner at Genuine sibling Harry's Pizzeria. It was excellent. So when he said he wanted to host a dinner at his home and backyard farm, we found a way to make it happen. Our confidence was not misplaced.

(You can see all my pictures in this Cobaya Rancho Patel flickr set).

Our early 6pm start time meant there was still some late afternoon sun shining on the backyard garden, which Patel has planted with items that will eventually be used to supply the restaurant: papaya, taro leaf, chile peppers, herbs, greens, turmeric, root vegetables. A welcome cocktail courtesy of Edukos[2] featuring "Ghee Wiz sake," basil infused mango juice, and spice-infused syrup, helped everyone slip into the right mindset.

As folks made their way in, Niven's crew started circulating with an assortment of snacks. There were freshly fried pakoras of sweet onion and taro leaf from the backyard garden. A paste of sweet Florida shrimp, sesame seeds and scallion topped a particularly tasty rendition of shrimp toast. And a special treat: khandvi, or as our menu called them, "chickpea roll-ups." This was something I'd never tried before, and for good reason: Niven says you're unlikely to ever see these unless your mother or grandmother is making them, as getting the batter – a mixture of chickpea flour and yogurt or buttermilk – and texture right is a bit of alchemy that could keep molecular gastronomists busy for a while. I was glad someone knew how to do it: these light, fluffy crepes, reminiscent of Japanese tamagoyaki, and seasoned with toasted black mustard seeds, julienned cilantro and curry leaf, were absolutely delicious.

(continued ...)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Indian Palate - Coral Gables

[Sorry, this place has closed]

It's generally been a struggle to find good Indian food in Miami. Renaisa, off Biscayne Boulevard and 78th Street, was my go-to place for a while (for take-out - I couldn't bear to sit in the dingy space, which has now changed hands and been made much nicer as Anise Taverna, a Greek/Med restaurant from the folks who used to run Ouzo's), but then they moved north to Heelsha around 163rd St. and I haven't gotten up that way. I've had a couple better-than-decent meals at Mint Leaf in Coral Gables, but it's rather pricy. So when a new entry in the market made its appearance, I was excited to try Indian Palate, and made my way over this week for lunch.

While walking my way to the restaurant's location at the corner of Salzedo Street and Alcazar Avenue, it gradually dawned on me what used to be there - it's the old Le Festival space! But this will not be one of my interminable reminiscences about restaurants-gone-by, I promise. It's still got ivy covering the walls outside, but the interior has been redone with Indian paintings and decorations. Lunch is done buffet-style, with a few serving tables set up in one room opposite the dining room (which appears to only have a portion of the full space open for lunch).

The buffet offered about 3-4 vegetable dishes , about 5 various meat dishes, basmati rice, a couple breads (the baskets of which were not refreshed nearly often enough), as well as another table set up as a chaat bar and yet another laid out with simple salad stuff and about a half-dozen chutneys and pickles.

My favorite thing was the chaat bar. Chaats are Indian street food, various combinations of miscellaneous crispy bits, sauces and spices. Here, they offered little puffed rice balls, crispy shredded wheat, and big round wheat puffs,along with several various sauces for topping them, including creamy yogurt, another yogurt-based sauce spiked with mint, a tart tamarind sauce, and a moderately spicy tomato chutney, along with diced fresh tomato and mint. The effect of the combination, which you can doctor as you see fit, is much like a spicy, savory, crunchy breakfast cereal, and oddly compelling.

The buffet fare was decent but not exceptional. The vegetables included a saag paneer (creamy spinach with cubes of mild cheese), a mild mixed vegetable curry, and a potato dish; the meats included a chicken tikka masala, a stewed lamb dish (rogan josh?), another dish with ground lamb or beef, and mussels in a peanut sauce. It was all OK, but there was nothing that really stood out. It was as if the spice had been turned down on everything, which I think is a mistake. Though I understand that not everyone likes spicy food, there's a difference between spicy and highly spiced. Indian food need not (should not) always be spicy, but if it's not highly spiced, then what's the point? To me that's the heart of Indian cooking.

I have read that the Indian Palate chef came over from Vix at the Hotel Victor on South Beach, which makes a lot of sense. I only ate there once, but what made the most memorable impression - other than the astronomical prices - was a bread plate that featured several delicious Indian breads, and some very savory dips including a raita and some chutneys. Now, Indian Palate offers a fuller panoply of choices, and at a much more affordable cost - our lunch buffet was $13, a bargain all things considered. The dinner menu seems a bit more convoluted, with a bunch of different combination plates, but I like the idea, since it gives an opportunity to try a broader variety of dishes. Now if they could just turn up the spice dial some so you can better distinguish one from another.

Indian Palate
2120 Salzedo St.
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Indian Palate on Urbanspoon