The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including gluten-free and vegan dishes.


Showing posts with label New Jersey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Jersey. Show all posts

April 4, 2014

Paratha Junction: Your Connection to Hot Hot Parathas

I remember the good old days when my friends and I would stand in line for at least half hour to an hour just to get a falafel sandwich or chicken and rice from the guy at 53rd and 6th ave in New York City at 4am Friday night. That was our thing; sometimes you have to give in to your cravings, no matter how late it is.

Although, I'm not that age anymore, some things still remain the same. Like the fact that I still get those cravings after a night of fun. 

A couple weeks ago, my friend and I went to the city for a party and on our way home, he tells me he knows of a great place to curve my cravings. Lucky for us it was late and found great parking on Newark Ave. This spot has the best parathas (Indian stuffed flatbreads) is what he says.

Paratha Junction is located on Newark Avenue in Jersey City, NJ. It's a small place but the parathas (which was why we were there) are hot and plenty. Oh and did I mention they are the size of dinner plates so they can charge you $6 or more a paratha. 

Gobi paratha with lime pickle and plain yogurt - FINGER LICKING GOOD :) 
I wish I had the stomach and endurance like Anthony Bourdain from No Reservations TV Show. That guy can eat anything and everything. I chose a safe bet and ordered one each of the mooli (raddish) and gobi (cauliflower) parathas. I ate about half of each and packed the rest for home. 

Recap of my comments: 
- each the size of a dinner plate
- seasoned well with fresh coriander, spices, and vegetables in almost every inch of flatbread
- cooked and toasted well
- I just wish I told them to add more chilies or chili powder so it would have been a bit more spicy otherwise A OKAY. 

My friend ordered the chicken tikka and Hydrogen bomb (made with chicken, lamb, and lots of chilies) parathas. He liked the spice combination with the chicken in the chicken tikka one but he could have done without so many chilies in the latter. He was satisfied with his selection and told me he will go back there again to try more varieties. 

Overall, I would recommend this place to anyone who likes Indian flatbreads (incl. parathas, chappatis, rotis, naan, puris, etc). I am looking forward to trying more parathas, whether it be a late night craving or lunch. 

March 14, 2012

A Plateful of Happiness!

Sometimes it's worth driving an hour or more for your favorite snack. This past weekend, we drove down to Moghul Express, and gave into our cravings of popular Indian street food. These are but not limited to pani puri, bhel puri, aloo papdi chaat, aloo tikki chaat, and samosa chaat. Our favorite is bhel puri and boy, was it satisfying. The portion size was good enough for two but one can eat it devour as well. I'm glad my mom ordered her own because I finished mine pretty quickly.

Bhel Puri, Yum!
How shall I describe this snack? There were crispy, sweet, sour, and spicy elements in it that meshed so well together. It wasn't deep fried and was made with healthy and fresh ingredients. After we got our fill, we took a drive through Edison for a bit of shopping. Holi just passed and Ugadi is just around the corner, so we wanted to load up on some savory and sweet treats to celebrate. We stopped at Sukhadia's and bought dry fruit kachoris, masala peas and rasgulla sandwiches. The sweet sandwiches never had a chance; finished them within days.
One thing is for sure, we can't keep driving down to Edison for all our cravings so it's a good idea to make them at home from time to time. So it's good that we know a couple to enjoy at home: aloo papdi chaat or aloo tikki chaat.

Visit WanderFood Wednesdays, for more food adventures and delights. 

July 2, 2011

Begum Palace - Gem of the North

My dad celebrated Fathers Day this past Thursday with his two "little" girls: my sister and I. We started off the day by surprising him with a new Smartphone like ours. We were so proud and so was he! We were so famished after we went over all the cool features and setup of his new toy, that we decided to go out for dinner. After dining at most of the restaurants by our town, we decided to trek a bit farther and went to Begum Palace restaurant in Madison.
Although the restaurant appeared small, it was quite the opposite inside. Since we went on a Thursday night, it wasn't too crowded or noisy, which was perfectly fine with us. I especially enjoyed the music; it was a mix between classical Indian, instrumental, and trance. Here are some pictures from our evening for your viewing pleasure.

We started off the evening with some appetizers: Mirchi pakoras, pani puri, and papdi chaat. I loved the pani (seasoned water) in the pani puri a lot; it was cool and refreshing. My parents love spicy food, so they enjoyed the mirchi pakoras. The appetizers were so tasty, we finished them off pretty quick and couldn't wait to dig into the entrees. We ordered Bhooni Bhindi (Green okra cooked with onion, tomatoes and various herbs and spices), Saag and Paneer Koftas (chopped spinach and Indian cheese dumplings in a tomato based gravy sauce), and Achari Chicken kebabs (Hot and spicy Indian chutney infused into the chicken kebabs tossed with onions and topped with cilantro). We ate these with Peshawari naan (Unleavened bread stuff with coconut, nuts and raisins baked in the tandoor) and basmati rice. After all that food, everyone was pretty full but I was still contemplating about dessert. Our dinner was completed with a plate of warm and juicy gulab jamun on the house...we must have charmed the host.
Overall, we enjoyed our evening which was filled with nice conversations, delicious food, and good company. My parents were impressed with the courteous wait staff and the friendly nature of the owner who strolled by a couple times to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. That's what I call SERVICE. I would definitely dine there again! 

June 8, 2011

Hot Breads Bakery - More than Just Bread!!

I'm always on the lookout for cute little places to spend some of my down time...maybe to read a book while I enjoy a treat or catch up with friends on my lappy (laptop). I know there's an array of places like coffeehouses and eateries but I really dislike coffee and I don't like noisy places. Furthermore since I moved back to my hometown, I've been exploring more places around my town. One day as I was running a couple of errands for my mom, I passed by this place. It's one of those places where you could easily miss it unless you were on a mission. Anyways, I walked inside and right away I got a whiff of whatever was baking in the oven at the other end of the bakery. At most bakeries I've been to, the menu items consist of the usual baked goods such as breads and more breads and specialty pastries. At Hot Breads, aside from the usual, as you can understand from my title, they have a variety of items to choose from. Here's a short list of some items I do remember from my visit: curry puffs (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), snacks like bhel puri, chaat, samosas, and more filling meals like pizzas, paninis and vada pav sandwiches. It was like a One stop shop.
It took me a few good minutes to decide what I wanted to order. I'm not sure if you can tell from my illustration above but the order counter was placed between two shelves adorned with mouth watering and appetizing pastries of all flavors and colors. Savory ones on the left and sweets on the right. You might think weird of me but for as long as I can remember, dessert came before dinner, lunch or whatever. I have a sweet tooth that just doesn't rest until it's satisfied. So, I settled on a few curry puffs that were alright because I was so engrossed with the pleasing view of the sweets before me. Each and everyone of them were calling my name, waiting desperately to be spooned into my mouth. After the puffs, I returned to the counter once more, ordered a chocolate mousse cake and brought it back to my cafe style dining area.
Little did I know that my choice wasn't the most popular pastry. I enjoyed it nonetheless since it was nice, creamy and sweet (my unofficial middle name). I heard from one of the staff members that the Black Forest Cake is delicious I will keep that in mind for my next visit. Now I'm not the PR spokeswoman for this delightful place but I gotta tell ya...their pizzas and paninis must be popular. While I was enjoying every last bite of my cake, I saw one the skilled staff making 5 vegetable paninis in one go and man can he move! My short visit became an extended stay filled with good eats, information and company from the staff in between their orders. I finally made my exit and made a note of the items I will try next time I'm in the area. 

If you're in the neighborhood, stop in and try some of their goodies. And if you're in a hurry or on the run, you can always place an order over the phone. Maybe I'll see you there sometime...

August 17, 2010

Friday THE 13th Dinner Date, A Curse or Luck?

Charlie Brown's, Nathan's Hot Dogs, Ruby Tuesdays, Carl Jr's and so on are some of the American restaurants that I heard and know of. Do you know what all of them have in common? Most if not all are named after a person, probably the owner.

Now take a crack at these restaurants: Tamarind, Cinnamon, Clay Oven, Dosa Hut, Rasoi, Swagat, Chola, Chennai Garden, Dawat, Udipi, and Saffron. Can you see a trend here? I've noticed that a lot of Indian restaurant names are derived from our cooking and/or the region of the cuisine. I start thinking about the flavors and the types of dishes that they prepare and before you know it, I'm get the point. I don't get the same feeling with American restaurant names...too bland.

One of the restaurants that I found interesting is Saffron located in East Hanover, NJ. You don't have to be a cook to know what saffron is. It's not just an ingredient used in Indian cooking, but also in other parts of the world such as the Middle East and Latin American countries. You know what else, it's expensive and hard to find. So it got me thinking, if someone named their restaurant after such a "royal" ingredient, their food must be least those were the thoughts running through my mind. Well, I can tell you the decor of the place was pleasing. The dining area was adorned with wooden carvings, tapestries, and paintings; and it wasn't gaudy. The menu was reasonably priced and they serve buffets Monday through Friday, if you're interested. My parents and I have tried the buffets a couple of times and found the food to be good and I decided I would tell others about it too. The following is about an outing to this restaurant where I had the most memorable experience.

My friend had nothing else in his mind except Butter Chicken. I, on the other hand, was just hungry after my intense Zumba class.  I recommended we go to Saffron for dinner since it wasn't that far from the gym. We immediately got seated and searched through the menu for his favorite dish. After surveying the menu for several minutes, we both realized the item in question wasn't there and decided to leave. Just then, the waiter walked over and asked for our order. We asked if they had Butter Chicken at all since it wasn't listed on the menu? He said although it's not on the menu, they can still make it. Right then and there, bells should have rung in my head, if it isn't listed maybe it's not that great. However, we decided to stay and ordered some appetizers to go along with the main dish.  The last time I had dinner here, my parents ordered Crispy Veggie Fritters and we all agreed, they were really tasty. So, of course we ordered that plus Shrimp Balchao (Fiery pan-fried shrimps with chili based masala).

Shrimp Balchao

If a picture can speak a 100 words, this wasn't it!! We both agreed that the shrimp dish could have been more flavorful. The sauce had just the right amount of spices and taste, but the shrimp was bland.

Our second appetizer, if you remember was the Crispy Vegetable Fritters. I already knew what they would look and taste like. I was waiting for my friend's reaction. See at most Indian restaurants when you order vegetable fritters, you get something that looks like the illustration in this wikipedia website:

They are vegetables dipped in flour and fried in oil. If they are prepared well, the veggies should still be crispy, hence the name but somehow some places always mess it up. Now, that doesn't mean they taste bad. They are still pretty good but if you are worried about oil and fat then you wouldn't be too thrilled.

Saffron's Crispy Vegetable Fritters w/ Oriental Sauce
Just look at those fritters, do they look oily and fattening to you? There's not too much flour and YOU can still see the veggies. They were crispy, crunchy and just YUMMY!! Even the presentation is just so delightful.

Ok Ok, we came here to eat Butter Chicken, remember? That's what my friend kept reminding me off so I could save room for the best part. When the "Butter Chicken" arrived with the Rosemary and Paneer Naan, we were both rubbing our stomachs, eager to dive in.

Chicken Makhani w/ Rosemary & Paneer Naan

The naans were fluffy and hot but the chicken curry wasn't up to the standards we were expecting; especially for the price we paid.  Whenever I'm feeling down, my friends try to cheer me up by saying "turn that frown upside down" and I just laugh it off. With the average taste of my friend's favorite dish, I knew I had to do something.  I ordered dessert and not just any dessert...the best Indian ice cream dessert that I know of and recommend to anyone who wants to try something funky and cool. This dessert is called Kulfi Falooda.

One of these days, I will post a recipe on how to make it at home. Now that I think of it, there's another dessert that is cool like this and its name is ABC 3.0. I tried it at this Malaysian restaurant called Nyoya. It's made up of shaved ice with red bean, corn, palm seeds, and lotus jelly topped with red rose syrup.

 Kulfi Falooda

I think the presentation alone captured the attention of my friend. His eyes lit up and we both grabbed our spoons to go at it.  I mean, just look at all the colors and the creativity. Kulfi Falooda is made up of kulfi (Indian ice cream), rose syrup, vermicelli, and tapioca seeds. It can be served on a plate as illustrated above or as a drink.

If you want to try your luck with Saffron, 1) Do not go on a Friday (hint: mom told me that afterwards), 2) Don't order Butter Chicken, and 3) If you go on a weekend, expect delays in service. I was a bit disappointed with that since our whole meal lasted almost 2 hours and we didn't even order that much. I almost ate my cloth napkin waiting for my food.

Overall, the evening wasn't that bad; there were some good moments. I blame Friday the 13th for any misgivings that occurred.

Moral of the story: We went to the restaurant for something "non veg" but ended up loving the "veg" stuff even more.

August 6, 2010

A Vegetarian's Delight!

The Lotus Stem Surprise

Unlike NYC where there are a variety of Indian restaurants in almost every neighborhood, NJ has a few to choose from; especially in our neck of the woods (Morris County area). Don't get me wrong there are Indian restaurants but none that I would bet my money on. I've had the chance to go to a few with my parents over the years and narrowed down the list that I would go back and try again. Those will be ones I'll share with you today.

Most recently, we went to Chand Palace in Parsippany next to Subji Mandi (Indian Store) off of Rte. 46E. I haven't been there in years so it was a nice surprise. If you are vegetarian, you will love it because it's all VEG. I love a good Veg Buffet here and there. Now mind you, the day we went, we were all exhausted from moving and unloading into our new house so we were famished and wanted to eat some real good food. My parents have gone to this restaurant a few times and suggested it.

As you enter the restaurant, you will see a Guest Check In and then the table setting and in the back is the buffet table. I could already smell all the goodies. I couldn't wait to jump in line and try everything. I decided to stay healthy and started off with salad (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrots...etc). Then I headed towards the manchurian Gobi (cauliflower) and kamal kakkadhi (Lotus Stem). That was just the first plate. I was not too impressed with the Cauliflower manchurian but I liked the Lotus Stem so on my second run, I grabbed more salad and Lotus stem with naan and rice. My friend who joined us for dinner said the lotus stem curry reminded him of being back home in India when he used to go over to his friend's place for food.

The rest of the curries were alright. I liked the lotus stem one the best. They also serve mini dosas with the buffet so there is plenty of food to go around. Oh. and don't forget to try the desserts.  Overall it was a good experience. I went over the weekend so I'm not sure how the buffet is on weekdays. If you have been here before, let me know how you found the place.

I apologize for the picture quality, I only had my phone with me at the time. Until next time, keep on eating and enjoying!!