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Amy Zavatto | November 20, 2008 | Food & Drink
BRICK LANE CURRY HOUSE
Sixth Street has long been famous for its string of Indian eateries, all hawking menus and tempting aromas of curry and puffy poori. But Brick Lane is not for dabblers—only serious hunters of Great Britain’s curry houses need apply. Dishes here aren’t tamed for the so-called “American palate”; while they offer mildly spiced versions—like saag (spinach) with onions and fenugreek—there’s a delightful abundance of heat here, more than readily apparently in dishes like the (ouch!) vindaloo curry with tender goat or lamb and oh-my-God-my-tongue-is-on-fire phaal curry. 306 East Sixth Street, 212-979-2900.
Suvir Saran’s chic Flatiron spot earned a Michelin star this year, and for good reason. Since it opened in 2004, Dévi has won the hearts of even those who claim no fandom for Indian fare (what is wrong with some people?). Dévi has turned nonbelievers into passionate okra-lovers with its crispy, tangy version of the veggie, and has also developed a following for its succulent tamarind-glazed short ribs, cocktails spiked with saffron, and stellar desserts (try the shrikhand—a yogurt pudding melded with sweet, macerated fruit and candied ginger). 8 East 18th Street, 212-691-1300.
HAMPTON CHUTNEY CO.
Much has been written about the Hampton Chutney Co. since it opened its flagship in Amagansett more than 10 years ago. You could credit Gary and Isabel MacGurn for introducing many New Yorkers to the delicious dosa—a large, Indian sourdough crêpe filled with myriad tasty treats. While some dosas here are of a more traditional ilk (like the potato masala), others riff on Western favorites like avocado, tomato, arugula, and Jack cheese or smoked turkey with balsamic roasted onions. 68 Prince Street, 212-226-9996; 464 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-362-5050.
Pastry chef Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez’s name might not conjure visions of East India, but her (mostly) takeout joint has won the taste buds of locals and chefs alike (“Why doesn’t Heather ever get mentioned in the ‘pastry chefs who’ve opened restaurants’ articles?” asks chef Anita Lo). Why, indeed. Rodriguez’s way with paratha—flaky whole-wheat bread stuffed with potatoes, daikon radish, or cauliflower—and boondi raita with a host of palate-pleasing spices is not to be missed. 28 Greenwich Avenue, 212-675-2688.
When I was a student at NYU, we ate $2 breakfast specials at the campus diner. Today, Thiru Kumar’s food cart on West Fourth Street reigns supreme, offering undergrads a healthy, local option. The dosas have become the stuff of giddy legend, filled with addictive, all-vegetarian options that assure worried parents that, at least nutritionally, the kids are all right. Washington Square Park.
The layered and lovely flavors at chef Vikas Khanna’s Midtown spot will stop you in your tracks—assuming you can find the wherewithal to pause between bites of his outstanding, creative northern Indian-influenced fare. The tandoori oven puts out tender, marinated cubes of chicken, lamb, veggies, and seafood, but we’re also fans of dishes like fish malabar (think curry, mushrooms, and a twist of red wine) and the Kashmiri pilaf with mango, apple, almond, and coconut. 245 West 54th Street, 212-307-9797.
Chef Floyd Cardoz calls it “new Indian”—we call it some of our favorite casual lunch fare. Tabla has an airy feel and a daily-changing menu with something for everyone. Upstairs a dash of Indian spice finds its way into modern-American dishes. Street level at the Bread Bar, more traditional fare (like the pulled lamb sandwich with spicy chilies and lime juice or peppery, Goan-style coconut curried cauliflower with tamarind) reigns. Tip: The spicy Masala Mary with pickled onions is a great riff on the traditional brunch-bound cocktail. 11 Madison Avenue, 212-889-0667.
photographs by Ben Fink (DÉVI); Jim Franco/courtesy of Weldon Owen Inc. (TABLA)