Showing posts with label chutney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chutney. Show all posts

Monday, June 30, 2014

Parivar Spices & Food

Since our visit to La Mexicana Grocery, I'm convinced that the best eats come from the back of a grocery store. For the longest time we drove by Parivar Spices without a blink until Albany Jane's post inspired us to stop by for a snack, aka chaat as it's known in India. Our first go around was a bit intimidating between being greeted by quite an extensive menu and confusion navigating the counter service system. We came in expecting your standard Indian menu with your tikka masalas and tandooris but were surprised by the array of chaats, dosa crepes, and vegetarian only options.

Some items aren't as descriptive so you just have to dive in. The man behind the counter quickly sensed that this was our first time and happily explained that we order at the counter in exchange for a number and wait for our food; come back to the food counter after you're done eating, give back your ticket number, and take the receipt to the front cashier. He also happily talked us into a trio of samosas and pani puri was something I've been wanting to try for awhile after Sweet Sue's mentioned adding them as a brunch special.

Pani puri is like India's version of nachos. It took some time stalking my neighbors to learn

how to tackle this snack. This diy version comes with a handful of hollow, puffed crispy shells called puri that you crack the top off of and stuff with spoonfuls of a spiced chickpea and potato mixture, red onion, tomato chutney, and splash with chilled mint water and tamarind sauce. Stuff the whole thing in your mouth before it gets soggy and it's an explosion of flavors and textures all in one bite.

There are two kinds of samosas--a stuffed fried pastry version and the ones we got were wrapped in a thin, crispy wrapper, similar to my mom's homemade spring rolls. An order of five triangles come out piping hot and the shell shatters as you bite into one. It's stuffed with a deliciously spiced potato filling and a dip of tamarind sauce adds a sweet note while the cucumber yogurt raita cools it down. These were wonderful little bites too.

We're mostly carnivores and were impressed how filling and delicious vegetarian options could be. We came back for a dinner and were equally impressed. A full meal will get you two subzis aka your choice of veggie entrees, a lentil soup, rice, samosa, and paratha flat bread plus dessert. The dosa rice crepes is also an item you're going to want to savor. This giant crepe is crispy, light, and slightly sour and just as fun to eat as you rip and dip in a duo of spicy chili sauce and ginger coconut chutney. Wash it all down with a mango lassi drink or pista falooda (a pistachio flavored milk drink with nuts and sweet noodles) and you'll be happily stuffed to the gills til your next visit. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Flavors of India

Another Indian restaurant on Washington Avenue? There is no shortage of chicken tikka masala on this corner of Lark St-Washington Ave-Central Ave. But having eaten at each of these Indian/Pakistani establishments (hello lunch buffet!), not all are made the same. Indian cuisine can be just as diverse as Chinese or American food, varying from region to region. Flavors of India embraces this diversity by featuring traditional Indian cuisine from North to South, East to West and most uniquely a fusion of Indo-Chinese food. 

It was intimidating stepping into an empty restaurant but putting our skepticism aside, we went for it and couldn't have been more surprised by the flavors we encountered. It was a chilly Monday night and we chose to warm up with cups of milky chai tea. We knew we were in for a treat when we were greeted by comforting aromas of earthy cardamom and warm cinnamon, none of that pre-mixed commercial tea bag crap. It was a good sign for things to come. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Karavalli Indian Restaurant

There's an abundant of Indian cuisine here in the Capital Region. Albany's Central Avenue alone has four Indian/Pakistani restaurant all within a one mile radius, not even! I remember being hesitant about trying Indian food, but after one bite, it wasn't as intimidating as I thought. I was introduced to Indian cuisine when a housemate during my summer internship had a hankering for palak paneer, a dish of farmer's cheese in a spinach sauce. We drove 70 miles to eat at Ghandi Restaurant on Central Ave where I was introduced to Chicken Tikka Masala and was hooked at first bite. 

I'm one of those people that likes to try a bit of everything and Indian buffets are perfect for that, but usually I've only come across buffets at lunchtime. So when the craving hit at dinner time, J and I decided to venture up to Latham to Karavalli and stray from our usual sushi date nights. A 4.5 star rating from Yelp was enough to pique our interest. 

There was already a pretty good dinner crowd when we arrived; a full dining room is always a good sign. Even better, there was complimentary papadum (a thin, crispy cracker) with a duo of sweet and savory chutneys aka Indian condiments. J isn't much of a seasoned Indian foodie as I am but was adventurous enough to order lamb saag. I usually don't like lamb but loved it in this dish. Sometimes the gamey flavor of lamb is off-putting to me but the blend of spices in the spinach sauce balanced well with the chunks of meat. I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish that sets the standard and quality of each Indian-American restaurant that I visit. Karavalli's version did not disappoint; creamy and spicy (but not hot spicy), chicken tikka masala always hits the spot when the craving hits. Indian food is also never complete without naan, a buttery and chewy flatbread. It's perfect for sopping up the sauces and picking up bits of meat mixed in with basmati rice.  Don't be afraid to get hands on! A glass of mango lassi, basically a yogurt milkshake, is always an added treat too. 

What I love about Indian food is that flavors are so complex. Not every masalas and curries are made the same; dishes can taste different across the board depending on where you go. Each Indian restaurant is unique in its own way; they use their own blend of spices and if you go enough like I do, not one dish tastes exactly the same and that's the fun part! Just don't ask me to name all the spices, it's nearly impossible but I mostly pick up on cumin, cinnamon, and paprika.  Indian food can be as regional as our American foods and I love discovering and tasting the nuances of this type of cuisine. It's hard to pick a favorite Indian food spot in the Capital Region, but J and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience at Karavalli. Plus service was excellent; our dishes were cleared right away and you never run out of water (a giant pet peeve of ours when ignored). 

Does anyone know of Indian buffets for dinner in the area? I'd love to go on more Indian dinner dates. Variety is the spice of life right? Indian food certainly doesn't lack spice! Ok, really, I just want to be glutton and fill my plate with all kinds of delicious morsels. -R