My Indian Summer

the beacon of glorious food

I’ve often joked about how I must have been Indian in my past life. I can probably eat Indian food like comfort food every day. I have oversized bags of garam masala, asafoetida and black mustard seeds in my spice drawer. I crave salty lassis. My ultimate comfort food is jasmine rice with yogurt and lime pickle. I’ve waxed poetic about the flavors and spices to my friends and family.

For the last four days, I have had nothing but Indian food and it has been absolutely glorious. I’ve been asked if I’m tired of it, if I want something else, but I’m quite content eating as much pakora, naan, daal and other delicacies. I have wanted to recommend a few restaurants to you if you live in New York, or if you happen to be in town having the same craving for Indian food, I’ve had for the last week.

On Thursday night, to celebrate a very special occasion, KS and I went to Moksha – sinking our teeth into a lamb shank, fried lotus root, and spicy okra. The restaurant is peaceful, quiet, beautifully lit. At the entrance, over the bar, there’s a reclining statue greeting you. The food is creative new Indian cuisine as opposed to a more casual, traditional fare most of us are used to – but make no mistake, the dishes are expertly prepared and beautifully served. My one regret and wish was to see a better, more extensive wine and cocktail list – it kind of seemed like an after-thought to the food, but could have been a wonderful complement.

Friday night, as KS was hosting a boys’ poker night, a friend and I went to sample exotic cocktails and Indian street food at Bombay Talkie. The place, a recommendation from a friend was just the perfect continuation of the Indian fix I needed. My salty lassi went perfectly with my eggplant and beans and my friend, enjoying her Chicken briyani, remarked that her lychee martini was the best she ever had. Another upside of Bombay Talkie is its dangerous proximity to Billy’s Bakery – the place of dreamy cupcakes, delectable ice box cakes, and heavenly cookies. While not Indian desserts, the treats are worth saving a space in your stomach. I was a bit greedy at Bombay Talkie. Next time however, Billy’s Bakery is on my list!

Saturday afternoon found us in Southampton for a company barbecue and what luck, it was catered by Diwan. Delectable samosas, spicy lamb, saag paneer and much more floated past us and I was quite greedily and happily shoving all of it in my mouth whenever a tray passed me by. For dessest, kulchi – my favorite – ice cream so creamy and ever-so-lightly flavored with pistachios. Diwan, which serves some of the most remarkable Indian food in the city, is also responsible for bringing us Jackson Diner, which incidentally, is where we found ourselves Sunday afternoon.

I know, most people would probably opt for something lighter in this heat and humidity. But not us. Give us chana masala and goat curry or else! The thing about Jackson Diner is how well run the establishment is. Besides serving up some of the best Northern Indian cuisine around, the buffet served on Sundays from 12-4pm is only $9.95 per person. Did I mention it is all-you-can-eat? As in you could have 2 full plates (and that’s an achievement) and still go back for more. They won’t say anything, but you might just go into an eternal food coma. This food isn’t light.

I know, it sounds like I would swear off Indian food forever, but quite the contrary – I cannot get enough. In fact, I was really craving a dosa for lunch today. But I forced myself to have a salad instead, telling myself over and over that variety is indeed the spice of life. But perhaps tomorrow, there might just be a dosa in my future!

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