Thursday, June 24, 2010

Culinary Delights in Jackson Heights

I have a shameful, shameful secret
before yesterday the only Indian food I had ever eaten
were run of the mill samosas with cooling yogurt sauce
out of greasy paper bags while walking around the
empty streets of Woodside,
that all changed yesterday
when I went to the famed Jackson Diner in Jackson Heights
Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake
(great, amazing book, please read it)
inspired me to look at Jackson Heights differently
to walk out from 74th street train station
and not just focus on the bus I always have to catch
but instead, to emerge from the F train
to confront all the sights, the sounds, the pleasant congestion, and the assorted aromas
and watch the way the gold embellishments on saris
are complimented by the yellow of traffic lights
the way their jewel tones glint in the sunlight
and how the blaring Bollywood tapes and the clank of yellow-gold bangles
contrast the sounds of traffic, and the hurried conversations
so, out of the many days I spent in Jackson Heights
yesterday was the most special, because I was the most aware of its
raw, almost foreign beauty, although I had walked those streets
a million times
now, to the food,
anyone wanting to try deliciously authentic Indian fare
Jackson Diner is the place
I loved the eccentric array of plates, from rainbow ceramics to metal bowls and trays
I died for the cilantro and tamarind dipping sauces
and was literally eating spoonfuls (and fingerfuls)
of sauce between courses, not very ladylike
but who gives about manners when food is so delicious
I enjoyed vegetable pakora (battered & fried)
and malai kofta, croquettes in a curry sauce
which was more like a stew
a deliciously thick hearty bowl of everything amazing
and the rice, with its long, sticky grains,
topped with the dal (lentil stew)
was to die for, and let me tell you,
this Puerto Rican girl knows good rice & beans
anyhow, the best part of the whole day was dessert (of course)
and I enjoyed some burfi from Delhi Palace, a sweet, creamy,
neon pastry of milk & sugar
I picked it because of its beautiful florescent color
and found that the it tastes just as good as it looks,
I'm totally addicted, and it helped cool my mouth down
from all the preceding spicy greatness
all in all, it was a culinary adventure, in a familiar place: the best kind.

rows of beautifully bright pastries
obsession worthy burfi
pakora nom nom
I could eat this malai kofta every single day, more croquettes please!
such authentic presentation
it felt so homey, warm & comforting
I'm so smitten.

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