Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pub Mein Kukkad......Blimey, Mate !

Brits do a lot of things well - fashion, museums, the tube, and of course, the staple of British alleys and nooks - pubs. I'm a fan of fish and chips, and for me, that's about as far as pub food went. I know of some great Colonial pubs in Manhattan, but never expected to find one in our little cubbyhole town.

The credit for this discovery must go to the husband, really. We seemed to have exhausted our usual routine, familiar restaurants (the kind where we no longer needed a menu to order), and wanted to try a new place. After a little digging, the husband came up with a quaint pub downtown. I was reluctant (fish and chips = diet disaster), but followed along when he promised an extensive menu.

Surprise, surprise ! In addition to some lovely, unusual dishes (spicy lamb burger, The Starving Artist - a hodge-podge of rice, beans, salsa and gravy), the menu featured........Butter Chicken. 

Wha.................... ?

It is unheard of to find an Indian dish on the menu, outside of Indian restaurants, in the US. Curiosity piqued, I ordered it (the husband went with the spicy lamb burger). Both dishes arrived looking beautiful, and smelling delicious.

The butter chicken

The lamb burger
The lamb burger was flavorful enough, but the husband had eyes on my butter chicken from the start. And for good reason - it far surpassed my expectations ! It had all the right spices, wasn't drenched in butter, and was boneless - so it checked all the boxes I grade chicken on. Sadly, Karim's memories never let me enjoy a good naan; if it isn't great, it doesn't count. But other than that, it was perfect; we wiped the plate clean.

Unexpected pleasures really are the best.

P.S. I'll be back (have to try the Starving Artist !).

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mofongo Khush Hua !

While researching for our upcoming trip to Puerto Rico, I stumbled upon what seemed to be the favorite local food - the Mofongo. Every website I stumbled upon had tourists raving about this delicious tropical staple, some going so far as to say they only ate mofongos during their entire trip.

As scary as it sounds, its description had me intrigued - a bowl made with fried, mashed plantains, and filled with your meat of choice. My love of all things fried is legendary, as is my fondness for poultry, so naturally, this seemed like food made just for me.

Now, I knew plantains were a distant cousin of the banana, but I had no idea what to expect as far as taste goes. Luckily, lard blocks out pretty much most of the original taste of anything, so all I tasted in the plantain bowl was kind of fried-dough-taste, which served as the perfect backdrop for tender chicken chunks doused in garlic aioli.


It was also, however, so filling that I couldn't move for the rest of the evening, and much of the next day. Because our vacation was only 3 days, I didn't dare try it again. Both the husband and I did try out a few more of the most recommended local dishes, but none compared to the mofongo.

Regretfully, it was so dim in the restaurant that I couldn't take a decent pic. I'll try to paint a verbal picture - a 4" wide, 1" deep fried bowl, the color of a good samosa, filled to the brim with meat, doused with sauce, sometimes sitting on a bed of veggies or rice. Sounds good, doesn't it ?

It's actually quite easy to make. The plantains can be substituted with mashed unripe bananas mixed with a little flour. Roasted/grilled chicken/tofu/paneer/shrimp/fish chunks and your sauce of choice complete the mighty mofongo.

Have you tried any exotic foods ? Are there any that you'd want to try ?