Stop number two in our super bodega travels brought us, on a warm and sunny day, to Patel’s Cash & Carry. Speaking of wonderful! The store felt HUGE! And so full of amazing and surprising food! I love Indian food. It’s one of those cuisines I feel like I know something about. I eat Indian take-out every chance I get. I’ve got two cookbooks! (Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni, in case you were wondering). I’ve loved it since I was small, and my boys (still small!) love it, too. Walking into this store made me realize how incredibly little I know. Which is (part of) the joy of bodega traveling. You get to see, beyond the takeout menus, a glimpse into a rich and diverse history that the cookbooks only hint at. As David said, you could write a cookbook on the flour aisle alone.
Here’s what we bought…Kulfi for the boys – rose and pistachio flavored. They couldn’t wait to eat it, and it melted in their hands as we walked around the store. Curry leaves. I’ve seen these before, but never cooked with them. What a remarkable smell! A little earthy and smoky, but still very green, if you know what I mean. Two chikoo fruits. (Very excited about these!) Urad flour, black salt (volcanic and sulfuric! rotten eggy), whole moong dal (beautiful!!), Tinda (in a can), which is called baby indian pumpkin, lotus root, and different kinds of snack mixes, which my little ones eat like hungry mice with their whiskers on fire from the spiciness! Then we couldn’t let the boys back in the car because their kulfi was so melted, so they ate on a grassy bank, and Isaac got rose-flavored kulfi on the tip of his nose and in his eyelashes.
For the next few days we’ll be cooking with these, and we’ll let you know how it goes. We’ve got big plans!!
Here’s Donald Byrd’s Places and Spaces. I love it, and, to me, it’s about traveling without going very far from home.
When we got home, I wanted to makes something right away with the urad flour. All the recipes I found called for batter that had to sit and settle for a while. So I decided to experiment a bit. I mixed the flour with some beer and spices and fried it in a little olive oil. And I’m calling these urad coins. They were nice! A good accompaniment to a soup or stew or curry. Puffy, crispy, a little dense on the inside, with a very distictive urad-dalish flavor.
3/4 cup urad flour
1/4 cup rice flour (you can use regular, but then it won’t be gluten free, obviuosly!)
1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
about 1 cup beer
1/4 t fenugreek
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t. coriander
1 t curry leaves, chopped
1 T cilantro, chopped
Mix everything together, using just enough beer to make a thick, smooth batter. Let it sit for a few minutes.
Warm some olive oil in a wok or saucepan. When it’s hot enough to sizzle a crumb, drop the batter by teaspoons into the oil. Let it cook on one side till brown (a few minutes) then turn and let it cook on the other. Fish them out with a slotted spoon, and let then drain on a paper towel. I kept mine warm in the toaster until everything else was ready.
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