After more than nine years on West 3rd Street, the Indian restaurant Surya will close. It has been sold by owner Sheel Joshi, who says it will be gone by mid-December. This is a blow to diners who like Surya's relaxed, contemporary Indian ambiance and to fans of its signature dish, chicken Mangalorean.
Surya will be replaced by The Burger Factory, which will offer a wide range of burgers, beer and wine. Owner Allan Saffron plans to open by mid January. Joshi will maintain regular hours at Surya until the final closing. The good news is, this will not be the end. Surya, named for the sun god, will indeed disappear into the sunset, but Joshi will transfer the entire menu to his fast-food Indian cafe Holy Cow, located a few blocks farther west on 3rd Street. His chef, Assam-born Khem Singh Shahani, will move too. This means that chicken Mangalorean will live on. It's been an occasional special at Holy Cow, but now it will be a regular.
"I sell more Mangalorean than chicken tikka masala," says Joshi, who brought the dish national attention when he appeared on the Food Network in 2004. From Mangalore on India's southwest coast, it's a deftly spiced coconut milk curry finished off South Indian style with fried black mustard seeds, curry leaves and blackened red chiles. "We have quite a few people who won't eat anything else," Joshi has said.
Surya Indian restaurant: 8048 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 653-5151.
Holy Cow: 8474 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 852-8900.
From: Surya Indian restaurant
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 inches of ginger root
2 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 green cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in 2-inch pieces
1/2 (13.5-ounce) can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 to 5 small dried red chiles
15 to 20 fresh curry leaves (available at Indian markets)
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1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and ginger to a paste. Or combine them with a small amount of water in a mini food processor and grind to a paste.
2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger paste, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, cumin, coriander, turmeric and salt and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the chicken pieces and mix with the spices. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and 1/2 cup water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add the mustard seeds, chiles and curry leaves and fry until the curry leaves crackle and the chiles turn black. Pour this mixture onto the chicken and cook 5 minutes longer. Do not stir. Serve immediately.