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Indian Cuisine

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

lamb biryani, chicken curry and garlic naan at Biriyani Kabob House - BARBARA HANSEN
  • Barbara Hansen
  • lamb biryani, chicken curry and garlic naan at Biriyani Kabob House
Little Bangladesh's restaurant row is growing. Yes, there is such a restaurant row. It runs along West 3rd Street between Western and Vermont Avenues and around the corner onto Vermont. The latest addition is Biriyani Kabob House in the first block west of Vermont. The restaurant is named for its signature dish biriyani, which is a mixed rice dish with roots in southern Asia.

Like the other restaurants — Bangla Bazar, Swadesh, Deshi and Aladin — it serves curries, biriyanis, breads and other dishes drawn from a mix of Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani cuisines.  Unlike the others, it does not double as a grocery. But it does have halal food, free Wifi and genuine home cooks — a Bangladeshi woman whose 90-year-old mother sometimes comes in to help.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Indian Cuisine

L.A.'s Best Indian Food Has No Meat

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Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Dahi batata puri.  - JAMES GORDON
  • James Gordon
  • Dahi batata puri.
The first time you enter Surati Farsan Mart is a potentially overwhelming experience. The place resembles a Jewish deli more than a restaurant, and during peak hours, the line can stretch out the door. The clientele are loud and almost entirely Indian. There are more women dressed in saris than jeans. In line, a child is eloquently begging her mother to order her a sweet (or two), and is triumphant when she agrees. Another woman is methodically checking her shopping list; Surati Farsan Mart, in addition to sweet shop and restaurant, is the local place to get puffed rice and cracker mixes dusted with chili.

There are three TV monitors hanging on the wall, which display hundreds of unfamiliar words that may as well be written in Sanskrit: dahi batata puri, pav bhaji, kasta kachori. They presumably refer to food. You ask a nice man at the counter the appropriate questions (what is that?), which are answered with an air of practiced patience. After some rudimentary education, you place your order, only vaguely aware of what you’ve agreed to eat.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Indian Cuisine

Parsi Cuisine in Artesia at Woodlands

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Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 11:48 AM
Woodlands staff, including Jay (manager), Ram (chef) and Annu (owner) - COURTESY: WOODLANDS RESTAURANT, FACEBOOK PAGE
Ever eaten Parsi food? Probably not, because you won't find it in L.A. or SoCal, unless you have Parsi friends who invite you to their homes.But now there is one restaurant where you can taste it: Woodlands in Artesia's Little India.  Annu Dangore, the owner, is Parsi and this year started serving Parsi  food - not every day but once in a while. A few days ago, to celebrate Parsi New Year (Navroze), which is today, March 21, she packed the buffet with Parsi dishes.

To backtrack, Parsis are Zoroastrians who fled from Persia in search of religious freedom. They landed in Gujarat on the west coast of India and spread to Mumbai, where they established a small but prosperous community. Their cuisine incorporates elements of Persian, Gujarati, Maharastrian and British Raj cookery as well as dishes from Goa, which supplied well-to-do Parsis with cooks and other staff. This makes the food exceptionally rich and varied.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Farhana Sahibzada - BARBARA HANSEN
  • Barbara Hansen
  • Farhana Sahibzada
Yes, you can cook tandoori chicken in a toaster oven. But you won't find that procedure in Farhana Sahibzada's cookbook, Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian/Pakistani Cooking (Trafford, $25).

For six years Sahibzada was chef-owner of Cinnamon STIX, a cappuccino café and Indian snack shop near her home in Woodland Hills. There, she subbed a $19 toaster oven for a tandoor. Customers not only couldn't tell the difference - but wanted to know what special oven she used to produce such tasty chicken.

Sahibzada's tandoori recipe is in the book, for cooking on a grill, not in a toaster oven. It's among 80 recipes that Sahibzada has selected to make Indo/Pak cooking easy even for first timers. "There is no reason that someone who has never been in the kitchen or never tried Indian recipes before can't achieve success on the very first attempt," she says.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Indian Cuisine

3 Great Bhel Puri in Los Angeles

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Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 9:00 AM

A bowl of bhel puri is unlike any popular American snack you're used to enjoying, activating no less than three taste sensations and two textural contrasts with each bite at a time. A member of the savory snack family known as chaat, its origin is Gujarati, or so goes a commonly held belief and easily found as a street snack in India.

Here in Los Angeles it's

An order

You could buy a snack mix at a local Indian grocer and add diced potatoes, chopped onions, cilantro and, if you wish, lentils. Or you can

It's almost always better with a thick mango lassi at hand, if it's available.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Zubin Mehta planting a silk tree - BARBARA HANSEN
  • Barbara Hansen
  • Zubin Mehta planting a silk tree
The wooden stick that conductor Zubin Mehta worked with yesterday, Nov. 20, wasn't a baton, because Mehta hadn't come here to lead the L.A. Phil.

Instead, it was the slim trunk of an Albizia julibrissin, or silk tree, which Mehta planted in Griffith Park to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the L.A. Mumbai Sister City Affiliation. The tree was obtained by the city Department of Recreation and Parks through the Million Trees Los Angeles program.

Mehta, who maintains a home in Bel-Air, was born in Mumbai and is a long time friend of the L.A.Mumbai group's chairperson, Mira Advani. Here for a week with his wife, Nancy, he arrived in a limo at the park's pony rides, where the tree now stands in a large brick-topped circle near the concession stand.

After shoveling on dirt and watering the base, Mehta lined up at an Indian buffet, spooning onto his plate chicken tikka and aloo gobhi supplied by Mantra Indian Cuisine's Temecula location. The carbs -- naan and potato samosas -- were tempting, but Mehta bypassed these to splurge on ice creams from Saffron Spot in Artesia.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Beverages

5 Cool Spots for a Grab-and-Go Mango Lassi

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Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Samosa House - TRACY CHABALA
  • Tracy Chabala
  • Samosa House
The lassi, a chilled yogurt drink born in the Punjab region of India, has been dubbed the world's oldest smoothie. Though it originated as a savory beverage -- a salted yogurt-milk with a few spices such as cumin -- its sweet counterparts have gained more popularity here in the West, and the mango lassi is by far the most favored in Los Angeles. It's a delightful beverage: tangy, sweet, and very refreshing, and it's made from real yogurt, not some powdered concoction you might find at frozen yogurt joints.

Most Indian restaurants around town have the drink on their menu, but we wanted to share a list of the best spots to grab the chilled beverage on the go, as you would a typical smoothie. They may not be filled with spirulina or wheat grass (yummy!), but they are ripe with probiotic cultures, so drink up.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Beef Roll at 101 Cafe - NOAM BLEIWEISS
  • Noam Bleiweiss
  • Beef Roll at 101 Cafe
The strangest things will bring you out to a strip mall -- a GIGANTIC strip mall known as Diamond Hills Plaza -- in Diamond Bar. Sometimes it's a whisper, a notion that somewhere in the great abyss of low-slung restaurants and hidden eateries you can find the flavors you've been chasing. In this case, it was the pursuit of great strip mall Indian food.

Now, granted, we've seen tandoori chicken and Indian-pizza mashups before on these Strip Mall Rat escapades. But the truly transcendent lunch buffet, the heart-seizing gulab jamun continues to elude. This week, we try Curry India Bistro, some boba and a beef roll, among other things. Needless to say, with the size and scope of the Diamond Hills Plaza, we didn't even get through half of the restaurants out there.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Malai kofta and channa masala at Taj Mahal - E. DWASS
  • E. Dwass
  • Malai kofta and channa masala at Taj Mahal
Any discussion of Indian food is complicated by the fact that there are so many varieties. In his massive tome, India Cookbook, author Pushpesh Pant identifies ten key culinary regions, each with "its own gastronomic traditions, but the regions have blurred boundaries and there are many shared techniques and tastes." Pant points out that the cuisine of India is as important as its monuments, art and literature: "With its wide variety of flavours, styles, ingredients and techniques, it should come as no surprise that the popularity of Indian food is on the increase around the world."

This is certainly true throughout Los Angeles, where there are dozens of wonderful and popular Indian restaurants. So many, in fact, that we narrowed our search to one very specific geographic area -- the west San Fernando Valley, which offers a diverse and inviting selection of Indian eateries. For our top 10 picks, turn the page:

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

First Look

First Look: Badmaash Indian Gastropub

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Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 11:20 AM

The dining room at Badmaash - B. RODELL
  • B. Rodell
  • The dining room at Badmaash
In the '80s and '90s there was fusion, often done by American chefs in high-end places, often for no discernible reason, often with suspect results. Then, partly as fusion backlash, partly as an honest curiosity about other cultures, came the obsession with authenticity. Now we've come full circle, with what could perhaps be called "new fusion."

New fusion is the space where the children of immigrants have culinary playtime, taking the food of their heritage and mashing it up with the other influences they've grown up with. Operating in that space is Badmaash, a new restaurant downtown that owners Nakul and Arjun Mahendro (along with their father, Pawan Mahendro, who serves as the executive chef) are calling an Indian gastropub.

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