L&LtakeNYC: Curry snobs, chasing the flavor

Thank God for pistachio, cardamom and chillies. Thank God for the waiter getting the order wrong. And thank God for Halloween.

And I suppose I should say thank God for laughter too because this is all we could do. This is all a curry snob can do when they decide to listen to reviews.

The Place

We, the 2L’s, found ourselves in the heart of Curry Hill on Lexington Ave, in a restaurant called Dhaba. A pretty decent looking place, cosy in size and of course with tons of great reviews.

After a bit of indecisiveness we eventually ordered up the same. 2 vegetable samosas, 2 shrimp curries, 1 tadka dal, 1 rice portion and 1 garlic naan. And intuitively, 2 masala teas too.

Now if you were born and raised in Durban like we were, you’ll know that curry and rice is standard fare. Eating and cooking curry is a ritual that goes back at least 3 generations in our family.

So the general expectation is that if you are going to do Indian eat out/take out it better be good. Damn good. It’s pointless getting a curry that tastes worse than your own. Isn’t it?

The service

Now I suppose we should have known something was up when we asked for the wi-fi password and were firstly ignored and then later told no.

A few more questions and requests to the waiters and we realised we were facing a zombie infiltration. Blank stares and unintelligible sounds coming out of their mouths. Early Halloween perhaps?

The food

The samosas came and went, bleh.

When the rest of the food arrived we immediately realised that we were 1 shrimp curry short. Given the zombie situation we decided on silence. And a good thing at that.

L1 dipped straight into the garlic naan and shrimp curry. L2, attacked the rice and tadka dal. The look on L1’s face told L2 something was desperately wrong. Quick switch.

L2 summons the zombie. Now if L2, the quieter of the 2L’s, calls on the zombie then something must be seriously wrong.

Zombie 1 arrives with a resulting apocalyptic breakdown in communication. Cue to the arrival of zombie 2. The removal of the bowl of shrimp curry a vague indication that some form of understanding was reached.

To put it simply the shrimp curry was not really a curry. Not in our world anyways. It was bland, bland and blander. No spice, no flavour, no heat . Temperature wise or spice wise.

L2 sent it back because it was luke warm and asked for some chillies to be added.

Well, it came back, as watered down as ever with another small bowl of whole green chillies. A first for us. I mean, just imagine sitting at a restaurant table and chopping up your own green chillies to add to the curry.

The chillies helped make a shitty shrimp curry less shitty but still shitty, if you know what I mean. And where the shrimp curry was tasteless, the garlic naan was too tasty. As in the garlic overpowered everything else.

Perhaps sensing our displeasure the manager arrived with two complimentary desserts. Rasmalai which is cheese balls in reduced sweet milk and pistachios and the other, Tawle Ka Gulab Jamun, fried milk balls in cardamom flavoured sugar syrup.

The Rasmalai was really good but not good enough to save the entire meal. When you’re a curry snob and you’re chasing the flavor of a curry you can call damn good, the extras don’t count.

Now usually we would not do reviews .We would simply not return. But let’s just say for Halloween sake here is our first restaurant review:

Above par :

  • Masala tea
  • Tadka dal
  • Rasmalai

Below par:

  • Shrimp curry
  • Garlic naan
  • Samosa

Being the snobs that we are, we should have just taken the 50 dollars, bought all the ingredients PLUS a bottle of wine, gone home and cooked up a storm a la Floyd.

Curry snob tip: In Manhattan, go fine dining for Indian especially if you are familiar with Indian food.

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#L&Ltake NYC: The Truth

“Here’s the truth”. I’ve been saying that a lot lately. And usually it’s been followed by fall on the floor laughter. Mostly because I’ve just reached a point in my life where there’s no keeping it in. Not for shocked looks, nasty whispers or unwanted judgements.

So here it is. I’ve been dating and making out all over the show. That’s right. From park benches and cosy restaurants to arty theatres and long piers. From Belgian, American and French to Mexican, Japanese and Italian.

And I see you giving me the side-eye now. Yes you.

Don’t pull out the good book yet, I haven’t dropped my panties but I’m not holding back either.

Simply because there’s no reason to.

I’m love-struck. Love-struck over the freedom I feel in the arms of my future potential lover. Let’s be clear, they’re not safe or warm or cuddly, but they are completely uninhibited. They feel like they’re saying, “God bless you girl, you do you, any way, any how, any want.”

Be expressive. Be unique. Be purple in the face of green.

And you see this in the ancient fossil wearing her black leathers or the peacock prancing in his platform heels or even the ‘girl-next-door’ with her bright orange hair.

And you hear this in the boom box conversation on the bus or in the New Yorker stories from the neighbour or in the cussing of the pissed off cyclist.

And you smell it in the aroma of old dog’s pee on the streets.

For this is not a traditional love story. This is a Gotham city kinda love story.

And at the heart of this story is freedom… this is ‘New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of and where there’s nothing you can’t do’.

But like any great love it can suck you in, get you naked, love you up and spit you out.

This is for the brave, the crazy and the resilient.

This is for the ‘all in’ otherwise you’ll find yourself ‘all out’. This is for those who want to take a gulp out of a life and not a sip.

This is for those who know when to put on the blinkers, the ear phones and the protection and when to be like Eve.

Because when you fall prey to the seduction: the bright lights, flashy bulbs and limelight; the flattery and the false promises; the casual rather than the committed, the fall is long, hollow and hard.

It’ll leave you broke and broken.

This is the hard-knock kind of love. The kind that takes most of your time and energy and requires intense work.

It’s also the kind that needs you to dig deeper for the softer parts. For the downtime and for the quiet.

Whether it’s a walk on the Highline, kayaking on the Hudson, a nap in Prospect Park or a visit to the Met, there’s another side to be found and experienced, just like all great lovers.

And don’t we all want to say that we’ve had at least one great lover in our lives?

I’m 35, never been married and have no kids. I’m single and no, not desperate. I’m at a point in my life where most people are wondering when I’m gonna settle down. They don’t even have to say it, I can sense it.

But I don’t want to settle.

I want to be purple in the face of green.

I want to rock my black leathers and red lipstick. I want to prance in my platforms and I want bright orange hair.

Heck, I want to rip all my clothes off and skinny dip under the moonlight. I want to have mad, passionate sex. And, if we gonna be honest I want to have an orgasm too.

I want to fall madly in love.

Madly. In. Love

The only way to do that is to take a risk and allow myself to be vulnerable.

Maybe I’ve been infected by the madness of this city already. But who cares? I’m love struck. I’m talking crazy and I love it.

I’ve already proven in my choices that I’m not afraid to take risks. Can I be vulnerable though?

One thing’s for sure, I’ve been sucked in.

How far or for how long? Mmm, only time will tell.

P.S For more on #L&LtakeNYC visit LeanneTee

L&LtakeNYC: the Beginning

I suppose it’s not a good idea to feel almost suicidal when you’re standing in a queue at US immigration. But after crossing 3 time zones spanning 24 hours of travel, a 2 hour wait at US immigration had me teetering over the edge.

I wanted to have a big fat bitch fit, but I couldn’t. Because in order to get that last stamp of approval to enter the ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ you have to be appear to be on ‘happy pills’. You know, calm and relaxed and s t a b l e.

Clearly I showed great restraint because after a question or two, I was in.

In a taxi, in a different mindset and heading into the clutches of an old flame.

As the taxi passed the toll gate and the night lights of Manhattan flickered into view, my pulse skipped and my heart beat.

New York New York, ‘where the streets make you feel brand new and the lights inspire you’.

Our first meeting was in 2000. I was young, hesitant and inexperienced. The city was so daunting back then. The lights so bright. Too bright for a scared girl like me.

We took a while to connect and our love affair was slow to start. But start it did.

From Central Park to 5th Ave and onto Downtown. From Brooklyn to Harlem to Queens and onto the Bronx. I was enchanted. Intrigued. And infatuated.

I always felt like there wasn’t enough time to fully explore the possibilities of a relationship. Like we had unfinished business.

In 2006 I was lured back. This time for a friend’s wedding.

But the season had changed. I had changed.

The winds were icy and so was I.

Not exactly ideal conditions for rekindling a romance. Still, we made it work as best we could. Stolen moments for Macy’s, walking over Brooklyn Bridge and eating Mexican.

I left with mixed feelings. Was this love or not?

Well, in 2012, I find myself back. Back in the arms of my old flame. And boy does It. Feel. Good.

I’m older, surer, and more experienced. I’m fully ready to commit, to explore and to conquer.

I’ve gone bike riding in Central Park, had a taste of Shake Shack, taken a browse through Eataly, bought fruit from Union Square Farmer’s market, munched on cup cakes from Baked by Mellisa, caught a glimpse of Bergdorf’s, found a Starbucks hangout, a place to run on the East river, eyed out a Waffles & Dinges and made a long list of places to eat, things to do and people to see.

I already know that I’m in love. It’s time to find out just how much. Over the next few weeks this blog will cover my love affair with this City.

And the best part is that I get to do it with my best friend and sister, Leanne Tee. Our blog series, as you may have figured out by now, is called, L&LtakeNYC.

I hope you have your popcorn ready.

Will it end in hot sex or a hot mess?