Friday, March 16, 2007


Coromandel Cuisine of India
30 Division St.
New Rochelle
Two visits to Coromandel in New Rochelle and I am bewildered, as one is with a bright, but undisciplined child. Are these the makings of a brilliant, but moody cook? Was that Calamari, blended in with spices that made this dish feel a fabric of Indian cuisine for hundreds of years? But did not those Gulab Jamuns hit me with a slightly sour note? Uneven food, but I would go there again. In a heartbeat. Coromandel could be called “tending towards New Indian”, and they are certainly not afraid to stretch your experience to new, and at times improvised, Indian dishes that you would would be hard pressed to get elsewhere. At dinner one night we had Salli Boti, a lamb dish cooked with onions and sprinkled with crisp potatoes and apricots. We also had the Gostaba, yogurt marinated lamb cooked in a tandoor. Both excellent, different, arcane Indian fare, from the Parsee and the Kashmiri communities from India. I emphasize different since both these peoples are slightly apart from the Indian mainstream. The Parsees, Zoarastrian emigres from Persia from about a thousand years past have maintained their own distinct culture in the course of this time (the most famous of Parsis in the West have to be Freddie Mercury, a.k.a. Farhad Bulsara and Zubin Mehta), as have the Kashmiris, isolated by their montainous residence. This was great food and that thirty minute ride from Northern Westchester did not go in vain. But a repeat visit on Mother’s day brunch and a couple of other non-vegetarian dishes had me wondering if we were experiencing the same cook that afternoon. The fish, which needed just a few minutes on a hot flame, was leached in a curry till it had nothing left to give to the diner. The chicken was insipid, overdone, the kababs wonderfully spiced were a tad dry. But steer away for a moment from non-vegetarian dishes since the truer test of Indian culnary skills lie in how you treat your vegetables. You can always mask your sins (to some extent) with meat by a nice yogurty marinade, but getting a curry or bhaji out of vegetables without destroying their freshness is not an easy task. Like dogwoods in a forest in early summer, little flakes of coconut peaked thru a mass of beans, perfectly cooked and delicious. Okras, finely battered and just slightly crisp on the outside cooked in a sort of dry curry. Mushrooms as appetizers, cleanly tasteful. And Coromandel prepares its own Kulfi, Indian ice cream brought over around the 16th. century by the Mughals by way of Persia and Afghanistan. Kulfi is denser and contain less mixed in air volume compared to ice cream. That is what I had the first time, and that is what I will order the next time that I am there which, I am sure, will be soon.
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