Friday, May 25, 2012

Ruchi Indian Cuisine, Peekskill


If you read a review that starts with, “if you are looking for authentic Indian food in (location), then look no further beyond (name of restaurant)”, then run away from that review.  It usually means this was as authentic as the Indian restaurant food the reviewer had eaten at 15 years ago in Minnetonka, MN that was cooked by an Indian aeronautical engineer turned self-taught chef.  Today was an exception.  I was looking up Ruchi on the web and noticed a review such as the one above.  We went anyway, and the visit turned out to be a good one.

Ruchi is at the Beach Shopping Center in Peekskill. The last time I visited the Beach Shopping Center was in the 90s when it resembled a permanent, broken down, rural carnival.  There was even a dreary-cheery signboard suggestive of a beach.  It has since been rebuilt.  The chef at  Ruchi is from Kerala and so we settled mostly for the Malayali dishes on the menu. Avial, a vegetable medley and signature dish from Kerala; Goat Pepper Fry--a dry goat curry, and Malabar Attu Curry a spicy, saucy goat meat and potato dish.  As a bonus, the chef sent in some roast duck from the kitchen as well.  All of the dishes were very fresh and steeped with flavor.  Look for freshness in the richness of the ground spices in the curry.  If they are newly ground they will sparkle on your tongue with nuances of aroma that would otherwise be absent.  The consommé like rassam was hearty if not delicate, and on a rainy day this is what one looks for.  The chaat that we ordered was average. 

Each dish gave the impression that it had been cooked with individual attention.  One way to measure the merit of an Indian restaurant is to gauge the level of “inter-food interference”— how similar two apparently different dishes are and to what extent do their tastes bleed into each other. This will directly indicate the number of corners that the chef has cut in setting his menu.  Some places in Westchester are notorious for this: different meat dishes look like different animals swimming in the same broth. 

Our waiter was from Goa, the chef from Kerala and the manager (or owner—not sure) from Andhra Pradesh.  He spent some time chatting with us and I asked him about customer preferences: chicken tikka masala is the favorite dish by far, with tandoori chicken and saag paneer close behind. This, as I keep haranguing, is a pity. Indian restaurants are bound to their culinary cages by the demand for these archaic dishes that have today morphed into caricatures. I asked for South Indian coffee, but due to a lack of demand they do not offer it.  Dosas, unheard of in these parts of Westchester two decades ago were becoming increasingly popular among Americans.

We enjoyed the food at Ruchi –it has probably the best south Indian food in Northern Westchester. We will certainly be back. 

Ruchi Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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