Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Singing Debut; Haman the Agagite (Evil)

The Story of Purim  I play the evil Haman in my synagogue's Purimspiel.  Haman is eventually hung on the gallows.  Ouch.  Next stop for me, Jerusalem Idol.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hooray For Bollywood, La La La La La La La La La La!

Indian cuisine is probably my favorite of all ethnic foods.  I cook a fair amount of Indian and Asian foods at home.  But, it is always much more fun when someone else does the cooking; and the dishes too!   I won a gift card as a Christmas grab bag gift, so my wife and I checked out the participating Indian restaurants in the area, and eventually settled on The Bollywood Grill, in Glastonbury, CT. 

Bollywood is the Indian equivalent of the American cinema industry.  The word itself is a portmanteau of Bombay (Mumbai) and Hollywood.   According to Business Week, last year, Bollywood films sold a million more tickets than Hollywood worldwide.  It is a huge industry.

I was expecting the décor to reflect the Bollywood theme with perhaps movie posters, memorabilia, and maybe even a few flat panels with a movie or two playing quietly in the background.  This was not the case.  It looked like the same sad décor as the restaurant it replaced; The Ambassador of India, because it was the same sad décor.  Needless to say, I was a little disappointed with the ambiance.  There was some music playing in the background but that was it!   Oh well, on to the food.

The waiter swiftly brought out some papadums to munch on as we decided what to order.  Papadums are thin, crispy, peppery wafers made from either lentil, chickpea, potato or rice flour.  They were served with chopped onions, spicy coriander chutney and a sweet tamarind sauce. Curiously, my wife, who was born in India, does not like hot or spicy food.  Alas, I got to eat all of the papadums myself.  I know, it’s a tough job, but...  Anyway, We decided on a few appetizers, breads and our entrees.  We ordered some vegetable samosas, which are triangular pastries stuffed with potatoes, peas and then deep fried. We also ordered vegetable pakoras, which are fritters, made from onions, carrots, broccolis and cauliflower, dipped in chickpea flour and deep fried as well.  My wife ordered what she always orders, which is Chicken Tikka. Chicken Tikka is chicken that has been marinated in yogurt and spices and then grilled.  It is not served with a marsala (sauce).  I ordered the Chicken Shahenshah, which is chicken that is also marinated in yogurt and spices but served with a cashew sauce.  I love different Indian and Asian style sauces.  The cashew sauce really caught my eye so I was eagerly awaiting it.  We couldn’t decide which bread to order, so we went with the Bollywood Bread Basket.  It has Naan, which is a flatbread, Aloo Paratha, which is a potato stuffed flatbread, and our favorite of all, Poori which is a wheat bread that is deep fried and puffs up like a ball. 

Yes, this is a lot of food.  Did you didn’t think we were going to eat all of it in one sitting?  That’s what Styrofoam boxes are for!  My wife grew up in New Rochelle.  When we used to my father-in-law, he would always take us to this awesome Indian place called The Abhilash. Abhilash was, according to my father-in-law, the best Indian food in the area. My father-in-law, a great host and raconteur, would always order a bunch of appetizers, entrees and bread.  I don’t know how to eat Indian food otherwise.

The samosas and pakoras arrive sizzling hot from the oven.  The samosas were crispy on the outside and very creamy on the inside.  Not too spicy either.  The sweet tamarind sauce went perfectly with the savory samosa.  The pakoras were exceptional.  Very crunchy and flavorful.

The entrees appeared with a flourish.  The Chicken Tikka that my wife ordered arrived sizzling on the hot plate. Tender, succulent chunks of mildly spiced chicken with a slight char taste served on a bed of onions and peppers. My Chicken Shahenshah was delicious.  The sauce was rich and silky smooth, with a nice cashew flavor.  I think I would have been happy with just an order of the sauce with a straw. Maybe next time.  The breads were very good—fresh, chewy and a perfect accompaniment to sop up the sauce.  The basmati rice was cooked perfectly as well.

We didn’t finish half of what we ordered and had them wrap it up to take home.  We had it for dinner the next night.  This was excellent Indian food.  The menu was extensive with a lot of vegetarian dishes. The waiter was happy to customize the amount of heat or spiciness. I highly recommend it.