South Asian food in New York City is finally moving beyond tikka masala territory, and this mini-series will help you make the most of these heady times. Not sure of the difference between dosa and roti or how to distinguish good chaat from the rest? We've got you covered in this week-long series on the regional cooking of south Asia that you can find in New York's restaurants. Up today: West Bengal and neighboring Bangladesh.
'Bangladeshi' on Serious Eats
During the summer of 2012, Khokon Rahman expanded his acclaimed restaurant Neerob, considered by many of its fans to be the undisputed king of Bangladeshi cuisine in New York, into an adjacent storefront, which brought some intriguing new items to the menu.
Starling Avenue, a microcosm of Bangladeshi life in the Bronx, continues to cement its position as the premier cultural and commercial center for the borough's Desi community. In the 1990s, only a handful of families from the South Asian nation called the neighborhood home; today there are nearly 2,000. It was only a few years ago that the street was anointed with the honorific title of Banglabazaar, given in recognition of the dense concentration of Bangladeshi businesses that line it, and eating there has never been better.
Sitting opposite the Houston Car Care Centre on Crosby Street, Lahore Deli caters to the camaraderie of New York City cab drivers.
Doing things right at Neerob, a Bangladeshi eatery in Parkchester, requires committing to a method of eating usually discouraged at American dinner tables. Skip the plastic utensils the staff obligingly provide and, instead, stick to your hands. In place of a fork or spoon, scoop up chunks of the dishes and spread them over patches of steaming white rice, making sure not to mix the dishes. Then eat. (Just remember to stick to your right hand.)
Bukhari, a 24-hour South Asian restaurant serving Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi food, sits unceremoniously on a stretch of Coney Island Avenue in Ditmas Park. Popular with cab drivers, neighborhood business owners and residents, the restaurant puts out traditional dishes that don't hold back on heat or pungency.
Merit Farms might just be one of the strangest eateries in Jackson Heights. Despite the name it’s not a farm-to-table type place, though I’ll bet it was once an old-school greengrocer. For years I passed by the storefront display...