Raised in Bombay and Goa, Floyd Cardoz has always cooked Indian food, whether fused with Western techniques or in its most traditional form. After a 12-year stint at the now-closed Tabla, where he and Danny Meyer put together an exotic menu of Indian fusion dishes, he's making a comeback with Meyer's new North End Grill. The menu isn't rooted in one cuisine, but Floyd sneaks in elements of the Indian food he knows so well, such as the black pepper shrimp he often grills in his own backyard. We talked with Floyd to learn where he goes for Indian food in New York City. The short answer to finding the best: don't be afraid of traveling to Queens and New Jersey.
I love to go to Saravanaa Bhavan, a vegetarian restaurant and get the masala dosa for lunch, then wash it down with a mango lassi. The thali is good, too.
The dosa cart by Washington Square Park, N.Y. Dosas, is very good. I just get the traditional potato dosa.
I go to Dosa Hutt for the vadas (a deep-fried lentil dumpling) and the Mysore masala dosa, which has a have a chili paste that they put on the inside. I order it crispy.
I love the Ganesh Temple Canteen right next to the Dosa Hutt. I only go on weekends, for lunch—that's the best time to go. I haven't had a bad dish there. It's so well-prepared and fresh, which is one thing I've found about Indian vegetarian food. They always pay attention to the ingredients. I love all the side dishes—it's so hard to choose.
The samosas at Jackson Diner are amazing. They also make a samosa chaat: that's fried samosas topped with chickpeas, tamarind, and yogurt. I love the goat curry: the meat is on the bone, but it's this absolutely tender baby goat. It has some heat, but it's not over-the-top hot. The dal makhani is also really good, since they use a fair amount of butter and cream.
Khan Market is more Pakistani-style. They have the best kebabs and the best Pakistani goat curry. It's a hole-in-the-wall where the food moves quickly, but it's always very good.
Swagath Gourmet is a South Indian vegetarian restaurant. It doesn't have great service, but the food is definitely worth it. On the weekends, which is when I usually go, they do a thali, which has eight or nine different toppings that change according to whatever is seasonal: chickpeas, okra, long squash, lentils, tomato, eggplant, etc. Your order comes with a free rasam (a South Indian soup) that is amazing. The poori and chappathis are great too, and they make the best lassis.
Shahnawaz Palace makes the most incredible, fragrant goat biryani. They make very good Seekh kebabs, especially one with lamb sausage. I pick it up for dinner, on my way home from concerts at the Garden State Art Center. It travels very well.
Mithaas has the most delicious nut desserts. Indian desserts are very sweet. I tend to go with the pistachio or almond-based ones, because they're less sweet. Mithaas does mail order as well!
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