Dear, I haven’t been around much, have I? I’ve reached the Food Doldrums. My excitement about fall food has worn off and I’m growing tired of thinking of new ways to fix potatoes and cauliflower. Budget dictates that I’m not eating out as much as I’d like, either, but when I do, it tends to be lunch. On the weeks that Steve is on the East Coast, we like to go out for lunch on occasion. While I’m generally not a buffet fan, I find that Indian food lends itself better than most to this presentation. And I do love little bits of several things (hello, Isabellas!), so that’s often our choice. The closest stop is Clay Oven, on Rt. 40. It’s really hit or miss, however. My favorite is Nilgiris, over next to the Common Market on Rt. 85. They have fantastic pakoras and have a few more veggie dishes than Clay Oven usually has. Also, Bollywood on the TV! It’s the only place that the TV doesn’t make me angry. Recently, we wanted Indian on a Monday (Nilgiris is closed on Mon) and we realized we hadn’t been to Bombay Grill in a coon’s age. We lived in an apt. in that building back when it was The Alpenhof and then–for about 3 hours–Circo. When we bought a house on 3rd St, we went to Bombay Grill a LOT. Wee Julianna used to just eat rice and fennel seeds, and have a mango lassi. She was never one for the spicy foods (It’s too ‘PICY! she’d yelp about something with a touch of salt). But once we moved to Braddock (and had a less picky and larger crowd to feed), we stopped going. So we popped in for lunch on a bitter, bitter cold day. And, sadly, meh. Partly, it was that the dishes were not my faves–eggplant, a bland dal, vegetable biryani–and partly, well, they just weren’t that great. Not bad, but not worth walking in the arctic chill from the parking garage. Not as good as Nilgiris. The Kheer for dessert was super good, though. I’ll grant them that.
When we lived in Germany, we ate a lot of Indian food (lord knows I wasn’t eating the German food) and the most popular dessert was Firni. It’s similar to kheer, but firmer. I’ve made it myself to mixed results, but it’s pretty labor intensive. I never see it here, though. Anyone know why? Maybe it’s from some region that isn’t well represented in America?
So. Nilgiris remains champion for the buffet. Am I missing any? Some hidden gem I don’t know about? let me know…
ETA: Hail Google, I have answered my own question. Firni is primarily a Pakistani dish. Must be a difference in who settles where.