Jun 3, 2007

Breadbar-hopping in New Jersey

Okay, so the title may be a tad misleading because there was only one breadbar that was hopped...but oh how my belly wished there were more! After an afternoon with the kiddies, Uncle N picked me up and upon the recommendations of a teacher at their school, came to Piquant, an Indian Breadbar.
I must admit that generally I don't go for Indian food. There is one reason: I typically leave the restaurant feeling like I've aged 30 years and lots my ability to control bodily functions. That's right people, we're talking gas and indigestion. Nonetheless, I was more than willing to go through that when I heard that "bread" was in the title. I may die of gassiness, but at least I would die the way my forefathers wanted me to: happy and with a belly full of bread.
Uncle N was a brave soul and decided to try out a Masala Lassi. I've had Chicken masala and mango lassi, but never a masala lassi so I was curious to see what it tasted like. It was...well...how do I put this? It wasn't like my taste buds were assaulted. Rather, just slapped on the cheek. It was extremely thick and buttery. I couldn't exactly taste the masala because the butteriness of it all just overwhelmed all my senses. It reminded me of the butter tea that I had at Cafe Tibet in berkeley. Methinks Uncle N was a little weirded out too. We ended up asking the waiter what was in it and he emphasized that was no butter in the drink. I was skeptical at first but after checking the Internet, it turns out that a lassi is a "traditional South Asian beverage...made by blending yourt with water, salt, and spices until frothy." I think it was the blending of the yogurt and salt that did it.

We started off with Aloo Papri which were wheat crispies, potatoes and chickpeas smothered with yogurt and mango sauce. The sweet, slightly buttery sauce on the light crisps was delicious. Slightly unique and just big enough to pique my appetite for more yummies on the way, it was the perfect appetizer.
Realizing that this lunch was quickly going to become a feast, I became more and more excited. Next up we had an order of wheat crisps that came wth apple, tamarind, and mint chutneys. This appetizer turned out to be a skinnier sister of the first appetizer we had. Though it was delicious and I would eat ANYTHING with tamarind chutney slathered on it, I found that I liked the first appetizer a little more. It just had a little more oomph-which is always nice.

The first little piece of food porn for this entry was a salad that had oranges, pomegranate seeds, shaved fennel, and a lime-y dressing. It was literally the most beautiful salad that I have ever eaten and being that it was slightly sour, sweet, and very fresh, it tasted as good as it looked. I think the unique plate that came with it really helped the presentation.

For the entree we shared, we had the choice of various types of stuffed naans to accompany the daal or chana pindi, the chef's pick of seasonal vegetable, rice, yogurt and bean salad. Uncle N and I didn't know exactly what daal or chini pindi was so if anyone out there does, let us know! Nonetheless, we took a leap of faith and ordered the daal. Its the brown, soupy stuff in the bowl. Sure it wasn't cute, but it was extremely satisfying (Oh how I wish I could say that about many things). The starchy-sides were amazing as well. The potatoes were slightly spicy and the yogurt covered rice was the perfect cooling antidote the strong flavors of its neighbors. For our type of naan, there were so many choices ranging from cauliflower (with pomegranate seeds and cilantro) to roasted portabella mushroom (and monterey jack cheese). We chose potatoes with grounded pomegranate seeds and with the exception of choosing to go to Cal, that, I believe was one of the best choices I ever made. The combination of warm, fluffy bread surrounding a steaming hot, gushy potato mixture was the perfect thing on a rainy day. It was unfortunate that I was already stuffed from the salad and two appetizers or I would have plowed my way through the basket.

It's restaurants like Piquant that make me wish I were a hobbit and had an excuse for having a second and third lunch.

1 comment:

vikram said...

Nice post! For your edification, daal is basically lentils stripped of their hulls and split. The exact recipe varies from region to region in India, and where I'm from, it's significantly lighter in color. Chana on the other hand is your basic chick pea/garbanzo bean. I'm not sure what the "pindi" surname means, but I'm guessing it's a regional qualification.