"Down from Sweden
Picturesque & green,
To the jungle that's NYC
With skyscrapers mean.
Marvels & buildings
That beg to be seen,
Tours & studies
From Brooklyn to Queens.
Amidst the work
There were treats in mind,
A tingle of taste buds
Seeking that unique find.
So in quest of adventure
For fun, food & wine,
This great group of Swedes
Stopped by 29..."
A team from the biggest Swedish architectural firm in NYC? A study themed on "Transformation" in the boroughs? Well, 29. just had to have a peek. I'm quite nosy like that.
Transformation is really the foundation of what I do. So it was an absolute pleasure when a group of 10 visitors wanted to carry that very theme from their tour to their taste buds. What an honor! Not to mention fun.
The night started with a call from the Swedes saying they have gotten off at a wrong subway station. Oh hell, a 20 minute walk in an unknown part of town - not to mention the humidity? Not a great way to start an experience I'd say. But all smiles at the door, they were the most conversational, comfortable, curious, receptive & beer-loving group I have fed. And thankfully they were hungry too.
I greeted them with little shots of spiced buttermilk with celery sticks - a rather cooling treat after the long walk. While they munched on slight variations of mince chicken & potato chaat bites, I started on the menu. With each dish themed around their study and showcasing it's own 'transformation', the night finally went uphill....
1. Curried Eggplant Sliders - my version of the Indian Pav Bhaji made with curried eggplant & a mixed salad for that slight crunch. The warm & soft brioche buns only added to the melt-in-the mouth taste. Yes, there is a slight french fusion here!
2. Tilapia Fishcakes w/ Tomato Chutney - these did a vanishing act. Perhaps it was the combination of tangy chutney with a smooth & spicy fish cutlet that worked the taste buds. Or perhaps the bite sized portions were just too convenient to pop in. All I can say is I will definitely be making these for future events. (Psst, notice how I didn't even manage to get a pic!)
3. Beans & Chicken Biryani w/ Cumin Yogurt - I don't have a recipe for this (yet), simply because it was an experimental (read accidental) discovery. I cooked basmati rice in a chicken version of my Indian Chili and voila! I love yogurt and I believe in adding it to everything - in this case it was the flame fighter for those who needed it. Try cooking your rice/grains in a pre-made (or leftover) Indian curry next time. You will be surprised at the flavors that develop.
4. Kalakand Truffles w/ Chocolate Ganache & Crushed Nuts - something I have made over and over and over. And always received the same reaction - 'OMG! what is this!'. My proudest showcase of how you can transform any Indian sweet into something low on sugar, lighter on the palate and in a form recognizable to all. And what I can say about chocolate. Chocolate is chocolate. Sneak a spoon of it anytime, anywhere.
Amidst the view and tapas, one of them fell asleep on the couch. Overfed? Bored? Jetlagged? Whatever the reason, I couldn't be happier that they made themselves at home.
[Update] - And they revisited! Read all about the second dinner here.
Check out my upcoming events to plan your own night of Indian Tapas!