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Azerbaijani-Iranian food

My husband's family is ethnic Azeri split between Azerbaijan and northern Iran. When the family goes out, they favour Persian, Azeri or Turkish restaurants - I haven't ever seen a restaurant that focuses specifically on Iranian Azeri food, only home cooking. (An interesting note - all the ex-Soviets speak fluent Turkish but only the older Iranians do!)

You might try posting this in Home Cooking forum - M. Ghanoonparvar's cookbook has a second volume that focuses on regional Iranian food with many Tabrizi and Azeri recipes.

Mar 19, 2012
plum in Outer Boroughs

Organic produce on the 7 line

Near the 61st St station in Woodside, there are two: Jin's Big Apple Deli on Roosevelt between 59th & 58th St, across from the Duane Reade, and Veggie Monster on 61st between Roosevelt and Woodside Aves (try out the crepes at the place next door!). Jin's is a special favourite - the daughter is very responsive to stocking what people want to buy, and the mom makes the excellent kimchi they sell.

Between Jin's and Veggie Monster, I rarely need to go out of Woodside these days but I remember two health food shops on Queens Blvd in the 40s.

There's also a seasonal farmer's market in Sunnyside at 43rd Ave & 43rd Street, by the park.

Veggie Monster
39-86 61st St, Queens, NY 11377

Sunnyside Greenmarket
Skillman Ave 42nd St, Queens, NY 11104

Jin's Big Apple
60-07 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11377

Dec 03, 2011
plum in Outer Boroughs

Iranian rice, and Afghani caramelized rice

No more water is added (except for the drizzle of saffron water), and you should cover the inside of the top lid with a thin cotton tea towel to ensure that no water drips down into the cooking rice. The rice steams slowly as the bottom crust gets crispy - the end result is dry and fluffy, each grain separate and perfectly cooked. Good luck, asiansupper.

Oct 30, 2011
plum in General Topics

Melty, Funky & Energized - The Queens Kickshaw Brings Grilled Cheese & Coffee to Astoria

I very much enjoyed the pour overs at Kickshaw, and thought the price was reasonable for the care and preparation.

Kickshaw charging $10 for a Mast chocolate bar - standard where I've seen them in Manhattan, too - doesn't seem "robbery" to me so much as a convenience tax.

From western Queens to the Mast Bros Factory in Williamsburg using the subway: round trip, that's about two hours in transit plus the metrocard costs, plus associated irksomeness of weekend track work, shuttles, and that horrible transfer from the G to the other lines.

In the summer? Charge me $1-2 more, I'm lazy and impulsive and simply grateful those sea salt bars are close to hand...

Thanks for the tips on places where you enjoy the cold brew, Aucoin!

Jun 25, 2011
plum in Outer Boroughs

Paczki in Greenpoint

Haven't been there lately, but I used to enjoy the paczki at Star Bakery on Nassau Ave across from the Busy Bee. (It's not plum season yet but I love their plum cake too.)

I also tried the paczki at Syrena Bakery up on Norman a few years ago - not impressed, although I like their sunflower seed bread a lot.

207 Norman Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Star Bakery
43-21 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

Mar 08, 2011
plum in Outer Boroughs

Amazing tom zap from Chao Thai

The chest cold that struck me like a wrecking ball earlier this week has been served - by a bowl of incendiary fragrant tom zap from Chao, brimming with chili, fish balls and all manner of herb-y things.

I often get tom zap with seafood from Sripraphai, but tonight is Wednesday, and well, sometimes the groove of yore is just not there these days.

Knowing there is nothing for a cold like a good Thai soup, my husband surprised me - he went to Chao and asked the cheerful younger guy for "tom zap talay, spicy" - there was a brief discussion with the kitchen in Thai, and they agreed to do something not on the menu, so I am not completely certain what I have.

But what it is, is brilliant. The fragrance was a knock-out, buzzing with lemongrass and basil and fresh seafood. The first spoonful actually caught in the back of my throat and made me choke for a second: oh yes, say goodbye to coach, you've been upgraded.

It's like the tom zap I used to get at Sri, except far better, spicier, more vital. Beautifully balanced hot, sour and fragrant broth that obliterated everything tired and dreary in its path.

I'd heard reports on these boards that Chao was not making things hot sometimes, and it's happened to me once (the older lady) - but the kind spirits of pet pet were on watch tonight, and the soup boasted no less than four types of chilies: toasted dried red long chillies, red and green short chillies, and - the deadliest, I think? many mashed up bits of orange chili.

The soup is full of mixed seafood and veg: squid, shrimp, mussels, toothsome fish dumplings, plenty of basil, onion slices - the surprise was how nicely the plump quartered button mushrooms - usually a sign, in my opinion, of Bad Thai Takeout - fit in.

I can only describe the aftermath as a peaceful glowing feeling, not unrelated to the realisation that the bottom of the take-out soup container was - completely - covered by chili seeds.

The one thing my husband didn't get? The name of this soup. But I fully intend to go back to Chao soon and get to the bottom of it. Ask for "tom zap talay, spicy" and accept no substitutes. Whoever is at the helm of Chao tonight knows how to use enough gun.

Chao Thai
85-03 Whitney Ave, Queens, NY 11373

64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

Dec 01, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

Indian ingredients in sunnyside/woodside

H-mart at Woodside and 59th is actually Korean with some Japanese ingredients - I shop there frequently , but not for Indian ingredients. Nor have I seen Indian ingredients at Veggie Monster except in most general terms (like ground coriander and basmati rice).

On 61st across from the post office, there is a small convenience mart called Janata (?) with some dry goods, some produce and a freezer full of fish (I think they might actually be Bangladeshi). We had a bad experience buying rice there five years ago (infested with meal bugs) so I haven't been back - but someone else might have a more positive recent report.

Kitty corner from Sripraphai is the Himalayan Mini Mart at 39th & 64th, with an aisle full of Maya products (dal, spices) and a small selection of decent produce (plus some interesting Nepali products). Not extensive, but if you're not up to trekking into Jackson Heights it's very clean and convenient.

Once you have spices, Long Cheng, a Chinese market at 58th & Roosevelt, can pinch hit for some Indian ingredients - they have mung dal, coconut milk, chillies, coriander leaves, eggplant, long beans, bitter melon, green mangoes and bottle gourd.

You can also buy masoor dal at Turkish markets like Sunny Grocery on 43rd Ave or Turkiyem on Skillman, or some spices at El Shater at 43rd & 43rd,

Since there is an increasing Bangladeshi presence in the Sunnyside/Woodside area, you might try some of the convenience markets on 43rd Ave and Skillman. I seem to remember one called Tasneem somewhere in the area.

But really, when I need to stock up, I go to Patel Brothers in Jackson Heights.

64-13 39th Ave, Queens, NY 11377

El Shater
43-02 43rd Ave, Queens, NY 11104

Sunny Grocery
45-26 43rd Ave, Queens, NY 11104

Patel Brothers
37-27 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

Veggie Monster
39-86 61st St, Queens, NY 11377

39-30 61st St, Queens, NY 11377

Nov 15, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

Vietnamese Restaurant Wars in the Bronx: Aftermath?

It was the only one we saw when we stopped by craving pho last Saturday night.

The pho at Com Tam Ninh Kieu is pretty good - not really destination quality, but if you're in the area, why not? The broth is salty but decent. Look for an umami bomb roasted chili/shallot/ground shrimp relish on the table (in the round clear plastic condiment dispensers next to the roast chili oil and the chili-garlic relish) - almost like an extremely mellow nam prik pao. This relish went agreeably with the meats in the pho, which otherwise had a sort of washed out quietly beefy flavour.

Unfortunately, this place is just not the same destination World of Taste Seafood used to be for bun bo hue or bun rieu. They offer bun bo hue on weekends; I tried it months ago and didn't think much of it (like oiler pho with the addition of chunks of pork blood, not particularly spicy or lemongrass-y).

Oct 11, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

ISO Maras Pepper and Urfa

There are two Turkish shops that have this in Sunnyside: Sunny Grocery on 45-26 43rd Ave (look for a purple awning with a yellow sun on it), as well as Turkiyem Market a few blocks away at 46-31 Skillman Ave. Sunny Grocery has slightly better prices and sometimes has prepared food on weekends - nothing blew us away, but it was interesting to try.

Both shops sell Maras biber and Issot biber (this is another name for Urfa pepper), along with some other kinds I haven't tried yet. An 8 oz plastic jar of either costs $5-6 at Sunny Grocery - they have smaller, cheaper sachets too. I've restocked several times from there and found the Maras pepper to be very fresh - my kitchen hasn't been without since I found this place...

I suspect Massis at 42-20 43rd Ave would have it too, although I can't remember specifically - worth a stop if you're in the area to check out the Turkish jam, halva, tea, nuts, soap, olive oil and a great eastern European deli counter. (El Shater at 43-02 43rd Ave seems as if it might have Aleppo pepper but does not - still worth a stop for spinach pies and sweets, though.)

You can get aleppo pepper at Penzey's in Grand Central Market, although Maras pepper is a little hotter.

42-20 43rd Ave, Queens, NY 11104

Sunny Grocery
45-26 43rd Ave, Queens, NY 11104

Sep 20, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

Merguez sausage sandwich on Steinway in Astoria?

I like the pastry shop next door to Little Morocco, Al-Sham Sweets, better than Laziza (although to be fair Laziza seemed off its game the last few times I went).

Laziza of New York Pastry Shop
25-78 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

Sep 01, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

Thai Malay Sunnyside/Woodside border closing?

I am extremely curious about Rumphool. I too live nearby, and while the people are nice, the food on their menu seems to be of the mild spice with canned straw mushroom/sauteed green bell pepper ilk. Well meant and fresh, a good option if it's pouring outside and you're too sick to walk up Roosevelt, but just not in the same league as Sri, Chao, Ayada, Zabb etc.

But shopping around Elmhurst, I have noticed several small Thai snack shops selling a lot of interesting stuff labelled with, yes, our own Rumphool.

The newest is a Thai snack shop directly inside the entrance of the Hong Kong market, selling bubble tea and sweets as well as savoury meals in the back refrigerator section. Last Saturday I saw prik king and wild boar curry both labelled Rumphool, which made me both curious and frustrated that they don't expose more of the adventurous stuff on their English menu.

Rumphool, you've clearly got something going on back in that kitchen a lot more interesting than your English menu reveals. Further investigation is warranted.

Zabb Elee
71-28 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

77-08 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373

57-17 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11377

Jul 12, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

Vietnamese restaurant shake-up on Jerome Ave

The amazing crab soup at World of Taste was bún riêu cá. It's very different to pho - it has a slightly sour broth with a "raft" of ground up crabs and egg at the top. I've been missing it a long time now, so if you find it at either place please report back!

Mar 08, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

what's the best brand of marmelade (orange or other)?

Thanks for the tip, cheesemaestro! I'll be on the lookout for Busha Browne's burned orange marmalade.

Mar 04, 2010
plum in General Topics

what's the best brand of marmelade (orange or other)?

I love Wilkinson's Tiptree marmalades, particularly their Tawny thick-cut marmalade - which has a dark, almost caramelised flavour and thick pieces of orange rind - this might be a treat for your husband, because it's not a common style in the US. Their medium-cut "Tiptree" marmalade is to me the benchmark of Seville orange marmalade, and their "Crystal" fine-cut has a lovely delicate flavour.

Tiptree can be found in some large supermarkets (I live in NYC, where it is semi-common), or in British import stores. I attached a photo of the tawny marmalade.

I know you said you didn't want to special-order, but if you're ever in the mood to splash out, Robert Lambert and June Taylor make beautiful marmalades that are worth the price as an occasional treat:

Mar 04, 2010
plum in General Topics

Greek Yogurt Going Mainstream

According to their nutritional facts, plain Chobani and Oikos don't contain starches, stabilizers or powdered milk. (I couldn't find nutritional facts for Greek-style yogurt from Yoplait or Dannon online, although I wouldn't buy them anyway because I haven't liked other yogurts from Yoplait or Dannon.)

I switch back and forth between Fage and Chobani depending on availability and price. I like them both, and don't find Chobani less thick than Fage.

Feb 18, 2010
plum in General Topics

Rehydrating dried-out salami?

No suggestions on how to bring it back to a more edible texture... But when I was dubious about not being able to finish a very nice wild boar whole salami before it dried out, one of the ladies behind the counter at Murray's Salami suggested grating a hardened salami and sprinkling it over things or sauteing the grated bits to add flavour to other dishes. (Soup? Potatoes? Pasta? Eggs? One's own open mouth? The possibilities are endless...)

We finished up that salami long before it dried out, so I didn't have to resort to the cheese grater. But it might be worth a try if you can't find any other way to salvage your sopressata. Good luck, BobB!

Feb 16, 2010
plum in General Topics

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup ... what is that I am tasting?

Could it have been coriander? That has a beautiful warm citrusy smell. The smaller darker coriander seed used in Middle Eastern coriander power is particularly fragrant - it smells a little more like orange than then larger, slightly paler Indian variety.

Here is a link to the classic Claudia Roden recipe for shorbat adas, seasoned with garlic, cumin, coriander and a little red chili - always hits the spot:

Feb 12, 2010
plum in General Topics

Chinese Ginger Sauce

David Chang has a recipe in the Momofuku cookbook based on the amazing ginger-scallion sauce served at NY Noodletown - it's online at and numerous other sites.

I've made it with a recipe just like ammel_99 provides below (ginger, scallion, salt and oil), but the Chang recipe tweaks that by adding a little bit of soy and vinegar to very nice effect.

Jan 28, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

Food from Saudi Arabia in New York?

Hmmm, that's a hard one even in the Arabian Gulf region, as the local cuisine tends to be "home food" in these countries. I think attempts to find Kuwaiti, Bahraini, Emirati, Omani etc. cuisine would be similarly frustrated, but I would be amazed and happy if you found anything.

An Iraqi restaurant would serve a some dishes like kabsa and quzi typical of the region, but now Le Kabbr is closed I can't think of one to recommend. They love their schwarma in Saudi, but all the schwarma places I like in NYC are actually Israeli.

I've seen Saudi dates at Fairway. And if you want to roll up your sleeves and give it a try yourself, the cookbook "Cardamom and Lime", although written by a Kuwaiti woman, contains recipes for rice and meat dishes and date-based desserts that are also typical of Saudi Arabia. You can find dried limes and other required spices at Kalustyan's.

Your best bet might be to call the local Saudi consulate in NYC and ask where they eat when they get homesick - see They might have some sort of event at the UN cafeteria or something.

Good luck!

Jan 26, 2010
plum in Outer Boroughs

What is your favorite non-citrus flavor companion to cranberries?

Whole cumin seeds, alkapal - I brown them in a little mustard oil. I got the idea from a fresh starfruit relish in "Mangoes and Curry Leaves" a few years ago -

Dec 01, 2009
plum in Home Cooking

What is your favorite non-citrus flavor companion to cranberries?

Think Indian spices! I make a cranberry relish of raw chopped cranberries mixed with sauteed shallots, mild green chillies, black onion seeds (kalonji), black mustard seeds and a pinch of cumin seeds. Then I sweeten to taste with a little brown sugar. The black onion seeds and shallots pick up on the onion and celery notes of a simple bread stuffing.

Looks like I'm not the only one either - here's a recipe for Cranberry Chutney with Paunch Phoron (cumin, fennel, mustard seeds, kalonji and fenugreek): Hmmm, fennel - I've got to try this recipe!

Nov 30, 2009
plum in Home Cooking

Quince gimlet

Not very sweet, as the quince-poaching syrup was actually sour. I had to balance it with a bit of simple syrup after adding the lime juice.

Nov 15, 2009
plum in Spirits

Quince gimlet

I had poached some sliced quinces in water with only 2 1/4 c sugar for 1 1/2 lb quinces as an experiment, because I love quinces but dislike approaches that embalm them in thick syrup. The remaining poaching liquid was a light ruby-red syrup, wonderfully tart and fragrant.

So I had an idea to make a cocktail inspired by the Pomegranate Gimlet served at Danny Meyer's Indian-fusion restaurant Tabla in New York.

Quince gimlet

1 1/4 oz. Plymouth gin
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
2 oz light syrup leftover from poaching quinces
simple syrup (1:1 ratio of sugar to water)

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the gin, lime juice and quince poaching syrup, and stir to blend. Balance to taste with simple syrup.

It turned out very nicely: the rose/pineapple quince notes were a good counterpart to the straight-ahead juniper bite of the gin.

Nov 14, 2009
plum in Spirits

Apple Cake recipes

I'm so glad you saw that link, lil magill - and I'm planning to try this recipe with the Cortlandt apples I bought at the farmer's market this weekend!

Nov 09, 2009
plum in Home Cooking

soggy v belly pain-y. spare me from my bok choi preparing self

The very best way I know to avoid that is to buy baby bok choi or shanghai choi, where the smaller stems will be perfectly tender when the leaves are done but not too wilted. (I'm lucky enough to live around the corner from a Chinese shop which always has both in ready supply!)

Failing that, I tediously separate the thicker parts of the stems from the leaves and begin sauteeing the stems first, adding the leaves when the stems start to get tender.

I got this tip from James Oseland's "Cradle of Flavor", which has a great recipe/technical procedure for sauteeing Asian greens - couldn't find it online, but worth checking out from the library or in a bookshop.

In brief, you get a big heavy pot very hot with a splash of neutral oil, add in some garlic cloves smashed with the blade of a chef's knife, sliced up red chillies, and a pinch of salt when the oil shimmers, and as soon as the garlic begins to get golden, add the stems, and when the stems begin to get tender, add the leaves. How much oil? Well, just enough so that the greens don't stick to the pot - I use 1-2 tbsp depending on how much I am sauteeing. The end product is not oily, but the lightly garlic-seasoned oil adds a good taste.

He also recommends taking the greens out of the pot and spreading them out on a platter as soon as the leaves are done to prevent sogginess and overcooking - a bit of a pain but it really makes a difference!

If I want just plain steamed greens, I haul out my steamer. Also a pain, but the end product is less soggy than the pot-steaming method.

Nov 05, 2009
plum in Home Cooking

Christopher Norman Chocolate

I used to work near the Christopher Norman shop on New Street in downtown Manhattan. I think I had these chocolates as fresh as they could be got, and I still didn't find them enjoyable.

The chocolates were very pretty to look at, but unfortunately neither the bars nor individual pieces stood out for me. The chocolates were dry/bland, and no matter what the flavour was billed as (rose, bergamot, filled with blood orange, etc) all tasted uninteresting like plain, brittle dark chocolate. I'd wanted to buy them as gifts, but after sampling a range, decided against it. So I'd like to ask too, what gives?

Nov 03, 2009
plum in General Topics

Uses for Maggi Seasoning

Well, I suppose using Maggi in salad dressing is akin to using Bragg's Liquid Aminos. And Bragg makes an uber-tasty sesame/ginger dressing, so it might be worth experimenting with using Maggi to make a dressing for a seared steak salad.

Nov 02, 2009
plum in Home Cooking

Uses for Maggi Seasoning

Here's a blog post from Andrea Nguyen for noodles with Maggi, garlic and butter:

Andrea's book, "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen", has another recipe for steak marinated with raw garlic and seared with Maggi sauce. It makes a worthy fifteen minute dinner served sliced thin over rice. Here's the recipe online:

Here's a blog post from Pat Tanumihardja, the author of the "Asian Grandmothers Cookbook", with a tricked-out recipe for garlic-butter noodles that includes scallions and oyster sauce:

Haven't tried Pat's recipe yet, but I'm sure some late winter night it will come in handy.

Maggi has a certain "much-ness" umami taste, so I prefer to serve a meat dish that has Maggi in it with very simple side like sauteed greens and plain rice to kind of decompress the taste buds. The noodles are more of a main event for a late, tired night when you want some cheap vegetarian umami full stop.

Nov 02, 2009
plum in Home Cooking

Honeys from around the world--share your favorites!

Try a drizzle of that truffle honey over a good mellow blue cheese like Cashel blue. Out of this world!

Oct 23, 2009
plum in General Topics

Honeys from around the world--share your favorites!

Oh - I would love to buy honey like what you brought back from Cameroon! What a wonderful find.

There are some amazing middle eastern honeys - Sidr honeys are dark and intense and rich. Quite expensive (around $40 per kilo) but like nothing else. Every time I visit Kuwait I bring back a kilo jar, and ration it out over the year - a spoonful when you are feeling down is the perfect pick-me-up. I've also found honey from coriander, cucumber blossoms, and so-called "black seed" which I think is nigella/kalonji (this one tastes strangely savoury but is supposed to have great health benefits).

Does anyone know anything about Balkan honeys? When I was living in Belgrade, I could go to beekeeper festivals. There was a wonderful Montenegrin honey from the flowers of a berry very like to American blueberries. Also, they had stalls at the markets there that sold "medical honey" good for different conditions. I used to buy a "medical honey" that was light, creamy and very camphorous. I am not sure if that was the taste of the honey itself or if something was added to it. It was good for colds. I would love to buy it again but have never seen it in the US. Does anyone know if it's available online?

Oct 23, 2009
plum in General Topics