By Chef Hemant Mathur
About Chef Hemant Mathur
Jaipur-born Mathur was the first Indian chef in the United States to be awarded a Michelin star. He is the managing executive chef, COO, and owner of five regional Indian restaurants in New York City which include Chola, Chote Nawab, Dhaba, Haldi, Malai Marke, and Sahib. His newest restaurant Sahib falls under the heading of "upscale casual" and features the cuisine of Kashmir and Kerala.
104 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016
The biggest misconception Americans have about Indian food is...
"That all Indian food is spicy and involves curry."
In reality, it is...
"It's more about creating balanced flavor profiles and less about the heat in the dishes. There is not one curry that defines Indian food, rather the various blends help create the multi-faceted flavors and dishes that come from the country. The region of the country, the landscape and availability of ingredients defines what is eaten and also the spices that are used in the dishes."
CHEF'S NYC INDIAN GUIDE
Indian food is very regional, so breakfast choices vary based on region. In the north, breakfast is generally paranthas (flat bread) stuffed with potatoes, cauliflower, fenugreek or even minced meat; spiced omelettes with toast or plain parathas; or puri (puffed bread) with potatoes, vegetables or masala-spiced chickpeas. In the south of India, there are dosas, a type of thin pancake made with rice and black gram; idli, a savory cake of fermented black lentils and rice; vada, a fried Indian snack made from legumes or potatoes, similar to a doughnut; or upma, a thick porridge made from dry roasted semolina or coarse rice flour.
For breakfast in Queens, I come here to get Masala omelettes with plain paratha.
7301 37th Road, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
T: 718.457.5857 | www.kababking.com
I visit them in my neighborhood of Jackson Heights often, as well as a lot of the Bengali grocery stores that now carry fish from Bengal or fresh vegetables that are rare to find in regular grocery stores.
37-27 74th Street, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
T: 718.898.3445 | www.patelbrothersusa.com
I actually stop into my own restaurant, Dhaba, for lunch. I recommend the lentils or vegetables, kebabs or chicken gravy dishes .
108 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016
T: 212.679.1284 | www.dhabanyc.com
My wife creates Indian sweets of various kinds that I really enjoy and this is her online company
I really enjoy Maharaja Sweets in Jackson Heights for snacks and such. They have amazing samosas, papri chaat (a crisp fried dough wafer made with boiled chickpeas, potatoes, yogurt and tamarind chutney), and puri chole (fried bread with spicy chick peas). I love hot gulab jamun in syrup, which is a type of milk cake, and also cashew fudge called kaju katli.
73-10 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Order the Kolhapuri aloo tikki, which tastes just like the aloo tikki we ate on the streets of India.
123 West 56th Street, New York, NY 10019
T: 212.842.8070 | www.indianaccent.com/newyork
Try the eggplant with olives served with naan bread. It is unique because it blends East and West flavors so well. I love the smokiness of the eggplant with the olives, it gives a unique taste profile to this dish.
274 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027
T: 646.688.5414 | www.chaiwali.com
Bombay Bread Bar
I recommend ordering the Egg Kejriwal. It's melted cheddar cheese with coconut chili chutney on top of a brioche and topped with a sunny-side egg.
195 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012
T: 212.235.1098 | www.thebombaybreadbar.com
Late Night Non-Indian Eats
I love coming back into Queens after a long day and grabbing food and relaxing while watching TV. I am a street food person, so I really enjoy Arepa Lady, Mama's Empanadas, and every once in a while, Sammy's Halal Cart.
I love arepa de queso and arepa de tela. I just love arepas for the sweet corn that combines so well with savory combinations. They have such wonderful textures and flavors. Arepas are my must-have, go-to food.
Open until 12am
77-02 Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, NY 11373
I order the whole wheat spinach and cheese empanadas, or the corn stuffed with chicken.
Open 24 Hours
85-5 Northern Boulevard, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Sammy's Halal Cart
I love chicken with rice with extra hot sauce. It's the go-to street food for the middle of the night.
Open until 3am
73 73rd Street, Jackson Heights, NY 11372
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