I didn’t really like Indian food growing up. I remember visiting my aunt at age 14 and her insisting that I order a curry; she promised me that I would love it. Well, I didn’t. If I recall correctly, I ate some extra cookies so I wouldn’t go to bed hungry that night.
In college, I learned to love it. Several of my closest friends were Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi, and all of them missed home and the foods they had grown up with. Armed with lists of unpronounceable ingredients, they would take me to the Indian grocery store. We’d return to the apartment, laden with (surprisingly cheap!) spices and vegetables that I couldn’t identify. Watching my friends cook was always interesting. It involved so many new things- different techniques, spices, and ingredients. It also often involved a Skype call to a mother or grandmother to verify the recipe. I’m not sure how accurate the final dishes were, but they were delicious, fresh, and very spicy.
Unfortunately, there are no good Indian restaurants within a 45 minute drive of my little corner of New England. When we were in New York City for the bike ride, I was determined to track one down.
Thanks to Yelp, we ended up at Pippali. When we got there, it was just around 6pm and there were still a few tables left, but those free tables quickly filled up and soon there was a line out the door.
We started with the papadum they provided with three sauces, and ordered samosas and naan with raita for appetizers. All were very tasty. The samosas were different to any I’d had before, and had lentils and spinach inside instead of the potato, onion, and pea filling that I’m accustomed to.
For our mains, he ordered Palak Paneer (spinach and cheese dish served with rice) and I went for the Hydrabadi Biryani (rice with chicken, spiced with saffron, rosewater, and some things I couldn’t identify). We both really loved our dishes, but could only finish half. We took the rest of it to go, and really enjoyed having delicious Indian food the next day after the bike ride.
Pippali is located at 129 East 27th Street New York, NY 10016