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prasad2

Amma

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Thanks, John.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Last Thursday, my wife and I joined Docsconz and his wife for dinner at Amma. We were warmly received by Suvir and Hemant, and treated exceptionally well by the very attentive staff. Like the endless number of diners before me who have posted detailed accounts of the exquisite cuisine at Amma, I urge you all to go to this restaurant to see, smell, and taste for yourself.

We will return very soon.

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Once again a fabulous meal in a very warm environment. I was initially slightly disappointed when we were seated next to the door, however, the table proved to be excellent as it was situated directly under the mainlamp and the feared draft failed to materialize. The service was excellent and once again Bikky demonstrated his mastery of pairing wine with Indian cuisine.

I understand the menu will be changing in February. Yet another reason to return. I wonder what delights Suvir and Hemant have in store for us?


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Today, Suzanne F, Marlene, dumpling, my non-eGulleteer parents, and I had lunch at Amma.

The brief version is that this is the best Indian meal I've had since I was in India in 1977. In addition, it was a lot of fun to meet Suvir, who spent a good deal of time talking with all of us, and we also enjoyed meeting Hemant Mathur and were well-served by the rest of the staff.

We were started off with a freebee of Spinach Chaat, which actually was mostly mung bean sprouts, combined with tempura-like slices of spinach in a tangy sauce. It was great and I had never had anything like it in an Indian restaurant. The mung bean sprouts were delightfully earthy.

I tried a little bit of Marlene's Bhel Puri, which was amazing! I've never had it as street food in Bombay, but the dish as I had it was a complex interplay of different textures, and also tasted great.

My second course consisted of a large shrimp that was battered and cooked in a tandoor, a smaller piece of white-meat chicken that was also cooked in a tandoor with a different taste, and crisp okra with onions and so forth in a nicely tangy sauce with plenty of tamarind. This was also great.

My third course included a lamb chop cooked perfectly - until medium or so (not overdone, as is typical of New York Indian restaurants) - with a yogurt sauce redolent of a delicious masala; small pieces of two different types of fish, one with coconut/cilantro/green chili sambhar on top and one that was accompanied by a red sauce that tasted of tomatoes, lemon juice, spices, and IIRC onion; pear chutney that had plenty of fennel seeds in it; and pilau with lamb and cauliflower.

I also tried some of my mother's masala dosa, which had a good deal of hot-pepper bite and a delicious mix of spices, and was quite significantly superior to the good masala dosas I've often had at Madras Cafe, closer to home.

For dessert, I ordered kulfi, which was a delicate white variety with pistachios and floated in an interesting citrus soup that had various spices in it, notably including saffron. My mother got the mango cheesecake, which was truly great and which I figure on ordering next time.

I also got to try a bit of a 3-dessert tasting that Suzanne and Marlene ordered. Rose water panna cotta was delicious. The coconut/banana flan was fine. But the really unexpected and knockout thing was the chai pot de creme.

I drank masala chai before the meal and had excellent salty lassi with the meal.

Previous posts in this thread pointed to the subtlety of the spicing at Amma, and that is true in the sense that these master chefs combine their spices in delicious and fascinating ways, but do not be fooled: This is real Indian food and they do not skimp on the chili. And frankly, that made me happy.

If my report is wrong in any particulars, I hope one of my delightful dining partners corrects it. It was a pleasure to meet Marlene and to see Suzanne and dumpling again (and of course my parents :smile: ).

I'd also like to mention that the space itself is pleasant and the atmosphere is relaxed.

I can't remember the last time I spent ~$60 on lunch, but I also can't remember the last time I got such good value for such an expense on a meal! I look forward to the next time!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Congratulations, Michael, on finally making it to Amma. I'm glad you weren't disappointed. I didn't think you would be :smile:

The shrimp was one of the best I've had anywhere. I have to admit that I was so enthralled with Bikky's wine pairing that I didn't think to drink anything else (but water). The pot de creme and panna cotta sound good. I'll have to try those next time.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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My second course consisted of a large shrimp that was battered and cooked in a tandoor, a smaller piece of white-meat chicken that was also cooked in a tandoor with a different taste, and crisp okra with onions and so forth in a nicely tangy sauce with plenty of tamarind. This was also great.

My third course included a lamb chop cooked perfectly - until medium or so (not overdone, as is typical of New York Indian restaurants) - with a yogurt sauce redolent of a delicious masala; small pieces of two different types of fish, one with coconut/cilantro/green chili sambhar on top and one that was accompanied by a red sauce that tasted of tomatoes, lemon juice, spices, and IIRC onion; pear chutney that had plenty of fennel seeds in it; and pilau with lamb and cauliflower.

Time for corrections from the Stickler: the chicken was dark meat; that's why it was so juicy and delicious (sorry, Soba :wink:)

One of those pieces of "fish" was the wonderful Indian/Chinese cauliflower, that Suvir did at Diwan, the one with :unsure: ketchup :shock: in the sauce.

Be that as it may, the lunch was incredible. Everything was spiced differently from everything else, and all dishes were delicious. (Well, Pan's father was disappointed in the dal that came with his apricot-stuffed lamb fillet, but he wiped his plate clean of sauce. :raz: ) And the best part was meeting Marlene and introducting her to the best in Indian food. The best? hell, this was her first Indian meal ever! What a relief that she loved it! (How could she not?)

Suvir spent a great deal of time chatting with us, explaining the food and talking about other important issues. And Hemant was gracious as ever. The big news from Suvir was the imminent availability of Bengali food -- not generally known outside of its home -- at a new place in Brooklyn (not his).


Edited by phaelon56 (log)

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I guess you're right about the chicken, now that I think about it, but what I remember as fish was cauliflower???

I don't think the Bengali place is that new, though. I seem to remember mentions in Chowhound when I was still a member, so that goes back a couple of years, I guess.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I just lost the whole post that I was writing on Amma. Arrgh! I'm going to throw myself on the sword!

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Don't do that! Then we can't ever get together for dim sum! :wink::laugh:

It was a pleasure meeting you again.

P.S. I know how frustrating it is to lose a post. ARRRGHHH! :shock::angry:


Michael aka "Pan

 

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dumpling - - DON'T DO IT!! (The sword thing, I mean!) When I have a long report to file here, I usually do it in Word and copy it into the reply window here. Just a thought. Of course, the advantage of doing it over is that you have a chance to make it better. :biggrin:

Pan -- oh yes, cauliflower. Suvir did it at Diwan, and it was a huge hit when we did the big dinner there. It's a Chinese-influenced dish.

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Funny, a crispy cauliflower with that kind of sauce could have been fish to me. :wacko::raz:

It tasted good, though.

Oh, I was thinking about the conversation we had with Suvir and Hemant about Bengali restaurants. The one they were talking about in Bay Ridge (I think) was new, but the one in Jackson Heights has been around for a while.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Please straighten out your information and name this Brooklyn Bengali restaurant immediately.


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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has anyone had the butter chicken at amma? how does it compare to the butter chicken at the average indian restaurant in the u.s? i'm assuming they have it on the menu so that there is something familiar there for less adventurous people but i'm having a tough time conceptualizing a fancy butter-chicken--apart from quality of chicken i actually can't imagine too much of a distance travelled from one end of the butter chicken continuum to the other (unlike, say, for tandoori prawns or biryani).

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has anyone had the butter chicken at amma? how does it compare to the butter chicken at the average indian restaurant in the u.s? i'm assuming they have it on the menu so that there is something familiar there for less adventurous people but i'm having a tough time conceptualizing a fancy butter-chicken--apart from quality of chicken i actually can't imagine too much of a distance travelled from one end of the butter chicken continuum to the other (unlike, say, for tandoori prawns or biryani).

Mongo, our butter chicken is the staple you find in most Indian restaurants. We happen to use Farm Raised Chicken... if that makes a difference.. and we are very careful about not overcooking the chicken. But for the rest of it, there is nothing too surprising about this one dish. It is served without drama... without any gratuitous extras.... as is most of the food. The only difference between our butter chicken and what may be served in another restaurant, could be the type of chicken being used. The sauce is pretty basic.

Recently a seasoned and well traveled guest commented that she was amazed at the lack of un-necessary cilantro in many of the dishes... I smiled. For in the many homes in India where I ate, in many of the restaurants that I remember fondly, it was never necessary to garnish each dish with cilantro. Hemant and I are very particular about not having too much fuss on the plate. We have the dishes we are showcasing on the plate. And that is all. They make the plate look pretty. No garnishes really. The different dishes in each plate, are garnishes to Hemant and I. And it saves us plenty of time to enjoy the preparation of these dishes and not have to worry about using knife skills or mandolins carefully to get garnishes prepared.

The afternoon being reported on by Michael and Suzanne was a rather interesting one. It seems as if the entire food community had decided to lunch at Amma that one afternoon. We had a couple of Indian men who work nearby, that had come in for the first time that day... I loved their comments the most... They went back very happy, found the food distinctive, authentic and light and clean. Everything Hemant and I would like to hear. They requested pickles, we sent out a tasting of some of the many we make, they said the pickles took them back to visits with family and relatives as kids. They were amazed that we use our own pickles and murabbas (chutneys/preserves) and are not buying the familiar market brands. Again, we were delighted to have this little detail get noticed by another set of Indian diners. Then there were the party of 4 Indian diners. All vegetarian. They had been a little nervous not seeing pages of vegetarian options, but in the end, the lady and her mother both took my email to get recipes. Our menu is limited, but we try and serve only dishes we can try and make in ways we have enjoyed them through travels in India and using the set of skills we have each learned through the years and the ingredients that are newly available in the US and lend themselves perfectly to Indian cuisine

Michael, I was delighted to see you at Amma. Thanks for coming in. I was worried we may never have you grace our restaurant with your presence. It was nice meeting dumpling and Suzanne again. And Marlene, I wish I knew this was your first Indian meal, I would have paid even greater attention to what was served you. Maybe, next visit, you will give us another chance. Michael, it was great meeting your parents. They knew so much about India through their Malaysian experience and travels through India and years of cooking the cuisine. It was exciting to speak with them.

The biryaani that you were served with your lamb chop, was a jackfruit, cauliflower onion biryaani. The pieces of seasoned flesh that you call lamb, were in fact jackfruit. It is very meaty in texture... yet all vegetarian. This is one of our most popular rice dishes. People are amazed at the meaty taste and texture of the fruit.

And while I am on eGullet, I should thank everyone for being so very generous and kind to us all at Amma. It is a pleasure to have you all come into Amma and to have you share your experiences online. Thanks for making the time to do that.:smile:

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Suvir, it was truly OUR pleasure to be there.

I was sitting next to Pan's father. As he was perusing the menu, he said, "Oh, chicken tikka, everyone does that." I don't doubt that Amma's would be a cut above every else's, because of the care that Suvir describes. He ended up getting the apricot-stuffed lamb, which he said was wonderful. I don't doubt that, either.

Jackfruit! I wasn't paying attention when it was first described, so I too thought it must be some sort of meat. How much trouble is it to procure here?

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And the Brooklyn Bengali restaurant is......???


"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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has anyone had the butter chicken at amma? how does it compare to the butter chicken at the average indian restaurant in the u.s? i'm assuming they have it on the menu so that there is something familiar there for less adventurous people but i'm having a tough time conceptualizing a fancy butter-chicken--apart from quality of chicken i actually can't imagine too much of a distance travelled from one end of the butter chicken continuum to the other (unlike, say, for tandoori prawns or biryani).

Mongo, our butter chicken is the staple you find in most Indian restaurants. We happen to use Farm Raised Chicken... if that makes a difference.. and we are very careful about not overcooking the chicken. But for the rest of it, there is nothing too surprising about this one dish.

suvir,

could you expand a little on why you guys included this dish on a menu that is otherwise largely revisionist? don't get me wrong, i'm not objecting to butter chicken per se (i like a good butter chicken as much as the next delhi-ite); it just seems a little out of place in a restaurant which seems in some ways to be re-inventing traditional indian food.

a point of comparison might be with bolognese meat sauces showing up on the menus of very fancy italian restaurants; but in those cases the traditional sauce is actually cooked very differently than the debased version in your average american italian restaurant. butter chicken on the other hand is a fairly recent invention even in north india--there's no question of restoring the traditional way of making it (some would even say that it is a debased dish to begin with); and you yourself suggest that other than the farm-raised chicken there isn't much difference between this and the average non-creative indian restaurant's version. why not then let those who would want butter chicken get it in those restaurants and give the more adventurous lot who come to your place something else--like, say, dhansak or even the east-bengali style chicken roast?

i have a separate question about your kathal biryani, but i'll post that on the india forum--we don't see you there much anymore. hopefully this is not because you've made your crossing from "india" to "new york" complete :-)

regards,

mongo (still plotting a trip to nyc so i can come eat at amma)

(edited to add link to the newly created thread on the india forum and to add: another way to come at this might be to ask how often butter chicken is ordered at amma and by what diner-profile)


Edited by mongo_jones (log)

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Suvir, thanks for responding.

It's amazing that you're able to get a meaty texture out of jackfruit!

I visited my parents today, and my father commented on what a good value your cuisine is. He really felt that for the quality of the food, the prices were inexpensive. My mother remarked that she enjoyed meeting you, but I think the next time she comes, she'll order less hot-peppery dishes and leave that to me. :laugh::smile:

Suvir, you're very gracious, but allow me to say that while I have no doubt you and Hemant are getting a lot of fulfillment from being able to cook the cuisine that pleases and inspires you, you are also doing New York a great favor by offering us this wonderful food!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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oh the ass-kissing gets ridiculous after a while.

but yeah, suvir, hemant, and staff are doing a bang-up job over there.

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oh the ass-kissing gets ridiculous after a while.

but yeah, suvir,  hemant, and staff are doing a bang-up job over there.

Tommy, do you know many people from India, as friends? Like, over a length of time?

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oh the ass-kissing gets ridiculous after a while.

but yeah, suvir,  hemant, and staff are doing a bang-up job over there.

Tommy, do you know many people from India, as friends? Like, over a length of time?

huh? yeah. why?

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oh the ass-kissing gets ridiculous after a while.

but yeah, suvir, hemant, and staff are doing a bang-up job over there.

Yes they are, and I hope you're not suggesting I'm being insincere. :raz:


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I am back in Toronto. What a lovely day I had meeting Pan, Suzanne, and dumpling along with Pan's parents. Suvir, since I cannot compare it to any previous experience, I can only say that I truly enjoyed my first Indian meal. My husband adores Indian food, and I've suggested he visit you next time he is in New York.

Thank you everyone for taking such good care of me. (Yes, tommy, I walked to Amma!).

Other dining experiences over the weekend included dinner at the hotel, JW's steakhouse, it was undescribably bad), a light lunch at Langman's Pub, dinner at 21, and dinner at Peter Luger's on Long Island.

We'll be back in New York soon I think!


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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oh the ass-kissing gets ridiculous after a while.

but yeah, suvir,  hemant, and staff are doing a bang-up job over there.

Tommy, do you know many people from India, as friends? Like, over a length of time?

huh? yeah. why?

Sorry to have been incomplete in my posting. I couldn't think of the right word. I'm still not sure.

The Indian friends I have are elaborately complimentary, almost like the Japanese formality with bowing. It took some getting used to, but I think it's charming.

I didn't mean to be obscure.

Oooh, I have to post elsethread but I got to eat at Lotus of Siam last week and it was so good that I told my husband, "This reminds me of Amma."

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far be it from me to speak for tommy but i got the sense that the "ass-kissing" he's referring to is that of egulleters complimenting suvir and hemant on this forum--not the other way around.

not all us indians are as polite as suvir either. not me, of course--i'm the very soul of diplomacy and charm and only tell people to go fuck themselves under extreme duress (like if they make eye contact).

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