It’s easy to love the cuisine served at local Indian restaurants, but after a while you notice that the same dishes—from tandoori chicken to saag paneer and massaman curry—appear on every menu.
Just as Americans learned slowly about Italian, Chinese, and Mexican fare, it is dawning on us now that “Indian” is a vast, rich variety of regional cuisines with unique dishes and spices.
One place to appreciate that wider world is at Louisville’s Bawarachi Biryanis. The eatery is named after biryani, the hugely popular rice dish. Bawarachi serves multiple biryani variations combining spices and meats from chicken to goat, and sometimes eggs, vegetables, nuts, and fruits. The menu includes many authentic regional preparations, weekend specials, and traditional baked goods such as plum cake loaves.
We enjoyed Bawarachi’s vegetarian Ulavacharu biryani—fluffy, extremely long grain rice deeply infused with tamarind and spices and tossed with vegetables.
The satisfying chicken korma was a generous amount of bird in a thick, creamy sauce that was ordered “hot” and truly sizzled on the palate on a cold night. The accompanying garlic naan, warm from the tandoor oven, was great for sampling the rice and chicken with chutney.
Another roadfood attraction
Ever since it opened in 1976, Carmine Lonardo’s Specialty Meats and Deli in Lakewood has been revered by those who grew up with the traditional Italian butcher shops, bakeries, and delis in the Northeast.
Besides cut-to-order steaks, fresh hot sausage links, and hard-to-find imported groceries and ingredients, the longtime destination specializes in classic Italian submarine sandwiches. They come wrapped in traditional white butcher paper in three sizes including “The Italian Way” on a 24-inch roll.
Carmine Lonardo’s Italian sausage sub with provolone and peppers was Food & Wine’s Colorado nominee for the “The Best Sandwich in Every State.” Another classic is The Godfather II: hot sausage plus Italian beef and giardiniera with marinara on the side. When I’m in the neighborhood I get the classic Italian Combo sub layered with cut-to-order capocollo, salami, pepperoni, ham, and provolone with Italian dressing and select veggies. It’s as good as it sounds.
What to do with too many carrots
Carrots don’t get no respect. Maybe it’s because they are too common and inexpensive and we are weary of all the healthy carrot sticks and so-called “baby” carrots—really big, old carrots carved to look young. If you ignore carrots for more alluring vegetables like broccolini and riced cauliflower, you miss out on and all the nutrients and vitamins and the great flavor to be enjoyed when you roast carrots.
Roasting carrots brings out and concentrates the natural sugars and creates carrot candy. All you need are whole or quartered carrots, peeled or unpeeled, plus salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a little bit of oil, preferably olive oil or toasted sesame oil. The secret is to add a little acid to brighten the flavor. Some cooks use a splash of Balsamic vinegar or a spritz of lemon juice. When I made roasted carrots recently, I added small whole peel-on quartered tangerines along with chopped dried unsweetened mango strips. Dried apricots are also a fine addition.
Toss the ingredients and place in a roasting pan or wrap in a foil envelope. Roast in a 400-degree oven for about 45 minutes. Take the carrots out when they start to brown and caramelize. The result is sweet soft carrots in a tasty ready-made glaze.
Make your own oat milk
At various points in the past year there’s been a dire shortage of oat milk, organic and otherwise, that’s sent consumers into a tizzy. It’s pretty easy to defeat the supply chain monster simply by making your own oat milk. It is alarmingly easy. Just add one cup of organic rolled oats (not quick oats) and four cups of ice-cold water to a blender. Blend on high for about 30 seconds. Don’t over-blend! Strain once or twice through a folded piece of tight fabric like a clean old t-shirt to remove the oat pulp. Chill and enjoy.
By the way, have you ever looked at the ingredient list on cartons of commercial oat milk? Virtually all the major oat milk brands contain an oil, like safflower oil, and salt, and many varieties include coconut milk, stabilizers, preservatives, and other flavorings.