Hi there! Newcomer here. I used to be an enthusiastic Chowhound up until a few years ago. I haven’t found a new home yet for great food discussions. Maybe this is it??
I’m Indian (you could guess from my name, no doubt) and my favorite sweet is gulab jamun. The best jamun IMO is buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, and the syrup has the delicious hit of cardamom. The Delhi Palace sweet shop in Jackson Heights used to have the perfect jamun. Alas, the shop is now gone (hello Patel Brothers!).
I try gulab jamun in just about every Indian restaurant and sweet shop I visit in NYC and northern NJ but have never found one quite as good as Delhi Palace. So, any ideas? Where does one go for a gulab jamun fix in NYC?
I’ll admit that I’m mostly sorely disappointed by gulab jamun in nyc - they are either too soft, too sweet, or both.
That said, for sweets in Queens I like Maharaja - but only around Diwali, so you’re in luck - just a couple of weeks to go. Their sweets are particularly fresh and India-like then. The rest of the year I skip it.
Rajbhog - diagonally across - is also good, but it depends on freshness. The owner (his son actually these days) is usually there, and quite honest if you ask him what’s fresh. Added benefit of fresh chaat and Gujarati farsan (snacks).
Further out in Queens are Real Usha and Usha (good backstory there) - they are Gujarati sweet and snack caterers with storefronts, and tend to do better than most mithai available elsewhere. But I actually preferred Maharaja’s Diwali stock to theirs (including when they special-order catered a wedding, so the sweets were made-to-order).
You might have some luck - courtesy corona - getting direct/overnight delivery from other places, maybe Edison or Iselin or Jersey city. Sukhadia used to be good, but I haven’t eaten their stuff since they closed their Manhattan shop.
Though as I’ve said on other threads here, I don’t enjoy the indian food in NJ, never mind sweets, because it’s adapted to palates that moved here in the 60s and 70s (and I still want the real thing).
I found this comment very interesting. I grew up upstate NY in a fairly homogenous environment and don’t think I ever had Indian food until I was adult - mid 80’s at the earliest. At that time I was living in NJ so my total frame of reference for Indian food is NJ. How would you describe the differences between what’s available here versus India? Are there any places that are closer to India than others that you’d recommend? I love Indian food and am always looking to expand my palate.
This is sadly the direction gulab jamun have been headed for a couple decades now. I think it’s the use of milk powder instead of khoya. As for flavor, hardly anyone uses gulab flavor in their gulab jamun, but I digress. Sorry @BiryaniAnytime, I don’t have anything useful to add. Just wanted to rant.
I probably shouldn’t have painted with such broad strokes, lol.
I don’t know where you live or what you enjoy in the wide range of what indian food comprises, but there’s very good food to be had in queens - mostly at divey places (I’m thinking of kababs and things, several of them pakistani and bangladeshi that I’m sweeping back into the food fold). In Manhattan, my favorite divey places have declined but there are good mid and high end places.
That’s not to say I don’t eat indian food all over the place and that it doesn’t scratch the itch - naan dipped in bright orange sauce is exactly what one wants sometimes .
Not much Indian food of any variety close to me, I live on the Jersey Shore. If we are staying local we go to a place that Mr Bean’s business partner recommends. She emigrated from India in the last 10-15 years. I don’t know enough about the food to know if it is truly “good” or just the best around but we like it.
Otherwise we used to travel to Edison on a fairly regular basis to shop and eat. We had a couple of favorite places but would also try random new places on a whim. We are pretty adventurous and are willing to try just about anything. Back in the day we’d make a road trip to Queens but now we are fairly strict in our dealings with the world.
Lately I’ve been cooking more Indian at home. Are there any particular dishes you recommend I try making which lean more toward the styles your are referring to?
Hi there! Thanks for this. I am actually going to try Maharaja today so will report back on how that goes. I’m planning to get gulab jamun, milk cake, and mysore pak - the three sweets, IMO, that are a litmus test for how fresh and good a sweet shop is.
If anyone is out in Hicksville, Long Island and is having a craving, I recommend Bengali sweet shop for milk cake. I find most of their other sweets to be too sweet (even by Indian sweet standards).
I’ve been to Usha many times and I find it a good place for savory snacks but I don’t love the Gujurati style of curries. Basically, my experience of Indian food in NY is that there is no one place that has the best of many things. You have to search for each item and will find some good options. Then, just have to hope that the place sticks around.
Look forward to sharing and hearing more food-lover thoughts on the other threads.
Hey MsBean, what’s the local place you like? Just asking since I spent a good amount of time down by the shore this past summer.
I don’t make it down to NJ for Indian food very often (although, I always intend to). I did recently try Bawarchi Biryani on Oak Tree Road. Overall, I did like it a lot. My experience started with ordering over the phone and quickly learning that the owner speaks Telugu (definitely a mark in the authentic column). I had the chicken biryani and the goat biryani - both were quite good and better than any other I’ve had in NYC. So, if you’re Edison, I suggest giving this place a try. Let me know what you think if you do!
Our favorite is Haldi Chowk, in Middletown. It’s still about a 1/5 hour ride as we are on the southern tip of Monmouth county. But as I mentioned, Mr Bean’s partner recommended it. She is Muslim if that provides any insight into what she may consider acceptable.
We do travel to Edison. It used to be fairly often. Our regulars are Swagath Gourmet, Dakshin Express, Eggmania, and Rasoi II. We tend to hit these up most often as we know we like them but are very open to trying new places. I’m adding Bawarchi Biryani to my list. I should be heading up in the near future to do some grocery shopping.
Goat and Biryani are probably 2 of Mr Bean’s favorite words.
Hmm. Giving the varying provenances of those three, I’d be surprised if anywhere gets them all right.
I find Maharaja’s offerings vastly improved in quality the week of Diwali, fwiw. And then even my provenance comment doesn’t apply - they have good Bengali sweets, kaku katli, and the usual barfis, all much better than I’ve had anywhere else the rest of the year (though tbh I skip barfi etc given repeated disappointment, and make my own kalakand now).