The Ganesh Temple of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, known by its devotees as Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam, is a cultural and spiritual center for Hindus residing in Queens and beyond. Thanks to a canteen serving some of the best South Indian vegetarian fare in New York City the temple is also a destination for culinary pilgrims. That’s why my pals from Queens Dinner Club and I chose it for this month’s feast. To score a ticket to this culinary passage to South India please click here.
Before heading to the Canteen to dine we’ll be given a tour of the Temple where we’ll learn about the elephant-headed deva Ganesh and the other gods. Then we’ll head around the corner to Canteen where the chefs have rolled out a special menu for us, including Keralan and Adrahan specialties from the catering menu. Normally to eat these dishes you’d have to be a guest at an Indian wedding.
As for why the Temple Canteen’s offerings are so tasty Dr. Uma Mysorekar, director of the Hindu Temple Society of North America says it has everything to do with the fact that it is consecrated food. “It is a feeling within that you are getting a blessed food instead of running to a restaurant where you might find the same food,” she said, “but a restaurant is a restaurant, but this being the location of a temple everybody has the good feeling, that’s why things taste so good.”
Check out the evening’s full menu!
A Passage to South India
Crispy onion fritters
Keralan plantain and chickpea curry
Spicy Andhran eggplant
Rice and lentils with mixed vegetables
Rice and yogurt seasoned with ginger and chilies
The classic Indian citrus-chili condiment
Crispy rice and lentil flour crepe served
with vegetable samber and coconut chutney
Dosa filled with potatoes
and special masala seasoning
Onion chili uttapam
Spicy onion pancake with samber and coconut chutney
Keralan rice and cardamom pudding
India’s bright orange answer to funnel cake
Ganesh’s favorite sweet scented with cardamom and cloves
Coffee and tea