Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most festive times for Hindus in and around Flushing. During the nine-day birthday party for the elephant-headed god, Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam (aka the Ganesh Temple) on Bowne Street is a hive of activity. Ganesh Chaturthi always concludes with the Grand Ratha Yatrã, a parade through the streets of Flushing.
This year the parade was held on Sunday, Sept. 20, but I wasn’t able to make it. I did however have the good fortune to hang out with James Boo of 1 Minute Meal Films a few days before while he filmed modaka archana, the making and offering of the sweet modaka.The coconut-filled treat is renowned as Ganesh’s favorite food, so much that one of his many names is modakapriya.(more…)
The canteen located in the basement of the Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam, more commonly known as the Ganesh Temple, is one of my favorite non-Chinese haunts in Flushing. I’m especially fond of turning tour groups on to the 2-foot long paper dosa. In addition to many varieties of the rice and lentil crepes there is an abbreviated selection of snacks and sweets. The other day I tried a ladoo. Slightly smaller than a handball the golden hued treat is made from chickpea flour, and is the elephant-headed god’s favorite mithai.(more…)
The most delightful Middle Eastern sweetmeats in Rego Park, Queens.
“That’s Turkish delight,” the gentleman behind the counter at Queens Bazaar Foods told me and my tour group as I held up a box filled with amber colored disks and chunks rolled in pistachio. “Lokum, apricot and pistachio,” he said by way of further explanation.
It was my first time hearing the word lokum. I’d ever seen the confection looking quite like this. I am more accustomed to the gelatinous cubes dusted in white powder. Lebanese lokum is a world apart from those. It puts the delight in Turkish delight. When we left the shop my tour guests and I noshed on a few bites. Everyone agreed the chewy morsels flavored with pistachio, apricot, and rosewater were amazing. We only ate a little bit as we’d just taken down a gigantic xachapuri at Marani. I stashed the rest away, with the plan of writing about the best Lebanese sweets in Rego Park. (more…)
A small army of mithai awaits hungry Diwali revelers at Maharajah Sweets.
If you have never experienced the pre-Diwali rush in New York’s South Asian sweets shops, you have two more days to partake of mountains of sugary, nutty, dairy-rich mithai (sweets, in Hindi).
In North India, Diwali (aka, the Hindu “festival of lights”) is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil in the Ramayan, a famous Hindu epic. Families gather to share special meals, clay lamps (diyas in Hindi) and firecrackers are ablaze everywhere, and countless boxes of sweets are exchanged. (more…)
Eating at Real Usha Sweets and Snacks is out of the question. There are no tables in this tiny Indian snacks and sweets shop in Floral Park. There’s barely enough room for more than a few people to squeeze in around the ordering counter.
But there are many good reasons to brave the cozy, rustic conditions at Real Usha (not to be confused with the larger, sleeker Usha Foodsdown the street)—chief among them: khaman dhokla ($3.50/pound). A beloved Gujarati snack, these savory “cakes” are made with ground and fermented chana daal (i.e., lentils made from de-skinned black chickpeas). After a day-long fermentation, the ground lentils are seasoned lightly with salt, sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch of turmeric; then steamed. (more…)