Parivar, Albany, NY
As far as I’m concerned, a dining experience is what you make of it. It doesn’t have to be a shirt and tie affair with linens and fine China all the time. Actually, it really doesn’t ever need to be like that, but you do what you wish.
Hey, food trucks are making it big nowadays, so I really don’t care what you think.
Parivar Spices and Food, located at 1275 Central Ave in Albany, NY, is a grocery store with a small kitchen in the back. There are a couple of small tables where you can enjoy your food or you can take it to go. I recently stopped in for a few ingredients and decided to have a snack. It turns out, that snack was a whole meal.
After I gathered the ingredients I needed from the dry part of the store, I made my way to the back and inspected the prepared items in the case. Everything looked amazing. I then complicated matters even further by reading the menu. This was a day that I didn’t want to overdo the carbs, so I decided to go with samosa chaat. The dish is classically deep fried chickpea and potato dumplings covered in a chick pea masala (stew) and various chutneys and raita (yogurt). That’s exactly what this was.
So was I!
This looked nothing like I expected it to. I though to myself, “what is that? Ramen Noodles???!!”
I dug in and finally saw what looked like what I expected to see.
What is complicated about a dish like this is that there are so many components, each comprised from so many ingredients, that everything could muddle together. This was the first time I’ve ever experienced this dish where that did not happen. I could distinguish every component.
The chana masala (chick pea stew) was extremely fresh and deep in flavor. The chick peas were not over cooked and had an appreciable crunch; the earthy seasonings, especially coriander, really brought the flavor of the chick pea out. When submerged in this stew, the samosa, which normally has a very thick crispy exterior, starts to absorb the liquids from the stew; this leads to a contrast in textures that adds a complexity to what you’re tasting. Sure, let it sit around, and you’ll have a soggy mess. That’s why they have tables there.
Anyway, the chutneys were spot on. The tamarind chutney was sweet and tart just as you’d expect. The mint chutney was nice and spicy. The raita brought a creaminess to the dish that really helped to homogenize the texture of the chick peas.
Ohh. Yeah. Those ramen noodle looking things. I really had no experience with that stuff, so I walked around the store after I ate. I found it in the store. That stuff is called sev and is a chick pea chip or something. A young lady I work with explained this as the “potato chip of India.” Actually, that’s what I named it after she described how they make it to me. It’s basically a deep fried chick pea mixture that is sold in various forms and is eaten as a snack food.
In this particular application, it is added as a crunchy textural counterpoint. Classically, the dish doesn’t need it, but I gotta say, it really did make this dish stand out among all of the other samosa chaat I’ve ever eaten.
And making a customer remember something is a very valuable thing.