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Archive for February, 2009

Spice Corner – Yum!

           When Jill and I lived in San Francisco, we became addicted to Indian food.  Our friend John lived around the corner from us there, and he soon became hooked as well.  There was a place called ‘Naan and Curry’ near us that we probably went to an average of three times a week.  It was cheap, delicious and had hearty portions. 

            John has since moved back to Vineland, and we’ve all been hankering for some good Indian food.  Jill and I have only had it a few times since we left the west coast, and each experience has been good, but not particularly memorable.  Recently, John began asking the folks at Dunkin’ Donuts where to get great Indian food nearby.  They all said that Voorhees was the place to go, but no one could remember the name of the place.  A quick google search turned up two places… what appeared to be a yuppie Indian place, and a hole-in-the-wall Indian place.  We opted for the hole in the wall.

            With directions printed, the three of us set off after work one night last week.  About an hour later, we found Spice Corner at the end of a small strip mall on Burnt Mill Road.  The first thing we noticed when we walked in was how small it appeared! The surprise of the petite size of the restaurant quickly evaporated, though, in an aromatic whiff of Indian spices and smoky naan bread.

            When going to an unfamiliar restaurant, I usually ask what the specialty of the house is.  This time was no exception.  The woman at the counter, the owner, said that everything was good, so I told her about our past Indian experiences and what we used to eat… chana masala (chickpeas), daal (yellow lentils), chicken tikka masala (chicken in a creamy tomato sauce).  She pointed out the equivalent dishes, so I ordered the ‘chatpate chole’ (their version of chana masala), and the chicken tikka masala.  She strongly suggested that we order a house specialty, the NavRatan Shahi Korma (nine veggies cooked in an almond coconut sauce).  I saw they had samosas (a favorite of mine which Naan and Curry didn’t have), which are crispy savory pastries filled with potatoes, peas, and spices, so I got one for each of us.  I also ordered three naan, one with garlic on top.  Jill piped up, and made sure we got three cups of masala chai, the original chai latte, before they started showing up in every green apron coffee shop. 

            With the order in place, we sat at one of the tables and chatted until the samosas arrived.  While we waited, we noticed that every person and couple that entered the restaurant appeared to be Indian (or at least southeast Asian… they could have been Pakistani or Bangladeshi).  John pointed out that that was a good sign… any ethnic restaurant with customers of that ethnicity is a sure bet that the food is at least authentic.

            The samosas arrived shortly, fist-sized golden brown, blistered dough wrapped around a delicious potato and pea filling.  They were very hot, but we were able to cool them with two dipping sauces that arrived on the plate… a creamy cilantro/mint sauce, and a sweet tamarind sauce.  We devoured the three savory pastries in no time, and at only $.85 apiece, it’s quite possibly the best deal in all of south Jersey.

            The samosa plate was cleared to make room for the entrée dishes, but not without me grabbing the two dipping sauces to use on the other food.  The three entrée dishes soon arrived in plastic pint containers, which seemed unusual, but was actually quite practical because it made packing up leftovers a breeze (it also made me realize that they must do a majority of takeout business).  The chicken tikka masala was phenomenal, even better than Naan and Curry.  It was a comical shade of orange/pink, the texture was creamy but light, and the flavor was intense and oh-so-good! The roasted chicken pieces in the sauce were tender and moist, and we really liked this dish.  The veggies cooked in the almond sauce were, again, very flavorful and fairly light.  Neither of these dishes was spicy, although we were asked when we ordered what level of spiciness we’d like.  The chickpea dish was great as well, and we really enjoyed each them all.  Each came with rice, and along with the naan, they both provided a good starchy base for each entrée.

            The naan!  I almost forgot the mention how good it was.  Flat pancakes of soft yeasty bread, baked at a high temperature and spiked with smoky undertones.  I usually judge an Indian place by how good the naan is, and if that’s the test, then Spice Corner passed with flying colors.

            We were so full, almost painfully so, since it has been so long since the three of us had a good Indian feast.  We sipped our sweet, slightly spiced, milky chai teas and digested for a little while.  Before we left, I spoke with the owner about opening a restaurant in downtown Vineland.  I told her about our food-based revitalization efforts, and ensured her that she’s already got three loyal customers!

            Visit Spice Corner at 217 S. Burnt Mill Road #B, Voorhees NJ 08043 or online at http://www.spicecornerfoods.com

 

Jill waits for the food.

Jill waits for the food.

The samosas... tasty and only $.85 each!

The samosas... tasty and only $.85 each!

 

The naan and other good stuff... excellent.

The naan and other good stuff... excellent.

 

All that remains...

All that remains...

 

 

Not the greatest picture of the owner, Sumedha, but she was very friendly.

Not the greatest picture of the owner, Sumedha, but she was very friendly.

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I spoke via e-mail with my Aunt Becky.  She told me that there would be 300+ people attending the wedding… no small cake then!  This is certainly going to be a challenge.  I’m sure it will be a learning experience though, no matter what happens.

Not to freak you out Katie, if you’re reading this, but we had our first real cake disaster this weekend.  We attempted to make a Vince Lombardi trophy for a Super Bowl party, and it totally collapsed on the ride to the party after they picked it up.  Rats.  

Lessons learned:

-Make cakes more structurally sound.

-Insist (or demand) that we deliver non-standard cakes.

-Get boxes or something, people love to see their cakes IN something.

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