Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sri Lankan Matzoh Brei

I'd been wanting to try Nirvana, one of the few Sri Lankan offerings in NYC outside of Staten Island. I'd been planning to take my mom there during this visit and had been ogling the online menu. Then of course this week my first fave Sietsema from the Voice wrote a very favorable review. I love taking advice from him and have thus far really not been let down, but he could have let me try ONE place before spilling the beans to foodie New York (of course the true chowhounds had already discovered it, which is how I learned of it the first place, but I digress.)

I swallowed my pride and headed over with mi madre last night for an early dinner, and I'm glad it was, early that is, as it got pretty crowded, pretty fast. Damn Sietsema.

I'd been very excited to have the Hoppers. Big dosa like things that you eat with curry. But were told they were out (that didn't stop them from serving them to the Sri Lankan man and his family who arrived ten minutes after us, but I like to think they called ahead having predicted a sudden run on hoppers.)

So here's what we had instead:

Vadai - four savory lentil patties, served with spicy mint chutney

The verdict: my mom really dug the patties; I'm not generally that into really crunchy fried things, which these were; I like a little more chew to my fried goodness, but I did enjoy picking out some of the individual lentils; and the mint chutney was fantastic. Lord, I just love chutney.

Lamprai - savory rice with a curry (we chose lamb), sweet-spicy onion relish, fish cutlet, ash plantain and shrimp blachan (Malay paste); wrapped up in a banana leaf

The verdict: the ash plantain (we could not place what this was; it tasted like apple and looked like eggplant) and the sweet-spicy onion relish were big hits with both of us; but my mom was really put off by the fish cutlet, and she thought its flavor overpowered the rest of the dish, so she was not wild about it; I really liked the fish cutlet, but I found the lamb a bit tough. There were definitely good parts of this dish, but it did not come away the big winner.

Kottu Roti - chopped roti sauteed with vegetables and egg served with curry sauce (we had it with chicken)

The verdict: the big winner; true comfort food; who doesn't love soft flat bread sauteed with egg and chicken, with a little bit of spicy curry sauce poured on top?; it really was the Sri Lankan version of matzoh brei (with a little bit of pad thai thrown in for good measure); the roti bits were so chewy with just the right amount of greasiness; the chicken was tender; and the veggies were nicely crunchy; my mother and I could not stop eating it; I cannot wait to have this again

Greens - the menu I took home doesn't list these, and menupages is being mean to me, but these were very delicate, crisp leafy greens; with a sort of cilantro-y, lemony sauce, and some sort of cheese (?)

The verdict: delicious, refreshing, delicious

All in all, a great evening (service was a little slow and a little awkward, but not terrible). We were very full at the end and couldn't try any of the yummy sounding desserts, but I fully intend to return soon.

1 comment:

Alan Divack said...

Check out my recipe for Kottu Roti made w matza at
not hard if you can't make it to Staten Island; great post btw