Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vegetables Beat the Meat at Hyderabadi Kabab Joint

The chicken kababs, fresh off the grill, a buck apiece at Deccan Kabab, a small Hyderabadi fast food joint in Jackson Heights, were spicy, tender and tasty, but the chopped beef kabab (Hyderabadi cuisine is, generally, Muslim rather than Hindu) was rather dry and quite rubbery.

The chicken biryani was respectable but not exceptional. The two vegetable dishes we ordered, though, were indeed exceptional, surprisingly so at a place whose name cries out "Meat!"

Bhagaray baingan is an eggplant dish with a peanut-tamarind sauce that is one of Hyderabad's great contributions to Indian vegetarian cooking. I had previously tried it at Sukhadia's, which makes a respectable and very rich version, but Deccan Kabab's take on the dish, which tasted like it included pickle spices, was superior.

Deccan's version of palak paneer was different than any I'd had before. The spinach was whole leaf rather than chopped, and the preparation (outside of the paneer, of course) did not include dairy (well, maybe some ghee; I'm not sure); I'm not partial to the creamed spinach approach to palak (or saag) paneer. The sauteed onions were a satisfying twist, and the spinach itself was darker than usual, with a deep, slightly charred flavor, as if the spinach had been somehow roasted before being sauteed.

Deccan Kabab
74-06 37th Rd. (near 74th Street)
Jackson Heights


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