Parantha 3DPosted: April 6, 2012
Attention, foodies in the New York City area.
Smorgasburg, the food market put on by Brooklyn Flea, opens tomorrow, Saturday, April 7, after a winter hiatus. It runs rain or shine from 11am-6pm at the East River Waterfront between North 6th and 7th. They have several new vendors this year, including one Parantha Alley.
Parantha Alley is run by Rajeev Yerneni and Retu Singla, parents of a student at my school. Neither Rajeev nor Retu are restauranteurs by trade, but as food truck aficionados, they had decided to try their hand at the food vendor business and were pleasantly surprised when they were accepted by Smorgasburg after a competitive admissions process.
This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of participating in a tasting session for Parantha Alley in anticipation of this weekend’s debut. It was a brisk twilit evening in Sunset Park. The air hummed with excitement and nervous energy. I stood in Rajeev and Retu’s backyard, chatting with the other attendees and shivering in the schizophrenic spring weather. My stomach rumbled.
Then came the paranthas.
A parantha is a round Indian flat-bread kneaded with various stuffing then fried on a grill. They look like a cross between rotis and scallion pancakes. There were four to choose from: a plain parantha with cheese for the “unadventurous”; a parantha stuffed with potatoes; a parantha made with chicken; and a dessert parantha.
I decided to split one with a coworker and her husband. The plain parantha came off the grill pretty hot, but my hunger and the cold overrode my sense of self-preservation, and I risked burnt fingers and tongue and took a bite. It was delicious. The cheese was subtle, and the parantha was crispy but chewy. I quickly found my way back in line for a piece I wouldn’t have to share.
I tried the other three (yes, including the chicken); the other two savory paranthas were as tasty as the first. I found the dessert parantha a tad too sweet, although my companions claimed that one as their favorite. In any event, I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow afternoon, and which line I’ll be in.
So if you’re hungry on a Saturday afternoon this summer, make your way to Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. Amidst the throng of hipsters and yuppies, look for the bright outgoing Indian boy giving out parantha samples. Make sure you’re holding a five-dollar bill. You won’t be disappointed.
Paranthas will be sold at Smorgasburg two for $5, served with a yogurt and cucumber sauce and pickled fruit. Tea and some snacks will also be available.