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Jackson Diner

This is one of those "they used to be good" places. But I wouldn't know that
first hand, as this was my first experience and I must confess
little-to-average knowledge of Indian cuisine. I'm not fussy about it, don't
know the nuances between regional styles and can't detect if Bangladeshis
are manning the kitchens, creating an inauthentic version. So, it was fine.
We tried typical fare like a mixed tandoori grill and lamb vindaloo. The
chutneys were much fresher and spicy than I was used to, the garlic naan was
top notch and the coconut-crusted chicken cutlets with mango chutney were a
nice break from pakoras and samosas. (7/6/02)

Due to off timing, I never seem to be able to take advantage of lunch
buffets. I'm sure that's for the best. But we got our act together this
Saturday and opted for the biggie, Jackson Diner, though there are probably
better choices. Crowded doesn't necessarily equal quality. And yes, it was
packed. There was a line just to get plates and start in.

This buffet had a little flair due to the cooked on demand dosa station, but
a majority of the set up was steam table style. Another table was filled
with condiments, little round chickpea fritters and a giant bowl of what
looked like square fried wontons. Choices included tandoori chicken, basmati
rice, naan, chicken curry, goat curry, a shrimp curry (yes, I'm using curry
generically–I'm unsure of the nuances) with whole hard boiled eggs (I'm
still not down with the Asian fascination with hard boiled eggs). There were
also vegetable dishes like palak paneer, a mixed curry, daal, and something
I'd never seen before, kadi pakora, which was the only dish that made me
kind of think.

The pale yellow color, sour and slightly sharp flavor and mystery main
ingredient reminded me of jackfruit curry I became enamored with a New Asha. As it turns
out the base is yogurt sauce and the pakora is well, a pakora, but chopped
up and mixed in. I had no idea. Kadi pakora is akin to samosa chat, which
is another confusing crisp/smooth mix that's way beyond fritters and dip,
but too thick to be a soup. I tend not to think of curries as yogurt based
because I have a S.E. Asian culinary bias (and a yogurt bias on top of that.
I often buy some little containers for lunch and they end up going bad in
the refrigerator because I never eat them), but that's really what this dish

What a crazy thing. I'm trying to think of an equivalent, it's not like
dumplings in soup because those are doughy and this is crispy fried. It's
more like Chinese crullers going with congee, but both of those components
are kind of bland and these are contrary. Maybe the smooth/crunch contrast
is the appeal of kadi pakora. Or maybe I just like anything fried and fatty,
which I imagine this must be. (11/5/05)

Jackson Diner * 37-47 74th St., Jackson Heights, NewYork

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