There was a time in the not so distant past when I declared my love of all things Swad, which appear to be the house brand at Patel's. Anything Indian you can think of, and they make it. Even though I can get fresh chiles and lotus root, I still like stocking up on their frozen their frozen versions, plus exotics like cubed ratlau (purple yam).
Clearly, I'm not the modern all-from-scratch woman. I like to cook, but on a weeknight I'm not always up for scrubbing and peeling, or more accurately sourcing ingredients on the fly. I don't even know who stocks any Indian items in Brooklyn.
I've always been fond of Swad’s 99-cent boxes (which contain pouches) of sides that knock Tasty Bite out of the water for price and variety. And that's where my love affair has turned tragic. Two weeks ago I whipped up a quick mid-week meal of madras curry chicken supplemented by a package of paneer makhani around 9pm. It all tasted fine. About four hours later, just around 1am, I was hit with sharp and sudden stomach pains, no gentle nausea or indigestion. I was violently puking within minutes. Urgh. I blamed the frozen chicken breasts and wondered if I should start shunning grocery store meat, after all. The inexplicable thing was that James ate the exact dinner and he was fine. The only thing I ate that he didn’t was a mango (fresh, thank you) that had been sitting on the counter for a week. A reluctant fruit eater, I wanted to blame the mango for my distress.
Then last night it happened again. We had leftover lamb chops and I thought they would go well with peas but being too lazy to track down fresh peas (yes, even though they are in season) I grabbed a box of methai mutter malai from downstairs. Indian peas with fenugreek in minutes. James questioned my use of readymade food after the last incident but I figured that was a fluke. After my first bite, I became hesitant even though the puree didn’t taste off, and only ate two more spoonfuls.
This time I was puking by 12:45am. And yet again, James wasn't sick. What is up with you, Swad?! Is this tough love pushing me to the greenmarket? I'd go if I could walk to one. That little sad one on Carroll Street has done nothing to motivate me and Grand Army Plaza isn't where I want to be on the weekend, it's all handholders and zombie pregnant women with cups of gelato sauntering in front of your car during green lights and giving you the evil eye if you act as if you'd, you know, like to Drive when you're legally allowed to do so.
It's not just me, car-owning friends who moved from Oakland to Greenpoint who I think are returning to Oakland, were all what the hell is wrong with pedestrians here? They guessed that the problems stem from the city being a non-driving majority who don’t understand what it’s like to behind the wheel (I’m way too jumpy to drive in the city). That's the nice theory. You could also argue that people in New York are just self-absorbed to the point that they think cars should stop for them. Me, I'm a namby-pamby rule follower both ways because people drive like assholes in Brooklyn and I don’t want to get smooshed. Common sense would dictate that if you have a Don't Walk sign yet continue walking without looking, you might just get flattened.
Jeez, now oblivious, selfish Brooklynites have distracted me from the matter at hand–my poisonous stash of packaged Indian food! I think I’ll lay off the Swad for a while, it's making me delusional.