New Jersey is home to the third-largest Indian population in the United States. I can’t begin to do justice to New Jersey’s best Indian food. Travel the Iselin-Edison-North Brunswick corridor, especially Oak Tree Road just off the Parkway in Edison, and you’ll find plenty of Indian restaurants, markets and sweets shops.
Like “Chinese” food, “Indian” is the catch-all American description of many distinct regional cuisines (and often the shared historical cuisines of India’s South Asian neighbors – Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). Jersey diners can easily find North Indian, Punjabi, South Indian and even Indo-Chinese food; many Indian restaurant menus feature a variety of regional dishes. Indian cuisine is known for vegetarian (Aloo Gobi, Palak Paneer) and meat dishes cooked with intense spice mixes (Masalas), flatbreads (Roti, Paratha, Naan), marinated meats grilled in the Tandoor oven, and hearty rice Biryanis. I’m a big fan of all of the above. I’m just learning the regional origin of familiar Indian menu items – Tandoor, Naan, and Lassi (Punjab); Rogan Josh (Kashmir); Pakoras (Uttar Pradesh); Dosas, Sambar, and Idli (South India); andVindaloo (Goa).
One way to tell Jersey Indian restaurants apart (ditto for Thai restaurants), is whether the spice level of dishes has been reduced for (perceived) American tastes. Compare Mehndi in Morristown with Abhiruchi in North Brunswick and you will taste the difference.
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