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New India Sweets & Spices ~ Mid-City

12:52 AM PDT on June 9, 2006

Indian Sweets and Spices

New India Sweets and Spices ~ 1245 Fairfax Los Angeles 90035 @ Packard

Although I am a Southern Californian son, I did an 8-year tour of duty in New York City and an equally long tour-of-duty in a relationship with an Indian princess. I grew to love homemade Indian food as served in the Punjabi taxi cab eateries where mustachioed, broad-shouldered Northern Indians devoured their curries before hopping into their yellow chariots for 12-hour shifts of drunkards and agitated cheapskates. The girl's mother, a sweet Bangalorean with a love marriage to a wonderful Punjabi, was unequaled in her preparation of dishes from both ends of the subcontinent, be it a crisp dosa from the south, bhel puri from Bombay and a host of tandoors, naans, and rotis from up north.

However, I have been unimpressed by my forays into Los Angeles Indian food. The highly recommmended Gujarthi curries at Jay Bharat on Artesia, I found near disgusting, while Indian restaurants from San Vicente West to Fairfax to borders East have turned me off at best, made me sick at worst. I was feeling Electric Lotus in Los Feliz, but my Desi friends say they refuse to touch it. Pasadena's Sitar was quite excellent hosting a recent Mendhi ceremony I attended. But sill, my search continues...

Chana & Tikka Masala

Little did I know, there was a tiny storefront behind my temporary sublet, New India Sweets and Spices serving up the kind of no frills Indian curries my palate desires. New India resembles a tinier version of Atwater's India Sweets and Spices, though I have no clue of any relations. New India is not fancy, basically a small market of pre-packaged Indian spices and boxed meals, decorations and mammoth bags of basmati and lentils, Bollywood DVDs and Bhangra CDs, Sikh shrines and a display of fresh sweets up the sari... (Continued below)
Counter Sweets and SpicesIndian Sweets SignStore OffersSweetsMore sweets yaarJalebiSamosas

But the food is rich with the flavors of India, almost delicate in its preparation, nothing fancy but totally delicious. Sitting in a square, steel pots under a weak heatlamp are typically 6-7 daily made curries, looking not necessarily appetizing, with chana (chickpeas) on hand and a plethora of samosas segregating the vegetarian from the chicken curries.

The chicken tikka masala is the most beautiful color I've ever encountered, a deep brick-red color that resembles the festive pastel paint throw at revelers at the Hindu celebration of Holi. It is as delicious as it is stunning in looks; a deep, soothing almost smoky cream of tomato and possibly more tropical flavors, with big chunks of tender chicken swimming underneath.

The chana tastes like India itself to me, a generously spiced, wet broth that is not watery but a thin cardamom-heavy soup, with the delicate, supple and soaked pods bursting flavorfully in the mouth. Garlic naan is coated in finely chopped garlic cuts and a light layer of oil, perfect to make the basmati and curry stick in a tasty mash of Indian delight.

Samosas are acceptable but not phenomenal. Everything goes great with a sweet, hot chai, although sometimes it can take a moment to arrive. The sweets, if the different tastes of Indian sweets appeal to you, are excellent with an assortment of colorful ladoos, gulab jamun, barfi, and jalebis, among other less recognizable desserts.

It's possible that New India has just about everything a displaced Desi or an Indo-phile might be looking for in Los Angeles, edible and decorative, sweet or homey. It's not the overpriced standard of Gaylord's or the funky creativity of Electric Lotus, but it is solid and a new staple of my Indian starved diet, entirely possible for a full meal under $6, yaar!

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