Fire in the Hole: Tandoor Nights at Chutney Masala
Think of a jet engine, where air intake is transformed by combustion and then blasted out the back of a cylinder, powering a heavy hunk of machinery through the clouds. Or a chimney-style grill starter that sucks cool air up from the bottom, and, with the meager fuel of three pages of newspaper, fires a heap of coals until they glow cherry red. This is the essence of a tandoor oven, where scant fuel and controlled air intake fire an amphora-shaped clay oven until it reaches temperatures over 700°F.
Chef Navjot Arora of Irvington’s Chutney Masala is demonstrating tandoor cookery on Thursday evenings outside his restaurant on the Irvington riverfront. This is a unique opportunity for foodies who may be curious about the details of tandoor cooking, a mysterious process that usually occurs behind kitchen doors. You’ll see the little pillow that Chef Arora uses to slap naan dough onto the clay walls of the tandoor—and you’ll see that his right arm is a few shades darker than his left from reaching into the blast. (Tandoor cooking is like extreme food-handling—you don’t see a lot of hair on the arms of tandoor cooks.) I may be oven-obsessed, but I find it fascinating to see Arora wield his array of long, evil-looking hooks and spatulas.
Unlike the gas-fired tandoor in Chutney Masala’s kitchen, Chef Arora’s portable, outdoor tandoor is fired with natural charcoal. That means that the breads and meats that emerge from this oven are faintly scented of woodsmoke, giving this tandoor experience the rustic taste of a roadside Indian dhaba. Then, of course, there are fabulous Hudson views, and great big bottles of Indian beer. Check out this slideshow that we made of a recent visit. We can’t wait until we go again:
Dealsville, Baby, if You Can Stand the Heat
Summer doldrums mean that the dining deals keep coming. Check out these great dining bargains—if you can creep from house AC to car AC, that is.
“Steal Peter Kelly’s Steak Sunday Nights” at Restaurant X and Bully Boy Bar (Sundays Nights, $75 for two plus tax and tip)
Can you tell by this event’s name that Kelly’s not happy about this? Chef Peter Kelly is offering a bargain deal on the same dino-sized cowboy rib-eye that shamed Bobby Flay down to his freckles. This deal slings a fab three-course menu with partnering wine centered around Kelly’s grilled cowboy rib-eye for two—a 40-ounce behemoth of aged beef with a cayenne & brown sugar crust and sauce Bearnaise, all for $75 (that’s $37.50 each if you go Dutch, plus tax and generous tip, of course).
Weekday Wine Social at Espana (Sundays through Thursdays)
Ever notice how nice Spanish people are? They’re just warm and pleasant— I’ve always attributed it to the wine. Check it out for yourself with Espana’s cool wine deal: 50 percent off select wines http://www.espanatapas.com/Espana_Website/Wine_Social.html, or a buzz for a bargain.
Organic and â€¨Biodynamic Wine Dinner at Le Chateau (â€¨July 29, 7pm â€¨$95) â€¨Five courses, great biodynamic wine pairings from Chateau-de-la-Selve, incredible architecture and gorgeous gardens. Just try getting that for $95. Or, check out the great summer prix-fixe at Le Chateau—$45 midweek, and $49 on Friday and Saturday. Show up early for a cocktail in the garden, and the second one is offered at half price. Yes, please.
“Summer Stimulus” at Bistro 22
One person eats free for every foursome
BYOB with no corkage fee.
Sadly, these offers cannot be combined, and Bistro 22 frowns on blow-up-doll fourth diners. Dammit. There goes that plan.
Tarry Tavern is Open!
Jeez, we can’t catch a breath with all the big restaurant openings lately. The newest to fling open its doors is Tarrytown’s Tarry Tavern—a long-awaited locavorian going into the Main Street spot vacated by Lago di Como. Ex-Jean-Georges and ex-Per Se Chef Gregory Vernick is manning the pans, and, obviously, we’ll be checking in shortly.
Day Boat Cafe Landing a Celeb Chef?
In one of those irritatingly unjuicy chef-o-ramas, Day Boat Cafe partners Gus Panopoulos and John Durkin admit to taking on a third party in their successful venture. (Durkin himself had been overseeing the kitchen.) Problem is, this new celeb chef’s “big PR machine” is preventing Panopoulos from announcing the name, though I wheedled and flirted and teased and chided. Folks, I feel dirty, and I still didn’t get the name. Panopoulos did allow that the new chef had been on Iron Chef twice, was a newer name in Manhattan restaurants, and was attracted to Day Boat Cafe for its plans for expansion into both urban and suburban markets. Panopoulos will announce the name shortly— as soon as that “big PR machine” gets in gear.
The Dolphin Makes a Splash with Spicy Wasabi Tuna
Look out Harvest, look out Red Hat: at the Dolphin, size definitely matters. The newest mega restaurant to hit the Hudson banks is a roomy, 7,000-square-foot joint taking over from Pier View in Yonkers. It offers 170 seats inside and another hundred or so on a riverfront patio. Expect carefully tended wines and a seafaring menu, with dishes like this â€¨pan-seared yellow fin sliced over ginger sesame slaw and slashed with wasabi vinaigrette.
The Big Pig Dig
Yeah, baby—check out this Times slideshow. We’re talking men in plaid shorts digging a hole and roasting a pig. Look at them, all sweaty and dirty, getting their retro glasses all covered with pig fat. For me, all this thing needs is the wah-wah pedal of cheap porn.