Daily Archives: July 13, 2015

Summer in the City – Part 2 : Lancaster PA

I originally planned this series to reflect only New York City but have since changed my mind after realizing that I would be traveling to quite a few surrounding cities this summer also.  
This weekend we traveled to visit friends in Lancaster, PA.  The trip had been planned for a while and had a twofold purpose – take my son to visit Gettysburg National Park and hold an Indian food cooking lesson for my friend, H, who is a huge foodie.  Since this is a food blog, I will focus on the latter rather than provide any history lessons.
The planning started with a trip to an Indian Grocery store in Edison, NJ (I went to Patel Bros) to buy packets of all the common spices and ingredients that we would need not only for the dinner, but also for my friend’s pantry since they’re not readily available to them.  I also prepped and marinated cubes of beef round to make a vindaloo.  I opted for beef since they preferred not to have lamb which would be the normal choice of meat.  I sent my friend a list of things to get that wouldn’t travel well and we were set with a menu:
Appetizer : Maharastrian style spicy Shrimp with Puff Parathas & Papadum
Dinner : Beef Vindaloo, Sauteed Ivy Gourd (aka Tindora or Tondlee), Cucumber Raita & Basmati Rice
Dessert : Gulab Jamun (cheated on these and bought canned)
Ivy Gourd, Beef Vindaloo & Basmati Rice
We got a later than anticipated start on Friday afternoon and spent some time in traffic before arriving in Lancaster three plus hours later.  It was late but since all were in agreement we proceeded with the cooking lesson.  It was so much fun as I unpacked all the spices and explained their use over a glass of Lillium Pinot Noir.  I got started on the papadum to quiet the hungry stomachs and then continued on with the remainder of the meal.  When finished we had a delicious dinner and a lot of laughs.

The Star of the Show

Lancaster Central Market
We awoke early on Saturday and made a trip to the Lancaster Central Market which is the oldest and longest running market in the U.S.  I loved walking through the aisles drooling over all the local produce and other foods.  We made a few purchases and walked around the downtown area for a bit before returning to watch the Wimbledon match.  The remainder of the day was spent at Gettysburg National Park with my son which was a very interesting and moving experience.  If you haven’t been there recently, I highly recommend it.

Slabs of bacon at Central Market

When we returned, my friends had prepared for us a wonderful dinner of grilled bone-in pork chops (bought at the market earlier) simply seasoned with salt, pepper & Italian seasoning, asparagus sautéed with garlic, lemon zest & parmesan cheese. My student had also decided to attempt to make the shrimp appetizer learned from the evening prior which turned out equally delicious. She even elevated it a bit by using cookie cutters to make smaller parathas and placed one shrimp with a bit of sauce on each.  Tired after a long day, we all turned in early with satisfied stomachs.

It had been a memorable weekend of wonderful food shared with friends.  After another Wimbledon match on Sunday, we said our goodbyes and headed to Frenchtown, NJ for a bike ride along the Delaware-Raritan Canal Towpath to burn off some of the calories.
Here are some of the recipes we made:

Maharashtrian Style Spicy Shrimp


1 lb extra large shrimp – peeled and deveined
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp red chili powder
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup tamarind pulp (see below)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
5 or 6 kefir lime (curry) leaves – cut into strips
1 medium onion – finely chopped
½ cup diced tomatoes (recommend grape tomatoes if you can’t find ripe Romas)
Small bunch cilantro – chopped


Place shrimp in a non-reactive bowl (stainless or glass).  Add turmeric, chili powder, garlic, salt & black pepper and mix to coat evenly with all the spices.  Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Heat a skillet or fry pan over medium high heat.  While pan is heating, add 1 Tbsp of the tamarind pulp to the shrimp and stir to coat.  Once pan is hot, add the olive oil and allow to heat for a few seconds.  Once hot, use tongs to add shrimp to the pan one at a time.  Sear on each side for no more than 20 seconds, remove onto a plate and set aside.  Do this in batches if cooking more than 1 lb of shrimp so that each one touches the pan bottom.

Keeping the pan on the heat, add the canola oil and the mustard seeds.  Once the mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop, add the kefir lime leaves and quickly step back as they will splatter.  When they stop splattering, add the onion and stir fry for 1 – 2 minutes until it is soft and translucent.  Add the tomatoes and stir for another 30 seconds.  Add the remaining tamarind pulp and stir.  If the result appears too dry, you can add a bit of water one Tbsp at a time to get to a thick gravy consistency.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add the shrimp.  Cook for another 1 – 2 minutes until shrimp are cooked through.  Do not overcook as shrimp will get tough.  Garnish with cilantro.

Serve with parathas, French bread or nothing at all. We served ours with Puff Parathas that were frozen and cooked over skillet.  The brand I buy is Mirch Masala.  You can also serve this as a main course over rice.

Note: For added heat to this dish, you may add 1 or 2 finely chopped Thai green chilies with the kefir lime leaves.

Tamarind PulpDried tamarind can be bought in blocks about the size of a deck of cards.  For this recipe, I took a quarter of the block and put in a bowl of boiling hot water and let it sit for 30 – 45 minutes until very soft.  Then I passed it through a sieve/strainer to remove all the pod solids with the paste as an end result.  Leftovers can be used to marinate other meats or fish before grilling.  Tamarind is high in acid and a great tenderizer.  It flavors seafood like nothing else adding a sweet & sour punch.

Basic Cucumber Raita


1 large English cucumber – grated (I don’t peel mine)
1 garlic clove – mashed into a paste
1 Tsp salt
Pinch of sugar
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp coriander powder
1 Cup yogurt – if using Greek yogurt, you may need to thin it out with water
7 – 8 sprigs cilantro finely chopped
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and chill until ready to serve. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Beef Vindaloo

This recipe is similar to my CKP Style Lamb recipe which has been previously posted.  The only thing different is the marinade for the beef.  For 2.5 pounds of beef round cubes, I used the following proportions for the marinade:

3 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp red wine (use any leftover drinking quality wine)
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Sriracha sauce

Combine everything in a large Ziploc bag, seal and mix to coat beef thoroughly.  The rest of the recipe is the same as the lamb recipe including the garam masala which I made fresh. 

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