Sunday, January 20, 2008
Deshi Biryani: Jackson Heights Excursion I
I will state it now: I am glad that there is a Dunkin' Donuts next door to Deshi Biryani (75-18 37th Ave, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 telephone 718-803-6232). Not because the food was bad; in fact it was excellent. It was more to placate the children, who, having got in their mind that the Indian food was "too spicy" (even when what was made for them really wasn't), they proceeded not to eat too much of it. I also found out they sell something called and M and M's donut: the product name speaks for itself.
Back to the Biryani. Robin had suggested an out of Borough experience, and I wanted a change from Chinese. I remembered going to the Jackson Diner some years ago with friends (one of who collapsed from trying to eat the little pepper condiments on the table) and figured we could try something else. A quick perusal through Chowhound, a telephone call, and we were ready to go. If you have a car, getting to Jackson Heights from Manhattan is pretty easy, and if you don't you can take the R train to Roosevelt Avenue.
The restaurant is small by Queens standards, and sort of reminds me of a roomy 6th Street place done up in white and cream. And despite what the children thought, the food is quite good. Since they didn't touch most of theirs, we got to!
Deshi Biryani focuses on food from Bengal. In fact, not eating the biryani here would be a huge mistake, as it was a fluffy, flavorful proof that rice, shortening and spices can be pretty awesome before it gives you triple vessel heart disease. Tandoori chicken was moist and flavorful. None of the other tandoori dishes were as good (we tried the mixed grill), so I would stick with the chicken for this dish. Saag was good, but there are better dishes if you are not spinach crazy. A tomato based chicken curry dish was excellent, and chicken Bhuna was extremely good, as well. The appetizers, which usually taste like glop, all had distinct flavors and were well prepared. My surprise favorite was the "chicken lollypop," which were mildly spiced and well fried chicken wings. We bought them for the donut dreaming children but pretty much ended up eating them ourselves. The samosas, usually something I dislike, were also quite good.
For those of us used to getting nickled and dimed in Manhattan, it is a joy to know that the nan and raita are included in many of the dishes. The restaurant also has a liquor license.
There is now yet another reason to get out of Manhattan: Deshi Biryani.