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Tag Archives: Queens

Tagine Dream, Halal Burger Reality

tangawi ext

Cabbie Mohammed's favorite spot for tagine turned out to be less restaurant, more sandwich counter and all men. Every one of them glanced at me with a look that suggested I was in the wrong place before shifting their attention back to plates of halal burgers and fries...

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Food of the Poets, Courtesy of Kamal

Qabeli Polo. Photo by Annie Wang

It's no surprise that Persia and Afghanistan nurtured some of the greatest poets the world has ever read. If you were exposed to ingredients like rose water, angelica powder and barberries on a regular basis, you might also be moved to pen some verse...

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Three Hungry New Yorkers Take on Tandoor

tandoor exterior

Saturday afternoon, fearless foragers Salem P. and Jenny M. met me at Tandoor, where we were looking forward to tasting the chicken tikka masala and onion naan that Kamal Aftab always gets when he goes - and to seeing whether the cabbie's recommended restaurant was actually worth a food pilgrimage...

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Tangra Masala Reloaded


Cue burning lips, watering eyes, and flaming skin. Five spoonfuls in, I noticed I was the only one in the restaurant wiping her nose. Once I got past the combusting chilies, there was garlic, cilantro, and ginger upon ginger. If an exclamation mark had a flavor, it might taste something like Manchow soup.

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Kamal’s Kabab King

Kabab King Diner, Jackson Heights, Queens

When I walked into the 24 hour Indian-Pakistani-Chinese cafeteria, the first thing I noticed was the bug zapper. A server watched me grab a seat as he sliced ginger into a metal bin. My chair rocked opposite a trash can piled with dirty dishes. It was the archetypal hole in the wall.

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To Little Egypt with the Hungry Cabbie: Part 2

Not only did Ali El Sayed grow up surrounded by great cooks…the chef from Alexandria is also cognizant of the history, the geography, and the suffering at the root of his dishes. Ali's gift goes beyond understanding the synergies of spices. His food wields ancestral force.

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Istanbul: Eduard’s Second Home Run

I could feel the heat from the döner kebab the moment I opened the door to Istanbul, the second Rego Park restaurant* that taxi driver Eduard Zavlanov recommended during our ride through Midtown Manhattan. When he’s craving Turkish food, the musician from Uzbekistan told me that this is his favorite ...

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Glorious Dumplings and Rocking Pilav, Off Bukharan Broadway

Two years ago, 30,000 food pilgrims and I invaded the town of Famaillá, in the Tucuman province of northwestern Argentina, for the National Empanada Festival. For three days, we feasted on some of the greatest empanadas in the hemisphere. Most of them were stuffed with grass-fed Argentine beef, and all ...

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Boris, Eduard and Two Kinds of Heartbreak

Two taxi rides, one Russian and one Uzbeki-Persian-Jewish cabbie added up to a couple of mind-bending stories, zero lunch, and two tantalizing restaurant recommendations. Boris – who was born in “a small town in Russia called Moscow” and used to fly planes for Aeroflot – told me that he eats ...

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Souvlaki and a Second Strike of Lightning

After five blocks in motion and 15 minutes of curbside conversation, José Pego finally decided I’d better try the lamb souvlaki at Opa! The cabbie – who emigrated to New York as a teenager, dropped out of NYU and has been driving a taxi for 32 years – was born ...

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