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NJ eats

The Choi’s Do Indian!

Remember the post I wrote about Mark’s OohLaLa Yum a month back? You know, the little hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant in Norwood, an unexpected jewel of deliciousness in the Northern Valley that I took my mom to. Well, since my mom loved it so much, we decided to go there again last night. Except this time around, we took the whole family along. DSC_3661

When you discover a place this good, you can’t keep it to yourself – you just have to share the deliciousness! So our motley crew of adventurous eaters headed over to Mark’s for Sunday night dinner. We came later during the evening, so there was just one other family sitting in the small restaurant. But Ashwani was still cooking away in the kitchen, adding a pinch of that and a handful of this in different pans.

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His wife Monika was there this time too; this is a mom-and-pop business, and it was fun meeting their family with our family.

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If you guys know my dad, you’ll understand why last night was so funny. He was joking around and playing with both Monika and Ashwani in his broken English, while trying to learn Hindi at the same time.

And while all this was going on, just like last time, the first thing that we were served was a bowl of fried chips made from leftover dough with a sweet-sour dipping sauce.

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They don’t look like much, but they’re really addicting…

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As you can see from my sister’s NOM-face.

If you’ve never eaten Indian food before, the menu can be reaally intimidating. Chat puri? Saag paneer? Malai kofta? Wuttheheck is that?!

And although Ashwani put the descriptions of each dish under the names, that didn’t stop us from taking absolutely FOREVER to decide what we wanted. Because not only our the names confusing, the menu at Mark’s OohLaLa Yum is pretty extensive. SO. MANY. CHOICES.

Fortunately, both Ashwani and Monika are always more than willing to help Indian cuisine noobies out. With their recommendations, my mom got the chat samosa, which is kind of like a deep-fried dumpling covered in sauce and chickpeas.

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The samosas were filled with seasoned potatoes and peas, and served with a grape and mint chutney with onions. Because they were absolutely COVERED in the sauce, they didn’t have the crispiness you expect from most fried foods. But they were still really good, with a mild heat from the many spices in the samosas and the sauce.

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But the samosas themselves were kind of hard to distinguish from the rest of the stuff… I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be though, because this thing was DARN TASTY.

My dad, my sister and I all ordered from the entrees, and with our order came a bunch of things to eat our entrees with. Like a bowl of yellow rice, fluffy and perfect for eating with thick curries and sauces.

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And smaller bowls of pickled onions and raita, an herbed yogurt you eat to cool off when the food gets a little too spicy.

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And a plateful of that delightful Indian flatbread called…. NAAN!!!

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Crispy. Chewy. A little charred and a smidge buttery. This stuff is so good… You rip pieces off and use them as bready spoons to scoop your food into your mouth.

And for our main courses… My sister got the Chicken Tikka Masala:

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While my dad got the Shrimp Tikka Masala:

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Both of them are made with roasted tomatoes and peppers in a creamy, spicy sauce; but even though they were essentially the same dish, just with different proteins, they tasted distinctly different. Maybe it was because my dad got his spicy, while Calynn got her masala at a medium heat level, or maybe it was just because one was made with shrimp and the other with chicken. But both were complexly spicy and deeply flavorful, with little chunks of whole tomatoes and chopped herbs swimming in the rich sauce.

And as for myself, I got the Eggplant Curry:

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Eggplant curry… EGGPLANT curry..?! I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like the most appealing thing in the world. This was actually made by blending roasted eggplants, much like a baba ghanoush, but with onions, tomatoes, and green peas. And even though it was made with vegetables, eggplant is actually pretty substantial, and this curry had a really rich, creamy mouthfeel, balanced out by fragrant, spicy heat.

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With all the food that was on our table and the sharing that was going on between them, I couldn’t finish my curry – it was actually really rich! But even though we were all full, my dad went and ordered another plate of naan.

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This time we got the onion naan, because my dad said it was really good (even though he’s never eaten here before…). It almost looks like focaccia, doesn’t it? It was the same thing as the plain naan, but with onion and herbs rolled into the dough before baking it; it almost had a pizza-ish feel, and even though I though I was done, I somehow managed to eat a piece of this. It’s amazing how your stomach expands when you see something delicious, isn’t it?

In case you couldn’t tell, we ordered A LOT of food. We had a lot of it packed to-go, and finished it off the next day. Once we asked for the check, Monika brought out a small plate of brown, triangular sweets.

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he said they were Indian almond fudge; they were sweet and buttery, with a faint hint of nuttiness and a crunch from the sliced almonds on top. These were rich as well, and even though they were small, I was glad that the pieces were so small.

This was a delicious, delicious meal, and I really want to take more of my friends here. I know that a lot of people are scared of Indian food, but Ashwani and Monika make it totally approachable and scrumptious. You should really try it. REALLY. Especially at Mark’s Ooh LaLaYum. So, who’s down for eating here with me next time? :D

Mark’s OohLaLa Yum!

551 Livingston Street
Norwood, NJ 07648

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Discussion

One thought on “The Choi’s Do Indian!

  1. Good Information. Thank you for sharing and I want to share information about Madras Bistro which provides our guests with an authentic North and South Indian vegetarian dining experience. We are located in Hackensack, New Jersey and serve a wide selection of dishes representing the tastes of India.

    Posted by Davis | April 27, 2012, 1:15 am

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