You might have come throughout Nidhi Jalan’s culinary creations earlier than. About 5 years in the past she began promoting spice blends below the identify Masala Mama (a deal with Jalan “earned” within the womb), then she launched a line of jarred simmer sauces like Coconut Curry and Vindaloo, after which she did a stint one summer time slinging Masala Tacos at Smorgsaburg. Now, and for a restricted time solely, Jalan is cooking a full slate of vegetarian and vegan Indian dishes for us all to get pleasure from, at a Masala Mama popup throughout the Michael and Ping’s area in Gowanus.
“I actually needed to satisfy the individuals who truly eat my meals, and be part of a neighborhood,” Jalan advised Gothamist final week. “I all the time dreamt of getting a restaurant. Not something fancy, only a easy place the place the meals is made properly with good substances, just like the form of meals I grew up with in Calcutta.”
The menu is fairly simple, and every little thing I ate right here the opposite evening was distinctive. The Watermelon Chaat Salad, for instance, which got here loaded with all types of robust flavors enjoying off the candy, juicy fruit–cilantro, ginger, chaat masala, inexperienced chili, pink onion, lime, and mint amongst them–was the perfect model of this dish I’ve ever had. So skillfully put collectively, I’ve to return right here at the least as soon as extra this summer time simply to eat one other bowl of this.
Every part within the two primary sections, Entrées and Lentils and Beans, will be ordered in 12-oz “medium” or 16-oz “massive” sizes, which makes it straightforward to attempt as many issues as potential. I principally let Jalan select for me, and each of her picks have been true delights. The Paneer Tikka Masala was luxuriously wealthy and creamy, a cashew tikka sauce thick with housemade paneer and peas (this may be ready with tofu as an alternative of paneer, in order for you it vegan), and the lentil-based Dal Makhani had loads of zip of it, with garlic, Kashmiri chili, ginger, and the candy acidity of Italian strained tomatoes.
Different choices embrace the vegan dishes Aloo and Gobi, with cauliflower and potatoes, Saag Kabocha, which entails spinach, chickpeas, and roasted squash, and the Chana Masala, to which Jalan provides pomegranate seeds and uncooked mango powder. The entire above deserve some good starchy supply autos, and Jalan complies with issues like Turmeric Lemon Pilaf, Malabar Paratha, and, in my case, two slabs of some scrumptious Garlic Chimichurri Sourdough Naan. Condiments may also be ordered individually, together with a fiery Inexperienced Chili Pickle, a Chili-Garlic Scorching Sauce, and a full of life Tomatillo-Cilantro Chutney.
Masala Mama is a superb restaurant, however do not wait too lengthy to return test it out as a result of it will be gone earlier than you realize it.
“I am hoping to run this by the summer time, or so long as I’ve the stamina for it,” mentioned Jalan. “It is much more work than I believed. I come right here at 11 a.m. and I get dwelling at 10 p.m. so it is ten, eleven hours day by day. The primary few days it was very sluggish and I believed oh my gosh does this idea have legs? After which neighbors began pouring in… generally I’ve tears in my eyes as a result of they only have the kindest issues to say. I like Brooklyn. I like Gowanus. I like the place I reside in Prospect Heights. I’m Brooklyn through-and-through, and hopefully am by no means leaving.”
Masala Mama is situated inside Michael and Ping’s, at 437 Third Avenue, between seventh and eighth Streets in Gowanus, and is at the moment open for supply, pick-up, and dining-in through counter service on Wednesday by Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (646-820-6790; masalamamafoods.com)