After trouble in Flushing, Southern Spice moved its beloved Indian fare to Long Island. The menu spans India, but look for the Chettinad dishes like the fierce Chettinadu shrimp curry. CHOW.com Contributing Editor Pervaiz Shallwani filed the following report.
When it first opened, Southern Spice quickly found a following among South Indians as well as critics for its authentic take on spicy South Indian dishes like Chettinadu shrimp curry.
Then it disappeared. A bad lease and a few vehicles crashing into the store forced it to move from Flushing to Long Island. It’s a small journey that’s worth the hike.
The new space, like the old, isn’t much to look at, but the food is authentic and cooked with the care that is so often missing in neighborhood Indian spots.
The menu here spans India, with solid bhiryani and tandoori meats ensuring it stays in business. But for a true experience seek out the Chettinad dishes, which take their cue from the southwestern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The Chettinadu curry is a good example. Chef Sridhar Munirathinam starts by adding mustard and fennel seeds, dried chilis, curry leaves, mint and onions to hot oil. Once the onions are dark and crisp, in goes a ginger garlic paste, pureed tomato, tamarind pulp and a healthy helping of a traditional spice mix that’s toasted and ground. The curry paste is cooked until it’s thick and chocolate brown in color.
To order, Sridhar adds coconut milk and chicken stock to the paste. The shrimp are added at the last minute and cooked until just tender.
Each bite showcases the diversity of the spices, with no one flavor standing out over the other. It is followed by fierce a heat from the chilies. Mercifully, the creamy coconut milk and tender shrimp give it just enough of a sweet contrast.
Indian food means a shared feast. The curry goes well with the fiery Cauliflower 65, a side of cooling Guthi Vankaya eggplant and the tomatoey Paneer butter masala. Round it out with a spicy Mysore dosa and an order of flavored naan. Why have it plain when you can have it studded with coriander and onions.
Southern Spice is located at 1635 Hillside Avenue in New Hyde Park.
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