The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Calcutta and Caracas Arepas

Sarah and I just can't stop eating. CAN'T STOP. No one is safe! Hide your children!...if they're tasty and features on menupages or chowhound.


A quick look around menupages brought us to Calcutta for dinner on Monday night. Neither of us had eaten on "curry row" (which isn't totally Indian, but whatever) nor did we eat Indian food often. So naturally...we had to get Indian food.

musical accompaniment
musical accompaniment

Dude with a sitar! I have no idea if restaurants in India feature musicians, but I guess that helps to set the mood when you're in the East Village. Nice touch.

Sarah and I had a hard time figuring out what to eat. We didn't really have favorites, aside from "things made of wheat", and we didn't know how big the portions were. After staring at the menu long enough for the sitar player to complete playing, and maybe writing a symphony (a sitarphony!, that was horrible), we settled on two appetizers, a main course, and an order of bread. Just so you know, that's at least one appetizer more than we needed. Ah. Whatever.


But before that, we were given a basket of flatbread cracker things that I'll call papadum for now since thats what google tells me they are. Very light, thing, and very...flavorful. Flavored. With. Tasty. Things. Dammit, I don't remember; it was four days ago! Eat the free flatbread, eat it! And smother it in various sauces, none of which I can really describe to you because I have the memory of a goldfish (and I'm talking stupid goldish, not the smart ones with attention spans of 10 seconds as opposed to 0.5). They came in green, brown, and chunky red stuff (er, tomatoes). Mmmm...I liked "green".

inside the banana fritter

We didn't expect one order of pakora to include four golden fried dough balls. Oh. Jeez. You can't go wrong with fritters, especially if they're sweet and contain banana. Although the description "banana fritters" would lead one to believe that they're mainly banana, there's really only a tiny chunk of banana in each ball. However, the soft dough is chewy, slightly moist, not crumbly, and IT'S FRIED, SO IT'S AUTOMATICALLY DELICIOUS. The first thing that came to my mind while chewing on my first bite (yes, I chew..sometimes) was a donut, but it's denser than that. It's not very dense, nor light. It's a bit fluffy and squishy. Bottom line: I liked it enough that I'd want to eat it again. That's all you have to know.

samosa innards

Samosas are lovely stuffed fried wheat pastry things. Ours were stuffed with vegetables, such as potatoes and other things that can't moo, oink, or make some other animal-esque sound. Mmm. It's like a pasty, a miniature savory pie that isn't pie shaped. And I'm going to stop attempting to describe it now because this is turning from "bad" to "craptastic."

mmm, breaaad
mm, bread

Hellooo, pile of fluffy, chewy, onion-bit-ed bread. HOW YOU DOIN'? Sorry, but your life will be short. Sarah and I love you so much that we have to masticate you, digest you, and poop you out to in order to express our deep burnin' love (and the acids do burn). ...It's not a very pretty relationship, but you're just too tasty. Now you must die.


Ooh, glorious Indian rice. I love sticky, short-grain Chinese and Japanese style rice, but I also love fluffy long-grain Indian rice. I LOVE ALL RICE. GIVE. TO ME. THE CARBS. I also love almond slivers. Almonds slivers + rice = lovely.

lamb malai
lamb malai

Unfortunately, I can't describe all the flavors in lamb malai. At the very least, I remember that it wasn't spicy and my assumption is that it's made of coconut milk and "stuff". Stuff probably includes spices. Maybe fruit. Maybe not. What I am sure about is that the lamb was moist (no duh, it was swimming in sauce) and tenderlicious. BOTH TENDER AND DELICIOUS!...okay, you figured that one out. Good job.

dude with meat on a stick
dude with meat on a stick

One of the coolest things about this restaurant was the dude in the back behind glass, makin' stuff. We'd watch him knead dough, put meat on deathly skewers, pull deathly skewered meat out of the pit, shape bread on round thingy that probably has a real name but of course I don't know what it is, pull fluffy bread out of the pit, etc. It was the magical bread room, with some meat I cared less about. My god, I want one. Bread room, I mean.

We were stuffed by the end of the meal. Despite the tastiness of the bread, we couldn't eat it all (don't worry, Sarah took home the leftovers). The total damage was about $12 per person, a great deal for the amount and quality of the constant attention paid to our water glasses. Hydration is a good thing.

I don't normally eat two times in a week with the same person (we've actually eaten four times together in a week-long period...whoa!), but that's because the other person isn't usually so "OMG LET'S EAT!" like I am. However, Sarah is an "OMG LET'S EAT!" kind of person, so on Thursday night we headed to Caracas Arepas Bar in the East Village for some arepas, aka "sammich-esque corn cake stuffed with stuff".

Caracas Arepas Bar

This place is tiny (if I had to guess, there may be around 16 seats). It wasn't too crowded at around 6:30, but there were some people waiting outside by the time we left. An open kitchen looks over the the room of tiny tables and chairs. But tiny is cute and cozy! ...Unless you're a normal sized human, in which case it could be kind of uncomfortable. Besides that it's cozy, the walls are colorfully decorated with photos and knick knacks in a neatly cluttered way that showed some personality, as opposed to the TGIF way which is...actually, I haven't been to TGIF in a long time so I don't even remember if it's one of those places with "flair" all over the walls. Er. TGIF was cooler when I lived in Taiwan and didn't care much about food. Then again, I ate a lot of McDonald's there too. Let's forget that.

milkshake terrain
milkshake terrain

While I don't usually go for drinks, I've just decided to go on a "milkshake mission". If you have any suggestions as to where I must get my lactose on, leave a comment. I ordered the caburada , a banana milkshake with a touch of cinnamon. Initially, I was confused since I thought I ordered the coconut milkshake, but after taking a sip and deciding it tasted more like banana I realized....I either said banana or they got my order wrong.'s a mystery. The shake was not overly-banana flavored, but it definitely had a thick, banana texture. The thickness level was great (straw sucking goodness), the texture creamy (although not uber-creamy, perhaps more icy than milky if that makes any sense) and the flavor wasn't too sweet. I finished it. Duh.

chorizo pernil arepa
chorizo pernil arepa

I ordered the special arepa of the day, which was stuffed with sliced chorizo (pork sausage), pernil chunks (, just pork), and plenty of guacamole. While the arepas are small, this arepa was filling due to containing roughly a baby pig's worth of meat in cured meat and tender, moist meat forms.

chorizo pernil innards
porky innards

I'd take a bite and god, another pork bit would pop out. It was like my sandwich was preggers with a gazillion baby pork bits. TOO MANY FERTILITY DRUGS, PERHAPS ...Keep in mind that I don't usually eat a lot of meat, so if you do love meat, this probably won't seem like a lot of meat. However, it seemed neverending to me (maybe because everything was disguised until a sea of guacamole, mmmm), which was kind of cool. Sarah tried a bite of mine and I a bit of her la del gato arepa (guayan�s cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado slices); she liked mine so much that she ordered one for herself. Her la del gato arepa was good too, but not as filling as my porky preggers arepa.


While it's certainly affordable, you don't really get a bang for your buck. (Tiny's is definitely a bang, for example.) What's a step lower than a bang? A poke? Can you get a poke for your buck? ...What the hell does that mean? Er. Well, it was tasty and I would like to eat more arepas, but I'm not dying to go back. (I wouldn't be opposed to going back if anyone else wants to try it though. Their menu is pretty large and I didn't get to try any desserts.) However, it's nice to finish a meal without consequently feeling like you have to be wheeled out of the restaurant on a flatbed truck (since, you know, that's the only thing that will comfortably accomodate your girth). I'd say this place is worth trying. Next stop: Venezuela!


324 E 6th St Btwn 1st & 2nd Ave

Carcas Arepas Bar

91 E 7th St Btwn 1st Ave & Ave A


Louise / February 18, 2006 8:49 AM

I think the Indian �green sauce� � which I like too � is made with cilantro (or coriander, same thing). But I don�t know what it�s called.

Tokyo / February 18, 2006 12:02 PM

Caracas looks amazing. WAIT JUST A MINUTE! You ordered a Gato? Did you eat it? Isn't a "Gato" a cat? Whoa. You're an culinary adventurer.

roboppy / February 18, 2006 3:18 PM

Louise: Thanks for the info! It definitely had a ...identifiable taste. But. I don't know my herbs. :( It's sad because I had to learn about herbs and spices last year; of course, I forgot everything after I took the test.

Tokyo: It means cat? I had no idea! HAHa...uh. Maybe it's the favorite arepa of their cat? That would make more sense than a cat sammich...although now I'm actually wondering what cat tastes like.

roboppy / February 19, 2006 12:24 PM

Tokyo: HAHA, oh no. :| The name sounds cool if you don't know what it means. Then again, so does "diarrhea", that was as bad example.

mona: I updated my entry with the addresses (Calcutta is at 324 E 6th St, between 1st & 2nd Ave). I should put them in every entry, come to think of it. :P I guess I felt like i was just talking about where I ate instead of reviewing them, except...I am reviewing them! Hm. Yeah.

Nerissa / February 20, 2006 12:23 AM

You went to an Indian restaurant without me? The Frog and I have a favourite restaurant to go to when we go on our jaunt to civilization every few months called "The Bombay". No Sitar players or chefs on display but food fit for a king (well... rajah) at a reasonable price. I see someone commented already on the cilantro dip but the brown I might demystify: tamarind chutney. It has a very nice sweet and sour taste. The naan looked scrumptious and I'm just dying for Pappadums now! It's a bit too late right now but I'll have to fish mine out of the cupboard for tomorrow. I've never had banana pakoras. They sound like they'd be yummy! Mango lassi is very good for killing spices if you get something to hot at these restaurants. Ever had it?

Jen / February 20, 2006 1:19 AM

mm, samosas. During high school I was addicted to them for a while. I think I had 9 in one sitting. Yay, gluttony.

Bong A / February 20, 2006 3:10 AM

Great post! I love Indian food (even if the doctors have specifically banned them from my diet due to chronic hyperacidity). When I go to Indian restaurants though, I always order lassi (sweet yogurt) as a drink. Always good! And then for dessert - those round balls that are sinfully sweet (imagine leche flan but multiply the sugar content by 10) floating on syrup. I forgot what it is called.

anthony / February 20, 2006 4:15 AM

"What the hell does that mean?"

Perhaps you could also enquire with Mr Martin as to what "She Bangs" was the hell on about.

roboppy / February 20, 2006 1:11 PM

Nerissa: I could do without the sitar player actually, hehe...but it was cool. Live background music! Thanks for the brown-sauce-demystification, I'd never know what it was just from tasting it. "Mm, tastes brown." I DUNNO WHAT TAMARIND IS. Oh jeez. But yeah, sweet and sour sounds right. I've had a mango lassi just once in my life but it was really good! Maybe I should get more...maaaybe I should start looking for THE BEST MANGO LASSI EVAH.

Jen: Sweet jesus, 9 samosas! I hope they weren't as large as the one I ate? :) I could eat nearly 20 dumplings in one sitting, depending on their size. (shudders)

Bong A: Thanks! Too bad your doctors banned Indian food from your diet...! Is it all that bad for you? As for the sinfully sweet floating round balls, OH MY GOD I NEED THOSE, NEED, arhahgr! Maybe next time I eat Indian food I'll jsut get bread and dessert. Hell yes, that's a perfect meal. Not nutritionally, but whatever.

Anthony: NOO, NO MORE RICKY MARTIN, I thought he fell off the map at least three years ago...

...that my head...comin' back...

...I don't wanna know what the song means.

Liz: YES I NEED A BREAD ROOM! And a personal baker. And a personal trainer for when I get fat.

missdipsy / February 21, 2006 10:07 PM

The sweet floating balls are probably gulab jamun. They are basically deep fried milk balls which are then simmered in syrup, usually delicately scented with cardamon & rose water. And they are to DIE for!!! There are other indian sweets that are some kind of ball in syrup, like rasgulla, a cheese ball cooked in syrup. Gulab Jamun are brown, whereas rasgulla are white.

We are v.lucky here in the UK as we have so much access to indian food - curry is practically our national dish these days! OK, so a lot of the average "curry houses" at the cheaper end of the scale serve identical brown gloop and don't bother with the traditional sweets (they might sell kulfi - indian ice cream - if you're lucky), but even the cheap ones can be pretty good and are a reasonable introduction to "indian" food (often an anglo-indian hybrid that can bear little resemblence to what indians actually eat!). There is of course a range from the pretty bad to the absolutely wonderful; most cities have plenty of great indian restaurants. Anyway, we're pretty much inundated with indian food (often used to cover pakistani & sometimes bangladeshi food too), & since most cities have large asian populations there are always places to buy indian delicacies like the aforementioned gulab jamun and other yummy stuff (e.g. sweets like jalebi, rasmalai, carrot halwa, ladoos, & others that I don't know the names of..!).

Oh yes, you were right, the crispy things are called poppadoms or papadums; the bits of tasty things in them may have been cumin seeds, or possibly some other spice. It's hard to tell what the dip/sauce things were as there are several varieties that are commonly served. If the red thing tasted oniony then it may be kachumber, which is a sort of salad made of onions & tomatoes & other stuff (often with a bit of red food colouring to give it that supernatural glow!). The green may have been a mint or coriander (cilantro) chutney. Not sure about the brown stuff but Nerissa's suggestion of Tamarind Chutney sounds about right!

I'm sorry, I've just rattled on for ages about Indian food... can you tell I love it?!

roboppy / February 22, 2006 9:13 AM

missdipsy: Whoaaa, awesome comment, thanks! I so need to get in on the gulab jamun action. THEY LOOK SO TASTY WITH FRIED-NESS! I need to eat Indian food when/if I go to England this summer. Kinda...didn't do that the last time I went (I didn't plan that trip well, haha). I may have to hit you up for recommendations later. :)

I need to learn my spices, ahh!

susannah / October 7, 2006 6:42 PM

Milk and Cookies has reaaaaally good milkshakes. Though milkshakes are def. not my favorite (i'd rather just have ice cream) my friend Dan LOVES them and he swears by the M and C vanilla. I've tried it and I can vouch for it being uber-delicious.

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