Eclectic Houston – “Little India”

Houston, TX USA…this city never ceases to amaze me…it’s sooo international…it’s sooo eclectic…it’s sooo tasty!

The Mahatma Ghandi District

Hi!  Welcome to the Susitna Cafe’!  We’re sooo glad you’ve stopped by for a visit.  Today we’re talking about one of Houston’s many ethnic enclaves, the “Mahatma Ghandi District”.  The ” Ghandi District” or “Little India” comprises the area around Hillcroft Avenue, Harwin Drive, Fondren Road and Westpark Drive.

Map of Mahatma Ghandi District, Houston, TX

Little India is identified streetside in Houston by temple-shaped street signs.

Photo Courtesty of Wikipedia.Org

There are more than 76,000 people of Indian descent who live in the Houston area.  Therefore, residents and visitors alike have the opportunity to enjoy the diversity offered amongst the Houston Indian community.  One of these opportunities is the ethnic enclave of Little India.

So, the Susitna Cafe’ hit the road and embraced what Little India has to offer, and we did so on a very hot India-like day in July.  In fact, our car thermometer read 109 degrees Fahrenheit!  Lucky for us, we did so amongst friends!

We ventured forth with approximately 30 adventurous members of the Houston Chowhounds group on “A Big Tour of Little India” led by Shubhra Ramineni, cookbook author of “Entice with Spice”.

Our first stop was Shri Balaji Bhavan, a family run restaurant specializing in southern Indian vegetarian food.  As soon as we entered the restaurant, I knew it had to be good!

The exotic aromas in the restaurant filled the air with all kinds of wonderful tasty possibilities…and a peek into the kitchen window revealed some very busy ladies cooking…

and smiling…

Of course, happy cooks means happy food and happy food means tasty lunch!  Ohhhh, the decision on what to order was very difficult…dosas?  samosas?  curry?  Oh my!

Thank goodness that Grace, our friend and official taste tester at the Susitna Cafe’ Chronicles, was along and ready to order–afterall Grace “was hungry!”  So, order we did!

Soon enough, along came an assortment of dosas, green coconut chutney and pigeon pea soup…

The dosas were sooo beautiful…i just had to take a peek inside…

The food all smelled sooo delicious.  So, we all had to Chow!

All the tasty bits were Chow Hounded in an instant…

Shri Balaji Bhavan on Urbanspoon

After laughing, talking, and eating….together, Shubhra led us to our next stop, Laxmi Sarees…

This was a place where we could all try on some beautiful Indian clothing…

So we did and, as you know, sometimes the clothing fits…

While at other times, it doesn’t…

Well, since the shoes didn’t fit, we didn’t wear them (ha-ha!), so Shubhra led us to our next stop, India Grocers…

Oooh,  i really like grocery stores!  Shubhra gave us a tour of the store and we learned all about Indian food and various tasty ingredients.  We even stocked-up on some yummy spices…

and veggies…

Once loaded with all of our goodies, Shubhra led us to our final stop, Bombay Sweets…

another delicious stop where we enjoyed an assortment of Indian pastries…

and some relaxation…

Bombay Sweets & Pure Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

We all had such a nice time!  We hope you’ll discover and enjoy a little of India too!  Or, at least join us at the Cafe’ for some tasty bits…

Okra with Onions

(adapted from Shubhra’s recipe in the India Herald article “Entice with Spice”)

Ingredients

1 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/4″ pieces and prepared

2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil*

lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

1 small onion, sliced thick*

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

cilantro, chopped for garnish

* Our preference at the Susitna Cafe’ is to use olive oil (vs. vegetable oil) and red onion in this recipe.  In addition, we’ve added some chopped cilantro for garnish and flavour.  However, it’s important to use the ingredients that you enjoy eating yourself!  Don’t forget to experiment some too!

Heat the oil in a non-stick saute’ pan til warm.  Add the okra and lemon juice and saute’ and stir for approximately 5 minutes.  Add the onion and spices to your pan and saute’ until the onions are transparent and the okra is tender (approximately 15 minutes).  Enjoy!

Cooks Notes:  Shubhra has some excellent tips on how to prepare Okra.  Check them out at:  \”Entice with Spice\”.  In addition, note that we added a little extra lemon juice to the okra and onions at the Cafe’–delicious!

Traveler’s Note:  Don’t forget to tour Little India when you’re in Houston.  Be sure to contact us at the Cafe’ if you find something tasty to share.  You may leave a comment on this post or email us at SusitnaCafe@gmail.com.

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15 Comments

Filed under July 2010

15 responses to “Eclectic Houston – “Little India”

  1. gracie

    i love Indian food – the okra dish looks WONDERFUL!!! The dosas are HUGE.
    Can i have a mango lassi to go please? What a great vegetarian meal!

    • Hi Gracie! This Indian recipe is so easy, and it’s a keeper for sure! It’s always sooo good to see you at the Cafe’! Thanks for your comments. We’re looking forward to enjoying another great meal with you again soon!

  2. Chef Lambo

    What wonderful pictures! I was along for the trip, and your photos are making me smell the food and relive the memories. And its just not a Chowhound outing until Jay Francis wears a funny hat……

    • Hi Chef Lambo! Yes, it was a fun and tasty trip, wasn’t it? Now we can sniff the aromas and relive the memories whenever we want to do so–ha! ha! Thanks for stopping by the Cafe’! Hope to see you again at the Cafe’ and at another ChowHounds event!

  3. Glad you enjoyed the tour. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing the beautiful pictures you took. Thanks for coming on the tour and writing this piece!

    • Shubhra, This okra and onion recipe is sooo dee–li-ciousss! Loved the tour, and now we’re waiting with anticipation for your cookbook–how exciting for you (and us too)! Thanks for your comments! Come and visit us at the Cafe’ again soon!

  4. Nice. I certainly had no idea that Houston had such a large and vibrant Indian community, very cool.

    I’ve learned a lot about Indian food since I’ve been down here. It’s good tucka! I’d use olive oil too, don’t like veggie oil, too processed.

    I think I’d add a pinch of cumin, but that’s only cus I really really like cumin.

    • Hello my Alaskan friend Downunder, It’s great to see you at the Cafe’ again! I like your idea about adding some cumin cus I like it too. I see you’ve been cooking some tasty Downunder sausages my friend–dee-li-ciousss! I’ll be visiting you again real soon! BTW, thanks for your comments :o

      • I was debating whether not to even post the sausage “recipe” cus it’s so simple and easy. Delicious too! Often the simplest things turn out the best.

      • Well AK Dave Downunder (AKDDU), I agree that often the simplest things turn-out the best! BTW, I like your idea about adding moose or venison to stroganoff…dee-lish-i-ousss!

  5. This was so fun to read. I’m glad that Shai and I got to spend such a special day with all of you. I truly look forward to another gathering. You are all lovely people who I can share my passion for food with.

  6. Analog Girl

    I only found this tonight and it’s Wonderful to re-live it again through your great pictures and writing, thanks! That was such a fun day, and I am so glad we met. I’m really looking forward to sharing more adventures & talking about Alaska, food, travels, and more!

    • Welcome to the Susitna Cafe’ Analog Girl! So glad you came by for a visit! The tour was delightful, and I’m so glad to have met you my Alaskan friend. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. See you again soon!

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