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Mumbai Meal

Side Dishes: Indian and local meet for dinner


Published November 17, 2010 at 5:52 a.m.

“Local” and “homemade” aren’t the first words that come to mind when you’re talking about Indian food in Vermont. Nitti Sachdeva, aka the Mangosteen Lady, is trying to change that.

On November 18, to demonstrate there’s more to her family’s native cuisine than greasy curries, the owner of Deva Naturals, a South Burlington-based brand of spices and chutneys, will host the first in a planned dinner series.

“Ninety percent of the ingredients in the meal will be local,” says Sachdeva. Everything will be prepared in her home, including yogurt and healthy paneer cheese made from Vermont milk.

Sachdeva will transport the fare to the Office Squared space on Burlington’s Main Street, which has no kitchen. She’ll keep the dinner warm in Crock-Pots and serve it on recyclable plates. Except for one course of chicken tikka masala — made from a local bird, natch — the meal will be vegetarian. Sachdeva says she wants to offer meat shunners more exciting options than the salads and sandwiches they’re used to.

The five-course, reservation-only dinner costs $20 per head. Sachdeva admits she’s using it to promote the Indian cooking classes she’ll start teaching in January. However, Sachdeva says the main reason she’s inviting the public to her table is educational: “I want to show that local and ethnicity can produce wonderful results,” she says.

Diners in the Montpelier area may already know about a second home-cooked Indian option. Earlier this year, Bhavna Rauniyar started a take-out biz called Curry & Spice.

Rauniyar’s menu includes 68 dishes, many of which can’t be found elsewhere in the state. Folks can call at least three hours in advance — Rauniyar prefers a full day for large orders — and pick up meals from her Forest Drive home. Mushroom matar has been a hit with vegetarians, Rauniyar says. Other seldom-seen dishes she offers include chicken dumplings served in tomato soup; egg curry; sweet corn cutlets; and battered and fried chicken wings called Drums of Heaven.