Arts and Entertainment

Cheap A$$ Lunch #4: Dough Around Stuff. It’s Great.

Move aside, boring street meat—Indian Biryani House will trounce any of your silly gyros with amazing Kati Rolls at better prices.

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I’m going to be honest. The culinary traditions of India are a mystery to me, beyond the basic tikka masala and tandoori chicken on the identical menus of many restaurants dotting NYC. I haven’t taken many trips into neighborhoods like Kensington, Brooklyn or Flushing, Queens, trying a few things I couldn't pronounce or easily identify. However, I do know what hits the spot in the very brief period Stuyvesant students are permitted to eat, and what a good price is if you don’t already live in a penthouse within walking distance. The cheery green Indian Biryani House cart on the same block as Whole Foods does both of these well, but unfortunately, my inexperienced palate isn’t the best judge for authenticity.

The cart is just bursting with many, many different options, far beyond the standard halal and drawing from all of the Indian subcontinent. You can easily go for the standard chicken over rice or even some variation with pulao rice or curry for a marginally higher price, but for this review, I'll go for something more interesting and unique. The real standout of the cart is four types of kati rolls in a combo of two for $6. The options are the unavoidable chicken and lamb, vegetable aloo gobi, and paneer cheese with veggies.

What really makes the kati rolls are the flaky, buttery soft wraps they come with, giving you a much more satisfying carb option than boring, monotonous rice. These wraps are paired with lettuce to surround a filling, the selection of which will be your hardest choice all day. Will you go with two of the standard, slightly savory but not overly chewy halal lamb or the sweet, succulent squash with peas and firm but understated paneer? Or does the veggie aloo gobi, a flavorful mix of squash, lettuce, cabbage, and corn, warm but not overly spiced sound better (vegetarians take note—this is the best option you could possibly have near Stuy, far trouncing any overpriced Falafel Gyros)? Maybe you’d like to go with something really unique and delicious—the chicken, with a bright orangey hue, is smokey and chewy and actually identifiable as coming from a real chicken (halal carts and McDonald’s, I’m looking at you). Any way you go, you’ll end up great, walking (or sprinting) back to the building in a pleasant haze of money well spent and a belly well fed.

If you have an extra dollar and want a bit more, the samosas are a warm choice for one, or six, for five pockets of dough enrobing creamy potato and peas with warm spices. They’re also a good option on a day you’ve run out of money and don’t want to poison yourself with cup noodles. They’re also a great thing to split in bulk with the nice little discount. Now to the particulars of the cart: they may give you a water or soda for being a student if they're in a good mood (all their platters come with that for students), but don't bet on it. Sauce is really unnecessary with the great flavors the food already has, but they do have the elusive green sauce if you really want to add some extra pizzazz. But the best of all isn’t the delicious taste or great value—it’s the fact that the food doesn't hang heavily in your stomach as if you’ve had a whole plate of crummy meat with white and hot sauce over rice. Instead, your stomach is light as a feather and decidedly less gassy.

Directions: In front of Whole Foods on Greenwich between Murray and Warren—one block up from the school and two to the right past the bank.