Last fall, at an early visit to Curry Hill restaurant Haldi, which specializes in the Chinese, Muslim and Jewish Indian fare of Western Bengal, Robert Sietsema said things were "off to a good start." Two months later, Flo Fab announced that the talented Hemant Mathur, who worked for years at Devi, was leaving his post at Tulsi to run Haldi and five other restaurants he bought from Shiva Natarajan including including Kokum.
This week, Ligaya Mishan pays a visit to see how the restaurant is doing under Mathur, who she says is "accustomed to (and deserving of) a grander stage." Here, "he brings to the kitchen a quiet fastidiousness while staying true to the homey nature of the dishes." Mathur has kept the focus of the restaurant the same and is serving dishes like bone-in chicken dish that comes,
with a sidekick of hard-boiled egg in the kind of dusky curry once served to British colonial officers at dak bungalows, government-run rest-houses along old trunk routes — only richer and bolder, no longer beholden to timid palates.
She also likes a puffed rice dish called jhal muri and desserts from from Mathur's wife Surbhi Sahni, who worked as the pastry chef at Tamarind.