Sunday, July 8, 2012

Authentic Indian: Cake Walk

Foodie Fish

This place does not even have curry!  That is just how different this Indian food is from what most people in America have experienced. 

What I’ve seen with almost everyone is they say they love Indian food, hate it, or have never tried it before.  I believe part of the reason why so many hate Indian food must be since people tend to only think of curry or Naan bread when they think Indian.  Or perhaps it’s because most Americans are limited to having Indian food from a cheap buffet that has the word “palace” or “jewel” in it to sound more exotic.  Well, if you want to try some real Indian, luckily there is Cake Walk. 

Plainsboro, NJ (where Cake Walk is located) has a pretty big Indian community.  Cake Walk is even neighboring an Indian food market and an Asian food market.  Cake Walk started out thinking that they were mostly going to sell cookies and cakes (hence the name) and maybe serve some Indian street/snack foods on the side.  But then, they realized that their savory menu became even more popular than the desserts menu since many people in the area did not have access to such authentic Indian food.  They later extended their menu to a variety of Indian snack foods and main dishes, including wraps and sandwiches.  Cake Walk is now teeming with business from many Indian immigrants and their families, and of course a few adventure-seeking epicureans like myself ;)

The menu can be intimidating for many new-comers.  There are no English translations for the items on the menu.  However, the cashier is now used to dealing with describing the dishes they serve to those of us who just want to try something new. 

Plain Dosa
They have a large selection of Dosas, which are pretty much thinner and bigger savory crepes.  They have the popular Masala Dosa filled with potatoes and other vegetables seasoned with a house blend of masala (a flavorful mixture of spices).   There is also the cheese cone Dosa (my personal favorite)  for those less hardcore Indian food eaters.  This Dosa, as the name suggests, is rolled into a large cone shape with shredded provolone between two layers of the paper thin Dosa.   Your Dosa will never lack in flavor if you are worried they sound bland, for every Dosa comes with their thin spicy lentil soup and coconut chutney.  The wraps are also good for those whose taste palettes are more accustomed to western food.  The wrap itself is soft and served slightly grilled on a Panini press.  Their wraps are like any ordinary wrap with lettuce, tomato, and a protein.  However, the protein here is a hearty serving of flavorful and often spicy meat or tofu-like cheese inside cooked in a traditional Indian style. 

Cake Walk’s snacks and appetizers are usually foods that you have never seen anything like before.  Many of the dishes sound strange, but they come out being quite satisfactory.  The vada is a savory fried lentil donut that is nice and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just like anything deep fried well should be.  The lentils are consistent with the texture of the rest of the donut and it is salty without overdoing it.  For something lighter, they also have soft steamed rice cakes that come with a fragrant mixture of spices to dip the otherwise simple patty.

My personal favorite part of Cake Walk is their cookies.  I always get at least a half-pound of cookies every time I go (once a week) and enjoy some with their amazing chai tea (like a Starbucks chai latte, only with less milk and sugar and more exciting spices).  They have a wide selection of cookies baked fresh each day sitting in the window.  They have all sorts of shapes toppings.  However, all the cookies at Cake Walk are light, fluffy, almost like shortbread.  Some have candied fruit on top, some have chopped nuts, and some have a different spice inside.  You don’t feel bad about helping yourself to a few since they are so light, which is good because they can get a bit addicting!  One time I let my friend try one and she ended up finishing the whole box!

Your meal at Cake Walk will never lack in flavor, for every dish is a hundred percent homemade and a burst of contrasting flavors.  You can tell this Indian food must be good since many of my mom and sister’s Indian friends say that the food at Cake Walk is delicious and authentic.  Every one of my non-Asian friends who I have taken there has been converted to one who enjoys Indian food.  The only thing you have to worry about when going to Cake Walk is if you can handle the heat!

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