I’ve known about The Famous Dal Wagon for a while, but on the NW corner of 32nd St & Park Ave, it’s pretty inconvenient for me. However, after enjoying kati rolls from the Desi Truck last week, and receiving a comment from Terianne that the Desi Truck and The Famous Dal Wagon were each owned by two brothers, I re-doubled my efforts to get to The Famous Dal Wagon.
Regular New York Street Food readers know one of my basic rules is that when a dish is featured in the name of the place, to try that dish first. If the vendor is putting a specific dish in the name, it’s usually one of their specialties. This goes for restaurants too.
On that basis, Today’s Lunch is 2 types of dal and rice from The Famous Dal Wagon ($4). Was the dal worthy of the cart being named after it? Find out after the jump.
I’m not a vegetarian in any sense of the word, and when I walked up to the cart, there was some delicious looking chicken tikka masala being grilled over a flame, and one of the guys was making 2 chicken tikka masala sandwiches for someone else. It looked great, but I wanted to try their dal first, which was on the grill in two giant covered pots (below) that looked pretty good too.
They have different dals each day, and the two types of dal they had today were yellow mung (bean) and black masoor. I tried the black masoor first (below).
To a non-Indian food trained person like me, it was basically lentils in a brownish green sauce. It didn’t have a lot of heavy spice, either heat or the spices one normally associates with Indian food. It was kind of bland at first, but about halfway through some heat started coming through and it got better and a little spicier. There was a bit of oil on top, which could be a problem for some people, but when you took a forkful, it mixed in ok with the beans. The picture looks like there was more oil than there actually was.
The yellow mung dal had no visible beans – it was a thick puree with the consistency of a squash soup. There was a large piece of green chili pepper in the yellow mung dal (top of picture below), which gave it more heat than the black masoor dal, especially the two bites with the pepper itself. I found the yellow mung dal to be the more interesting and complex of the two dals.
The white rice was nicely spiced with Indian spices, and had some caraway seeds, but it did clump together a bit. It tasted good though. To finish things off, there was a little garlic pickle they included on the side of the rice. It was chopped, not whole, and had quite a strong flavor. I would liken it to an Indian version of kimchi, and can see why they only give you a little.
Today’s Lunch was decent, but not one of our favorites. We give it a 7.5 out of 10. If you’re a vegetarian, this is a good option, but we’re carnivores around here, so next time it’s the chicken tikka masala for us!