Saturday, April 25, 2009

SALVADORAN PUPUSAS in Brooklyn, New York City

My First Pupusa. Certainly not my last

There we were, strolling through an antique flea market under the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn, when K said " let's have some Pupusas" .

Pupusa ? What on earth is a PUPUSA ? And why have I never heard of it, me the self-proclaimed Foodie Geek, Gourmand and GastroExplorer me ?? It turns out that I still have a lot to learn. El Salvador, and for that matter Central America, had till that moment remained uncharted in my culinary map. I am happy to report that it is no longer so.

Finding the Pupusas was easy. We just went to the most crowded spot in the market where a family from The Dominican Republic ( or so it said on a little sign) was doling out the good Salvadoran stuff from a rickety wooden stand heaving with food. We packed a box of the goodies, sat ourselves on the steps surrounded by hip Brooklynites with babies in designer strollers, and polished off the contents in no time.

Photo courtesy
Nice juicy Tamales, fried plantains - sticky and sweet, and a dollop of rice and beans. And the Pupusas: thick hand-made flatbreads stuffed with pork and cheese and lightly fried , and served hot with a topping of salsa and spicy cabbage. Earthy, comforting and delicious. Impossible to stop with one.

These little fried discs are so popular in Central and South America that there's even a " NATIONAL PUPUSA DAY" ( November 13) in El Salvador ! Made of a Latin American maize flour called Masa Harina, Pupusas come with different stuffings like pork rind, bacon, refried beans, quesilo cheese, zucchini and have different variants in Honduras, Venezuela, Costa Rica. I am not sure which version I had in Brooklyn that day but it sure was yummy and it sure has got me hooked.

Photo courtesy
The closest comparison I can think of - not that I really need to think of comparisons here - is the Indian Keema Paratha. Pupusas are rounder, smaller, thicker and less greasy and less heavy . And of course the stuffings are completely different,, so the comparison is a bit redundant. But the texture and the comfort food factor is perhaps why I was reminded of the Keema Paratha. But I digress.

Happy Bottomline: Great introduction to Salvadoran Pupusas, served by Dominicans, eaten with Americans, under the Manhattan Bridge, on a gorgeous sunny day in Brooklyn.

What else is good at the Brooklyn Flea market ? Frank Bruni's Journal in the NYT

Where else to get great Pupusas in the United States ? Chowhounds reveal their favourite Pupuserias

"Eating in New York City" series

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