Holi, Ganesh, Chana and Roti..oh my!

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Last week’s Culture Weekend Staycation to Holi in NYC was great.  In all, the Phagwah Parade in Richmond Hills, Queens is a very fun, energy filled event that would be great for adults and kids alike.  There is one caveat, however, try not to inadvertently attend an after party at one of the local restaurants in the area unless, of course,  you’re looking to party.  This was not the case for me.  I was looking to grab a quick lunch after the parade at Singh’s Roti Shop and then explore the area referred to as Little Guyana.  

However, as I approached Singh’s Roti Shop, I noticed a line forming outside. The reviews indicated this restaurant had the best doubles in town, but dang! Once I made it through the throngs of people standing outside the restaurant inside I quickly realized that it was more than doubles cooking in here.  Singh’s Roti Shop, at least for today, doubled as a party spot for parade goers.  People were gyrating, swirling small towels and flags above their heads with one hand and a beer in the other all while decorated with colored powders and sweat draped over their bodies.   I was definitely in the wrong place at that moment because I had no powder on me and was as clean as a whistle until…

A rather impish man, seemingly engaged in the festivities, paused his fun (as if programmed to do so), turned around (as if on a mission to find me), caught my glance and then it was on….my face and clothes that is.  Tons of powder, all over my clean as a whistle outfit. I thought I had escaped the color brigade, but it finally caught up to me.  I used every bit of kind energy in me to crack a smile at the man and play it off like it wasn’t a big deal.

Following my powder bath, I proceeded to purchase the food that I came for at Singh’s Roti Shop.  There were so many people crowded around the buffet placing orders, trying to yell above the music, that it felt like I was a trader on Wall Street.  I doubt the restaurant is like this on a normal day.  But back to the food, the doubles at Singh’s Roti Shop were as amazing as the reviews suggest.  The best food you can get at $1.  For those who don’t know, which I didn’t either, doubles are warm, fluffy roti bread filled to the brim with garbanzo beans smothered in curry sauce and red pepper sauce.  The dish is great on-the-go food and is quite filling.  If I were in this area again, I would definitely stop by Singh’s  for a quick bite!  Next time, I’ll make certain to get an early lunch before the post-Holi festivities take place so I don’t have to dance myself out of the restaurant (which is what I literally had to do).

Singh's Roti Shop & Bar on Urbanspoon

So, would I return to Little Guyana for the Holi Parade next year?  An absolute yes, but I would come better prepared.  My advice:

1.  Wear the dingiest clothing you own. I’m talking painter’s jumpsuit. It’s guaranteed you will get covered in colored powder and you don’t want stains on your good clothing.  This might be difficult for the average NYC fashionista, so bring a change of clothes, baby wipes for cleaning your face and makeup.  The local Rite Aid has a reasonable bathroom to use.

2.  Next, come with an open mind and a lot of patience.  As with any parade, there will be crowds and loudness.  

3.  Lastly, if you want to eat at Singh’s Roti Shop, which I highly recommend, or any other local restaurants during the Holi Parade, try eating early before the festivities begin to avoid the party crowd, unless, of course, you’re looking to party.

4.  Looking for traditional Indo-Caribbean food items that may be hard to find where you live?  There are tons of open air markets in Little Guyana within walking distance of the parade.

So bring your family, kids included, and have some fun in this beautiful and majestic Little Guyana community!

At Home…

For the at home activities for our Culture Weekend Staycation Holi Parade, I prepared a delectable dish of Chana with Paneer courtesy of Sheba’s Recipes.  This was a fairly simple recipe and very tasty.  Instead of using a pressure cooker, which I don’t currently own, I used my crock pot and slow cooked the dry chickpeas for 4 hours.  

Chana with Paneer 





Next, I prepared for dessert, Gogola, or Banana Beignet, a popular Guyanese and Phagwah recipe.  Meet the child of banana bread and a warm funnel cake!  This dessert is best eaten fresh and warm.







“A man is only as big as his ambition.”

The Mystic Masseur

In our Culture Weekend movie, The Mystic Masseurwe follow the idealist and intellectual, Ganesh, who goes from losing his job and his father to finding his passion in writing books while continuing his father’s spiritual healing business.  This is a beautiful movie with a spiritual, contemplative undertone that will also have you laughing.  Some memorable moments from the movie include Ganesh healing a young boy who’s being followed by a dark cloud and Ganesh curing a man of lust for his bicycle.  You’ll have to see the movie to believe me!  

I hope that you enjoyed this Culture Weekend to Holi in the City!   Please feel free to comment with your thoughts or experiences.    

Stay tuned for the April Culture Weekend Staycations to Scotland, Thailand, Cambodia and Japan!

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