Jackson Heights is a neighborhood located in Queens, New York, one of the most diverse places to exist. It is made up of mostly immigrants, who decided to settle in Jackson Heights, nearby busy, crowded Manhattan. In order to feel more at home, different cultural backgrounds created small neighborhoods with their own stores, restaurants, and supermarkets. Most of these places focus on food, which is the common ground in all ethnic groups. One example of an ethnic neighborhood is the immigrant Indian population, popularly known as Little India.
Little India consists of a few blocks of Jackson Heights and bustling crowds of people. Amongst all the tightly crammed stores, Rajbhog Sweets is famous for its wide varieties in sweets, but also for its steamed vegetarian dishes. It was opened about twenty years ago in order to serve the Indian community traditional dishes and snacks, and has always been a family-run business.
Although it is not a fancy restaurant (half of it looks like a deli and half looks like a café), many people stop by for meals and snacks that are true to the Indian culture. In a way, it is their reminder of home and brings back memories. One of the best features of this shop is that its assortments changes every day, so that everything made is fresh and ready to eat. Aside from that, it is inexpensive- even more reason to stop by. Also, many people like to watch the good bollywood films that the restaurant play while they are enjoying their food.
Some of the more popular dishes are mostly vegetable, including tooriya patra, which is green squash with lima beans and Swiss-chard leaves, and karela. green Chinese eggplant, cooked with spicy sauce, potatoes and cashew nuts. They are a great combination of vegetables and spices, and are even raved by The New York Magazine Guide. Though many of the Indian desserts are very popular, the one that stands out the most is Burfi, which is like condensed milk fudge with various mixings (nuts, fruits, etc.). I personally tried the pista Burfi and cashew Burfi, which were different to what I am used to but very nice. Another recommendation is the Gulab jam, which resembles a munchkin from Dunkin Donuts but with a great coconut flavor. Along with the vegetarian dishes and Indian sweets, there are also different fruit ice creams available for those hot summer days.
According to the customers, it is one of the best places to go to. The staff is said to be very patient, and the variety to be very good. Also, the snacks and sweets sold are complimented on being just right- not too sweet and sticky. The whole shop has a friendly feel, with its bright lights and clean surfaces. Even if it is pouring rain, there are always people coming in and out of Rajbhog Sweets. It brings out a sense of community, and helps the immigrant neighborhood feel closer to home.