Neighborhood Kitchens

Neighborhood Kitchens visits Pawtucket - Providence's East Side and Rasoi

By Margarita Martinez

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Spring is my favorite time in New England. In Providence and Pawtucket, the trees, bushes, and flowers are in bloom along the streets surrounding Blackstone Boulevard and East Avenue, creating a lovely canopy to stroll beneath. One particularly lush place to visit at this time of year is the Slater Mill Museum. Located in downtown Pawtucket on the Blackstone River, the Slater Mill Museum has a park bordered by blooming trees and the historic textile mill buildings. Built in 1793, the Old Slater Mill was the first successful textile mill. Today individuals and organizations can visit the Old Slater Mill to enjoy the grounds and to learn more about life during the Industrial Revolution in New England.

Slater Mill in Pawtucket
 

Another great reason to visit Pawtucket in the spring and summer is to see the Pawtucket Red Sox play at McCoy Stadium. The PawSox are the farm team for the Boston Red Sox and sports fans can watch major league prospects play baseball at McCoy for a fraction of the price of a game at Fenway. I am particularly partial to the PawSox since they invited me to throw the first pitch during my visit! I didn't quite make it over the plate, but I am proud to report that my pitch had only one hop before landing right in PawSox catcher Daniel Butler's mitt.

Margarita Martinez throwing first pitch at McCoy Stadium

Pawtucket is also home to the delicious Indian restaurant Rasoi, located right where Hope Street in Providence turns into East Avenue in Pawtucket. Within a short walk there are great bakeries, the James Beard-nominated Cook and Brown Public House, the specialty olive oil shop Olive del Mondo, a BBQ joint, the Lippitt Park spring and summer farmer's market, and lots of restaurants and cafes. There is even an Indian specialty shop, Not Just Spices, with ingredients for preparing Indian meals at home. These will come in handy after our visit with Chef Sanjiv Dhar at Rasoi Restaurant.

Margarita Martinez at olive oil tasting bar

Rasoi is a brightly painted restaurant with an open kitchen and lots of light pouring in from large front windows. The restaurant serves Indian cuisine from different regions of India, including meat dishes from the Kashmiri region where Chef Dhar is from, dosas from the South, seafood stew from Bengal, and Fish Moilee, from the west and made in a light coconut milk sauce, which I learned how to make in this episode.

Thalis at Rasoi


A visit to Rasoi is an education in Indian culture, which is Chef Dhar's mission. Each month Chef Dhar hosts cooking classes at Rasoi in order to share the heritage of and his passion for Indian cuisine. At the class I attended, a student asked about Chef Dhar's recipe for garam masala, a popular Indian spice blend. The student asked if it was a secret Chef Dhar was willing to share to which Chef Dhar replied, “There are no secrets. I want you to know this information.”

Cooking class at Rasoi

He is a huge proponent of supporting all Indian restaurants in the area. While some people in his position would view nearby Indian restaurants as competitors, Chef Dhar views them as a good thing. More restaurants means that the cuisine is gaining in popularity and spreading Indian culture throughout the region. During my visit to Rasoi I gained a deeper understanding of the heritage of and many possible combinations available in Indian cuisine.

 

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About Neighborhood Kitchens

Building on a 35-year history of producing Latino and multicultural programming, WGBH’s award winning La Plaza team has a new offering — Neighborhood Kitchens, a series about the exploration of culture through food. Every week the show offers a unique window into immigrant communities in New England.

Saturdays at 4pm on WGBH 2
Fridays at 7:30pm on WGBH 44


About the Author
Margarita Martinez Margarita Martinez
Margarita Martinez grew up in the Bronx, NY and Ossining, NY with a Puerto Rican father and a Franco-American mother. She now calls New England home. Margarita has always had an insatiable appetite for travel and food. She made her first empanada as a teenager visiting Argentina, satisfied her sweet tooth with poffertjes and stroopwafels while studying in Holland, engorged herself on Thai street food for a month in Bangkok, and continues to search for authentic international cuisines in the Northeast. Margarita loves to discover new ingredients, flavors, and cooking approaches that she can bring to her own home kitchen.

On the Go

In each episode, host Margarita Martínez visits a different ethnic restaurant and learns three delicious recipes from the chef. She also explores the restaurant’s neighborhood, discovering hidden gems along the way. Join her as she learns about new ingredients, new cultures, and new neighborhoods. ¡Hasta pronto!

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Margarita's Neighborhood Visits

»Boston: Bristol Lounge
»Boston's South End: Orinoco, Teranga and Oishii
»Boston's Back Bay: Casa Romero
»Boston's North End: Taranta
»Roxbury: Merengue
»Boston's Beacon Hill: Scampo
»All Around Boston: Mei Mei Street Kitchens
»Cambridge: Muqueca, Oleana, and Sandrine's
»
Somerville: Dosa Temple
»Lawrence: Cafe Azteca
»Lowell: Simply Khmer

»Fresh from the Fish Market
»Jamaica Plain: Tres Gatos
»Dorchester: Pho Le and Cafe Polonia
»Medford: Bistro 5
»Portland, ME: Emilitsa
»Newport, RI: Tallulah on Thames
»Pawtucket, RI: Rasoi

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