Tagmo restaurant in Lower Manhattan preparing sweet treats for Diwali

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Tuesday, November 7, 2023
Diwali treats on the menu at Tagmo in Lower Manhattan
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Tagmo makes the bite-sized sweets called Mithai year-round, but production really ramps up this time of year.

SOUTH STREET SEAPORT, Manhattan (WABC) -- Neighborhood Eats this week is in honor of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

As celebrations get underway, we're taking you to Tagmo, an Indian restaurant, that also specializes in bite-sized sweets called Mithai.

Tagmo is located at 226 Front Street in the South Street Seaport in Manhattan.

They make them year-round, but production really ramps up this time of year. They are expecting to make 70,000 for the holiday.

"A lot of our sweets are made by hand, every sweet we say is touched by somebody," said Chef Surbhi Sahni, Tagmo. "And when you open that box, it has to be like, 'Wow this is so beautiful, can I have another one?'"

Chef Sahni went on to describe the sweets.

"Anything that is squarish is a Burfi and it's fudge-like. The second version of sweets that is available is called Katli which is basically made with just nuts and sugar water. The third thing you can find in most of our boxes is called Ladoos, anything that is kind of round sweet is a Ladoo."

The chef explained where the inspiration for these sweet treats comes from.

"A lot of the sweets are conceptualized by thinking through, what are the flavors that I ate, or things that were my favorite as a kid, of course," Chef Sahni said. "I would often demand my grandmother to make some sweets for me and she would almost always make Panjeeri, which is just roasted flour with a ton of sugar added she would throw in some nuts and as kids, we would just eat it with a spoon. I have done a version of it in the shape of a Ladoo."

They are decadent, special candies. And some have a modern twist.

"There's a Motichoor Ladoo which is made with chickpea flour beads almost, dipped in a sugar syrup, made in a little tiny ball, has a bit of pistachio and cardamom and saffron in it," Chef Sahni said. "And then we have the more fun things that we like to do, we have a Ferrero Rocher Ladoo that we've come up with. We have a rose and coconut with little rose petals on top of it."

The restaurant features a pre-fixe special in honor of Diwali.

"So for this Diwali, we are doing a special dinner. It's a prix-fixe menu. And when I was designing the menu, my partner is Bengali and I am Punjabi," Chef Sahni said. "So one of the dishes we've come up with is an eggplant and onion fritter. The eggplant is from Bengal and the crispy fritters are from Punjab and plated together it's a beautiful dish, tastes delicious together, the eggplant and the onion play off each other, kind of like our relationship."

There is intention and attention to detail in every treat and every dish.

"I feel like Indian food or Indian sweets have a story to tell in terms of how it transports us to the journeys that we take. Right now my favorite is the coconut Ladoo, mostly, well it's more my daughter's favorite. It's a coconut - orange on the inside, we cover it with white chocolate and coconut and she tried it as a kid and every year I get a text message, are you making it this year? I haven't made it in about three years now so I made it this year and she's like, 'I'm definitely getting a box, am I not?' So yes, she's getting a box for Diwali."

Chef Sahni has a team of just six people churning out those bite-sized works of art.

For those wondering, Tagmo means tigress in Bhutanese and is a symbol of feminine strength in South Asian culture.

The prix-fixe menu starts Wednesday and runs through Sunday. You'll need to make reservations in advance.

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