When the Underground Gourmet ponders flashes of fusion brilliance in the sandwich realm, he thinks of Zak Pelaccio’s interpretive Cubano at 5 Ninth, made with prosciutto and Boerenkass; the Greenpoint sandwich, a.k.a., the Polish bánh mì, at Williamsburg’s Silent H; and Sullivan St. Bakery’s deranged but delicious PBM (pancetta, basil, and mango). Add to this illustrious list the tamarind-pork sandwich at Lassi.
Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, who, incidentally, has to be the best former pastry chef turned Indian cook ever to emerge from an Arthur Avenue Italian American household, first forayed into sandwiches last Thanksgiving, as a way to use up some leftover tandoori turkey. But inspiration for the tamarind-pork version came from her Dominican husband, an accomplished French-trained chef in his own right. Like any good daughter-in-law, Carlucci-Rodriguez gives credit where credit is due: Her mother-in-law, who “makes the best pernil.”
The Indian-Dominican powerhouse is not something you whip up in a jiffy. Carlucci-Rodriguez begins by marinating a Berkshire pork shoulder overnight the way her mother-in-law would. She roasts said shoulder with garlic, chiles, cilantro, ginger, salt, and a tandoori masala; lets it rest for a while; and then cooks it again with her own Bengali five-spice mixture and a slather of tamarind paste. Then she folds the succulent meat into a dense, chewy paratha and dresses it with masala-spiced tomato, spicy mint chutney, and boondi raita. The slow-cooked, intensely seasoned result is a culinary crossover that proves that fusion isn’t inherently a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s even better than leftover turkey sandwiches. The tamarind-pork sandwich is available Wednesdays through Sundays.
—Rob Patronite & Robin Raisfeld
Lassi, 28 Greenwich Ave., nr. W. 10th St.; 212-675-2688