Vegetarian Delights of NYC--Chiles Rellenos

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Tulcingo del Valle's chile relleno is a vegetarian masterpiece

One of the cornerstones of Pueblan cooking is the chile relleno--a fresh, deep green poblano pepper slit and stuffed with cheese, dipped in an egg batter, and then fried. The process is tricky--believe me, I've tried it--because if the cheese seeps out an leaks into the frying oil, all is lost. The frying must be done quickly, too, or the batter coating turns soggy and repulsive.

A superior version of the dish is turned out at Tulcingo del Valle in Hell's Kitchen, a Mexican grocery that morphed into a full-blow restaurant several years ago, and one of the best restaurants in that part of town. The sauce that smothers the fried chile is unique to Pueblan cooking, too--something like a Basque piperade, it consists of chunky tomatoes and other vegetables lightly stewed. The plate also includes cheese-dusted refried beans, moist yellow rice, and a welcoming dab of guacamole. 665 Tenth Avenue, 212-262-5510

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