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Weekend Picks: Add some spice

Tandoori duck breast at Southern Spice. (Jan. 14,

Tandoori duck breast at Southern Spice. (Jan. 14, 2012) Photo Credit: Yana Paskova

After a big dinner, when we are all groaning from overindulgence, my friend Paul always thanks God "for the miracle of sleep that will enable us to wake tomorrow, hungry again." On the day after Thanksgiving, I often find myself hungry for exotic flavors that have nothing to do with turkey or pumpkin pie. Here are some suggestions:

Southern Spice (New Hyde Park) serves the vibrant, little-known cuisine of the Chettinad region of India. The restaurant's curries are distinguished by nuance as well as heat. Don't miss the pepper-crusted tandoori duck breast or the paneer pudina tikka, fresh cheese that's been skewered, roasted and grilled to delicious effect.

Yao's Diner (Centereach) is LI's best source for authentic Northern Chinese cooking in all its fiery, sour, rich glory. Fried lamb with cumin, steamed pork ribs, pickled cabbage and Chinese celery with bamboo shoots are among the revelations. English-language menu guidance can be spotty.

With ties to both Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, Afghan cuisine remains deliciously distinct. At Choopan Grill (Hicksville) sample succulent kebabs, rice palaws as well as varied forms of Afghan pasta: leek-stuffed aushak, chicken-stuffed mantoo and nanah dagh, boiled homemade noodles topped with butter, garlic, mint and yogurt sauce.

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