This is not my first encounter with Indian food, nor will it be my last. But my post about my experience with Ethiopian cuisine has been so popular (post can be found here: https://f00dventures.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/expanding-my-cultural-palate-ethiopian-cuisine/), I thought I would do another but this time with Indian cuisine.
Over the weekend Edward and I went to one of our favorite local Indian restaurants. It makes me feel so good to say that because Edward used to be completely against Ethnic food. I’m not completely sure when he had this change of heart but every once in awhile he actually requests Indian food for dinner. My next mission is to get him to request Ethiopian food 😉
The one thing I really love about not just Indian cuisine but also Thai and Ethiopian is that they utilize so many spices and flavors. From what I’ve gathered, some of the most popular spices that are used in Indian cuisine are (but not limited to) chili pepper, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, ginger, black mustard seed, coriander, and garlic.
Another thing to mention with Indian cuisine is the bread. While Ethiopian cuisine features injera (a yeast risen, spongy flatbread), Indian cuisine features naan and roti.Roti is made from stoneground wholemeal flour and is similar to a tortilla while naan, on the other hand, is a leavened oven baked flatbread. Our naan is pictured up above at the top of the picture. There are many other breads I’ve come across in Indian establishments but roti and naan are the ones I have come across most. I always love me some good naan when I visit an Indian establishment. In fact I’ve been know to hoard it so I have extra to bring home with me 😉
Moving on, I also would like to briefly address tandoori. You may notice something along the lines of ‘tandoori chicken’ or ‘tandoori entrees’ if you’ve ever been to an Indian establishment. Tandoori refers to a cylindrical clay or metal oven that is used in baking and cooking. It is used to make various dishes like naan, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka kabob (chicken marinated in yogurt and spices), seekh kabob (minced meat of choice, like chicken or lamb, marinated in spices then grilled on skewers), and many others. So basically it’s just another way of cooking various dishes.
I also want to address some of the beverages that Indian cuisine has to offer. Some of the most common I have come across are:
– chai (cardamom flavored indian tea)
– madras coffee (strong indian coffee)
– lassi (a yogurt blended drink mixed with salt, sugar, or sometimes fruit like mango).
I have tried chai before and it is definitely a bit more bitter and not as sweet as the chai I am accustomed to. I have also tried Lassi and, well, let’s just say it wasn’t something I ordered again. Traditional lassi is more of a savory drink and it just wasn’t something I personally cared for.
I also want to briefly mention lentils. Lentils are commonly used in Indian cuisine and I cannot say enough about crushed lentil soup. I have tried lentil soup at several middle eastern restaurants and all of them have been amazing.
So back to my story about Edward’s and my Indian adventure. I admit the first couple times i tried Indian i tended to stick with the same dishes – crushed lentil soup, chicken curry, or chicken shawarma. In fact, the first time I came to this particular restaurant I ordered a chicken curry dish as it was most familiar to me. It was basically a small pot of chicken “cooked in a rich curry sauce along with cashews, coconut, and a blend of aromatic spices”. The second time I branched out a little and got chole batura which is basically a puffy, deep fried bread with chickpea curry. It is amazingly delicious. However, this time around I decided to branch out even more and went with navratan korma which was basically a large variety of “garden fresh vegetables cooked in a unique blend of spices topped with cashews and raisins”. I think this is my new favorite dish. I also ordered naan because it’s against the law not to (ok, not really but I can’t fully enjoy Indian without my naan). I spooned the korma onto the naan and it was absolutely to die for. It’s the dish that is pictured in the middle at the top of this post. Edward went with a plethora of meat. He ordered tandoori mix grill which was a “combination of marinated chicken, seekh kabob, boti (still haven’t a clue what this is), and shrimp cooked in the tandoor”. His dish is pictured on the far right in the picture above. I tried a couple bites of Edward’s dish but we mostly shared mine as we both found it to be delicious and flavorful. Despite sharing it, we still took home half of it!
My advice to you if you’ve never tried Indian or Ethnic cuisine is to experience it with a friend. Many of the establishments I have frequented offer buffets or platters that can be shared so you have a chance to try a wide range of foods in one sitting.Makes it a little easier to determine what types of flavors you like/don’t like.
Also, don’t be shy and ask your server what you’re eating so you can make a note. I admit I still forget to do this so half the time I have no idea what I’m eating which makes it difficult to determine what I like and what I don’t like.
Lastly, go in with an open mind so you can fully enjoy all it has to offer.