There is only one cuisine that I’m aware of that I struggle to find large amounts of pleasure in: Indian food. I’ve been told that I have to eat at an Indian person’s house in order to see how good authentic Indian cuisine is. Until that day comes then, I’ll remain ignorant.
So what don’t I “get” about Indian food. For starters, everything tastes the same. Maybe this statement is the culinary equivalent of saying “all chinese people look alike,” but I mean no harm. As for how does every dish tastes the same, I have absolutely no idea. I’m about as familiar with an Indian spice cabinet as I am comfortable on MARTA at 2 in the morning. I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that Indian kitchens are putting every spice they’ve got into every dish on the menu.
chicken jalfrezi, boneless chicken cooked in with onion, ginger, bellpepper in a mild spicy sauce” ($12)
Indian food also seems really greasy. Like used-car salesman greasy. And on top of being greasy, not many Indian dishes taste of simplicity (with the exception of the mango lassi). What do I mean by simplicity? Like when you bite into, let’s say, a sausage pasta dish. First you may taste the subtle pasta, then the sweet sausage, then the light touch of cream, then the mushrooms — and after everyone has had their “turn,” everything blends together for a grand finale. With Indian food, it’s like “BAM!” and I’m left feeling like someone has thrown a handful of random spices and a lighted match (spice, heat) into my mouth.
“vegetable samosa, crispy and spicy turnovers with peas and potatoes”
At the same time I realize that it’s unfair to compare Indian food with Italian etc. Of course a sausage pasta dish is going to taste differently from chicken tikka masala. It should. But Indian food still just doesn’t make me jump up and laugh like other cuisines. Once an Indian friend bluntly told me that I need to “learn to appreciate a culture’s cuisine for what’s available in that country (paraphrased).” He’s right. I do.
Last night I ate at Mirch Masala, a shopping-center restaurant in what seemed like Decatur’s India town. Inside the place is quite clean. You had the option of buffet ($11.95) or ordering from the menu. I ordered off the menu.
So hopefully you spotted the pictures of Indian food above. That’s what I had last night. I would take each dish and dissect it for you, but I just can’t. I’m sorry. The dishes were filling, flavorful, and tasted…alike. Sure there was a difference here and there, but at the end of the meal, I wasn’t sure what spices made one dish different from the next.
Consider this to be a complex of mine.
1713 Church Street
Decatur, GA 30033-5601