Savoring Spices

“I wish I liked Indian food – but I just don’t like curry.”

I’ve heard this sentence more times than I can count from people, usually older adults.

When I was growing up and it was time to eat out, there were only two options in my family.  Chinese Buffet.  or Mexican food.  I’m not entirely proud of this – but my favorite restaurant to go to as a teenager with my friends was TGIFriday’s.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I started tasting other ethnic cuisines: Thai, Ethiopian, Japanese Sushi, and Indian food.

My first encounter with Indian food was Chicken Tikka Masala (isn’t everyone’s?), and I wasn’t hooked – until I tasted the garlic naan. I was lured in by this combination of soft, yet spicy bread, in such an interesting shape.

Indian food is famously complicated – there’s SO much more than just Curry.  There are multiple steps, each taking fifteen or more minutes, huge ingredient lists and secret spice mixes you have to figure out.   And it’s fairly difficult to replicate the flavors at home – at least for a cook like me – who is more into thirty minute meals.   I wouldn’t even have attempted to cook any Indian food, if it wasn’t for my half-Indian husband, who loves the spice combinations of coriander, cumin, chili, tumeric, and so on.

What I make falls far short of restaurant Indian food, although I do try fairly often, usually using this book.

When I have time, I attempt the longer recipes in the book like Peas Pilau.  And when I don’t, well then I make the Chickpea Curry pictured below. It’s still tasty, and here is the recipe written out on another blog.

Eventually I stop trying to approximate recipes, and start asking for a leisurely escape to the local Indian food restaurant in Salem – Passage to India.  Or the equally delightful Beverly based Anmol.

And if that doesn’t work… there’s always take-out.

I recommend trying some Channa Masala, the Saag Paneer, and of course, garlic naan, as soon as you can. Or you could always try to whip up your own.

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