Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern

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NancyPeter
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2003/09/22 16:23:52 (permalink)

Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern

I alternate between preferring these two different types of ethnic cuisines. Does anyone have any thoughts of their own on this subject? Both types are known for their incredibly flavorful and aromatic foods, which are so different from what most of us were brought up with here in the United States. When I first discovered Indian food, I all but gave up on Chinese...
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    scbuzz
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/22 16:45:32 (permalink)
    I love both, but I give Indian food a slight edge ! The flavors are amazing !

    We have several great middle-eastern resturants in the town where I work and about 5 Indian resturants and I go to them as often as possible. Unfortunately I have a hard time convincing any coworkers to go with me ! Some people just do not have any culinary adventure in their life.



    Korean food is great too !
    #2
    Lone Star
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/22 16:59:19 (permalink)
    I would have to cast my vote for Indian as well, mainly because most of the Indian places I know of have a lunchtime buffet where it is easier to sample all the different dishes to see what you like/do not like. I recently coaxed one of my co-workers into going to lunch at one with me. It is a lovely place, with linen tableclothes and nice tableware with all of the dishes covered in individual steam trays with lids. Everything is labeled so you know what you are having. I had everything but the goat curry. The lamb curry was delicious.

    My co-worker did not like much, so I told him to stick with the tandoori chicken and nan. Oh well!

    The middle-eastern places I have been to mainly seem to just serve shwarmas, kabobs, hummus, etc... maybe I just haven't been to the right places!

    edited cause by the end of the day I can't spell anymore
    #3
    stanpnepa
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/22 17:31:03 (permalink)
    My vote is split, with the defunct Sri Lankan Curry House a favorite. My friend and I were driving through the Twin Cities, picked up the yellow pages and said "Wow, gotta try this"!

    Waitress: "How spicy would you like it?"
    Friend: "Very" (he always orders very spicy)
    Waitress: "Have you ever eaten here before"?
    Friend: "No"
    Waitress: "Well, we recommmend that you order mild, because the spices here will be different than anything you've had before. These are deep seasonings"
    Friend (reluctantly): "OK, medium spice"

    An hour later, after a wonderful meal, my friend was wiping his brow and on his tenth glass of water!!! In his defeat, all I could do was smile!

    Oddly enough, it was the inclusion of the Sri Lankan Curry House in the 1992 Roadfood Edition that led me to buy the book. While browsing in a Memphis book store, I figured---if they know about that place and Al's BBQ, and Pat's Steaks, than this book has got to be filled with all kinds of great joints. Little did I know what an obsession it would become!



    #4
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/22 17:38:59 (permalink)
    Thought I would throw Ethiopian into the mix. When I was living in Seattle, there were 2 or 3 ethiopian restaurants. I used to take all my first dates there, thought eating with your fingers was a great way to "break the ice"
    #5
    NancyPeter
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/22 17:54:26 (permalink)
    Why don't you fill us in on Ethiopian food! The only "African" food I've had is limited to the excellent buffet at Boma in the Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disneyworld. Great flavors & beautiful environment... I urge anyone visiting the "land of the mouse" to give it a try
    #6
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/22 18:10:08 (permalink)
    Ethiopian food is very similar to middle eastern in terms of taste and texture. Beef and Chicken seem to predominate and some dishes are served with whole boiled eggs. Ginger and hot pepper are common spices used. Usually if you are with a group, you would order several main dishes and share. each item ordered is served on a huge tray for the table to share and is served on top of Injera, a spongy bread. Injery is served on the side too. You tear off the injera and pick up the food from the tray with it, you won't find a utensil in sight.
    #7
    EliseT
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/23 01:40:12 (permalink)
    I prefer Indian. It is so aromatic, almost like eating incense. Middle eastern food is often too tangy for me. I also don't like parsley or yogurt much, so that's that. I only had Ethiopian once in San Francisco and it was outstanding.
    #8
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/23 04:46:58 (permalink)
    I will admit that Indian food is seasoned very well, but the Indian restaurant in Knoxville uses way too much hot stuff for me. I cannot enjoy the spices for the intense sweat that erupts after the first couple of bites.

    I ate at a African restaurant in Milwaukee that was very close to downtown. I found it to be very similar to the southern foods that I grew up on.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
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    NancyPeter
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/23 07:56:04 (permalink)
    Perhaps you could order the food mild, or have you done that already
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    RubyRose
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/23 10:41:36 (permalink)
    Middle Eastern is my favorite foreign cuisine. I like the subtlety of the seasonings. We have some very good M.E. restaurants in our area and they have extensive menus so I have been fortunate to be able to try a variety of dishes. Recently, a Syrian restaurant has opened and the food is different from the Lebanese ones and incredibly good.

    A woman who frequents a cooking forum where I post has assisted me in learning to cook many Lebanese dishes at home. Our farmers’ market offers beautiful ground lamb and most of the ingredients needed. I just started branching out into Armenian recipes too.

    My interest in Indian food began many years ago when I was the editor of a community cookbook and an Indian woman sent in a number of her family's favorite recipes. I called her to ask about them and she took me on a guided tour of Indian restaurants and invited me to her home for dinner to introduce me to the foods and cooking techniques. I like the aroma of Indian dishes more than the taste of the food, though.

    #11
    Liketoeat
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/23 14:17:28 (permalink)
    While I surely agree with Lone Star about the advantages of the Indian luncheon buffets (and my favorite in each Memphis and Little Rock not only has great food but is extremely nice as he describes), I do believe I really prefer the tastes and flavors of mid-Eastern foods (mostly Lebanese with a little Armenian) just a bit more than I do those of the Indian foods - perhaps because most of that which I've eaten was ordered by friends of Lebanese ancestry in restaurants which they knew. Both Indian and Mid-Eastern foods are so different from the majority of foods I routinely eat and so delicious that I really enjoy both and had never before thought of trying to compare the two. I'd also surely like to try the Turkish foods recently mentioned in other posts.
    #12
    EliseT
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/24 06:32:55 (permalink)
    Would you consider Moroccan to be in this category? Or is it more "African"? I'm really enamored with tagines, cous-cous and lemon-mint-coriander flavors right now. It's very different from the Lebanese-Armenian type kibbeh and hummus that I find too tangy. I think I need a primer on regional differences in Middle-Eastern food.
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    NancyPeter
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/24 18:15:09 (permalink)
    In my humble opinion, I believe Moroccan food would be more Mid-Eastern. That country, while it is on the African continent, seems to be set apart food-wise!

    Input on this from anyone else?

    Nancy
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    RubyRose
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/24 19:07:02 (permalink)
    Elise, you might enjoy this recipe, which is more of a Moroccan "home cooking" dish than one you would find in a restaurant:

    MOROCCAN LAMB CASSEROLE

    1 1/ 2 - 2 lbs. lean boneless lamb
    3 Tbs. olive oil
    1 large onion, halved and slivered
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tbs. flour
    1 and 1/ 2 cups lamb or beef broth
    1/ 2 tsp. ground cardamom
    1/ 2 tsp. ground ginger
    1/ 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    2/ 3 cup golden raisins
    1 tsp. salt
    1/ 8 tsp. pepper
    3 small yellow squash, unpeeled and cubed
    1/ 4 cup lemon juice

    Cut meat into 2 inch strips. Saute in oil until brown in large skillet; transfer to a 10-cup baking dish. Saute the onion and garlic in the remaining fat until soft.

    Stir in the remaining ingredients except for the squash & lemon juice. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the meat in the baking dish.

    Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Add the cubed squash and lemon juice; bake uncovered for an additional 30-45 minutes, stirring once or twice until squash is done. Serve with rice. Makes 6 servings
    Notes: Although not authentic, I like to add 2 Tbs. of dry sherry to the sauce ingredients. My daughter substitutes 1/ 3 cup halved dried apricots for 1/ 3 cup of the raisins. Recipe can be halved – just use a smaller baking dish.


    #15
    EliseT
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/25 02:51:58 (permalink)
    Thanks! It looks great. I'll trade you one I came up with tonight that was really good:

    Moroccan Spiced Cous Cous

    1 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
    1 cup couscous
    2 Tablespoons butter
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
    1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
    1/8 tsp or pinch each: Cinnamon, cardamom, mace (or allspice)
    2 Tablespoons chopped roasted red bell pepper
    1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

    Bring broth to boil. Add butter and stir to melt. Add all other ingredients and stir well.

    Cover and turn down heat. Simmer for 8 minutes.

    Remove from heat and let sit 8 more minutes. Fluff with fork.
    #16
    NancyPeter
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/25 17:03:47 (permalink)
    I have a recipe that I've modified from an Indian cookbook called Chicken in Spicy Sauce. The sauce is done in the Cuisinart, and it's oh-so-easy. Let me know if anyone is interested & I'll type it out!
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    EliseT
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/27 05:44:26 (permalink)
    We always love new recipes, Nancy!
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    redtressed
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/09/27 15:40:33 (permalink)
    I love both equally. I've managed to make friends with the owners of one of the international groceries around here, so they often call to let me know when something special is in. It's a wonderful little store, a hole in the wall, dusty and dark, but every shelf is lined to overbrimming with exotic treasures, as are the aisles.

    Falafel.....if you're like me , you find that boxed stuff nauseating. Here's a recipe for it from scratch


    Falafel

    2 bunches parsley, cleaned well of grit and the leaves finely chopped
    4 green onions, minced, green tops included
    1 1 lb bag dried chick peas soaked overnight OR 3 cans chick peas drained*
    5 cloves garlic
    2 tblsp olive oil
    2 tblsp lemon juice
    1 egg
    2 tblsp Ground Cumin
    1 tblsp Ground Chili
    3 tblsp dried mint or 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
    1 tblsp baking powder
    salt to taste
    pepper to taste

    *if using canned chick peas or your soaked dried ones are on the mushy side, use 1/2-1 cup besan flour (chick pea flour) to make your mixture patty-worthy. If besan is not availiable, you can substitute the boxed falafel mix but be sparing with it.


    Toss all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Process until well mixed and thick as the dickens. Heat up a fry pan with approx 3 cups of oil of your choice. Form mixture into small plump patties and fry on both sides until a browned green color. mmmmmmmmmmmm good healthy greasy food


    #19
    NancyPeter
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/06 17:24:43 (permalink)
    Thanks, Redtressed, I am going to try this recipe. My husband used to be a vegetarian, so I have tried that boxed stuff - yikes! One question, by ground chili, do you mean ground chili powder
    #20
    lleechef
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/06 17:58:01 (permalink)
    I'm having a hard time casting my vote. I love Moroccan and Algerian food, the various cous cous dishes, tangines, tandooris, roasted lamb and goat. But I was the chef for a wealthy family in Paris; he was the CEO of Schlumberger and French, she was from India. The two house boys were from Sri Lanka. They cooked some amazing Indian food, all eaten with your fingers, no utensils. That was when I learned that curry is not a powder you buy but a complex combination of over 20 spices, herbs and dried pods!
    #21
    redtressed
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/06 19:37:25 (permalink)
    Yes...ground chili powder...I sometimes use the "hot" kind, also I have tasted it with some red pepper flakes added an it was good that way too.
    #22
    redtressed
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/06 19:42:37 (permalink)
    Also...if you can't find the ingredients to make your own curry or garam masala seasonings(fenugreek, chili powder, cumin, peppercorns, allspice etc)don't waste your time with our American MCCormick's or Spice Islands etc, look for Patak's Curry pastes, much more the original flavor and very easy to use and control. Comes in a 4 ounce jar in lots of varieties. And......don't forget to use the coconut cream or coconut milk in your curries....often forgotten in our Americanization of Indian food.
    #23
    lleechef
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/06 21:10:57 (permalink)
    redtressed, you are right about Patak's........they make several different kinds of condiments, all are excellent, I love the Hot Mango!! The hotter the better!
    #24
    NancyPeter
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/06 22:20:59 (permalink)
    I already have garam masala that I purchased at an Indian grocery. I use it in the above-mentioned recipe called Chicken in Spicy Sauce. I will post it when I get a chance. I have a can of coconut milk which I would love to use...any suggestions for an easy curry dish, Redtressed?
    #25
    kland01s
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/07 09:38:38 (permalink)
    "I will admit that Indian food is seasoned very well, but the Indian restaurant in Knoxville uses way too much hot stuff for me. I cannot enjoy the spices for the intense sweat that erupts after the first couple of bites."

    Sundancer, it's probably due to the region of India they are from. I used to work with a number of Indians and had been invited to their homes for meals many times . The ones who came from Northern India favored very hot spices while the one who came from Bombay ate very bland food and would not eat the others due to the heat. That was ok....more for me!
    #26
    Penoose
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/08 02:52:03 (permalink)
    Love 'em both. We have world-class middle eastern food here in Detroit. I've never had better anywhere else.

    That said, I have to favor Indian food. It's probably my favorite foreign cuisine. I like the flavors and spices a bit more. And I love the hot stuff. Eating vindaloo is almost like a sport.

    Given the choice between ghallaba and rogan josh, I will choose the latter every time.

    Damn, now I'm hungry. I shouldn't read this board so late at night.

    P.j.
    #27
    redtressed
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/08 17:27:45 (permalink)
    mmmmmm I do my indian mostly by drop of this dash of that so here goes. I marinate cubes of chicken breasts in coconut milk, few dashes of soy sauce and lemon juice for a couple of hours, then throw in a skillet with thinly sliced onions, square cut green peppers or roasted peppers if handy. Saute' in Indian Ghee if availiable or else a coconut oil/vegetable oil mix, until chicken is browned and onions transparent. Add about a cup and one half of flaked or shredded coconut and saute' further until coconut starts to turn golden. Reduce heat and add l can pureed or diced tomatoes, can of coconut milk, can of chicken stock, additional chicken soup base or chicken bouillion to taste, and some chopped garlic. Then add garam masala or else the choice of Patak's Curry Pastes. Simmer on low for about 30 minutes, Until chicken is tender. You can also add green peas to this at this time. Serve over basmati rice, with sides of your favorite chutneys.


    A great and easy bread to make to accompany this is Chappatti. Chappatti flour is a premixed unbleached white and whole wheat flour usually found in international markets and sometimes in ethnic sections of groceries. Add just water to several cups of chappatti flour until it makes a very very sludgy thick paste. You can also add a few drops of oil for a more crisp bread. Let rest about 20 minutes, then shape into 2 inch balls and roll out flat on a chapatti floured board. Take a flat skillet and heat it, no shortening etc...toss chappatti on hot skillet and heat on each side until browned. Keep done chappati in a warm over with barely damp towel covering them. Serve with either ghee or butter as a topping.
    #28
    Bulldozer Rectangle
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/08 17:47:27 (permalink)
    What really bugs me is how most Indian restaurants serve the same 5 sauces over 3 different kinds of meat. Sprinkle in some Tandoori and two "prawn" (shrimp) dishes, and you have the setup for 99% of all Indian restaurants.

    I don't know if its because of the British model for "curry houses," or what, but truly unique Indian restaurants seem to be limited to major metro areas.

    I'm not necessarily blaming Indian food for this alone; in fact, most ethnic restaurants seem to follow some sort of formula. I just think Americans in general have a very narrow idea of what Indian food is and can be.

    Thoughts anyone?
    #29
    NancyPeter
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    RE: Indian Food versus Mid-Eastern 2003/10/08 18:25:43 (permalink)
    Red, this recipe sounds phenomenal. Can you be more specific with measurements or doesn't it matter? I find that anytime I marinate chicken in lemon and spices, it's automatically a winner, but with the additions you mention, wow
    #30
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