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 Indian Food

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  • Total Posts: 5546
  • Joined: 8/4/2005
  • Location: Crofton, MD
Indian Food Wed, 01/25/06 1:33 PM (permalink)
Perhaps it's that I grew up in upstate, NY, which for decades had little eastern food, and those that they had were crappy, because I hated Indian food, Thai, Vietnamese I also was unaware of food from Turkey, Egypt,...well let me put it another way:
We had great Italian, German, Irish and Polish Food. Some Greek and Russian too. Most Chinese was take out quality and Japanese meant steakhouse. Which a few were good, but for the most past, not on par with the European restaurants. Also, Mexican was really tex-mex, and we had no idea what BBQ was until the Dinosaur BBQ came to town and enlightened us.

Well, I'm so glad to be in DC where the diverse cultures mean an explosion of diverse restaurants.

Last weekened my wife and I went to the White Tiger on Cap Hill in DC for our first real venture into Indian cuisine outside the crud we grew up with.
I had lamb with a curry and tomato sauce, and saffron rice. My wife also had lamb, but prepared a little different.

The wine selection was ok, nothing special, but we found a nice Sonoma County Zinfandel that I was familiar with. It had berry tones to the nose, has a nice spice flavor with some oak and soft tannins, and finished clean with a hint of pepper. When we return, though, I think I'll go for the Chardonay to balance with the food better than the reds they had. I was thinking a nice bold wine would match up against the food, but really, I think a nice buttery, oak aged Chardonay would've complimented better. Like the yang to the ying of the food.

The food, was outstanding. The curry in my dish wasn't as subtle as my wife's dish, but the heat wasn't bothersome at all as it blended in well with the tomato based sauce. My wife, who chokes on anything spicy, enjoyed the curry flavor and never once said she thought it was too spicy for her.

The lamb could've been a little more tender, but the flavors were outstanding and the prices were reasonable for DC. Service was excellent. The waitstaff was helpful, to us novices in the Indian food department and our water glasses were never empty. Which is important for those who may get a little perspiry from spicy dishes.

The unleaven bread was tasty as well. Although, I would've liked the bread delivered before the rest of the food, but then I didn't have the problem of filling up on bread before my meal. Which I noticed could be the reason we both actually finished our plates and there was a little bit of bread left over. Many times, we find that when the bread is served too early, as an appetiser, we finish the bread and take home some of our meal.

so, the point is, I have a new found respect for Indian food, which falls right in line with the new found respect I've had for all the world cuisine I hadn't grown up on.


    • Total Posts: 367
    • Joined: 11/6/2004
    • Location: Richmond, VA
    RE: Indian Food Thu, 01/26/06 12:52 AM (permalink)
    I ADORE Indian food; when I was in fifth grade we were doing one of those "foods of the world" projects and our class went to an Indian restaurant. A lot of the kids wrinkled their noses, but it was love at first bite for me and it remains by far my favorite ethnic cuisine. I've heard good things about White Tiger, but the neighborhood's a little pricey for me. And you actually finished a meal? The portions must have been small, because I eat like a horse but I've never finished a meal at an Indian restaurant. Indian food leftovers ... sigh ... the best.

      • Total Posts: 3589
      • Joined: 7/3/2004
      • Location: San Francisco, CA
      RE: Indian Food Thu, 01/26/06 1:33 AM (permalink)
      As a long-time lover of Indian food, a few points:

      - India is a big country and various parts of it have different culinary influences. What you had sounds to me like northern Indian food since lamb dishes tend to relate to the Muslim influence as does the milder hand with the spices. As one goes south, one even finds pork dishes but mainly a heavier hand with the hot peppers. My favorite curry, vindaloo from Goa in the deep south of India is, perhaps, the hottest. Yum!

      - I've read learned dispositions on wines that go well with Indian food, but for my money the best thing to drink with Indian food, as with much food for tropical countries, is beer--specifically an Indian beer like Kingfisher.

      - The bread you had was almost certainly naan, the staple bread which is baked on the walls of a tandoor (Indian clay oven) and can be used to push your food around on the plate, even to scoop it up. However, many Indian places will provide papadums (large, round, cracker-like appetizers usually made from lentil flour) before the meal and a selection of chutneys to dab on them (typically one is mint, another tamarind which is my favorite) much like Mexican places provide chips and salsa.

      - If you decide to experiment some more with Indian food, especially if you venture into anything spicy, be sure to get raita and chutney as condiments, even if they cost extra (as they often do). Raita is a concoction of chopped veggies (the standard is cucumber or tomato but other veggies can be used) in yogurt and it works perfectly to put out the fire in your mouth. The chutney--especially mango or tamarind--is just a yummy sweet complement to the spicy main course.

      PS for MandalayVA: I never have any trouble cleaning my plate in an Indian restaurant.

        • Total Posts: 367
        • Joined: 11/6/2004
        • Location: Richmond, VA
        RE: Indian Food Thu, 01/26/06 3:28 AM (permalink)

        PS for MandalayVA: I never have any trouble cleaning my plate in an Indian restaurant.

        I don't consider it trouble. I consider it the next day's lunch.

        BT, I applaud your bravery. I enjoy hot food and when I order curry or rogan josh I ask the server to "spice it the way you eat it," which is polite Indian restaurant code for "spice it up, dude, I'm no wuss," but I have yet to eat a vindaloo that didn't make me cry in pain in the bathroom the next day. However, I do use Penzey's vindaloo mix when making my own curries since the vast majority of pre-mixed curry powders are pretty weak to me. Two tablespoons give the curry a nice but not unbearable heat and good flavor and do not do horrible things to your digestive system.


          • Total Posts: 1440
          • Joined: 4/5/2004
          • Location: kansas city, MO
          RE: Indian Food Thu, 01/26/06 7:43 AM (permalink)
          Nice report, Scorereader. If you have the oppurtunity, try a vegetarian Indian restaurant. Many of them have the name Udupi, which is a common term for meatless in most parts of India. Most of the Udupi places I've eaten at have been South Indian, with wonderful dosas and curries. If you haven't had a dosa be sure to try them. My favorite is a very large crispy crepe filled with a spicy potato curry. Great with the coconut chutney.

            • Total Posts: 5546
            • Joined: 8/4/2005
            • Location: Crofton, MD
            RE: Indian Food Fri, 01/27/06 11:54 AM (permalink)
            BT - were you sitting next to us?
            you're comments were right on. I saw others with the raita and chutney, but didn't know what it was. It was extra, but definately needed if our dishes were spicier.
            Also, they did indeed sell Kingfisher! I'll give it try next time around.

            Mandalay, I think the portions were just right. Any more I would've exploded, any less, I would've wanted more. I think we also cleaned our plates because did not do an appetiser and the food was too good. But I'm glad the White Tiger is a known Indian pick. I had some appetisers at a few Indian places in Woodley PArk, but wasn't impressed enough to have a full meal there.

            Thanks BT and Zataar for the tips for our next venture into Indian cuisine.
            I won't feel so naive the time.

              • Total Posts: 1948
              • Joined: 7/30/2005
              • Location: Hinton, VA
              RE: Indian Food Fri, 01/27/06 2:42 PM (permalink)
              Hello All,
              In Harrisonburg, Va., we have a place called the American Indian Cafe. They serve no American food. The owners are from
              Nepal. I have tried a number of dishes, but am just stuck on their Chicken Saag, with naan, with a heat level of 2. The
              heat level goes from 1 to 4. I have a soda with the meal, but must have a couple Kingfisher beers before. That is a good
              beer. The only time I didn't enjoy a meal there was when I ordered my food at level 4. Taught me the extreme of heat. It was
              my fault for being macho.
              Take Care,
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