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We Want To Educate Our Palates On Indian Foods

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My Mother loves to eat Indian Food, and has been hinting around that I take her to some of the Indian restaurants in town. 

When we lived in Hawaii, she had two girl friends that she would go to lunch with, and they would do the ordering.  Mom doesn't know the names of any of the dishes that they favored and sadly, both ladies have passed on, so I have one to ask. 

As for myself, I haven't had that much exposure to it, so I have no clue as to the names of the dishes. 

What I was thinking is that maybe if I could get some suggestions on different dishes, I could do an internet search and find descriptions as well as photos online.  

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

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post #2 of 15

This Jewel of India menu might be a starting point?

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 15

Try looking at any of Madhur Jaffrey's books - simply written recipes with loads of explanation re methods, unknown ingredients.

post #4 of 15

 

I agree with Ishbel, it is a terrifc cookbook, in fact if you had to put money out on a book that one would be it. It is also important  to learn the different food dishes of India (north vs south) .

 

If you were to look at breads for instance, Northern India has roti and chapati which are baked on a teva. This is a traditional bread that most woman make for their families . If your not counting calories then you have the puri and bhatura which is deep fried. Now southern India is known for their crepe style flatbread which is called dosa and appam (made with lentils).

 

My love for Indian food started when my friend Zarina Mehta introduced me to it, the rest is history.

The best way to learn about is to read and then you will get a feel for what dishes you may like.

 

Learning about the spices is important.  

 

Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian cooking" is a good read. Neelam Batra is ok too.

 

 

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(161 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(161 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #5 of 15

'Indian' food is now part of Britain's cuisine, due to our days of Empire - even though most of our 'Indian' restaurants are actually staffed with Bangladeshi chefs!

 

I was taught to cook certain Indian dishes by two fellow students at Uni, a husband and wife team (post-grad medics) - who livened up my tastebuds no end (that was in the late 60s!)

post #6 of 15
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more valuable is experience? Many -- if not most -- Indian restaurants in the western United States do AYCE ("all you can eat") lunch buffets with some of the most common "curries," breads, dals, etc. Go out with mom and experiment fearlessly. If you don't like something, don't eat it; get a fresh plate and start over. That's what AYCE buffets are all about.

Hints:

Don't load up your plate with lettuce and tomatoes, then dress them with raita as if it were a required salad. It's neither. You can eat dinner at every family's house, at every restaurant, and from every stand on the entire sub-continent and you will NEVER get a lettuce, tomato and raita "salad." It was invented in Manhattan by a blonde teen-age girl.

Make sure you sample all the condiments -- like the cilantro-mint -- and not just the sweet chutneys. Speaking of the cilantro-mint chutney, see if you can taste the hibiscus. It's in there.

Indian pickles are nearly always intensely salty-sour, sometimes a little bit sweet, and can be very, very hot. Start with a tiny nibble on a piece of bread. You either like it or you don't.

Indian food names can have special meanings. For instance, on most US menus and buffets, masalas tend to run medium-ish when it comes to heat, and are milder than vindaloos; but masala and vindaloo aren't synonyms for medium and hot.

Go carefully with vindaloos.

If you really, really love really hot peppers, you haven't lived til you try mirchi ka salan. It's a Pakistani chili stew. Soooooooo good.

Don't bother with "phaal" (aka phal, phall, and/or fall), it's not really food. Instead it's a series of pointless challenges between cook and diner about the diner's ability to tolerate heat. Win or lose you'll only make yourself painfully sick.

When you've learned what you can from the buffet possibilities, and found a favorite restaurant or two, go for dinner, tell the staff what you're up to, and have them help you order a la carte. If they're any good they'll be far more helpful with their own menus than any book can possibly be -- after all, it's their menu. Take your time, you'll get there.

Almost every "Indian" restaurant in the US is going to be far more northern than southern. Southern Indian food is great if you can find it -- the "street food" (dosas for instance) is da kine.

Once you get a general idea of what you like, providing you can find a reasonably well-stocked Indian market, you can do a good job of cooking your own Indian style foods using pre-mixed sauces and spice combinations and re-heating "baked" goods like samosas (fried, actually). Yes, it's not the same as scratch... but it's a start, and the grub's not half bad either.

If you or mom can describe her (or your) favorite dishes -- color, kind of meat (if any), spice level, combination of vegetables, type of lentil, what's in the rice, etc. -- chances are someone here can give you one of the names.

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/26/11 at 11:19am
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post #7 of 15

The best experience as Chef BDL mentioned is to go and taste.

 

Remember , if your not into hot food let your waitress know ahead of time. Nothing ruins a meal more than eating something that was full of chilli peppers .....try a lassi or even a mango lassi for a drink.

 

Desserts: creamy phirni, kesar kheer, gajar halva, sooji halva, the famous gulab jamun which is in every indian restaurant and mango mousse.

 

Indian drinks: lassi, chai, thandai . 

 

Your own palate dictates ....so its hard to offer up dishes , taste test is best.

 

Petals.

unthon se mor marvane 

 

 
 
 
 

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(161 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(161 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

chef PeteMcCracken, Ishbel and Petals, I was thinking of going to the library, thank you for the suggestions.  BDL, you were reading my mind... one of the restaurants has a lunch buffet, and that's just what I talked about with my husband (he does not care at all of Indian food) that I take Mom to the buffet and try, ask questions as you all suggested and I'll take my note pad and camera (Mom had a poor memory).  And I'm so glad that you mentioned desserts Petals, Mom is highly allergic to mango, I'll have to keep an eagle eye on that one.

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply
post #9 of 15

Where did your Mom like to eat in Hawaii?

 

On Indian, I don't know how much of this advice will work for your Mom, but look for variation!  The standard U.S. Indian restaurant serves a very narrow range of food compared to what folks in India eat -- not only mainly Northern if not Northwestern Indian, but a standard "restaurant" cuisine influenced by the Mughals, and hence as much Persian and Indian -- all that cream and saffron.  Partly this is self-replicating: once people know they like certain Indian dishes, that's what they order.  But there's a lot more out there.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Colin, my Mom and her girl friends would go someplace in Kailua for Indian Food, don't know the name and Mom's memory is getting poor.  But yeah, the places here are Northern. 

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply
post #11 of 15

thanks Kaneohegirl -- I'm intrigued because I lived in Honolulu for a while and sought out Indian restaurants.  

 

A map search shows an Indian place in Kailua called India Cafe, http://www.indiacafehawaii.com/locations/kailua which actually has a couple South Indian items -- the sambar and dosai -- in with the North Indian food.  It looks pretty good, and the fact that the menu changes from day to day is a good sign.

 

My only caution about lunch buffets is that they can be less than wonderful -- you typically get quantity rather than quality, and a lot of oily dishes.  You're likely to get better food at a sit-down place -- take a bunch of people, order different stuff, sample.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

Colin, do you still live in Honolulu?

Mom her girl friends would go and have Thai food as well, again, somewhere in Kailua, she doesn't remember too much.

So BDL, that's part of the problem too.

She kinda' leans on me a lot thinking that I know about these things, so that's why I want to educate myself first.

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply
post #13 of 15

Sadly no -- I'm back on the mainland in Seattle.  Hawaii has great Thai.  

 

Lot of connections between Thai, Malaysian, and Southern Indian food.

 

If you all ever make the trip over to Las Vegas from AZ, there's a fabulous Thai place hidden in a shopping complex, called Lotus of Siam.

 

Do you know Chowhound?  It has a southwest board http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/6 that might help you locate good Thai or Indian restaurants in Arizona.  

 

 

 

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Okay, so I took my Mother to lunch, finally, for Indian Food, which she loves.

We had the buffet, very inexpensive BTW, and we had:

Aloo Saag

Samosa (very greasy, oil wasn’t hot enough)

Kurma

Lentil Daal

I don’t know what it was called, a Squash dish, very tasty

Masala Keema, yum, I liked that the best

Basmati Rice

Butter Chicken, very good

Tandoori chicken legs (very dry)

And then at the end of the run oddly, iceburg salad mix with cucumbers and condiments.

All in all though, it wasn’t bad at all.

They brought a nice basket of Naan bread that was just melt in your mouth, delicious.  A little garlic on top, really good.  

Nothing was overly spicy, but we like a little kick.

Now, mind you, nothing was marked, so I went on shear faith of my own eye and then came home and looked everything up on the internet for the names of the dishes. 

No dessert type item though…

We walked away satisfyingly full and didn’t spend allot of money for it.

I’m not sure that I would go again, at least not without my Mom, since it was her turn to pick our lunch spot.  

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply

from ...

My kitchen in the middle of the desert

A Hui Hou (until we met), ALOHA!

Reply
post #15 of 15

Sounds good.  I hope your Mom liked it!

 

The dishes you liked are ones that hold up well under buffet conditions.  Tandoori stuff doesn't -- if you want that experience, you might look for a sit-down dinner.

 

Desserts aren't really where Indian food shines.  Kulfi, a thick ice cream, and gulab jamun, little balls of fried dough syrup, can be good if they're made fresh and you can handle the sugar.

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