Brian's Indian Conversion

Over the years I have gained such an acquired taste for all Asian foods.  The more I have tried – Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean the more I love it all. I love the way their food seams the dance around on my pallet. I feel you get a bit of everything in almost every little bite. The sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami; there seems to be a depth in their flavors that I cannot get enough of.  I just love the way it lingers and pleases my senses and with each bite and every new dish I have tried I am more and more in love. It is just so different from the Italian food that I grew up on and change is always good. All of these cuisines were so easy to talk my husband, Brian into trying – until it came to Indian food. Over the years I have mentioned that we try it and over the years he turned it down time and time again. Repeating the same thing, “I just don’t know enough about it.” I do not know what he needed to know. In my opinion he was eating sushi and that was more foreign to me then Indian food. Maybe it was the mix of spices, or all the stewed dishes and chutneis? I am not really sure, but what I do know is that it was many approaches before I got him to agree to go out and try some. Actually, our friend Shaun said that he would like to meet us at an Indian restaurant and Brian gave in. I think knowing that someone else was familiar with it made him comfortable with the idea. What a surprise, he really enjoyed his meal. I was pleased with all the vegetarian options they had, tasty ones at that. And yes, again my taste buds were dancing and my senses were pleased.

When it comes to Indian food there is a depth that you get from their cooking…maybe it is the spice mixes? I am not sure, but what I do know is if I only had Indian food to eat for the rest of my life I would not be complaining. Over the years we have tried many dishes of the cuisine and I cannot pick one that I love more than the other. We have eaten at all sorts of places too. From a questionable greasy spoon in San Francisco that had the best Paratha I have ever had – one that was stuffed with a spicy potato mash that was irresistible. Many Indian Buffets to try a bit of everything. We would travel to an Indian restaurant in north Phoenix to eat because their spices were so fresh and had the best Vegetable Korma with Cashews we have tasted. We also went to a whole in wall Southern Indian resturant in the U District of Seattle with fantastic food and it's folding chairs and no frill decor. We drove out to West Seattle one day because we heard that an Indian Restaurant there had great Goat Curry that my husband wanted to try, and he ate every last bite of it. A year and a half ago on our our move from Phoenix to Seattle we drove through Oregon and stopped in for dinner at a Southern Indian place that had fantastic Dal Dosai that I still think about. Needless to say, I will travel for good food- Indian in particular. And along the way my husband stopped and looked and me and said,” Danielle, I am so sorry. For years I did not want to try Indian food and I think I enjoy it more than any other food now. I am sorry I made you miss out on this for so long.” (How could I not love him after that comment?)

Over time we have experimented on some of the cuisine on our own. Some of our creations have been much better than others. Like anything else there is always trial and error! I have acquired a couple of cookbooks over time and have talked to a few Indian Chefs as well; they are always so helpful and friendly to explain their dishes. I think it is a sign that there are cooking their food with love & care. Over time my husband had done more and more experimenting in the kitchen with Indian dishes too. So far my favorite of his has been Saag Paneer. I came home not too long ago to our home wafting in the smell of ginger, garlic, and curry; and I think my mouth was instantly watering. It was great but not right by his standards.

If you have not had Saag Paneer it is a spinach (Saag) dish in a really flavorful curry cream sauce that has fried cheese (Paneer) in it. It is served over rice and is as comforting as it is delicious. He wanted it creamier and felt it fell short in that aspect. While we were at the Pike Place Market one afternoon I stopped at the Indian food counter there – by the way they have great Sabosas there - and asked the chef how he gets his Saag so creamy. He talked the recipe through with Brian. Brian was making it with yogurt, the chef suggested plain old heavey cream and whisking it in in the end. You see the proteins in the yogurt seize up when they get too hot and do not remain creamy. Ah! We thought his recipe was complete and I have asked him if he would make it with me to share with all of you.  The result: creamy, delicious and as far as Brian was concerned much better than the previous attempts. I believe Brian has hit a home run with this one.  I loved making it as much as I enjoyed eating it.  Maybe we won’t be going out to eat Indian too often anymore.