Wednesday, March 14, 2007

American Born Cooking Desi

Wow, this is a real honor. I'm really, really excited to be the first non-founding poster. First, about me: some of you (not many) will know me as Eck17. Others will know me as "the dumbest smart kid they know" (thanks, Tazo!). In real life, I do math. In non-real life, I play ultimate.

What qualifies me to write on this blog? I was a member of the late, lamented Dinner Club in Chicago. You can read about it here and here. I travel a lot. So, I get to eat interesting food in interesting places (bouillabaisse in the south of France, falafel in Israel, all kinds of amazing ethnic food in Toronto, etc., etc.).Finally, I'm of Indian (dot on the forehead, not Squanto) descent. Thus, I'm going to focus mainly on Indian food in my writing (I'm also, currently, writing this in India).

Now, you might say, didn't Drew already write about and express his love for Indian food (and, I might add, drop my name in a VERY flattering manner)? Yes, he did. But, with all due respect, Drew knows NOTHING about Indian food. And since I said with all due respect, he can't get mad. It's in the Geneva conventions. Look it up.

OK, so that's not quite fair. What I should say is that the Indian food Drew (and he knows more than essentially all Americans) knows about is but a tiny sliver of the vast variety of deliciousness prepared on this subcontinent. Now, I may not know a much larger percentage, but I do know a different percentage.

More precisely, most of the Indian food that's served in the U.S. is actually an interpretation of Punjabi/Mughlai cuisine. It's from a specific region of Northwest India, and what you get in a restaurant is basically rich, banquet-type food, not an everyday meal. Every now and then you'll hit a South Indian restaurant, which will serve dosas, and idlis, which, while delicious and integral parts of Tamil cuisine, are basically breakfast/snack food.

So, imagine if you ate a bunch of roasts and boiled vegetables with white sauce, and every so often some bacon and eggs, and maybe a croissant, and then, using that, formed an opinion of "European" food. You'd be crazy, right? (funnily enough, in a lot of places in India there is something known as "Continental" cuisine, which is basically what I described above).

So what I'm going to try and do is to highlight the cuisines of my parent's home states, Assam (in the northeast), and Tamil Nadu (in the south). I'll probably try and take it one dish at a time, and hopefully include some rough approximation to a recipe (I cook according to taste, in Indian slang, by andaaz). I'll also occasionally try and describe/cook other popular foods in India that don't often see the light of day in the U.S.

No comments: