I love food. In fact, when I travel, it is one of the gauges I use to decide where to go. After living in Nicaragua (there’s a reason you don’t see any Nicaraguan restaurants anywhere) and then Kenya (same deal) I decided that I needed to use different criteria when choosing a destination. Indian food = amazing, and I’m not joking when I say it was a big part of my decision.
I am finally starting to learn how to cook, and last week I made my first attempt at a curry. My very honest taste testers declared that it was “A great first attempt, but missing coconut and a little too strong.” I’ll call that a success. My best dish so far: coconut chutney. I’ve got that one down.
There is a big difference in local foods depending on where you live in India. There are primary differences between the South and the North, but they vary from city to city as well. I’m no expert, but I know a few of the staple, southern dishes and I can tell you that southern foods are spicier and rice-based where as northern foods are creamier and wheat-based. They are all, however, fantastic. I would also like to proudly announce that my spice tolerance can stand on its own two feet here. I was quite worried about eating some mystery curry and not being able to handle the spice – you know, when your face gets all red and you start to cry. I can even take more spice than a few Indians, which everyone is always highly amused by. Win!
It took me a little while to even begin to get a grip on the cooking – normally if I eat a good Italian meal, or even Mexican food, I can taste the ingredients and then attempt to recreate. Indian spices are so foreign that I have no idea where the taste is coming from. So far,
- I can identify coconut – I love coconut. Opening the coconut, however, is a skill I have yet to master. I always get the water all over the floor.
- Even though everything is yellow and people seem to use a lot of turmeric powder, I use WAY too much turmeric powder. That’s kind of gross.
- I also use way too much chili powder. And probably way too many spices in general. They’re just so colorful and so tasty!
- I can’t yet taste the flavor of curry leaves, but they somehow make everything taste so much better. Do we have these in the US?
- Dried coriander/coriander powder is really different than fresh coriander (cilantro) – learned that lesson the hard way.
People also have a really cute way of describing good food – they say “It’s yum!” Not yummy, just yum. And not just little kids, it is the equivalent of saying something is delicious or really good. That’s yum! I love it.