Apparently nothing puts me in the mood for Indian food like a glass of wine at Barsha because the moment I signed the check, I was jay-running in the dark to get to India’s Tandoori across the street. I’d risk my life for good Indian food, and India’s Tandoori was no exception.
There are few foods more original than Indian, and there are few cultures with more aesthetic appeal. Even the oven that cooks the food is attractive. Whether it’s an earthy clay pot or a shiny metal barrel, if aesthetics were an award the tandoor would win them all. Then again, it’s what on the inside that counts, and everything that goes in a tandoor comes out like the Chicken Tikka; resplendently red with sizzling strips of sautéed onion.
I can’t begin to figure out what I love most about Indian culture, but the dances and the clothing are probably tied for first. Whether it’s the hand-clapping, lightbulb-screwing bhangra reverberating like the sharp, spicy Goat Vindaloo or the smoother circles of garba that swirl and weave like the more delicate lentils of the Daal Makhni, just be prepared to end your spicy dance in a glass of water with ice.
The dances are divine, but I’ve never seen anything more stunning than a sari. Like the food, the sari is an artful arrangement of elegant embroidery, breathtaking beads, and rightful wrapping. And like the sari, the Shahi Paneer is an intricately-entwined blend of spices that comes together as a sweet, seamless sauce.
Even the most stunning of saris is incomplete without the right accessories, one of them being the bindi. Choosing the right round dot can make or break the sari, and choosing the right green wheels of not-even-the-tiniest-bit-slimy okra of the Bhindi Bhaji definitely made the meal.
The bindi is important and the sari is a must, but what’s a sari with the perfect bindi if you don’t have bangles? No outfit feels complete without them but sometimes, like the fluffy, thin-crust sauce-sopping Garlic Naan, (which is easily the best I’ve ever had), their importance is often overlooked.
And just when I thought I couldn’t love India’s Tandoori more, we were gifted with some milky, nutty, and mildly grainy Rice Pudding to sample.
I love all that is Indian. Whether it’s because the majority of my friends from med school were Indian or because the majority of my med school was Indian, my relationship with these people has shaped my love for their culture, which I intend to conquer, one bite at a time. And while risking my life for India’s Tandoori sounds a little extreme, I’m pretty comforted by the thought that maybe they’ll let me be Indian in my next life.