Sunday, October 30, 2005

Is The Bay Area Better Than Bollywood?

The Bay Area is a mecca for an Indian-food-lover. When I first moved to the Bay Area, I lived in the Tenderloin district, an area endearingly dubbed the "Tandoori-loin" for its famous Indian restaurants on almost every block. Later, when I moved to Berkeley, I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of Indian shops that lined its streets. There were stores that sold ornate saris, pungent Indian spices, and Indian restaurants on every street corner.

Given the plethora of options for an Indian-food-lover like me, you can imagine that I am in paradise. Just the other day, I had an amazing take-out lunch of my favorite trio: Bengun Bharta, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Palak Paneer. To whet my palate and mop up the delicious sauces, I also ordered a crunchy set of samosas stuffed with peas and mashed potatoes, and fluffy, clay-oven-baked naan. I always order two types: 1) aloo naan filled with spiced potatoes and 2) garlic naan sprinkled with handfuls of chopped cilantro and roasted garlic.

I am not someone who needs to have vegetables hidden in a meal. However, I still adore Bengun Bharta, with its tiny "eat it too fast and you miss it" bites of roasted tomato, eggplant, and yellow onion.

Although Chicken Tikka Masala may not be authentic Indian food (I have heard that it originated here in the United States), to me, I love how the cooling creamy yogurt perfectly plays off of the spicy tikka paste and luscious tomato sauce. For me, the sauce is enough of a meal, and finding the moist and tender hunks of meat within is like finding a prize in a Cracker Jack box.

The same "prize feeling" goes for Palak Paneer. Before one minute has elapsed after the serving dish has hit the table, my spoon has already searchingly tunneled through the spinach sauce and captured each of the spongy cheese chunks for my own plate.

And finally, the naan. Ah, the naan. . . The crackly edges and the soft "melt in your mouth" interior defies all description. All I can think of is opening up the glittering tin foil to vent out the hot wisps of steam from the wonderful naan. Delicious!

Okay. . . I can’t write anything about my delicious Indian lunch without salivating all over my keyboard. That is it. I am going to get myself another wonderful Indian meal right now.
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