South Indian Food
I'm spending the weekend scrubbing and spiffing up my bachelor pad. I haven't done much entertaining in a while, and I've resolved to begin having my friends over so I can make South Indian food for them. Tomorrow my pals Becky & Clare are coming over, and very soon, B & B. My mom's been sending me Word files with meticulously detailed Tamil food recipes. I've been hitting the Indian store for ingredients. They always have fresh cilantro leaves in stock--crucial for South Indian cooking.
When I moved to Buffalo 20 years ago, there were no Indian restaurants here. Western food was alien to me; I'd never even had a slice of pizza. It took me forever to shake my Indian food withdrawal. That first semester, we (groups of Indian students) would make weekend trips to Jackson Heights in NYC, Devon in Chicago, or Garrard St. in Toronto, for food alone. We'd rent a jalopy, drive hundreds of miles into the night, check into some fleabag motel four to a room (couldn't afford better), and spend all weekend stuffing ourselves.
And then one fellow grad student, who was Sikh, convinced his parents to move to town and open a restaurant. Since then, about a half dozen Indian places have opened their doors. But (and this is true all over North America and in Europe too) the overwhelming majority of Indian restaurants serve North Indian food. So, a South Indian like me is still left out in the cold...
But suddenly, last month, a godsend: Palace of Dosas, a vegetarian South Indian restaurant run by a Tamil family, came to town. The menu has all the essentials: Masala Dosa, Idli, Vadai, Utthappam, etc. plus a traditional Tamil thali meal with Sambar and Rasam. It's also redoubled my desire to dip into my mom's reservoir of recipes and start whipping up this stuff at home.
I've flirted with the idea of firing up a South Indian food blog but I'm not sure how realistic that is, given the time commitment (and constancy) that any serious-minded blog venture demands. I've set my sights a bit lower and I'm in the process of collecting links to the Indian food blogosphere. I'd like to create a new section in my blogroll for it this summer.
Speaking of dosas and Tamil food, Zach turned me on to the legendary Thiru in Washington Square Park last year. Today, Zach reports that he's on an episode of Rachel Ray's show. (Here's an interview with Thiru, by the way.) On my last trip to New York in March, I had a chance to chat with Thiru for a half hour. What a hard working, humble, inspirational man....
Pic: One of my mom's saris.