Delhi: The Lament of the Hungry Expat (my essay from The Book Review India)

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This essay was originally published in The Book Review India

If you’ve read Delirious Delhi, then this essay is essentially an epilogue: a postscript about the expat’s post-India life, and what it’s like to have lived in India and miss it so very much.

Delhi: The Lament of the Hungry Ex-Expat

By Dave Prager

I spotted the Indians entering Denver’s Botanic Gardens about fifty feet ahead of us. It was their clothes that got me excited: both ladies in the family wore saris.

I nudged Jenny with excitiment. She sighed. “Dave, this is getting creepy.”

Creepy? Since when is it creepy to follow strange Indians around a park hoping to catch their eyes, start a conversation, win their trust, become friends, exchange numbers, and accept an invitation to dinner—all because I want to eat homemade Indian food again?

I mean, doesn’t every American who once lived in Delhi do that?

*  *  *

The year-and-a-half my wife Jenny and I lived in Delhi’s Hauz Khas Market neighborhood changed me forever. Not just because of the career boost from my promotion to the Gurgaon office. And not just because the book I wrote about Delhi is spinning through HarperCollins India’s printing facilities even as this essay goes to print. No, it’s mostly because now that I’m gone, my stomach forces my brain to view every Indian I see as a potential conduit to the food I miss so much.

I’m not trying to be creepy. I just miss the food.

Before we moved to Delhi, I had no appreciation for the dynamics of the cuisine. I was perfectly content with the cheapest Indian buffet serving the stalest garlic naan and the driest tandoori chicken. In those innocent times, every dish on every menu sounded equally exotic and exciting; I’d order whatever I didn’t recognize and, with full ignorance as to both the quality and the composition of what I was eating, enjoy every bite of it.

But in the years since we’ve left Delhi, not a single Indian restaurant has achieved even the standards of my office canteen’s watery dal. I’ve yet to taste a paneer as milky and smooth as that from Saket Select Citywalk Mall food court. And even Singapore’s top-rated Indian restaurants were just a distant echo of what was, to me, the gold standard of Indian food: the meals our maid Ganga would cook for us three times a week.

(Wikipedia tells us that Annupurna is the Hindu goddess of food; experience tells us that Ganga is her earthly manifestation.)

We’ve tried the trendiest Indian restaurant on Denver’s South Pearl Street, the Singapore branch of Saravana Bhavan, and a dhaba in the back of a suburban Indian grocery in Aurora, Colorado; I’ve departed them all with my belly full but my heart empty. I’ve even purchased the same MDH spice boxes that Ganga used to cook her heavenly meals for us, faithfully following the recipes printed on the back and failing each time to come anywhere close.

Which is why I stare so hungrily at every Indian that I see.

*   *   *

We’re in a restaurant in Estes Park, Colorado, a mountain town near one of America’s most spectacular national parks. A bagel is in my hands but my tongue is tasting creamy dal makhani, because all I can focus on are the unmistakable accents emanating from the couple at the table next to us. They’re discussing hiking routes and camping spots; I’m hearing menu plans and cooking instructions.

“Where are you from?” I ask, leaning towards their table, hoping the answer is “Nizamuddin East” so that our conversation flows easily to kebab stands and butter chicken.

The man looks up. “Seattle,” he tells me, curtly. He turns back to his map.

I return to my bagel. Now it just tastes like a bagel.

*  *  *

After leaving Delhi, Jenny and I spent a year in Singapore and then returned to the States to start a family. Success: our baby daughter Georgiana is sweet, adorable, and the perfect tool to aid my quest to ingratiate myself to Indians.

She first played her part at the San Francisco airport. Approaching the gate for our flight back to Denver, I spotted an Indian couple and their infant son. Bells clanged in my head: she was wearing a salwar. Which meant she was born and bred outside the US.

I innocuously steered George’s stroller toward them.

Jenny rolled her eyes and walked off to get coffee.

I sat a few seats down from them, removed George from her stroller, and engaged in a deliberately-conspicuous bout of tongue-waggling and noise-making. Sure enough, George’s irresistible smile drew their eyes; and that was the opening I needed.

“How old is your son?” I asked. I didn’t actually care how old he was; I just wanted to confirm their accents. And as they proudly boasted that Nikhil or Naveen or something was a year or eighteen months or seven or whatever, all that my brain registered were pronunciations that implied a childhood immersed in sambar.  With chicken biryani clouding my thoughts and phantom thalis teasing my nostrils, I exclaimed (loudly, to mask my stomach’s rumbling): “Oh! You’re from India! We lived there for eighteen months!”

And from there, the conversation progressed just as I’d hoped. They were from Chennai, but they knew Delhi, and together we grew pleasantly melancholy reminiscing about places and tastes that were, for both of us, equally dear and equally far. By the time Jenny joined us with her coffee, we were chatting about old days like old friends, contrasting our transitions to each other’s cultures, recalling the restaurants we missed the most, and jointly lamenting the fact that nobody knows how to cook an uttapam west of Chowpatti Beach.

*  *  *

My nostalgia for Delhi generally fixates on food, but it can go deeper. At three o’clock on a workday, for instance, I’ll look blearily up from my computer and fantasize about the chaiwallah outside my Gurgaon office, just seven thousand miles to my left. Had it been three o’clock in that office, Dipankar and Murali and I would have paid him a visit and enjoyed his five-rupee respite from our responsibilities.

(Although this moment of freedom, too, leads my mind back to food. Because here in America, as I stand by the coffee maker, the nearest snack is at a convenience store a mile away. How can my country be considered a world leader when we’re so lacking in sidewalk samosa vendors?)

At these times, when I’m missing the camaraderie as much as the cuisine, I turn to the Internet. I vicariously join my Delhi friends as they motorcycle to Leh or eat parathas in Old Delhi. I toast the country on Republic Day. I cheer cricket players on a first-name basis. And I join them in experiencing the changing capital city—like when my former coworker Nobin switched from the office cab to the Delhi Metro for his commute to Gurgaon. From his seat, he Tweeted praise at the shining municipal infrastructure that warmed me in my chair half a world away.

I’ve even grown nostalgic for Delhi’s traffic, of all things. Imagine getting misty-eyed for MG Road! But it’s happened: though there was nothing in Delhi I hated more than my commute to Gurgaon, the traffic in Denver is, in a way, worse. Because when I descend the on-ramp into four orderly lanes of vehicles in which nobody honks, nobody jostles for advantage, and nobody takes to the shoulders to jump the queue, I realize that Delhi’s traffic, for all its misery, also contained a kind of freedom: the skill of the driver could alter the course of the jam. A good driver could seize ephemeral opportunities revealed by shifting vehicles to shave seconds off the commute, or to cross the Ring Road before the light turned red.

But Denver’s traffic is egalitarian in its oppression. Once you’re on the highway, you’re committed to the collective fate. Delhi’s traffic allows for individual heroics; Denver’s traffic is entirely communal.

*  *  *

But I live in America now. I accept it: derivative restaurants, watery tea, non-negotiable traffic, and streets that are empty of samosas.

Which is why I can’t imagine that I’m the only American creeping around Indians to spark culinary connections. Because those of us who left our stomachs in Safdarjung know that expat Indians must be coping with the same emptiness—except that expat Indians possess the wisdom to transform frozen okra and boxed spices into a glorious bhindi masala. They can tease bhangan bharta out of the most stoic eggplant. Their kitchens are their link to Delhi, and we former residents—or, at least, this former resident—want in.

So far, though, I’ve had no luck. At the San Francisco airport, for instance, our connection to that Indian couple was severed when boarding began for the Denver flight: only we stood up. Our new friends were waiting for a flight to Arizona, which meant that no dinner party was imminent.

Nor could I make any headway at that restaurant in Estes Park, where I looked up from my bagel with one last desperate attempt: “No, where are you originally from? India? Because we spent eighteen months living there!” To which the woman smiled gently and said, with finality, “Your daughter is beautiful.” Her tone left no further room for discussion.

Nor could I make it work at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where I’d spotted that Indian foursome entering ahead of us. Our meandering paths had crossed theirs a half-dozen times, despite Jenny’s best efforts to steer us away from them. Finally, near the Lilac Garden, I spotted my opening: the patriarch of the family was posing his wife, daughter, and son-in-law for a photo. I quickly offered to snap the four of them together.

He declined. In accented English. To which I replied in my own terrible Hindi, “Aap guessa hai!?”

The four of them looked at me.

“Hindi bollna?” I asked.

“Are you speaking Hindi?” the father finally asked me.

“Yes!” I beamed. “We lived in Delhi for a year-and-a-half.”

“Oh. We don’t speak much Hindi.”

They turned back to their photo. I turned back to my wife. And that night for dinner, I sautéed some onions and tomatoes, emptied a can of chick peas into the pan, and dumped in a few tablespoons of MDH channa masala mix.

It was not like Ganga’s at all.

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64 responses to “Delhi: The Lament of the Hungry Expat (my essay from The Book Review India)

  1. I wish that Ganga could also read about her cooking skills….

    • Hi
      I too agree with u,during my visit to LA and sanfransisco I had tried many indian restuarants its all use less in fact they cheat,I still remember my fight at indian curry restuarant thy dnt knw how to cook and workers are mexican,naturally food has to taste indo mexican

  2. Nisha: I saw Ganga when I was in Delhi last month. Not only did I tell her how much we missed her cooking, and not only did I give her a signed copy of the book, but I actually paid her to cook a bunch of our favorite foods that I froze and brought all the way back to the States so Jenny could enjoy them. So I think Ganga has some idea of how much her cooking meant to us…

  3. Oh, how I know this feel. Now that I’m back in NZ, I expect friendship & hospitality from every Indian I see. Needless to say, my hit-rate is no better than yours.

  4. This makes one really engrossing…and sad read. I hope you find some Indian food solace soon, and enjoy your american cuisine as much. Perhaps commenting on a few Indian blog writer’s pages will yeild better results? Your blog, for one, is truly entertaining, and I am sure a person who writes about Indian food sitting in the US will be happier entertaining you than an arbit Indian on the streets!

  5. Oh…and to add. People in Salwar Kameezes and Sari could also be from Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively. Boasting to them about Hindi and Delhi may not yield too happy results.

  6. I actually feel sad about you. Maybe you could try your luck replicating dishes from youtube videos.

  7. This is really well-written. Having lived in Singapore for 18 months I totally echo your opinions of the food there.

  8. I know *precisely* how you feel (I spent a year and half in Italy, and now I’m back in India). I try to kid myself that I’m doing it to stay in touch with a culture I love, but it is mostly the food (Which no Delhi restaurant can recreate…. Diva’s gnocchi is worse than the one at my University Mensa)! :)

    As for your problem about homecooked Indian food in America – a lot of my single Indian friends in NYC/NJ, and the Valley have Indian cooks (mostly older Gujarati ladies) who come in a couple of times a week and stock up the freezer with the kind of food that mom made…. maybe there are similar Annapurnas in Denver? Ask the local Indian association or something, I’d say!

  9. Hey Dave,
    I wanted to join your book launch party in Delhi but could not due to my busy schedule. I also had lived in Delhi for 3 years and now I m in Chandigarh (just 5 hours away from Delhi). Even though the its one of the best city in India, I still miss Delhi a lot and board on Delhi bound bus whenever I get a chance.

    BTW there a re a lot of websites available full of easy Indian recopies. Practice one dish for at least 5-6 time and u’ll be get the familiar taste finally.

    Amit

  10. Great post!

    First of all, stop using the recipes on the back of the MDH boxes. They are crap. I highly recommend the recipes from manjulaskitchen.com. They come the closest to the food that my Indian MIL makes (my in-laws are Jain, from the Delhi area).

    I feel your pain though. The longing for the food we get when we go to India is sometimes literally painful when it gets too long between visits. There are certain things you just can’t get here…they just don’t ever taste the same.

  11. Dave, you know what I love about your writing? You outdo Indian authors at making Delhiites living abroad nostalgic about Delhi!

    PS: Bought a copy of your book when I went to Delhi for the holidays. It’s on my shelf and I’m looking forward to reading it!

  12. You are invited to lunch/dinner/chai whenever you are in seattle :)

  13. Dave, here’s a pro tip.
    Cook things a little longer than you’re used to. For example, for your Chana Masala, sauteeing isn’t enough. You need to cook the onions until they’re golden. Then add the tomatoes, cook them until they’re almost desolved. Add the spices, cook another couple of minutes. Add the chick peas and cook them in the spices for 10 mins or so. You get the idea. Indian food is all about going slow and taking the time to build flavours.

    Oh, and here’s a secret ingredient. Ginger Garlic paste. Add it just before adding the tomatoes and let it cook for a minute for that back home taste. Good luck

    • This is great advice! These are the ingredients that go in most of my MIL’s dishes (and the ones I cook now):

      – Rai (mustard seeds)
      – Curry leaves
      -Onion
      -Ginger Garlic Paste
      -Haldi (turmeric)
      -Red chilli powder.

      It may not be the same as Delhi cuisine but it gives authentic flavour! :-)
      Loved the blog post!

    • Wonderful spirited writing. What are your favorite Indian dishes and regional styles? Did you check out a number of regional cuisines when you were in Delhi? Andhra, Bengal, Coorg, etc.?

      Btw, Shalini writes a fantastic blog on her own regional style and is a super-genius in all things related to food and cooking. No kidding!

      Re: chana masala, just as the poster suggested, sputter some whole cumin seeds in a mix of veg.oil and a hint of ghee, then add minced onion, pinch sugar, cover, turn down heat and sweat, then up heat and gently bring to golden. You cannot have just a teeny quantity of fat to do this, but you need not go crazy with the oil, especially if you have a good non-stick or a really high-quality flared sauteuse, 3 or 4 quart. Then add some grated ginger [ceramic Japanese grater!] and chopped or crushed garlic if you like the latter, stir until the harsh smell goes, add tomatoes, then the chana masala, cook gently covered until the oil slicks out of the paste without burning the bottom!! [Use a bit of water and control the heat, if you have to]. You can even add a small amount of non-fat or full fat GREEK Yoghurt to the cooked spice base, as an experiment: 1-2 tbsp, and cook briefly. This is a variation, for you to try & see if you prefer that taste.

      Add your canned chickpeas and crush some of them down to thicken the stew. Add boiling water, at intervals to bring up the gravy to its desired consistency. Then let it cook for a bit, adding some light or heavy cream to smoothen the rough edges of “masala”. You will find that this will effect an important change. Now finish with some crushed Kasuri fenugreek leaves, OR chopped fresh cilantro, whichever you prefer and perhaps some Garam Masala [e.g. MDH, but very sparingly].

      Let the chana stand at room temperature for a couple of hours at least to meld flavors. About chili heat, you can add fresh chopped green thai chillies at the end, or add “warm” unsmoked high quality red paprika when cooking the base, depending on how “warm” you want it. Korean red pepper is also good, a bit hotter than paprika but not as palate-destroying as cayenne, Serve with some good bottled tamarind chutney or make your own, and hot pitas, and a fresh green salad with scallions or raita.

      We are anxious to know how your home-cooked chana masala succeeds!!! Then we can go on to the bharta, if you wish!

  14. Split Infinitive

    Beautifully written Dave. Evocative, poignant and filled with longing. This should find its way into the second reprint of the book.

  15. Hi Dave and Jenny

    If you happen to be in the greater Boston area, give me a shout. We’d love to have you over for a home cooked meal.

  16. Wah, Dave ji! You’re perhaps the only one who can make even the traffic here sound rather appealing.
    It might just help me appreciate the madness from a new perspective on my evening commute. For about 3 minutes, at least. Before the ‘HR’ taxis barge in and the gaalis return.

    PS:
    Really enjoyed the last chapters of the book.
    Not saying I didn’t like the middle part, or that I thought it was beginning to slow the book down, or anything like that.
    Good that we cleared that up. Right, then. :)

  17. Arre wah, yaar. Just get in your car and come down I-25 to Las Vegas, New Mexico and we’ll cook some real Indian food for you. I know your pain.

  18. I agree with Hanisha! My family in NJ have this Indian “aunty” :) come over once or twice a week and cook lots of different things for the entire week and freeze it! Makes for good variation and no longing looks at the refrigerator!

    Like always so much fun to read. I feel like I really know you guys :) .. And if you’re ever in Fargo, ND give my boyfriend a shout! He makes the best parathas and veg pulao! Not to mention halwa! :)

    ———————
    Gayatri Kumar
    Look who’s Wearing (LwW)

  19. Whenever you are in New York next, We’ll go to my mom’s in Queens for some mind blowing punjabi home cooking. Invitation always open.

  20. Shalini, Boston123, Steve, Gayatri, Gabo — your generosity makes me want to go on a homemade Indian food road trip. Maybe my next book :)

  21. In the meantime, since we don’t have any trips planned any time soon: does anybody know anybody in Denver? :)

    • Not in Denver, but anytime you are in Bangalore, mi casa es su casa.
      I just happened to come across your blog, and have been on it for almost 4 hours now, giving up a good night’s sleep!

      “Which is why I stare so hungrily at every Indian that I see.” reminded me of cartoons dreaming of food!

      “We lived in Delhi for a year-and-a-half.”
      “Oh. We don’t speak much Hindi.” – heartbreaking. I could almost hear it!

  22. Wow!!! If you guys happen to be in the greater Chicago area, drop in. I can rustle up a good “Indian” meal.

  23. Hi Dave,
    really enjoy reading your blog. I’m sorry you have not had success in being invited back for an indian home cooked meal. Whenever you are in the UK you are most welcome to join us for a meal. In return, you can regale us with more of your experiances. My wife makes a mean Rajma and great Dal Makhani.

  24. Hey Dave, I nominated you for the versatile blogger award at http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/ because I really enjoy your blog. cheers :)

  25. Hi Dave
    Your blog is so full of life! And you’re more Indian than most of us!
    It’s nice to see from the comments that you’re being invited to Indian homes all over the world! :-)

  26. As an Indian who has lived in the US for over 25 years, I now feel guilty about the fact that I go for weeks without eating Indian food and don’t miss it that much.

  27. If you are in Sydney Australia. Be my guest and enjoy some home cooked North Indian food

  28. Dave, Enjoyed the post very much. And if you are ever in NJ/NYC area, you are welcome to the bhindi masala we make out of mucuous-y okra!
    -Proteinbound

  29. Dave, I really enjoyed reading your post. So poignant, so full of nostalgia! That’s the power of travel in a nutshell, it can completely alter a person…every place we visit ultimately becomes a part of us.
    Look forward to reading your book now!

  30. Beautifully written.

  31. Hi Dave, I found your blog from The NRI. Loved reading your post. I also lived in Delhi for some years, a migrant from Kolkata. Initially hated Delhi and then fell in love with the city. Dream of going back to live there.

    I currently live in London, if you ever come to this side of the pond, you guys have an invitation to our house. My husband and me, we cook authentic Indian food at home. First generation Indians with proper Indian accents :-)

    Cheers,

    Suchi

  32. It is incredibly scary how you describe my very own feelings…CRAZY! I actually own tshirts that say Dilli Meri Jaan! I so want to move to India and every time I go, I have these spells of following Indians around (except I am from West Indies, so …blend in..hence..not as charming as you). I am IN LOVE with your blog!

  33. i picked up your book from world book fair in Pragati Maidan held last week. I am already more than half way through and i must tell you I AM LOVING IT
    !
    Super writing, i loved the details you have captured and the humor “tadka” you have given it..:)
    Following recipes at the back of MDH may not prove to be very good…if you are looking at good indian food. I suggest you get some cooking CDs or watch Indian cooking videos on you tube. It would be easier to learn…:) all the best and keep writing.

  34. Hi Dave
    I just read this blog after months and am commenting. Couple of things:
    I live in Montreal (well, mostly anyway) and am everything Indian, accent and all.
    I have noticed that at some stage immigrants, the ones who are a visible minority, prefer not to be identified as outsiders. They would rather volunteer this information, than have stereotypes thrust upon them. It probably has something to do with wanting to blend in, rather than standing out.
    You probably would not have felt this as an American in India, given the way guests from abroad are treated in Indian families. Quite different for a brown person in America, I tell you.

    Did I sound curt? I did not mean to. Just meant to share my thoughts. More when you come to Montreal and for a meal to my place! :)

  35. Awwwwww….this is so sad! I had no idea NRI’s behave this rudely :( actually maybe its because all the snubbing they might be getting frm the ‘white’…can only guess.
    Should I look up some relatives in your ‘area’?

  36. Dave- don’t bother eating North Indian food at a restaurant in Singapore the next time you’re here- because the Indian food culture here is more south Indian. In fact- do come join me and my family at my place for dinner- we don’t make much Paneer (because the stuff we get here is disgusting), but we do make a mean idly sambar. And Aviyal. ;)

  37. Next time some ex-expat will try to talk to me, I will be nicer and invite them for dinner! :)

  38. Raji Muthukrishnan

    Great read.

  39. Interesting reading and congrats on your book. I am from Kerala and spent ~ 6 years in Delhi in Medical School. I must confess that Delhi is super-romantic and exciting in movies, documentaries and pictures but I hated it – may be it was too much for the malayali sensibilities. Now in Denver, I do miss India a lot but not Delhi per se ( other friends and my school etc). And I feel sorry about you missing the food, and totally agree that Indian restaurants suck, but you should be able to recreate a lot of Ganga’s food here ( agreed, the onions are not as intense and garlic is not the same etc etc). May be it is just that Denver for its size does not have too many Indians. Good luck with everything.

  40. This was really funny. But I actually felt sorrier for the poor Indians who have to deal with your stereotyping. “Where are you from?” is probably the most boring question you can ask them.

  41. Dave.. today’s DNA paper carries a nice review of your book.
    You may read it here – http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/review_book-review-delirious-delhi-inside-indias-incredible-capital_1678967

    I have been following your blog for a quite a while now..but have been a lurker – till today. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences – first on this blog and then through your book.

  42. great blog, I am an Indian from Delhi married to a Polish guy. He too constantly misses Indian food. I understand that you enjoyed living in Delhi but werent you baffled by the open sewers, heat, mosquitoes, genera chaos and piles of filth?
    please drop by http://typicalindiangirl.wordpress.com/

  43. Having lived and worked in Asia for 14 years I too terribly miss authentic Indian Cuisine….Nothing in way of Indian Cuisine in North America compares to the real McCoy. I’ve enjoyed your post…keep on blogging and thanks for sharing

  44. I just stumbled on your blog… So excited to pick up your book next time I am out to a book store.

    I have spent most of my life in Delhi , I eat home cooked Indian food everyday and seriously I am tired of it and trying different cuisines right now. But reading the way you miss Indian food, makes me more grateful for it :)

    If you and your wife are ever traveling to Delhi again , l suggest we skip the ” catch their eyes, start a conversation, win their trust, become friends, exchange numbers, ” part and jump right to ACCEPT AN INVITATION TO DINNER !!

    Contact me when you are here !

    Cheers!
    Swati

  45. Dave,

    Totally hear ya, man ! As a vegetarian, Indian, single man in the US, here are some of my observations :

    1) The food at even the best “Indian” restaurants in the US is uniformly disappointing. The Indian-restaurant food is ALWAYS distinctly inferior to Indian home-cooking. And if that ‘Indian” restaurant in the US happens to be Pakistani-or-Bangladeshi-owned, you might just want to give it a miss altogether.

    2) In sharp contrast, whenever I’ve been invited to the homes of Indian relatives and friends, the food is SPECTACULAR. The food at every such Indian-dinner-invitation only raises the bar higher, for the next such visit. Just when I’m thinking that there is no way that my latest Indian-dinner experience could be improved upon, the next such Indian-dinner-event manages to do exactly that ! Too sad that the Indian families that dish out such insanely-heavenly Indian food to their dinner-guests, don’t quit their day-jobs as scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. and open their very own Indian restaurants.

    3) The Indian restaurants in the US WILL add soda to all the rice-dishes ( apparently to plump up the grains of rice, so that you feel full, after having eaten less rice ). Such an abomination never occurs in Indian home-cooking.

    4) When approaching strange Indian families in the US, with visions of dinner-invitations gleaming in your eyes, don’t open with your Hindi-family-pickup-lines ! Your opening-lines should always be in English, and if the reception is warm, then attempt to floor them with your Hindi (which BTW sounds like it could use some help :-) )

    Happy mooching !

  46. If you had lived in Mumbai, then you would have referred to Vada Pav. I do not know how to describe it in English-it is some sort of burger in a bun with strong spices. Next is toasted vegetable sandwich sold in street corners. Both these require lead lined stomach, which Americans mostly do not have. But once you get accumstomed to it, then it grows on you. You should talk to any Indian from Mumbai on Vada Pav or Veg. Sandwich.

    Could you describe in what way Indian food or cusine is different from a staple US food or cusine?

    Loved reading your blog.

  47. Lovely post!! Till you find great Indian – commiserate at osteria Marco (larimer sq) over a sumptuous wood fired pizza- tips from some Indians who visited Denver

  48. Hilarious! Next time you are in Seattle, give me a shout. I promise not to be like the other Seattleite you met and shall receive you warmly with home-cooked food:-)

  49. isn’t there a saravana bhavan?:-]

  50. Very good post. At last I found someone who is in all praise for Indians. When I was in America we were in all search for Americans who would be friendly and wanting to eat with us.

  51. Can you please email me the ill-conceived murder sequence? :-) Loved your book. Born in Delhi, lived there ever since. Makes it 52 yrs.

  52. Will look frward to ur book. They say that if u stayed and struggled in DELHI, you can stay in any part of the world.
    Vishal
    http://www.vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com

  53. Dave,
    You are very welcome to my house in Atlanta for some good south indian food.

  54. This is hilarious. Can’t wait to get a copy of your book.

  55. So happy to have stumbled on your blog in preparation for my first trip to India in a few weeks. I grew up in Denver and now live in DC, but miss my favorite CO Indian spot, India’s Clay Oven, in Highlands Ranch. I’m beyond excited to finally get to try the real deal, maybe you’ll have to head to the Clay Oven and see how it stacks up!

  56. Hi there….accidentally came to your blog and am now totally hooked.

    You write so well…and your love for Dilli food sounds so genuine. Have never ever heard of a non desi singing paeans to baingan bharta or chole.
    You really are a Indi lover.
    Hope you find a good Indian friends soon…and ones that know how to cook the old way as well since many of us even in India are losing the ability to cook like our moms and grandmoms and even Gangas do.
    Good luck :)

  57. love love love your blog! so glad i stumbled upon this one!

  58. It’s been more than 2 years since you wrote this so my comment may be a bit late. But what you have written has been a subject of my “personal research” for past many years. And I have actually found out why it is so. It is because of the ingredients. The vegetables, meats, milk etc you get in Western countries has a lot less flavour. The varieties grown there (West) are “good looking”, bright coloured, much bigger in size. A lot of that bigger size is maybe due to high water content. Those big vegetable, big chickens, etc mean big bucks for farmers but they definitely lack the taste. Even if I followed the exact same recipe in the US and in India, the cooked food in India turned out to be much more delicious. I started to notice this because for the pas few years, in big cities in India, we have started to get the same “bigger” varieties of vegetables. And the cooked doesn’t taste the same. It tasted more like that in the west. I have many times compared them side by side by procuring the “traditional varieties” from small places. And that was it. Something as simple as a cup of chai doesn’t taste the same if I put the larger variety of ginger in it. But if I put the thinner variety which is now becoming difficult to procure, it is amazingly flavourful. I think we are in the transitional phase in India and soon we too will transition to the larger and “good-looking” varieties because of higher yields. The taste which we have now maybe lost forever for the coming generations. I think something similar happened in the US a few decades back.

  59. Hahaha, this was such a lovely article! Truly makes me appreciate the authentic Indian cuisine I can still partake of :P

  60. Yeah, I am really surprised Indians don’t respond positively to your incessant stereotyping. Or presumptuousness.

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