March is nearly over, we have had our fill of snow, but not of Tastes of India! This huge country has a vast array of regional dishes influenced by the various prevailing religions and histories. Unfortunately a lot of people only get to experience the narrow range of dishes that have become popular in mainstream western Indian restaurants. This is not to say that these dishes are not delicious but rather that they tend to present a limited flavor profile as this is what "plays in Peoria".
The robust flavors we chose for some of the brunch items flavored Garam Masala, ginger and garlic presented a nice contrast to our traditional brunch fare. We also tried to find more subtle options as well. Kedgeree for example, a fish, rice and boiled egg dish popular in colonial households is wonderfully balanced dish to start the day.
For the dinner, we decided to contrast pairs of Northern and Southern dishes served together. We also gad a rough showing of preferences and overall it seemed that the Southern dishes were preferred. The Goan Fish Curry with its combination of vinegar and coconut milk handily beat out the prawns flavored with mustard seeds, garlic and mint; the Masala Chana with its strong tamarind sourness topped the Saag Paneer and the Madras Beef took the creamy almond sauced Royal lamb with its hot but very complex spice profile. This was interesting as Northern Indian flavors are generally better known. From the kitchen perspective it would be hard to draw favorites as clearly.
The very unsubtle Onion Bhajis kicked off the evening and incredible subtle Kheer, cardomom infused, five hour cooked, rice pudding closed it out. We might have to do another Tastes of India month, sooner rather than later!