I truly discovered Indian food in the middle of the tropical rainforest. While growing up, my awareness of Indian food was limited to the sickly-sweet smells emanating from the house of my sari-clothed next-door neighbour. What I’d reluctantly tasted when invited over was a thick, floury, bright yellow saccharine mixture that passed itself off as a curry dish. My stomach revolted. My pores sweated.
Fast-forward 20 years or so and I find myself teaching high school English to a rowdy bunch of teenagers in Brunei Darussalam, on the island of Borneo. Now, apart from the immediate joy of being surrounded by a gloriously pristine rainforest and the breathtaking views of the South China sea just steps away from my home, there just wasn’t that much to do in good ol’ Brunei. True to its Islamic roots, with its road signs and shop names sporting Jawi writing, alcohol is banned in the country and everything shuts down during Friday prayers. Pubs were nonexistent and you can only bowl or bask in the glory of censored movies so many times.
So I turned to food. My boyfriend and I ate out almost daily. We greatly enjoyed interacting with the local people and while we didn’t consider ourselves foodies, we’d still explore street food stalls and delect in the fresh bounty of the sea. We’d sometimes settle for one of the many run-of-the-mill eateries located on the main street or, once in awhile, we’d visit the higher end restaurants mentioned in our well-thumbed travel books. My most magnificent discovery, though, was a tiny hub of an Indian restaurant located in a secluded area adjacent to the beach. Exactly why had I never explored Indian food in Ottawa?
This stuff was scrumptious beyond belief! A far cry from my first taste of Indian food back in Ottawa so many years ago. It was also cheap. For just over a mere fiver, you could consume a massive amount of dishes. I loved Saag Paneer (a spinach and Indian cheese curry sporting a hint of sweetness and a luscious creamy taste) along with Aloo Gobi (a potato and cauliflower dish). Aloo Gobi is often the rockstar of the Indian dinner menu, what with its formidable balance of spices that will tingle your palate.
Since then, I am back in my hometown and I now delight in discovering the pleasures of Indian foodinOttawa. From savoury tamarind or spicy chana masala (chickpea salad) to tandoori chicken (meat marinated in yogourt, lemon juice, and plenty of spices before being grilled or boiled), the combination of flavours is pure gratification! As soon as I step into an Ottawa Indian food restaurant, I need only to close my eyes for the delectable smells to transport me to more exotic places. So go ahead, I encourage you! Step out of the house and into one of many delicious Ottawa Indian food restaurants, and let yourself be transported to another land.