Cooking, Food

Food Travels

silver fox
The First Reader threatening to quench his rising heat after the onion chutney.

In our continuing quest to find good food in unlikely places, we wound up just south of Dayton, in a half-empty strip mall… Stepping into a very elegant interior after that inauspicious beginning. Now, keep in mind that usually when we do food exploration, it’s not a trip just because, we were on the way home from one of my gigs. I don’t perform in full costume, but I’m not exactly nicely dressed for grown-ups, either (yes, I usually shed the rainbow socks before we go into a restaurant!). So I was a little awkward as we were seated in the red leather booth seats with the waterglasses and cloth napkins arranged just so. Maybe we’ve been exploring too many greasy spoons.

But Amar India had been highly recommended to me by one of my classmates almost a year before, and we’d finally found ourselves in the Miamisburg area at dinnertime (well, almost. It was closer to three than four) on a day we were feeling adventurous. I’ve eaten Indian a few times, but more than that, I’d started researching the cuisine as I wanted to learn how to cook it. When we opened the menu I knew exactly what I wanted, and asked the waiter for it. The First Reader looked up from his menu and suggested I order for both of us. Knowing that he’s had a proper British curry in interesting circumstances, and that he didn’t care for it, I suggested he avoid the vindaloo, and we talked about what we’d like.

It didn’t take long for our appetizers to arrive, pappardumms with various sauces, and keema samosa. The pappardumms (which I have also seen spelled pappadoms) were huge, and looked handmade. I’d had half-dollar sized wafers of lentil goodness before, these were not at all the same. Delicious, nonetheless, and we used them to explore the sauces. I asked the waiter what was in them, but unfortunately he didn’t have enough English to understand my question. I managed to convey to him it was good, and no, we didn’t want him to take the little trio of sauces away. Asking later on facebook, friends helped with identification. The red is an onion chutney, and hot enough to make the First Reader break into an immediate sweat. The green is a lime cilantro chutney, about medium heat. The brown is a tamarind sauce, sweet, no spice. It was very good on the pappardums for cooling mouths after trying the red stuff!

Indian cuisine
Pappardumms, Samosas, and sauces

As we finished cooling with the tamarind, the entrees I’d ordered arrived. When we ordered, the waiter had asked “How spicy? 1 to 5.” When I’d asked which was hotter, he’d indicated with hand gestures that left me in no doubt… I ordered a two. The First Reader was braver and wanted a 3. I got saag paneer, a vegetarian dish, basically spinach in cream sauce with paneer, a fresh cheese that doesn’t melt (for those who know, yes, I use lactaid tablets, so I can eat cheese, especially if it’s been cooked). It came with naan, one of my favorite things. I’ll share my recipe for it at the bottom of the post.

Indian Cuisine
Saag paneer in the foreground, Naan to the right, Basmati rice in the middle, and the lamb korma.

For the First Reader I’d ordered Lamb Korma, because it’s not curried, and it was the only other thing I thought he might like (no raisins) other than chicken Makhani, which I had made for him before. We shared bites, and both agreed that they were delicious. He commented that the lamb had been cooked to malt-in-your-mouth doneness, which was nice, but rather took all the lamb flavor away. His korma came with lovely basmati rice which had been flecked with turmeric and seeds. There is a reason I only keep certain rices in my pantry. The aroma and flavor of a basmati or a jasmine compared to the more common long-grain white is a huge difference. And then I’d found a brown basmati recently. Heavenly!

We will return to Amar India sometime, not too soon, the First Reader is still cooling off after a few bites of that onion chutney. But I have things I want to try more of! And had I realized they had mango lassi when I was there… for next time.

Whoops… can’t find my naan recipe. I think I lost it in the move, but this one looks very much like it. As you’ll see, it’s very easy. The First Reader’s comment on it was ‘fry bread!’

 

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