Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

My Experience with Indian Cuisine

I still remember the first time I ever tasted curry. It was at the antebellum home of a flamboyantly gay elderly gentleman in Mobile, Alabama, my hometown. And believe it or not, the choice of meat for his curry dish was goat. I've always been fairly adventuresome when it comes to food, although there are things that I patently refuse to eat, namely the brains, heart, tongue, liver, kidneys, tripe or sexual organs of any animal, anything in the insect family, any endangered species, and anything too slimy or stinky. That still leaves lots of room for some interesting choices, like cactus, snails, raw oysters, squid, venison, squirrel, alligator, and yes, even goat. On the buffet table that day, the goat was cooked to perfection, and the sauce was a lovely shade of cellophane yellow, not too mild, but not too spicy either. I was hooked. However, it would still be several years before I attempted a batch of curry in my own kitchen, and you can bet it wasn't goat.

Since then I've made dozens of pots of curry and eaten in lots of Indian restaurants. My favorite so far is Gaylord's at Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco. They make the most heavenly Mulligatawny Soup I've ever tasted, not to mention the rustic naan bread and every kind of tandoori, vindaloo and curry dish imaginable.

When I lived in Tokyo, we used to experiment with lots of homemade curry recipes using a mortar and pestle to grind the spices. We also ate our fair share of Japanese curry mixes, a popular quick-fix meal. I must admit however, that now, when I make curry at home, I use a store bought curry powder and just add lots of it to a big pot of meat and vegetables. I found one that suits my tastes nicely, the only problem is that I no longer remember where I bought it and I'm about to use up the last of it. So it may be time for me to learn how to blend my own.