india day three: can we please talk about the food, and how I'm ruined for life?

On the plane ride home from Dublin, my father was devastated. There were many heaved sighs and a burrowing of a brow, and we look at one another and knew precisely what was wrong: we were ruined. Never would we consume a scone or a piece of chicken like we did in Ireland. Our lamentations ran deep, and for a good two weeks after our return we couldn’t even conceive of eating a piece of chicken or picking at a scone whose texture resembled that of sawdust.

When I woke this morning I felt something similar. Back home, the Indian food I’ve eaten {with the rare exception} is heavy and tends to be drenched in sauce that is either violently over-seasoned or woefully bland. Rarely have I had a dish where the marriage of texture and taste has been a harmonious one. A good friend told me yesterday that Indian food isn’t about the pomp and fanfare of presentation, rather it’s refinement of a dish and a celebration of a variety of spices and flavors. He calls India his motherland, and he sent me a slew of dishes I had to try — everything from butter chicken in Agra to charred naan in the North, and believe me when I say that every single meal I’ve had in India has been a complete and utter triumph.

I mean, where else can I have a dish piled with carbs and have it be so distinct and delicious? From chicken biryani {basmati rice seasoned with saffron, mace and other spices paired with fried chicken} to lightly-fried samosas filled with potato, peas and spices, every dish is a symphony on a plate. I remember reading a quote from a chef who said that eating vegetarian in New York is a travesty, while in India it’s a complete and utter celebration — and I couldn’t agree more.

With the exception of my horrific reaction to dairy {the lovely paneer, dressed in a light tomato and onion sauce, killed me softly with its song and then wrecked havoc on my stomach}, I’ve sampled pav bhaji, curries, the EXQUISITE NAAN IN MANY VARIATIONS, and a slew of vegetarian dishes, which are making the return to the U.S. an increasingly difficult one.

And the brief lesson we received about cooking MY BELOVED NAAN? Priceless.