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Whose Indian Food Really Stands Out?


Suvir Saran
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I have absolutely no basis for what I'm about to write:  But if Danny Meyer had opened Tabla in Union Square, with Chef Mathur serving Diwan's menu, but with Tabla's atmosphere, service, etc., I bet he'd get three stars.  (O.k., I do have some basis -- Otto got 2 stars.)

That is a very interesting hypothesis.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I am definitely with g.johnson when he says:

One reason people pay more for Indian food is because it's SUBTLE. The flavors sometime have to be discovered, worked to comprehend, and effort has to be made to appreciate the layers, the progression of flavors, the development in the mouth.

Now, I love spicy food, I love hot food, but most of all I love FLAVORFUL food. And to me, some of the most flavorful food is the subtlest. The stuff that makes me roll it around in my mouth and search for nuances of taste. (That's why I was so pleased with the Sweet n Tart dinner; my tastebuds really got a good workout.) Good South Asian food is multi-layered, with different flavors coming through at different times, and to different degrees. Hell, ALL good food is like that, whatever its country of origin.

I think way back in this thread, Plotnicki said something about balance being important. Yes, it is! If all I taste is "spicy," it's not very good, no matter where it's from or how much it costs. If all I taste is "heavy cream," ditto. If one flavor thoroughly overpowers all the others, feh. That overpowering flavor could be anything -- cumin, basil, truffle, salt, lemon . . . or chili.

The question is not: Is spice good or bad? The question is: Are all the flavors working together peacefully yet vibrantly? That has nothing to do with price or ethnicity. It has to do with intelligence, care, and pride in one's work.

And Steve, watch it when you imply that

. . . the people who sold Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Otis Redding, etc., all things that are exemplary popular culture for their time, whether they are good or not as art.
were selling crap. Sure, not every piece was a masterpiece, but those artists generally made REAL music, and expressed universal emotions in an intelligible way.

Edit: I got this thread confused with the other one. Sorry.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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But if Danny Meyer had opened Tabla in Union Square, with Chef Mathur serving Diwan's menu, but with Tabla's atmosphere, service, etc., I bet he'd get three stars.

No. Hermant isn't a famous chef on the food channel. If Batalli wasn't the chef at Otto, they wouldn't have any stars. In fact they might even be out of business by now :wink:.

You lose me both with the use of the word "legitimate" (but I know what you mean) and the suggestion that anyone other than you believes that parsing spices is outdated and/or outmoded, especially since, for Western cuisines, "spice" is only first making itself known.

I didn't make a statement, I asked a question. Obviously spice parsing is an important aspect of the cuisine in India. My question is whether it is transferrable to countries outside India. That's what I mean by saying"legitimate." Generally accepted as a legitimate thing for a cuisine to revolve around for non-Indians.

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If Batalli wasn't the chef at Otto, they wouldn't have any stars. In fact they might even be out of business by now

Stars aren't the point at Otto. It is a restaurant idea that is brilliantly matched to its demographic and its location. Batali's star power is icing.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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I think some recent posts offer a stereotypical portrayal of Indian cooking. Not all Indian cuisine is bold, in your face spicy with an immediate hit on the tongue and the spcies aren't used to hide the other ingredients.

Julie Sahni's recipes often have very delicate flavors and she writes:

"When spcies and herbs are added to a dish, they act on the ingredients in many specific ways. They don't always make a dish spicy and hot as widely believed. Excpet for a few spices that do impart a hot taste, most act as aromatics...as coloring agents...as souring agents, as natural tenderizers..."

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Stars aren't the point at Otto. It is a restaurant idea that is brilliantly matched to its demographic and its location. Batali's star power is icing.

You must be joking. If it wasn't Batalli, that place would be toast. And it should be toast now. But it's Batalli.

Yvonne - I agree it doesn't have to be like that. But that is what gets presented in restaurants here.

Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)
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Stars aren't the point at Otto. It is a restaurant idea that is brilliantly matched to its demographic and its location. Batali's star power is icing.

You must be joking. If it wasn't Batalli, that place would be toast. And it should be toast now. But it's Batalli.

And this obviously unassailable position comes from....

Lets get back to Indian food, thanks.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The reason there is no Indian restaurant in NYC shooting for four stars is that they couldn't get it.

We simply do not know that if this is true because no one has tried to do it.

Glyn - You are 100% correct about Indian cuisine needing to be subtle to appreciate the spicing. The problem is that it isn't subtle.
I disagree, it can be extrordinarily subtle at Diwan. But even if that were not the case, we could not make this assumption without eating the food of the best Indian chefs (presumably in India).
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were selling crap. Sure, not every piece was a masterpiece, but those artists generally made REAL music, and expressed universal emotions in an intelligible way

What do you mean by real music?

Sorry, Steve, but I don't want to take this as far off-topic as it might go. No synthesizers, no electronics, no scratching-a-piece-of-vinyl; words that, when present, are intelligible and meaningful; notes that can be written on a staff, not merely represented by an X: REAL MUSIC. The end.

But of course the only money I ever made related to music was managing a concert hall box office, so my opinion shouldn't matter to you. :biggrin:

And, as Yvonne just said, the view of South Asian food that you and some others are expressing is more than a bit of stereotyping, and simply demonstrates that you aren't particularly familiar with it in all its variety and glory. I'll admit I don't know everything about it, either -- who could? -- but at least I don't make the kind of blanket statements you do. But that's just one of the things that makes me, me, and you, Plotz. :biggrin:

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And, as Yvonne just said, the view of South Asian food that you and some others are expressing is more than a bit of stereotyping, and simply demonstrates that you aren't particularly familiar with it in all its variety and glory.

No, I think it means we're being loose and careless with our generalizations. As G.J. explained, this conversation started by pointing out that Diwan's food is not the typical brown spice-laden curry many Americans are used to.

(Did you freak when Dylan went electric?)

Edited by Stone (log)
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Suzanne - Do you not think these are real lyrics?

Real Lyrics

I also think we are generalizing, and making broad sweeping statements, because we are limited to what restaurants present us with. I'd be the first to admit that what you get over in Asia probably has nothing to do with what you get over here. But this discussion is really about restaurant cuisine for what we would call, international diners. And the discussion is really about how cuisines alter themselves in order to make the proper impact outside of their country of origin. What this dicsussion really needs are examples of great restaurant cuisines that are not western in oreintation, like the great seafood place Bourdain went to in Singapore, along with a detailed explanation of why they are great. But to hold up examples of spice parsing etc. as a different way of dining, without saying, here is where you can do that and this is what you will find there, we are left with stereotypes.

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the braised beef brisket which comes in a little iron tureen, handle and all, and which is braised in a light broth that is mildly spiced, what's not to like about that dish? It could have been served in a Mexican restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, a French restaurant, etc. all with the spicing routine tweaked for local custom.

G.: This description, from Plotnicki, hardly sounds like food that is "conventionally Indian." Ditto the "little casserole of lotus root and what might have been baby bok choi." I have no objection to those dishes; they may be great; but I don't see them as conventional.

It occurred to me that maybe these dishes, on the Tabla Bread Bar menu, were actually more rooted within the sphere of traditional Indian cuisine than we had thought.

I had never realized that lotus root was native to India as well as China, but in fact, it is, being the rhizome of the lotus flower. In Kashmir, lotus root is called nedr, and is cooked with fish, with tender spring greens (cut into 1/4-inch rounds to be cooked with spinach, into 1/4-inch thick diagonals to be cooked with the red-leafed wastahaak), and with lamb. Lotus root is also made into 'meatballs,' cooked with yoghurt, made into fritters or chips. Lotus root is also popular with the Sindhis in Gujarat, and with the Mangalorians in Coorg.

As for the braised beef brisket, it seems to use the classic korma (braising) and/or dum-pokt (pot roasting) technique. Travel and settlement by Indians throughout Asia and by people from China, Asia Minor, and Southeast Asia in India has influenced Indian food and the cooking of its neighbors throughout its history. There is nothing that aberrant about using Indian techniques on ingredients not commonly associated with Indian cuisine; in fact, most of the foods of South and Southeast Asia are fusion foods to some extent. We've had this discussion before, on other threads. An interesting book with a stupid name, Terrific Pacific Cookbook, by Anya Von Bremzen and John Welchman, contains some recipes from Appam, an Indian restaurant I used to eat at in San Francisco, which cooks more modern versions of Indian dishes, such as salmon biriyani, potato salad made with tiny new potatoes, mustard seeds, turmeric, cayenne, scallions and cilantro, and a lovely rabbit stew, gently flavored with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, turmeric, paprika, nutmeg, cumin, tomatoes, and yogurt. I remember eating a very succulent tandoori baby back ribs there; the ribs were fatty enough to stay juicy.

Other books which give some idea of the cross-cultural input into Indian cuisine are Copeland Marks' Indian & Chinese Cooking from the Himalayan Rim and his Varied Kitchens of India (Cuisines of the Anglo-Indians of Calcutta, Bengalis, Jews of Calcutta, Kashmiris, Parsis, and Tibetans of Darjeeling). There are many people of Indian descent living in the West Indies; their cooking, over generations, has been influenced by the local ingredients and techniques of their new countries, but is still recognizably Indian.

If the ingredients/techniques used at Tabla Bread Bar are within the vocabulary of Indian cuisine, then maybe it is our ignorance that causes us to be surprised or dismissive of what really is very tasty food.

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don't think anyone doubts that people are more willing to pay higher prices for French cuisine. But at most I think that translates into popularity, not quality. People paid over a billion dollars to Titanic, but that didn't make it a good movie

Never before have I had such a good setup for Plotnickiism.

Stone - No, Titanic was a perfect movie for the market of people who like those types of movies. In fact, no movie before it or after it can match its level of perfection. But of course it is not the perfect movie for the more discriminating filmgoer, i.e., a completely different market segment.

I was having an interesting but rather mundane Thai dinner tonight and found myself thinking about this quote and how I might have misinterpreted Plotnickiism. I had always thought the doctrine of the "P" stood for "objectivism" (small "o" because it's completely different from Rand's freakish individualism). That is, there is an objectively correct answer to questions such as "is dish A a better expression of tuna than dish B"; "does dish xxx go better with wine A or wine B"; "is technique xyz objectively better than technique slop-dash-mash." I thought that's what "Wilfrid" was right about.

But now I see that the basis of the doctrine can be seen in the statement that "Titanic was a perfect movie for the market of people who like those types of movies. In fact, no movie before it or after it can match its level of perfection. But of course it is not the perfect movie for the more discriminating filmgoer, i.e., a completely different market segment." How does this fit with objectivisim? Have you ever heard a more subjective theory in your lives, my young droogies? Doesn't this mean that Indian food is the perfect food -- for people that like Indian food? And that French haut cuisine may be the perfect food, but only for people that like French haut cuisine better than other cuisines? And that for all of us on the boards, therefore, French haut cuisine is only the "superior" cuisine because we believe that the market segment that labels it as such is "more discriminating" than those who favor other cuisines? And finally, that we only think that the French haut cuisine lovers are more discriminating because we believe them to have "better" taste based on . . . . . . what? The market?

But it's the market that tells us that Titanic is the best movie of all time. To get around that obviously flawed conclusion, one must reinterpret, slice and segment the market to say that, well, the "market" may select Titanic as the best movie of all time, but there's actually a different, more discriminating market that realizes that "The Godfather" is actually the best movie of all time. (Let's admit it folks, in this instance, there is an objectively correct answer.) But once we do that, my fine droogies (yes, it was on cable a few nights ago) aren't our feet mired inextricably in the realm of the subjective?

Just a thought brought on by a few too many Singha's, some excellent Penang (objectively the best curry) and one inadvertantly and unexpectedly chomped prik kee nuu.

Edited by Stone (log)
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Your palate isn't trained to taste and parse complex spice mixtures.

Is what I said to Plotnicki. Now he has this wrongheaded, reductionist notion in his head that Indian cuisine is a cuisine whose premise is "parsing spices."

What does "parse" mean? According to Merriam-Webster, "to examine in a minute way: analyze critically." All culinary appreciation -- whether it involves Indian cuisine, French cuisine, or wine appreciation -- involves critical analysis. Sure, there's a level of pure enjoyment we strive for, where we don't engage in such analysis. But the analysis is the homework you do in order to enhance the pure enjoyment when the opportunity presents itself.

If the only glass of wine you've ever tasted is Montrachet, your ability to parse it -- to examine it in a minute way; to analyze it critically -- is severely inhibited. You might get it right. You might be able to make some observations that wouldn't have the serious wine people falling out of their chairs laughing. But probably not. And Plotnicki would be first in line to lecture you about your ignorance and about how you need training and experience before you earn the right to open your mouth on the subject again.

Now here we have a situation where the inability to parse is Plotnicki's problem. And so he thinks that Indian food is unsubtle, and that it's about overpowering bad meat with curry powder, and he makes various other hilarious assumptions that are likely to have anybody who appreciates Indian cuisine rolling in the aisles. Too bad it's all based on an inability to taste critically -- worse, a self-imposed, intentionally self-limiting one. If any Indians are still reading this site now, please rest assured Plotnicki is the minority here. He has probably never even bothered to follow the discussions on the India message board -- one of our most active -- because he's already come to his ignorant conclusions and, as usual, isn't going to change his mind once it's made up. But that's okay. As he puts it:

"I am quite happy for you to keep your superior position on this, and for me to keep my inferior, ignorant and closed minded one."

That does appear to be what's going to happen. But if he's determined to remain clueless, perhaps he should do the decent thing and accept his cluelessness -- as he says he's happy to do. Or is that not really the case? I hope it isn't, but you can't have it both ways: you can't remain intentionally clueless and also attempt to speak with authority. Unless it's satire.

By the way, Japanese cuisine is better than French because all the most expensive restaurants in the United States are Japanese.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Your palate isn't trained to taste and parse complex spice mixtures.

Is what I said to Plotnicki. Now he has this wrongheaded, reductionist notion in his head that Indian cuisine is a cuisine whose premise is "parsing spices."

It is all your fault! Is there anyway to stop it or is it another train wreck? :cool:

Lobster.

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It occurred to me that maybe these dishes, on the Tabla Bread Bar menu, were actually more rooted within the sphere of traditional Indian cuisine than we had thought.

Toby, thanks for taking the time to do that great research, and I'm sorry the discussion following it was so disrespectful and off-topic. (It has now been deleted, for those who luckily missed it -- and if it happens again we'll take more serious action.)

Regarding the premise, it was the baby bok choy that really caught my eye -- and of course the beef -- not the lotus root. I just bought a lotus root a month or so ago for use in an Indian recipe. And of course we could keep extending the reasoning process to include just about anything. Yes there are Indian dishes that use beef. Yes it would be logical for an Indian chef to use bok choy were that the locally available baby green in a new place. For all I know, they have bok choy in India too. But if you take any sophisticated, great cuisine -- Indian, Chinese, French, Italian -- you're going to find that they can all be intellectualized to the point where any dish is part of the cuisine. Braising is a technique in all these cuisines. Beef can be an ingredient. The spice traders universalized the relevant spices long before the United States even existed. So to some extent the question of authenticity is a meaningless one. At the same time, I do think the dishes described from the Tabla Bread Bar -- especially when viewed in the context of what I know, based on numerous visits, to be the cooking style there -- can fairly be labeled as atypical of classic Indian cuisine. That somebody might be preparing similar dishes in India, or that an obscure regional recipe bears some resemblance to what Floyd is doing, would really in my opinion be beside the point. I'm happy to be corrected, though: if these are popular dishes with wide audiences in India, and if Tabla is preparing them in a similar style, I'd accept that information and say I was wrong.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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looking online at the both the main menu and the Bread bar menu, these are not dishes that would be recognised in any Indian kitchen be it a home one, a store front place or the highest end hotel. That does not mean necessarily that they are bad, but from my experience of eating there, they usually fall between acceptable but strange to actually inedible and sometimes revolting.

S

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For example, the bhel poori appetizer at Diwan had a nice presentation, well formed with various colors, etc., great textures (the puffed rice and crisp little noodle things), and vibrant blend of flavors from the sauces to the bits of fresh cilantro.

When you think about bhel puri and its level of complexity, it's a rather impressive dish. First you've got your puffed rice and your chickpea noodles. Each of those items is the result of a process -- they don't grow on trees -- and the combination of the two starches is quite effective. Then you have your various vegetables, like the required onion and tomato, and the improvisational possibilites of potatoes and such. I was actually thinking, last time I ate the dish, about how a few capers might taste if thrown into the mix. But that's beside the point. Then of course there are the two chutneys that form the flavor backbone of the dish, and if you look at that list of ingredients it's quite long: dry ginger, fresh ginger, cayenne, fennel seed, asafetida, garam masala (itself a combination of ingredients), tamarind, cilantro, mint, chilies, onions (as an ingredient in the chutneys, as well as in the main part of the dish), etc. Each of these items -- and others -- needs to be manipulated in a certain way, which is why you can make bhel poori from prepackaged ingredients like store-bought chutneys but it will never taste as good as the version served at Diwan (unless your palate is totally unreceptive to perceiving anything beyond a generalized "spice" flavor). And you're right, it's a wonderful dish from a texture and flavor standpoint, especially as it evolves through chewing. Not that it's the best dish in the world or anything, but it's just as complex and sophisticated, in my opinion, as any dish in any cuisine.

Now, here's the interesting thing: bhel poori, as I understand it, does not come from the imperial chefs at the imperial court. It's just lowly Bombay street food. All Diwan does is make it with a high level of care and plate it using a ring mold or whatever. But by the standards of Indian cuisine, this is just entry-level, "ethnic" stuff.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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How does this fit with objectivisim? Have you ever heard a more subjective theory in your lives, my young droogies? Doesn't this mean that Indian food is the perfect food -- for people that like Indian food? And that French haut cuisine may be the perfect food, but only for people that like French haut cuisine better than other cuisines? And that for all of us on the boards, therefore, French haut cuisine is only the "superior" cuisine because we believe that the market segment that labels it as such is "more discriminating" than those who favor other cuisines? And finally, that we only think that the French haut cuisine lovers are more discriminating because we believe them to have "better" taste based on . . . . . . what? The market?

Stone - You are missing the salient point about P-ism. It's who does it and how much the people who are doing it know about what they are doing. You either believe that each market segment is knowledgable about what they like, or you don't. I personally like to think they are. So the proffer for cuisine says that only the most knowledgable people are willing to pay the price differential that the best food costs. And as a result, that is who would have the most informed opinions about it.

Didn't I just describe the people on this board? The reason the people on this board are reliable information about food is that they have invested more time and money into pursuing good food then other people have.

Unfortunately if you want to do the same thing for films you have to come up with new methodology. The cost of going to see Titanic is the same as the cost for seeing Monsoon Wedding. So you would have to gather critical information from knowledgable sources. It's harder to identify them without a simplehighest price willing to pay for it analysis.

Fat Guy - Well let's review the bidding here. The reason we are in this discussion is you couldn't tolerate a post I made that said that six out of seven people who attended the eGullet banquet, and who went to the Bread Bar at Tabla all agreed that Tabla was much better. In fact Jaybee sent me me an email about it that said;

the food at The Bread Bar at Tabla was far more enjoyable than the food eaten at Diwan at the banquet. I have no incentive to return to Diwan, was disappointed in the taste and texture of the meats, particularly the lamb. The Bread Bar at Tabla was a complete peasant surprise and I will definitely return there.

Now for some reason you decreed that you are more knowldegable about Indian food then the other six people. Except I receieved this email from a user on the site who is a Tabla fan and wrote;

I wonder why everyone ignored your "six out of seven point?"

Now I don't know whether your position about the subtlety of the spicing has any validity or not. In fact, in accordance with Plotnickiism, I defer to authority on these issues and you say you are expert so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. But instead of railing at me for not knowing and continuing to be ignorant about it, where is it that I can sample these subtle spicing routines? If it's Diwan, someone better come with me there and hold my hand while I experience it. Because either I don't get it, or it really isn't worth anything in the scheme of contemporary dining and I've already figured that out.

And that's the part you still haven't explained. Why is what you are describing worth anything in the context of cuisine? Because wine is something that is only for the people who like to drink it. Wine collecting and gaining knowledge about varietals and locations etc., has nothing to do with cuisine. It's an adjunct to cuisine. Like Scotch is an adjunct or port is an adjunct. Now what is it that you are describing about Indian spicing. Is it cuisine, or is it an adjunct to cuisine? Because if it is an adjunct, at the moment I have no interest because my adjunct box is full up to the top and flowing over. But in the meanwhile, I happen to like to eat Indian food and I enjoy places like Diwan and The Bread Bar. And unfortunately, everyone will have to suffer my uninformed criticism. Actually if you read what India Girl wrote on the Spice thread, she sort of agrees with me. She writes about Indian restaurants in the U.S. overspicing the food. This would also be the case from my experience with the Indian restaurants in London. So if there is a different way that Indian cuisine is presented, it's certainly not available here. And then if you read Yvonne;s quote from Julie Sahni and her description of subtle spicing, it sounds like what you would call "Frenchified." Hey maybe I'm right and maybe you're wrong and your palate has been trained on overspiced food.

So how do I know you are right? Point me to the group of people who practice this method of cooking, where when I walk away from eating it, I will have tasted the food and not the spices. Because the issue for me, which you would see if you weren't ignoring what all seven people at that dinner were saying (with Toby and Nina saying it on this thread,) is that the spicing at Tabla was mild enough for the flavors of the food to come through. And the spicing at Diwan muddled the flavors. What any of that has to do with the complexity of the spice mixture, I don't know. You have shifted the pea in order to assail my preference of Tabla without ever responding to the original criticism of Diwan which is that the food is overspiced, and as such, not as enjoyable to eat as food that is subtly spiced. It doesn't make a difference if the overspicing is complex overspicing or not. It has to do with how we meaaure cuisine. Indian cuisine doesn't get a special pass that says, we're allowed to overspice because we value that in our cuisine.

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Steve

Comparing Diwan with Tabla is missing the point a tad as they are both trying to different things ( with varying degrees of success ) and I would not even recognise tabla as an Indian restaurant.

Better comparisons ,and you are in the position to make them, are between Tabla and The Cinnamon Club in London ( both fail equally in my opinon as the concept is flawed and the execution of the dishes inept ) and Diwan with an equally mid - high end place ( I am not sure there are any places in Manhattan that are at that level, Perhaps Nirvana, but that was a grave disappointment also ) such as Zaika or to be more fair the Red Fort ( MId Level )

I would not say that Diwan's dishes were "over spiced" they were however inexpertly spiced. nina is incorrect in saying that food from India lacks subtlety. I cooked, in my own inexpert way, two dishes for her at a recent supper which showed the breadth of possibilities. She is just eating at the wrong places. The butter chicken dish I had at Diwan was bland and lacking in the necessary spice. I found its use of spicing to be the level of a fairly standard UK curry house. Fine, but not worthy of pages and pages on Egullet.

Of the two, I would return to Diwan before Tabla, but perhaps only if Suvir was ordering ( and paying :biggrin: )

S

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You are missing the salient point about P-ism. It's who does it and how much the people who are doing it know about what they are doing.

I don't think so. I think it's a self-fulfilling, malleable system that takes whatever position makes Plotnicki feel right about a given issue. If the elites are right about a food being good, it supports the elites. If not, it doesn't. If the people are right, it supports them. If not, it recategorizes them.

The reason we are in this discussion is you couldn't tolerate a post I made that said that six out of seven people who attended the eGullet banquet, and who went to the Bread Bar at Tabla all agreed that Tabla was much better.

This was your second attempt to troll with that post, actually. You tried it on the Connecticut board but got no response, so you went fishing here in yet another attempt to hijack a thread and make it about you. You don't participate on the Indian food discussions on the site, you impose a regime of deliberate ignorance about Indian food on yourself, you persistently misrepresent what everybody else has said, you insult one of the greatest cultures and cuisines in the history of the world, and you make ridiculous generalizations about how all the brown-skinned people eating in Tabla proves something, yet you expect to be taken seriously when you have a comment about one restaurant having better Indian food than another. Rest assured, nobody takes you seriously in this regard. But we're happy to straighten out all your misconceptions, if not for your benefit (since you never listen) then at least for those who are reading along. And just to be clear, nobody is ignoring what the other people at the banquet have to say. It's only what you have to say that deserves to be ignored, because you've cast your lot with the know-nothings. Whether one meal was better than the other is an open question, but it's not a question that's going to be settled by looking to standards -- your standards -- that make one conclusion inevitable. Toby made an actual, respectable argument and we might be able to have a conversation about it if we weren't so busy being entertained by your comments.

And please don't engage yet again in your cowardly game of what you got in your PM inbox. I don't need to quote my inbox to tell you that you haven't said anything new on eGullet in about a year. It's the same tired old argument and nobody but you believes it.

Now I don't know whether your position about the subtlety of the spicing has any validity or not. In fact, in accordance with Plotnickiism, I defer to authority on these issues and you say you are expert so I will give you the benefit of the doubt.

You defer to nobody, and I never said I was expert. Judged by the standards of your complete lack of knowledge in this area, sure, anybody who has made a good faith effort to appreciate Indian cuisine is an expert. But no, I'm no expert and you wouldn't defer to me if I was. Maybe if you go do a little remedial reading and actually take advantage of the India board and its vast reservoir of knowledge, it will be worth somebody's time to help you out. Until then, you'll just have to live with your ignorance, as you seem to be happy to do. Enjoy your narrow, closed-minded experience of the culinary world. The rest of us will be enjoying all it has to offer. Bye.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't think so. I think it's a self-fulfilling, malleable system that takes whatever position makes Plotnicki feel right about a given issue. If the elites are right about a food being good, it supports the elites. If not, it doesn't. If the people are right, it supports them. If not, it recategorizes them.

That's right. When you decide to have dinner at Ducasse, it's a self-fullfilling ratification of the position YOU WANT TO TAKE. You have taken that position because you have considered it among all the other choices and you have concluded it the best choice. And you didn't make that choice randomly. You were knowledgeable about it. In fact, you considered it to such a great extent that you were willing to conclude that it would warrant your paying $160 a person for dinner before tip, tax and wine. Which probably means that dinner is going to be $350-$400 a person, as opposed to the 3/4 of that price it would take to eat at a place like J-G. So if anyone is a follower of P-ism Fat Guy, it's you. In fact, I'm going to put your picture on the masthead.

I don't see how your position on Diwan holds in light of Simon saying the spicing routine is not very complex. At least if I was really missing something you would have some air in your baloon. But it appears, as I suspected because I assume if the spicing routine at Diwan was really so complex and unusual, I would taste it. So I didn't miss anything. I was on firm ground in my criticism. And if anything, I will defer to Simon's superior knowledge to yours. :raz:

As for the rest of your post, let's keep it on topic. There is no reason for it to get nasty and end up with namecalling.

Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)
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And please don't engage yet again in your cowardly game of what you got in your PM inbox. I don't need to quote my inbox to tell you that you haven't said anything new on eGullet in about a year. It's the same tired old argument and nobody but you believes it.

it might be important to note that 6 out of 7 followers of "p-ism" probably believe it.

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