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indian-american food


mongo_jones
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does in indian food in the u.s have its analogue for orange chicken yet or even chinese chicken salad? or even for balti food? has anyone come across any indian dish that has hybridized or adapted to meet local tastes in the u.s, in the process becoming different while still recognizable in a geographically homogeneous way?

i use "indian-american" to describe what i'm talking about not to suggest food eaten/cooked by indian-americans (though i would also be interested to know if the food of second generation indian-americans is qualitatively different from those of first generationers and that of the home country) but to suggest a similar hyphenated identity for food that we use for all the various hyphenated immigrant american identities. in other words, how has indian food in the u.s changed (if it has) over the decades that it has been here? has the change been only in terms of adapting to the tastes of more recent waves of indian immigrants (thus giving them more of what they were used to in indian restaurants in india) or has it also been (if only in a few areas) to completely local non-indian tastes? it would be too depressing only if it turns out the cookie-cutter north-indian menus have held out largely unchanged since the sixties.

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Chicken curry with apples & raisins, perhaps?

Or perhaps the concept of curry powder. Way back when I'd first tried an indian dinner & realized I liked it, I looked all around for a "curry spice" on it's own without other spices added to it before I finally clued in to the realization that curry was a sauce, not a singular spice.

Aloo Paratha mix in a bag, sauces in jars.

Chicken tikka masala?

I would think it's been "blandified" for american tastes.

". . . if waters are still, then they can't run at all, deep or shallow."

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Chicken curry with apples & raisins, perhaps?

Or perhaps the concept of curry powder.  Way back when I'd first tried an indian dinner & realized I liked it,  I looked all around for a "curry spice" on it's own without other spices added to it before I finally clued in to the realization that curry was a sauce, not a singular spice.

Aloo Paratha mix in a bag, sauces in jars.

Chicken tikka masala?

I would think it's been "blandified" for american tastes.

curries with fruit is a colonial english thing.

curry powder is not an american concoction either--indian cooks in india have been using it for ages.

i don't know about sauces in jars and mixes either--patak's is an english brand anyway, and it seems to be the most popular of all the jar-mix brands.

chicken tikka masala may have a greater profile in the diaspora than in india but i would have to say that it too is more an english than an american thing, or at least earlier.

in general, i guess i'm looking for something other than just a blandified version of an indian staple.

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Do you know/can you explain why they added fruit to curry? Someone just wake up and say "I think I'll try apples in this"?

I'm hesitant to do it myself, I'm curious as to what purpose it serves & what, if anything, it does for (or against) the dish.

". . . if waters are still, then they can't run at all, deep or shallow."

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You asked a really tough but interesting question, mongo_jones.

As you note, the British are responsible for just about everything in U.S. Indian restaurants that is different from what you might typically find in India. Perhaps not surprising, given their much longer history and larger number in Britain.

Perhaps the only practice that seems to be more or less distinctively American (though I may be wrong, not having sampled very many British Indian restaurants) is the ubiquitous lunchtime buffet. This seems to have been a feature of the majority of U.S. Indian restaurants from the very beginning, perhaps as a way of enticing those unfamiliar with the foods (I noticed that Chinese restaurants in areas without many Chinese also often tend to have lunchtime buffets). Anyone in the restaurant business have some info on how the lunchtime buffet business became so popular?

Of course, the practice of having buffets does not define an "Indian-American cuisine". It probably takes at least a few generations before an ethnic cuisine becomes popularized to the extent that it can be given a hyphenated identity, as in the case of Chinese-American, Mexican-American, and Italian-American food.

If you want to derive some predictions about the Indian-American restaurant food of the future, take a look at Chilis and Chutneys by Neelam Batra (Morrow, 1998). It's mostly a collection of her and her friends' adaptations for Indian foods to feed their own families and to adapt to local ingredients. But it doesn't take much of logical leap to infer that such dishes might form the basis for some the stuff you would find at the "Kabab Hut" and "Curry Garden" of the future (though their versions will probably not be nearly as good as Batra's).

BTW, Patak's is now owned by Hormel, I believe, so it is officially American!

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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i can't say ubiquitous necessarily, but there are a lot of shortcuts that i think will eventually become a lexicon of Indian-American cooking.

I think it will take a while to happen tho - but eventually it will, if Caribbean-Indian cooking is any example.

Edited by tryska (log)
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i can't say ubiquitous necessarily, but there are a lot of shortcuts that i think will eventually become a lexicon of Indian-American cooking.

I think it will take a while to happen tho - but eventually it will, if Caribbean-Indian cooking is any example.

indo-caribbean food is a good example of the kind of thing i'm looking for. you can see the indian origins clearly, yet it is also quite clearly different. italian food in the u.s has also changed since the first immigrants arrived (pizza anyone?). in both those cases, and that of chinese food in the u.s and also in india, the immigrant communities have been around for more than a hundred years. is that what it takes? the process seems to have sped up in the u.k--which seems paradoxical since you'd think the higher concentration of immigrants would result in a longer preservation of "authenticity" (as with korean food in los angeles or chinese food in the outlying san gabriel valley). perhaps it has to do with how quickly the (relatively) newly arrived cuisine is adopted by people outside that community (not foodies--who insist on things being made the way they "should"-- but mainstream folks).

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I agree it definitely has to do with how quickly the cuisine is adopted. And also I think a lot of the wide spread of Indian food in the UK had to do with British Colonials coming back home and wanting the food they had when stationed in India - prior to mass immigration to the UK from India and Pakistan.

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italian food in the u.s has also changed since the first immigrants arrived (pizza anyone?).

Speaking of...I've heard of a couple places around here serving pizza using naan as the crust. There's a pizza place on the other side of town that serves a spicy chicken vindaloo pizza.

". . . if waters are still, then they can't run at all, deep or shallow."

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I agree it definitely has to do with how quickly the cuisine is adopted.  And also I think a lot of the wide spread of Indian food in the UK had to do with British Colonials coming back home and wanting the food they had when stationed in India - prior to mass immigration to the UK from India and Pakistan.

yes, but as amitav ghosh describes in "shadow lines" (when ila takes the narrator and robi to dinner at a "indian" restaurant run by sylheti east pakistanis in london) the food that sprang up in indian restaurants in england wasn't really anything like what the british colonials might have experienced back in india.

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italian food in the u.s has also changed since the first immigrants arrived (pizza anyone?).

Speaking of...I've heard of a couple places around here serving pizza using naan as the crust. There's a pizza place on the other side of town that serves a spicy chicken vindaloo pizza.

california pizza kitchen has an unfortunate tandoori chicken pizza as well. i'd see this as an example of what i was talking about more if something like this originated in an indian restaurant--naan and keema served pizza style, or some version of macaroni with keema and paneer (yes, i know it sounds horrible).

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I agree it definitely has to do with how quickly the cuisine is adopted.  And also I think a lot of the wide spread of Indian food in the UK had to do with British Colonials coming back home and wanting the food they had when stationed in India - prior to mass immigration to the UK from India and Pakistan.

yes, but as amitav ghosh describes in "shadow lines" (when ila takes the narrator and robi to dinner at a "indian" restaurant run by sylheti east pakistanis in london) the food that sprang up in indian restaurants in england wasn't really anything like what the british colonials might have experienced back in india.

this is true.

i think this is where curry powder and apples came from. *shudder*

but my point was that this is how brits got "acclimated" for lack of a better word to indian food.

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i wonder if there are any sociological studies out there of the growth of indian food in the u.k--i can't imagine there wouldn't be. it would be interesting to read accounts of the changing audiences, chefs, expectations, definitions, ideologies for/of the food.

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i wonder if there are any sociological studies out there of the growth of indian food in the u.k--i can't imagine there wouldn't be. it would be interesting to read accounts of the changing audiences, chefs, expectations, definitions, ideologies for/of the food.

I wonder were is Simon dada ? "Tini nischoi aye sob jinish ta jaan ben " [Hey' how's that for a non-bong :wink: ]

anil

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When I think of Indian-American cuisine, I definelty think of what I saw at Tabla...When I worked in the kitchen, it was just amazing to see the familarity with Indian spices being used in such creative ways...I completely feel like there is so much complexity to Indian cusine - which I love - but also can be played around with and molded to create a cusine which truly is Indian American. And as for those people who don't approve of fusion cuisine - I feel like it is similar to what happens when you have the child of a mixed marriage couple - either the child is amazing looking, or has gotten the worst of both parents...You take your chances...similar to fusion cusine its all an experiment...I think that in any household its impossible to get "pure" cuisine, in this day and age - everything is subletly influenced by other cultures...

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Do you know/can you explain why they added fruit to curry?  Someone just wake up and say "I think I'll try apples in this"?

I'm hesitant to do it myself, I'm curious as to what purpose it serves & what, if anything, it does for (or against) the dish.

I read somewhere that when the british had leftover roast chicken they would 'curry it ' to change the taste to break the monotoney (sp?) of serving the same dish twice and add apples to it to ' bulk' it up so it would go around another time.

Take butter in a pan, add chopped garlic, saute a minute, add flour and make a white roux, add curry powder, saute a minute, add peeled diced green apples and raisins, add chicken stock and cook till pples are al dente,add pieces of leftover chicken, warm through. That's it. Tried it once it wasn't too bad.

I shall now try to remember the source and when I do shall post it here .

Bhasin

Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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