Monday, 27 June 2011

Of Samosa and Indian cuisine (サモサとインドの料理に就いて)

I have a habit of visiting my parents in-law every weekend with my husband. They live in a town called Kotoura, about 30-minute drive from Kurayoshi where my husband and I live.

It's a short visit but it's a nice moment where we have dinner together with お父さん and お母さん and お祖母さん (father and mother and grandmother).

During dinner we eat and chat. Though it's actually my husband, parents in-law, and grandmother who do the talking most of the time. I am more of a listener as my Japanese is waaaaaay from being fluent. But I kind of can tell what they're talking about. Sometimes, my husband translates for me. But if it's too long he doesn't. Now I'm taking a Japanese lesson once a week so it's getting better. Yesterday, grandmother and I had our first conversation (@⌒▽⌒@) Well...not really a conversation. It was more like Q&A - a short one. But it was really nice because it was the first time we'd communicated without an interpreter (a.k.a. my husband). Grandmother pointed at the dish I'd made asking, "Harumaki?" And I said, "hai." And then I said again, "Jagaimo", which means potato. I know it sounds silly to be overjoyed by this but it meant a lot to me (@⌒▽⌒@) because I could say something and not only answer (@⌒▽⌒@)

The weekend dinner is also a time where I get to cook exotic dishes. Grandmother is especially fond of them. She's 94 years old now and isn't strong enough to take a trip to a restaurant for a special meal except for eating ramen because it doesn't take a long time to reach that restaurant. So, I try to cook different kind of dishes that she might like such as Indonesian, Italian, Chinese, etc. And yesterday I made Samosa , an Indian stuffed pastry, with apple chutney. And she loved it!! (@⌒▽⌒@)  I was sooo glad ヽ(‘ ∇‘ )ノ

My homemade vegetable samosa and apple chutney
Samosa is the second Indian dish I've tried my hand at cooking besides vegetable curry. I've always loved Indian dishes. I love the smell of spices used in the dishes. It's intoxicating and exotic. Even the ice cream - kulfi - also includes some exotic spices. Plus I don't need to make the dish look pretty. I'm not that artistic when it comes to decorating food (I have to admit that I don't have the patience for decorating food :D). And the fact that now my husband and I have to travel far to enjoy an Indian meal, I might as well make it myself.

Talking about Indian food, funny thing is that  while living in Tokyo, I went to Indian restaurants more than I had been to in my home country, Indonesia. I was surprised at how easy to find an Indian restaurant in Tokyo. It seemed to me that every 区or ku has at least one Indian resto. From the like of soba stand - unassuming, inexpensive but delicious - to the expensive, and stylish one in Ginza for instance. Even at the cafeteria of Shibuya Town Hall, they served Indian curry!! I find it really interesting.

In contrast, it is not so in Indonesia, my home country, even though Indian culinary is popular in Japan. I find it baffling that despite having been heavily influenced by India historically and having  most of the spices in common, Indonesian taste buds still seem hard to agree with Indian cuisine. Many of Indonesian dishes are influenced by Indian, but Indian cuisine itself fails to become popular in Indonesia. For over 20 years having lived in Bandung, my hometown, I only found 2 Indian restaurants.

One inexpensive Indian restaurant I frequented back in my home country interestingly belonged to a Chinese Indonesian couple. They had lived in Singapore before, where they developed a craze for Indian dishes and decided to run an Indian restaurant when they moved back to Indonesia.

My favorite Indian restaurant in a shopping mall in Bandung. .

The lady owner. She's very friendly and warm.
I haven't visited the restaurant for over 4 years now, I think. I don't know if they're still running the business or not. I really hope they are. It's a pity if they don't because their food is so yummy and, most importantly, inexpensive.

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