The radiant yellow of curry is enough to visibly brighten up any dish, but the powerful, rich, aromatic, spice-infused flavors are enough to make that dish come alive on your palate. It’s a wonderful spice that can add so much depth to a dish.
But for some reason, people tend to be scared of it.
People who haven’t tried Indian cuisine before tend to get squeamish at the thought of trying it. When I talk about curry sauces and the colorful cuisine Indian food is, people who have never even given it a chance already have their mind made up that they won’t like it.
I don’t get it.
But fortunately for me, other people’s opinions of food has never stopped me from doing what I enjoy. I’ve had two birthday parties at Indian restaurants, and my friends who didn’t like Indian food still came in the spirit of good friendship.
And guess what? Now they like Indian food.
I have great memories with Indian cuisine outside of those two birthday parties, many of which involved my friend Sebass who was visiting me before he moved to San Francisco to work at NASA. When it came time to decide where to take him to dinner while he was in the city, I knew we had to get Indian food.
We chose a restaurant called Darbar located in Midtown. Honestly, I chose it because they had chicken malai.
Chicken malai isn’t a dish I’ve seen on many menus. I most recently had it for the first time when I went to Kamal Palace in California. It’s a creamy sauce with spices, and I fell in love with it when I ate it at Kamal Palace. Let me put it to you this way – it was so good I could have drank the sauce.
So in case you can’t tell, I had some high expectations for this dish. My experience with it at Darbar was good, but not as good as Kamal Palace. It wasn’t as rich in flavor, but it as still delicious.
When our waiter came by to pick up our plates as we finished eating and ask how our food was, I told him I thought it was great. It truly was, and I can authentically say Darbar has good Indian food. I guess he must have appreciated my sentiment because we were brought out a free dessert.
Gulab jamun was brought out to us. This is a dessert that’s similar to a donut with milk on it. I found his gesture very sweet, but it also made me uncomfortable. As a journalist, this is definitely a grey area. He didn’t know I was a journalist nor did he know that I planned to write about this experience on my blog.
We’ve had discussions of these kind of scenarios in my journalism ethics class. What do you do if somebody offers you food and/or a beverage. How do you balance your integrity and your desire to not offend somebody? We’ve basically decided it’s a case-by-case situation.
In this case, I felt comfortable trying the dessert because the restaurant wasn’t aware I’m a journalist and that I intended to blog about my experience there. Some of you might disagree with me, but I view food as something people offer others as a symbol of kindness, gratitude, hospitality, respect and/or friendship. I believe refusing to try food somebody offers you can be very rude, depending on the circumstances.
So, I tried it. I ate the gulab jamun. And to be honest, it was pretty good. I’m not a huge donut eater, but this one was quite tasty with the milk on top.
I had another night to add to my memories of enjoying Indian cuisine with my friend Sebass. And this one also provided a stimulating exercise in journalism ethics. Hope you’re proud, Professor Shapiro.
Address: 152 E 46th Street New York NY, 10017
Phone number: 212-681-4500
Price: $$ Entrees between $14-$24, so it’s very reasonably priced.
Hours: Sun-Thur 11:30 AM-10:30 PM; Fri-Sat 11:30 AM-11 PM
Atmosphere: Very nice and classy.