15 Aug 2009

Dinner… and some thoughts

Last night, I went out to dinner with some friends. We were at an ‘Indian’ restaurant (these are extremely popular in England now) and I have to say, it is not the first time I’ve been to one… nor will it be the last most likely.

I have to admit though, coming from an ‘Indian’ background in Trinidad, I am certainly left confused about the dishes in England. Why?

Well, to begin with, the names are unfamiliar, and secondly, not being able to speak Hindi/Urdu/Gujarati etc, I cannot even determine what the dishes are from the names… thankfully, the restaurant’s menu has a short description of what each dish is.

Names such as bhuna, tikka, shalick, pakora, sylheti, jalfrezi, balti, etc may not be familiar to many ‘Indians’ in Trinidad – they were certainly very strange to me when I came here. And no, I am not yet used to them, not even after 7 years of living here.

(The following is a menu from a ‘takeaway’ and not that of the restaurant I visited last night. It is used here to show what names I speak of.)menu

I think it is a shame that traditional ‘Indian’ households in Trinidad and Tobago (and I suspect the other Caribbean Islands) have lost that part of our culture, the ‘true’ (and I suspect evolved) taste of India. We still cook a rather unique curry, but… it is made the same way in many households and doesn’t have the variety of colour, texture or taste one finds here in England.

The wooden decor was lovely, with extremely detailed hand carvings. I cannot help but think this is deliberate, in as much that this is what the ‘Indians’ think that the English expect Indian decorations to look and feel like.

Unfortunately, my distaste arose when I saw Hindu religious figures serving as decorations in a place serving meats and alcohol… must be that as a traditional Trinidadian Hindu, it is not something I was born and raised thinking that is okay to do. It was the one thing that marred my enjoyment of the evening. I guess it must be because ‘Indian’ here is typically Punjabi or Muslim (Pakistani). A certain amount of irreverence for Hinduism exists here.

Still, I had a good time, the company and food were excellent even if the beer was a little flat. (^_^)