Sunday, October 19, 2008

Taj India Palace Restaurant

Living the celiac lifestyle includes a lot of reflecting on what you used to eat. These thoughts can generally be divided into two subsections: 1) grumbling over things you can't eat anymore or 2) puzzling over how - or if - you can recreate these foods in your kitchen. 

But what about foods you've discovered since your diagnosis? 

For me, it's been Indian Food. Yes, I discovered the food of an entire culture. Had it not been for celiac disease, I doubt I would know of the spicy offerings of the near east. As for the reason it took me over twenty years to eat saffron flavored things? Embarrassing as it is, I've got to come clean. It was fear. 

That's right, I was afraid of Indian food. 

Like most fears, this one is deeply rooted in childhood. I was about seven when I was dragged to one of my dad's mediation meetings. This one was some kind of party, held in Beaumont Catholic School for Girls, of all religiously ill fitting places, and I remember a long buffet of foreign foods I'd never encountered before. As I sat down with a plate of suspiciously neon yellow potatoes, equally bright rice, and vegetables smothered in salmon colored sauce, my nose wrinkled. 

Ugh. What IS this? 

"It's just vegetables. Besides, you're a vegetarian. This is vegetarian. You're supposed to like it."

Here's the thing about seven-year-old vegetarians: they're still seven-year-olds. Like most kids, they pretty much only like pizza and peanut butter. And what they don't like is super spicy Indian food. One bite and I was done.

The memory of that day glow food stuck with me for years. And years. It wasn't until I read books on celiac disease where authors touted the nearly completely open menu of Indian restaurants that I even thought about trying Indian food again. I dismissed the notion a few times, but a girl can only live on Tinkyada pasta and scrambled eggs for so long...

I'm glad I gave Indian food a try, since as it turns out, it's really good. 

I recently had dinner at Taj India Palace on Wilson Mills Road, across from Richmond mall. It's a small, unassuming place in a strip mall and you might miss it if you didn't know it was there. But that would be a mistake. Good food and good service, Taj India Palace offers a variety of options at reasonable prices. 

I settled on the Baingan Bharta - mashed roasted eggplant with peas and onions. While I had a hard time communicating with my waitress, she brought another waitress over to help talk over the whole gluten free thing. I felt confident that my food would come to me safely. And it did, both spicy and cinnamon-y, I really enjoyed my Baingan Bharata - and definitely had enough for left overs the next day. Dishes are served with complementary basmati rice, and if you're a real carbohydrate hound, you might like to know that they refill your rice at no extra charge. 

On Saturday and Sunday, Taj India Palace has a grand buffet brunch from 11:00 - 3:oo, and while buffets offer up the chance of cross contamination, it also affords you the chance to try a lot of things at once - and with the exception of Naan (bread), most Indian food doesn't have wheat in it anyway. As always, the choice is yours on how much risk you're willing to assume. 

I love to experiment in my kitchen, but I have yet to attempt Indian food. It seems like a pretty big undertaking and I'm not sure I have the experience or the palate to know how to spice the food right yet. I'm not one to shy away from a challenge, so I'm working on it, but until then, I'll have to settle on going to restaurants like Taj India Palace. Oh darn. 

So how about you? What foods have you discovered since your diagnosis? 

Taj India Palace on Urbanspoon


VeggieGirl said...

I've discovered that quinoa is my favorite gluten-free grain :0)

caitlin said...

New to the gluten free( along with other foods )lifestyle, of course I have been trying new things. I bought some plantains a few days ago; waiting for them to ripen. I'm trying more greens...beet greens bothered me, but bok choy and swiss chard were a hit! I also eat quinoa and buckwheat. I must be careful to not use them too much, as they are the only grain-type foods I can consume without problems, not being able to eat corn or rice either.

Jen Friedberg said...

I adore Indian food now, too. There are lots of prepackaged foods that make it easier. Try to find somewhere that serves Dosas - they're sort of like crepes and get filled with potatoes and veggies. They are made out of lentils and rice so they're totally safe!

H.Peter said...

Cooking Indian food at home can be very high maintenance if you do it from scratch, or it can be equally delicious from a pre made sauce.

Canada and India have a shared history with the Great British Empire, with the side effect that it is very easy for Indians to immigrate to Canada.

So we have tons and tons of Indian food, both fresh in restaurants and packaged in super markets.

Patak's comes to mind for good sauces. Here is their website:

Dana Wax said...

agreed, quinoa is pretty yummy. The quiona/corn pasta is a staple around here. Great for macaroni and cheese.

jen - when I lived in NYC the famous new york dosa man had his cart right outside of the building I worked at (on washington sq. park). Eeeeveryone loved his gluten free creations (said so on his cart!), and the line for the dosa man was usually half way around the block

h.peter - thanks for the link! and the information, seem so obvious to me now - the connection between great britian, canada, and india, but I never really thought of it before. You learn something everyday :)

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Taj has added an extra way to the people. This is heritage of Mumbai. Great article has been shared. Thanks for sharing this.

James said...

I adore Indian food now, too. There are lots of prepackaged generic viagra foods that make it easier.

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