In the mood for Indian

By Hyacinth Miles

Let me tell you a story. Last Saturday night a co-worker invited me to Diwali Dhoom, an extravaganza put on by the University of Kentucky’s Indian Student Association. The evening featured a presentation of Indian dance and music and was followed by an Indian meal.

The show was charming, but it was also three hours long, with no intermission, which is a long time to expect anyone to sit still. In addition, delicious smells of Indian food kept wafting across the auditorium, tempting people into impatience.

There was a story I heard as a child about a man who had to spend the night on a cold mountain top alone with no heat to win a bet. His friend, an old wise man, climbed an adjacent mountain several miles away and lit a bonfire so the man could have a light to guide him through the night. Later, when people cried foul, saying that the man had won the bet unfairly, the old wise man invited them all for dinner. But instead of food coming from the kitchen all that wafted out were delicious smells. The old wise man said that if you could warm yourself by a fire several miles away, you could surely feast on good smells. The nay-sayers relented and dinner was served. I was reminded powerfully of this story sitting in the auditorium, trying to keep my legs from going to sleep.

When I came back into the lobby I discovered that everyone sitting farther back from me had used the cover of darkness to sneak out of the show and get in the food line, which consequently stretched all the way around the Singletary Center. I couldn’t find my co-workers. I was tired and cranky, and not in the mood to wait in line for 2 more hours for any kind of buffet. But now because of the smell I really wanted Indian food. So I drove the two blocks to Kashmir and ended up ordering take out. Just as I placed the order there was an enormous bang from the back of the kitchen, and the man behind the cash register rushed away and started screaming at someone before the noise had even stopped. Clearly this man was having the same sort of night that I was.

Arriving home I opened the car door and reached for the bag of carry out, dreaming of Tikka-masala and warm nan. Instead, I felt something hot hit my chest and before I could interpret what that meant the entire bottom of the bag opened up and the Tikka-masala in question rained down, plastered to my jeans, my favorite (suede) boots, and my silk shirt. So far this Saturday night was decidedly sub-par.

“Well look on the bright side,” said my roommate. “If it had happened half a second earlier it would have been all over your car.” But somehow, running my little bits of nan dolefully around the edges of the empty tikka-masala container, this didn’t seem like much of a comfort.

So I have every intention of going to get more Indian food this week, possibly setting some sort of record for the number of times a singe meal of Indian food has been paid for (three).

I have a couple of options. I can go back to Kashmir, the longest running Indian restaurant in Lexington (making it about 10 years old), where I have never had a bad meal. Another favorite is the Bombay Brazier, which I love on account of their wonderful appetizers (although a few of my Indian friends complain that the food there is a little sweet). Tandoor is also considered very good. n