My relationship with Indian food is an unusual one. It so happens that a considerable percentage of the population of my country, Trinidad & Tobago, is of Indian descent; as a result, Trinidadian food and culture is heavily influenced by India. I grew up on rotis and curries and dhal and paratha (and you don't want to even start me on doubles) and have always loved every bit of it.
But as is often the case with immigrant food, the cuisine changes a bit based on the ingredients that are available locally. As such, I am passionate about Trinidadian Indian food -- and in truth, when I've had Indian food outside of Trinidad, at restaurants in the United States or in England, I find myself somewhat ambivalent: the food is generally fine, of course, but it doesn't have the nostalgic notes that I'm used to. As a result, while I'll certainly go to an Indian restaurant with friends if that's their choice, it's rare that I'll be the one to initiate a night out at an Indian restaurant. Indian food at a Caribbean restaurant, however? I'm all over that.
So last week, when Marcus and I were looking for a restaurant to have an early lunch, and someone on Twitter recommended Pondicheri, I have to admit I was a bit hesitant. I was afraid that it would be yet another Indian restaurant that people loved and I was indifferent to. But it was Valentine's Day, and Marcus loves Indian food, so I decided to bite the bullet and suggest that we go.
Man, oh man, I am so glad I did.
I don't know what it is about this restaurant that got me, but good Lord, it got me. The ingredients were incredibly fresh (and indeed, they are proud that all of their ingredients are local sourced), but it was more than that. I had an omelet that was loaded with vegetables and Indian spices, served on paratha bread, and it was, hands-down, the best omelet of my life. Marcus' dish was equally delicious, he tells me, but to be honest, I was so focused on my own food, I didn't pay much attention to his meal.
There is no question that we're going to return. Soon.
Something else that was interesting: although I took photographs with my Nikon D300, the camera I'm most used to, it was the Hasselblad that I feel like truly captured the ambiance of the place. This is the first time that I unquestionably believe that my film camera captured something more honestly than my digital camera could -- and that's a lesson for me. I'm not entirely sure yet how to walk into a situation and know which camera will be better and more honest for me, but it's a skill I'm definitely going to have to learn. I can't wait.
In the meantime, however, here are some more images of Pondicheri. And for God's sake, if you happen to be in Houston, go to this restaurant. You will not be disappointed.
(incidentally, I'm traveling back to Houston today, and will be back at Chookooloonks Headquarters next week. This was a really lovely getaway, however -- one for which I'm very grateful.)
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Song: Don't stop by Shurwayne Winchester. This is an older song from Trinidad -- the genre is actually called "chutney soca," referring to the type of local soul-calypso (or "soca") music that has a decidedly Indian flavour (hence, "chutney"). This particular song is one of my favourites.