On Monday night, we all met at the Star of India restaurant on Grape Road at 6:30 p.m. and had a great time experimenting with India food.
We started with "Chicken 65", a dish that has a variety of stories in regard to how it got its name, but which our friend Rajendran in India claims to be due to the fact that it has "65 spices" in its process of cooking.
This was shortly followed by vegetable briani (something akin to long-grain vegetable fried rice), white rice, dahl makahni (a thick "bean soup" that is dumped over the rice), chicken curry (featured in picture here), nan (a crispy, wafer-like "chip" that is the size of a saucer), nan (grilled "tortilla" bread), and, of course, Chai Tea.
The "Rules of Engagement" for the evening? Simple! They were as follows:
1) No silverware. In India, most food is served without silverware and is roughly the consistency of Campbell's Chunky Soup. As a result, you "access" it best by simply using your hands to mush everything together into a soupy pile and then "scooping" it with four fingers into your mouth.
2) No napkin. In most rural settings in India (i.e. the kinds of areas where our team will be working), napkins are generally not provided nor used. As a result, your fingers stay pretty messy as you move from one part of your plate to the other, and just learning to enjoy the amalgamation of flavors is part of the game. Either that or your pants get pretty messy if you insist on wiping your fingers after every bite :- )
3) No left hand. In India, the only thing you do with your left hand is what you normally do with toilet paper when you go to the bathroom. As a result, you don't use your left hand for anything else, particularly if it involves eating or other people. That's why if you used your left hand to help you eat on Monday night, i Karate-chopped your wrist. Or maybe not... but you get the idea.
Overall, the team did a great job! They enjoyed the food and the experience, and felt wiser and more prepared when we left!