As I prepare to return to the Old World later tonight, I find myself reflecting on one of the most challenging aspects of my time in New England this past month—the notably subpar quality of Indian cuisine in the area (I also tried Desi Pizza).
With the exception of Madras Dosa Company in Harvard Square, the local culinary landscape is disappointingly lackluster. While some restaurants may boast high Google ratings, they fall short of meeting the standards I’m accustomed to in the UK.
London, in contrast, offers an exquisitely diverse Indian food scene that allows enthusiasts to explore various regional cooking styles, with places like Fat Pundit leading the way in innovating Indo-Chinese fare.
In any case, I’ve encountered difficulties with the flavors in the USA. Ingredients seem oversized, yet their flavors often appear muted. I’ve come across information suggesting that chicken in the 1960s was smaller but possessed more distinctive flavor (as evidenced by Julia Child’s recipes, which apparently assumed chicken to be inherently flavorful).
I’ve also observed that white Americans, or those not of Indian descent, don’t seem to embrace Indian cuisine in the same way that the British do. In the United Kingdom, Indian food is almost a culinary religion, even if the takeaway options may not meet the standards of native Desis. This fervor has created an environment for Indian food giants like Dishoom to flourish. On the other hand, Americans appear to have a stronger affinity for Chinese and Mexican cuisines as their primary choices of ethnic fare.
I’ve heard that Manhattan and the West Coast offer a more diverse and satisfying array of Indian food options, likely due to the critical mass of desi communities. I also suspect (Dr. Lalchand smirks at this last residue of ethnic chauvinism) that Pakistani restaurants might offer more tantalizing experiences in the US, which is the opposite of the situation in the UK, where Indian-owned and run establishments tend to excel as a rule.