A Conversation About Indian Food - are you in?

The beautiful thing about Indian food is the complexity of flavor that each dish delivers. Last year I was introduced to Indian cuisine, and it quickly became my favorite type of food. Part of its appeal, I'm sure, comes from the fact that I only eat it on rare occasions; my family is wary (you don't get much further from plain steak + potatoes as chana masala, right?) but L's family orders it from time to time, and you can be sure my ears perk up at his house when I hear of the possibility of take out from our local Indian restaurant.

It makes sense that I am drawn to recipes for Indian food, then, but am always so daunted by several things: (1) the laundry list of ingredients that make it seem like such an endeavor to try making anything myself, and (2) the copious amounts of butter found in many of their sauces, something I found somewhat surprising when I first discovered it.

L's mom also recently found herself drawn to an Indian chicken recipe, one with that stereotypical novel-length ingredient list, and decided to go for it. She put a lot of effort into the meal, but was ultimately let down when all of those ingredients and all of that time produced little more than a bland dish, only vaguely and mildly reminiscent of what we are all used to from the local restaurant.

I also tried an Indian dish recently - this Indian spiced chicken pita - and found myself faced with the same disappointment. Although my recipe was much less demanding, it was disheartening to bite with excitement into what I quickly realized was just a lackluster chicken sandwich.

I wasn't planning to post this recipe at all because of how entirely mediocre it was, but L's mom's flop with Indian food prompted me to reconsider. Maybe it wasn't just us - maybe other people have been struggling with mastering this cuisine, too. Better yet, maybe some of you have successfully conquered it and have some tips.

So what do you say? Is there a "trick" to making your own Indian dishes? Do you have killer recipes up your sleeve? I'd love to hear from you about any and all things Indian cuisine.

And, if you're interested, here is the link to the Indian spiced chicken pita recipe I tried and was not fully satisfied with. I'm sad to say that it's from Eating Well, a site that whose praises I normally sing unconditionally. To be fair, the sandwich certainly wasn't bad, but I expect a big flavor punch with my Indian inspired meals, and this fell a little flat.

I know this makes 2 posts in a row without real recipe deliverance - watch out for tomorrow's 30 Minute Thursday post, which will have a recipe. In fact, it will have a recipe for what Papa Floptimism called the best burger he's ever eaten - you wouldn't want to miss that, would you?

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