Indian food hasn’t really been a big part of my restaurant repertoire—that is until recently, when I met a few of my lady friends at a new Portland spot called Bollywood Theater. Specializing in “Indian street food,” AKA sumptuous little snacks you’d palm on a Mumbai streetcorner, this restaurant changed the landscape of my summertime food life.
Let me explain. It was a hot evening—let’s say 80 plus, and only certain things sound good in that kind of climate, right? Like, you’re not gonna choke down cheese fondue or beef brisket past a certain temperature. But Indian food is MEANT for the heat. That’s where it was born. The searing peppers (India’s Bhut Jolokia is literally the world’s hottest chili pepper) and pungent spices (mustard, ginger, cumin) kick your sweat glands into gear; the yogurts, cilantros and coconut creams cool everything down—the blend of both always managing to leave you with the loveliest, lingering warmth.
The bhut jolokia, also known as the naga jolokia or ghost pepper, is recognized as the hottest in the world. photo xiamex/flickr
First, I had a roasted beet salad. Magenta in color, the salad came to me on an ornate silver dish. The beats had been roasted and then mixed with coconut milk and curry leaves. And lots of cilantro. Nice is an understatement here.
Next, I finished off a plate of Papri Chaat—a celebrated Indian street snack involving cumin-spiced crackers topped with roasted chick peas, potatoes, thick, rich yogurt, cilantro, and tamarind chutney. A sweet balance of heavy and light, cold and hot. I had the mixture dripping down my face and fingers as I washed it all down with a cold pint of wheat beer and was never happier.
Papri Chaat. photo mookieluv/flickr
And that, my friends, is how I’m spending at least one night a week until the heat breaks!
Loud, Hot and People Everywhere from Jeremy Fenske on Vimeo. “Shot during an incredible 2 weeks traveling from Kochi to Mumbai India with Chef Troy MacLarty documenting his menu research for his new street food restaurant, Bollywood Theater in Portland, OR. This video is on permanent, looping installation inside the restaurant.”
lead photo by rishu83/flickr