On behalf of the Hindu community, we have done significant progress to correct the biases and distortions in the textbooks. We need to work further. There are gross inaccuracies.”
– Khanderao Kand, Hindu Education Foundation
Buenos Aires – India is the seventh largest country on the planet by geography, and the second most populated. The people come from a variety of backgrounds and religions, including, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism – which all originated in India, and Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, which have been present for more than a millenium. It has 26 states and another 7 “union territories”. There are 23 officially recognized languages and more than 1,600 dialects. Yet here in Argentina, anyone from India is simply referred to as a “Hindu”. The food too, it’s “Hindu food”. Now, admittedly, 80% of the population are actually Hindu, though with a population of 1.1 billion, that means 200 million are not – far more than many a country’s population. Not surprisingly, the food is widely variable in style, and isn’t simply, as La Nación reported in their special Asian food supplement back in November 2005 “extremely spicy”. The lack of good Indian food, in whatever form, is the topic of conversation in the local foodie world at times – especially amongst British friends who are used to having good quality Indian food available nearby. The few restaurants here that offer Indian cuisine tend to be just okay – both taming the spices (even when not particularly picante) for local palates, and substituting for ingredients that are hard (but not impossible) to find here.
So it’s been with some excitement that some of us have been quietly watching the behind the scenes development of a new, high quality Indian restaurant here in Barrio Norte. For a long time we were sworn to secrecy as to its exact location, not to mention just its mere existence. But the owners have started passing out their business cards – the restaurant will be called Tandoor – and it will be located at Laprida and Charcas. It will hopefully open sometime later this month. In the meantime, we were invited over to one of the owners’ homes this weekend to sample a dish or two. They’ve brought in, at much expense and paperwork, the head chef from a family restaurant operation back in India, whose specialty, not surprisingly, is tandoor cooking – so look for some fun stuff from there. They plan to offer truly authentic Indian regional cuisine, from all over the country, and with no plans to change it just to fit local tastes.
We got to try a delicious Malai Chicken, mildly spicy with turmeric, coriander, and cilantro, along with some beautifully presented Paratha bread – rolled out in a coiled rose pattern. The owners and chef, along with us, were busy discussing tweaks to the dish, and apparently they’ve been doing this plate by plate, with the intent to have the food not only as authentic as possible, but as delicious as they remember these dishes from back home. More to come after they open…