It’s been pretty serious around the bunker these past couple of weeks, and since I’m finally allowed to change the television channel from convention coverage, to “anything I want.” I’m changing the channel to The Food Network since I like to eat and because The Food Network has been down with the brown, as of late.
A few months ago, Minnesotan and Indian Cook, Nipa Bhatt was a contender on the Next Food Network Star. Nipa made it to the fourth episode, but was eliminated after a poor showing in the fish challenge. I think her bad attitude and limited knowledge of food had something to do with it, as well. I don’t want to undermine her effort though, she did make it through a few rounds, and was the first desi contestant on the show. On top of that, Nipa represented for cooking not often sampled by mainstream America: Gujarati food. I know it was the first time I had seen someone make Sukhi Bhaji (seasoned potatoes) or Rasa Valu Battaka Nu Shak (potato curry in gravy) on American television, and more importantly further promote regional Indian cooking to mainstream America.
I thought Nipa was a good introduction to Indian cooking, but what I’m really looking forward to is tonight’s episode of Iron Chef-America. Tonight’s battle pits one of my favorites, Bobby Flay against Floyd Cardoz, Executive Chef of Tabla, New York’s most famous “New Indian” restaurant. Cardoz was trained in Bombay and Switzerland, and opened Tabla in 1998. The main restaurant features food that is Western in orientation, but seasoned with the Indian aesthetic (think a Tandoori BLT or a Fricasse of Wild Mushrooms accompanied by “Upma” Polenta), while the restaurant’s Bread Bar, features more home-style Indian food that we would expect to see on the menu of most Indian restaurants, like chicken tikka and sag paneer. Given the variety and uniqueness of the ingredients highlighted on Iron Chef, I think the show will be a good opportunity for Cardoz to highlight his fusion of Indian and Western techniques on food that might not necessarily be perceived as Indian food. And for those of you in New York, Tabla is offering Cardoz’s Iron Chef menu starting tomorrow, August 8 through October 31.
p>I’ve never been to Tabla, but I have heard a lot about it, and the restaurant has won several awards. I’m curious to hear opinions from mutineers that have sampled Cardoz’s food, or from those that have had “New Indian” food. I have to admit, as a vegetarian, I’m less impressed with this style of food. I’ve eaten at Devi, the New York City restaurant that won a Michelin star, but outside of having a nice saffron bread pudding, paying $20 dollars for some mediocre baingan doesn’t really cut it for me. For that type of food, I’d rather get my fix from the auntie run chat house, or the hole-in-the-wall desi-joint.
Whether or not Cardoz wins, I’m looking forward to a tv-night in the bunker free of speeches, catchy slogans (“Drill baby drill?”) and half-truths (democratic convention/ republican convention), and hopefully some inspired cooking. Iron Chef America airs Sundays a 9 pm (Eastern) on The Food Network, and is often repeated during the week.