Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Last night I went for an Indian with a couple of anglo copines. We made our way to Passage Brady which is in the 10th arr. and a covered passage that crosses Faubourg St Denis and houses a collection of indo-pakistani restaurants and shops.

The only restaurant to go to there is Pooja . To get there you have to walk past all the other restaurants who have waiters hanging out on the street trying to persuade you to choose their establishment. As one guide I read said, Pooja needs no such efforts as its reputation goes before it.

I lived in northern India for six months when I was 18 years old (I made a terrible English teacher) and despite all attempts of the school chef to put me off dhal and chapatti (by providing this combination as a daily lunch dish over more than 100 days) I still want more!

We certainly indulged last night. I like the restaurant - Pooja tends to serve northern Indian style dishes. We had very good samosas to start followed by shared butter chicken, gosht madras, dhal, vegetable & plain rice, poppadum, a fantastic garlic naan bread. To finish we scoffed kulfi (an indian icecream that comes in mango & pistachio flavours) lassi and rounded it up with a cup of real chai.

Chai is an Indian tea including cardamom and cinnamon spices and traditionally it is heated with the milk already added. It needs to be drunk very sweet. It reminded me of the endless cups and opportunities to drink it in India. When travelling chai boys will come around to you at bus stops, train stations to sell you cups of sustenance for the rest of your journey. When I was teaching at the school in the Himalayas we would be woken up in our rooms by the chai boy who gave us a cup to start the day.

One morning the chai boy didn't turn up. The next night I was woken by a banging on my room door at 3am. The boy was there offering the usual drink. Apparently he had overslept the morning before and got such a scolding for it that he had been so worried (and without watch or alarm clock) that he got up at that terrible hour to serve the next morning. We all felt so bad for him.

I rolled home last night very full and happy but am now busy planning my own culinary efforts to use the naan bread and chutneys that I bought in the great Indian superette in Passage Brady.

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