The smell of spices. The aromas waft through the air. Outdoor markets where farmers, merchants, craftsmen, artisan, and spice traders peddle their wares. The hot bustle, people moving and color everywhere. Exotic women and flavors. And the portal that will take you there. This is the Bombay Express.
When I worked for the Crown as an administrator in Bombay, I was intoxicated by the varieties of curries. Each home, each restaurant, each corner snack shop, had its own take on various curries. Some went with chicken, some with fish, some with lamb, some vegetable. The spices were redolent and consumed my most unbridled passions. It was with a heavy heart that I left that city by the sea. Never, I thought, would I experience curries such as those again.
Now I live in New York, and while I've had my share of good south Indian food, I've missed the rich curries of the north. You can imagine my delight, therefore, when I walked into an unassuming Bombay-style eatery in the West Village and smelled the piquant spices of my memory. Could it be? Curries with the same deep complexity?
Bombay fish curry I ordered, trying to keep my expectations in check. It cannot be as good as versions cooked up in the sub continent. The dish arrived and the smell was simply divine. There were some pickled onions and a cucumber and tomato salad -- an American conceit. Yet I was smitten with the aroma of the curry. There was a deep odor with notes of sour mustard seed and rich mahogany. But it couldn't be as good as the versions in Bombay, particularly in the Naharishi sector.
I took a bite. Then another. Then I stared at the waitress and smiled a deep smile, and my eyes rolled into the back of my head. "This curry is intoxicating!" I screamed. And indeed, my friends, I spoke the truth. What a fine, supple, exhilarating curry!
After my glorious meal I strolled home and stopped to kiss every Indian woman I saw on the street. I was mad with curry!
Bleecker Street, West Village