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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

indian inspirations



Last weekend we went to our favorite Indian restaurant, Minerva in Fairfax VA. As we headed out, this sweet mystery kitty came by, basking in the bright sun...and checking out the tiny new shoots of rebounding catmint:
Before experiencing Minerva's rich, amazing flavors, I was fairly neutral about Indian cuisine. And now, I can't think of another that induces this degree of sheer sensory joy--zinging endorphins fired by intricate patterns of spice and heat! In no particular order...some of the exciting flavors and textures that keep us coming back to Minerva:

Crispy masala dosa:
Aloo masala, a nice balance of soothing starch and piquant spice:
Guthi vaankya is a favorite--baby eggplants in a savory peanut curry with dried chilis, fresh cilantro and subtle layers of spice:
Or how about some chat: chickpeas and crisp chickpea filled dumplings...
dusted with mango powder, diced onions, tamarind chutney, tomato, yogurt, cilantro sauce, and a lovely scattering of fresh cilantro? Divine!
Pepper okra:
A peppery, gingery chicken special:
My plate at the table...
Coconut chutney (top) is so refreshing! I love munching on the dried red chili pods...
Smoky, sinfully rich butter chicken:
Sweet gulab jamun:
Later, we stopped by Indo-Pak Spices in Herndon...
Bitter melon and green chilis:
These rose syrups look magical:
Today's "Babar" bento features vegetable curry with peppers, peas, asparagus, paneer, and almonds, a mango chutney shrimp skewer, a methi parantha elephant, beluga black lentils with ginger chutney, snow pea shoots, cinnamon banana-blueberry skewer and red grapefruit...

30 comments:

allingoodfood42 said...

I haven't eaten a lot of Indian food but this looks so great. I love the bento and the elephant is so nice.

Angi said...

I've never seen a chickpea dumpling before I bet that is super yum.

Anonymous said...

I'm sniff, sniff, sneezing with a cold today but seeing your bento has made my day!! Just wondering Bbird how did you attach the elephant ear? Blorgie1 x

bentobird said...

Hello allingoodfood42! Very nice comments, thank you! Have a great evening :)

bentobird said...

Hiya Angi! From what I've read online about this chickpea dumpling and dressings combo, its a very popular street food in India. Being in the U.K., wonder if you have access to great Indian fare?

bentobird said...

Dear Carolyn-Blorgie1, Here's hoping you'll feel much better soon! So glad this bento gave you a boost:)) I attached the elephant's ear with some thick Greek yogurt, thanks for asking!

babykins said...

Ooh everything really look yummy and lots of nice and interesting photos! Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed, Jenn. I was able to do India-travel through them.
I've been interested in Indian rose syrup.
And I'm falling in love with the elephant in your bento. :)

Jenn @ BentoForKidlet said...

Wonderful! Your pictures make me imagine I was right there! Bento looks delicious :D

sherimiya said...

Aahh, your photo of chickpeas piled with cilantro and onion made me smile - it's exactly how I pile on the pungent spices and herbs myself! Indian food is sooo aromatic. It engages the senses so fully! I also love naan, and tomato-onion soup... Mmm... thanks once again for taking me along this delicious journey, ending with your spectacular bento, the elephant in which your cutie kitty evokes :)

Lia Chen said...

Delicious bento and wonderful pictures! It's like having a short tour in India. Never try to eat at Indian restaurant but sometimes we try Indian foods at the restaurant buffet. The foods are rich with all the spices :)

javapot said...

o, i like spice and can't say no to indian - yum! nice touch with the elephant.

Susan Yuen said...

Oh my mouth is watering just looking at all of your photos!!! I love Babar and your bento is just beautiful!

Token (Bento-Lunch-Blog) said...

oh my god! I LOVE indian food! It's alsways so spicy and sooo tasty! <3 I alsways cook after the recipes of the vah-reh-vah-chief on youtube! He is very funny and a great cook! -> http://www.youtube.com/user/vahchef ^_^

Your photos are so beautiful and your bento looks fresh and very delicious! Yummy! Thx for sharing!

Lil'chan said...

Oh my, great bento ^-^ And especially well done elephant! =)

Ceinwyn said...

I am also a great fan of indian cuisine and all your food pics are just mouthwatering. Your bento (with the gorgeous wooden box, I covet so much ;o) ) is looking fresh and delicious. And nice work on the elephant !

bentobird said...

Hi Izumi! Thank you so much! The rose syrups would appeal to us both, given how much we love flowers :)

bentobird said...

Hi Jenn! So glad you came along for this mini India-in-Northern VA tour!

bentobird said...

Dear sherimiya, you put the appeal of Indian cuisine perfectly: "it engages the senses so fully"! Thank you for these wonderful comments and for your visit, as always!

bentobird said...

Hi Lia, Thanks for sharing this! I am so curious about the food traditions and cultures where you live...

bentobird said...

Thanks javapot!--nice to hear that you also love this diverse and delicious cuisine :)

bentobird said...

Susan, your sweet comments are a joy to read--thank you! Can't wait to see what new bento greatness is on your blog :)

bentobird said...

Thanks Token for your lovely comments and for (as always) sharing awesome cooking videos--looking forward to checking this one out! I love all of the multimedia foodie fun on your site :)

bentobird said...

Hi Lil'chan--So nice of you to come by and comment! Hope warmer weather and signs of spring are coming your way :)

bentobird said...

Hi Ceinwyn, thank you for your visit and very nice comments, and happy bentoing!!

BentoBeginner said...

I love how you make everyone feel like they are apart of your food adventures. It makes me want to go out and do my own seeking for great food in the area. Lovely bento the elephant is fabulous!

megan said...

i love, love LOVE this elephant! what an awesome and creative use of paratha and take on the indian theme! your pictures from minerva and the market made me want to drop everything and fly to fairfax (or even india!) right this minute! you have a magical way with pictures, food, and words, jenn :-)

hapabento said...

Your narrative swallowed me into a curry and chickpea trance. And I enjoyed every moment...tasting every word.

bentobird said...

Hi BentoBeginner! Awesome comment, thank you! I look forward to seeing your foodie explorations at your super blog!

bentobird said...

Hi gamene! Thank you so much! Love that we share this affection for bento elephants and yummy, wonderful Indian food :D

bentobird said...

Dear Debra, that sounds so nice and mirrors the dreamy state the Minerva's food puts me in :) Wishing you a lovely evening!