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I'm Afraid of Indian Food.

Naan is not scary to me. Everything else is.

Here's the problem - I can't eat ANYTHING spicy. I mean anything. I finally worked my way up to being able to handle black pepper about three years ago - and by handle, I mean, if someone has put pepper on my eggs for me without asking, I can swallow it quickly. I have very sensitive taste buds. Anything with capsaicin or pepper-related is out.

I'm also not a huge fan of curry, but having never had Indian food maybe it's just because the curry I have had has been in subpar dishes...so I'm open to it, but don't think curry dishes are the place for me to begin.

So what's left? I hate to ignore such a huge country's cuisine, and it smells good when I walk by restaurants, but what can I eat? I live near Little India and am planning a journey to make the plunge... What do I begin with?

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  1. Fortunately for you, "Indian Food" is a major catch-all category that includes whole cuisines that you'd find totally acceptable to your sensitive palate. For a start, you could try a chaat or snacks restaurant that isn't entirely curry or Vindaloo-based: idli sambar is a dish of steamed rice and lentil-flour cakes that are eaten for breakfast in Southern India (but great anytime) and are accompanied by sauces or chutneys that are often not spicy. Channa, or stewed chickpeas, are great with some bread, and can be made without chili. Just avoid masala since it most always contains red-pepper and be sure to tell the person at the counter about your chili-hatred: Indian chefs are accustomed to dietary restrictions in a way that a Chinese or even an Italian chef would have trouble accepting.

    1. Maybe it's a just a cuisine you should pass on., Why feel under pressure to enjoy something that you don't really want to enjoy? There's no rule that says you have to like everything.

      When you say "spicy",do you mean "spicy" or do you mean "hot"? The food from the sub-continent uses a lot of spices - it's where many of them grow. Almost impossible to avoid such a rich use of spices and flavourings. Presumably by "curry" you mean dishes with a lot of sauce?

      However, if you're determined to try, then you might want ot start with a biryani. This is a dry dish - basically rice with meat of veg in it. It is not usually very challenging to eat and is usually served with a sauce separately so you can taste this if you wish. If made well, it is one of the most exquisite things to eat from that part of the world; made badly it's just rice and stuff.

      If you want to try a wetter dish, but one that's mild then look out for things like kormas which use a lot of cream

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters

        I second korma. I'd be hesitant to recommend biryani precisely because so many places do it disastrously badly to the point where it's just rice and meat that's not very good.

      2. Sorry, but given the constraints you have described, I don't think Indian is going to be your bag.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BustedFlush

          I concur. If you find black pepper a challenge, then eating Indian cuisine is going to be like crossing a minefield.

        2. Most Indian restaurants can adjust the spice according to personal tastes. If you ask for very mild, they will accommodate. You could start with mild Tandoori Chicken, which is baked in a clay oven and doesn't come sauced.

          If you simply do not like strong flavors, this might not be the right cuisine for you. Indian food incorporates many seasonings. Is your aversion just to peppers or to anything overly flavorful? How are you with things like garlic and rosemary, or other strong tasting herbs? Have you ever had tumeric or saffron?

          1. Try one of the South Indian buffets such as Woodlands in Artesia. Ask them to point out which items are not spicy. (In general this restaurant and similar ones don't use a lot of heat).

            It's the Punjabi/English/Pakistani style restaurants which cater to the Vindaloo set. They are not that prevalent in Little India.