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Your First Time...Did You Enjoy It?

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I speak, of course, about the first time you chuffed Indian food. My first experience with Indian cuisine came in 1994 when I was 26. I got take-out (don't even remember the specific dishes) from a joint called India Palace. And when I tried the stuff, it was like a bomb going off in my mouth--but in a good way. The explosive mosaic of flavors was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and it absolutely knocked me out. From that moment I was a loyal devotee of the stuff.

But I understand many Westerners have a very different reaction. I mean, let's face it. The flavor profile of Indian food is rather different from any Western cuisine. And the intensity of the spicing is a bit much for some.
At any rate, I'm curious to know people's initial reaction to Indian food.

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  1. Ah, the memory of the "first time" with Indian food. A fetching spread of deliciousness invitingly presented on white linen. My voracious hunger and animal instincts immediately kicked in, stuffing my face and nimbly using my hands, enjoying every luscious item. There was no holding back; not even the naan starter was a non-starter. I've been a fan ever since.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Is that restaurant still around?

      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        You mean my man cave? It's closed for remodeling.

        1. re: Veggo

          Ah, the Punjabi Prince Cave of Parrish. Its reputation is known to me.

    2. The first time? No, I didn't enjoy it, nor did I dislike. It was like "Hmmm.... Ok... Let's keep eating". It grew on me in time. Actually, I didn't like Southern barbecue the first time I tried it. I tried it a few more times and then I love it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Just took a few of my wife's friends out for their "first time." I went with the less intimidating choices (samosas, dal, chicken tikka masala and a few others) and everyone enjoyed the meal.

        1. re: ferret

          <everyone enjoyed the meal.>

          :) Awesome. Yeah, some Indian foods are friendlier than others. Same could be said just about any other cuisines I suppose.

      2. Mine was in 2009, on a date, with a sous chef who worked at a VERY well known downtown Chicago restaurant. He took me to a pretty nice Indian place downtown and forgot his wallet. I bought the dinner (which was around $100 if I recall), and the 2nd half of our date ended up with us driving to his mother's house where he had been earlier in the day, about an hour away, so he could get his wallet, and then we went for pie at a diner, and then wrapped up the evening with him stopping at the ATM to pay me back for dinner :) I did see him a couple more times after that.

        But as for the food, I loved it. He did all the ordering and knew what he was doing, so that's helpful. I LOVE hot (as in spicy hot) food so many Indian dishes are right up my alley. It's just hard to find good places to get it. I do not live in Chicago anymore, and I don't dare even attempt to do it at home, if I could even find the ingredients.

        4 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez

          Which ingredients can you not find? From my experience, most "Indian" ingredients are not all that scarce because many of them are used in other cuisines such as Mexican and Chinese. If you can get the ingredients, I recommend you find a good Indian cookbook and try your hand at cooking the stuff. It's not only delicious but fun to prepare.

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            Mostly the chiles, which seem to be in a lot of the recipes I am interested in making. The regular seasonings I can usually find at my normal store, although it gets pricey to accumulate them.

            Plus, like with most ethnic foods, I can never replicate what I can get in a restaurant at home... I guess I just don't have the knowledge or equipment to do so. Oh, and my SO cannot do anything that's too hot/spicy (he has Crohn's) so that takes the fun out of it :) He actually went to India for work for 3 weeks in 2010 and he said he was miserable the whole time, even the "mild" stuff did not agree with him whatsoever.

            1. re: juliejulez

              I agree with PK on making at home
              Flavors First by Vikas Khanna is a good "starter" cookbook for the uninitiated (like me)
              (and he's easy on the eyes too!)
              http://www.vkhanna.com/FlavorsFirst.html

              1. re: cgarner

                Hard to believe, perhaps, but the Betty Crocker Indian Cookbook is magnificent. Of course, it wasn't written by Betty but rather Ragavan Iyer.

                This book covers all regions of India, provides an excellent cross section of various categories of food and primary ingredients, and the recipes, virtually without fail, are delish and reasonably straightforward. Nicely designed book, too.

        2. The first time I ate anything remotely Indian was when I cooked Madhur Jaffrey's Lemony Chicken with Fresh Coriander. I had seen her make it on her show (aired on public TV in the early-mid '80s) and thought it sounded great. It was!

          http://www.recipesource.com/ethnic/as...

          1. The first time I experienced it was aboard ship and I thought it was excellent. Since then, although I have eaten it in many parts of the world, I do not particularly favor it for the reasons you mention.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mudcat

              I take it thus was not aboard the USS Oklahoma during WWII!

            2. First time I tried it was a few years ago. My office was ordering in and I decided to try it. LOVED everything. Recently took my husband out for Indian food..his response was never again

              7 Replies
              1. re: cheesecake17

                This probably happens more than you'd think.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  I'm sure. Stinks for me, since I never have Indian food.

                  1. re: cheesecake17

                    My sister-in-law has the same problem. Her hubb won't touch the stuff. A pity, since their city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania boasts a truly marvelous Indian resto called A Passage to India. Their Chicken Methi is sublime.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      I think if I got Indian food as takeout, served it on real dishes and called it "lentil stew" he'd eat it.

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        Might be worth a shot.

                      2. re: Perilagu Khan

                        Have never tries that dish and fine often at passage. Must add it to my list.

                        1. re: melpy

                          I don't think it's on the menu anymore. If not, just ask your waiter if they'll prepare it for you special. They did for me last time I was there.

                2. First time was in college, 1996-ish, India Palace as well (my India Palace was in New Haven...same one?) at the lunch buffet. Tried everything, loved it all, and have never looked back.

                  I grew up in a very meat/potatoes/processed food-heavy home and trying Indian for the first time was like a revelation. I would like to say that may have been the day my taste buds were awoken.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: mels

                    Not quite. My India Palace was/is in Lubbock, Texas. And I'm guessing there must be at least 500 India Palaces in the US. These restauranteurs really need to expand their repertoire of names. I'd be glad to help, If they'd only ask. ;)

                    1. re: mels

                      Mine was also in college, 1996-ish, at a lunch buffet in Rochester, NY at a now-defunct restaurant called the Raj Mahal. LOVED IT. Still love it, and rarely find a dish I don't care for at an Indian restaurant (except for the desserts). 660 Curries as COTM was fabulous for me - I hadn't had a lot of experience cooking Indian food before and I found it very accessible, adaptable and more or less foolproof.

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        Ooooh, you don't like kulfi? Of all forms of ice cream, this is my favorite.

                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          I don't think I've had kulfi, actually. I'm thinking more of the weird pudding-y or porridge-y things, or the incredibly sweet pastries. My parents are friends with a lovely Indian couple who had us over for a home cooked feast last Christmas - everything was sublime except the dessert, which seemed to be vermicelli noodles in vanilla pudding. Definitely not for me. I do like gulab jamun, though.

                          1. re: biondanonima

                            I hear ya'. Kulfi is the only Indian dessert I really like, and I REEEEEEEALLLLLLLLLLLLLY like it.

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              Maybe you had Indian rice pudding called Kheer, biond. I really enjoy it but the consistency is much thinner than a more traditional rice pudding.

                              Have you ever tried ladoo, Indian doughnuts?

                      2. I'm not sure I can remember the first time I ever ate Indian food, it seems like I've always loved it. I can say for certainty, though, that I have never consumed a 'reasonable' or 'healthy' amount of Indian food in one sitting. I practically have to be wheeled out of an Indian restaurant on a gurney.

                        1. Like many people of my age in the UK my first experience of Indian food was in the 70's and was out of a packet in the form of a Vesta curry.
                          This is probably as far removed from Indian food as a cup a soup is from bouillabaisse.
                          Can't have put me off as I've been eating Indian food as long as I can remember and have gone from this via the standard UK curry house dishes to specifically deciding if I fancy Keralan,, Chettinad, Punjabi or other specific regional cuisines.

                          1. My first time having indian was at La Porte des Indes in London, UK with my family when i must have been 14 or so (that would bring us around 1996)

                            Really loved the restaurant and the food, and went to that place at least twice since then, and been eating indian food on a regular basis since then

                            1. my introduction was through a friend who married an Indian man. They ran a printing company and when I took my print work there I would joke about the aroma being so amazing and they would say you must love Indian food because only lovers of our food say that.

                              This friend started taking me to the Indian markets she liked and this was long before NJ had one Indian restaurant let alone entire towns (like Iselin, NJ) populated by this cuisine today.

                              At Indian markets I bought all sorts of interesting ingredients and produce used in their dishes (and I loved to explore the shelves and ask questions) but it was the Indian sweet shops that knocked me out even more. Handmade ladoo, crunchy spicy snacks, frozen desserts, halwa and some of the most delicious nut based candies...a true love affair.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: HillJ

                                I am a tad disappointed that there's been limited experience with or enjoyment for Indian sweet shops. Not everything made is super sweet.

                              2. I grew up associating Indian food with turmeric, which I have an intense dislike for. Then I met my Brit DH and made my first trip to the UK, where we wound up getting a 'takeaway' with some of his friends one night. I simply let him know I didn't like turmeric and trusted him to order. And when one of the guys told me not to bother with the lime pickle, because it's 'too hot', I fell in LOVE. Bring on the burn, bring on the complexity, bring on the brightness. And the lime pickle!!

                                1. I loved it! And I didn't hesitate like most awkward teenagers.
                                  My first time was on a trip to NYC with a friend's family, and I dove right in with shrimp vindaloo. It was hot like fire, but the flavors were still clear, and it was fantastic. Still a favorite. I do enjoy most dishes, but I will admit that I'm not a paneer fan. It's a texture thing with me.
                                  I'll get my chance to experience some in India this fall. My little group of pals has chosen a Kerala/Goa trip for our girlfriend getaway '13. We were going for Jordan, but that trip was canceled by the tour company. I can't wait to dig in to all the tasty goodness!!

                                  1. I was in my early 30's in 1992 visiting a friend in Aberdeen Scotland the first time I had Indian food - from a corner take out. I had to have it 3 more times during that same trip while in London and the south of England because it was such a revelation. I took to it immediately. Back then, there were very few Indian restaurants in my area, and my friends and family wouldn't eat it (they all say they hate "currry"). So I got a couple of cookbooks, found an Indian market and stocked up on ingredients, and taught myself how to cook just so I could get my fix. Absolutely some of my favorite flavors!

                                    1. Got lost in London in May of 1979. Ended up in an area full of beards and turbans. I would imagine Sikh. Have no clue what I had but enjoyed all of it.

                                      Wish I hadn't lost my restaurant diary book.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                        The India Palace I mentioned was and is also owned by a Sikh. Beef is a featured menu item.

                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                          I grew up north of NYC and would venture into the city with high school friends, invariably going to one of the many Indian restaurants on East 6th St.- delicious, exotic, and affordable on baby sitting income! On my first trip to London I was treated to an amazing dinner at Moti Mahal, never to be forgotten (but repeated whenever I've been there). High end, low end, I've always liked Indian cooking.

                                          1. re: janeh

                                            I've only been to one Indian restaurant in NYC. It was near Columbia U. and was strongly recommended to us by a chap who got his Ph.D. at Columbia. And you know, it was okay, but nothing spectacular. I'm sure your spots on East 6th are better.

                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                              Actually, the restaurants on Curry Row (E. 6th) are by and large pretty terrible. They are super cheap, though. Better Indian food can be had in Jackson Heights, Queens, although the quality of those restaurants is slipping too.

                                      2. I can't remember the first time I ate Indian but it would have been during one of the trips to cousins in the UK back in the early-mid 1980s. So I had a good idea of what Indian tasted like and the spices involved from a fairly young age.

                                        I remember the first Indian in Baltimore, a little place called Akbar that is still around. I proudly took some friends down there for a meal to show off my "sophistication" (I was in high school) and it backfired when no one liked what I recommended and upon the discovery that the food wasn't quite the same Indian food as I'd had in the UK.

                                        I don't love or crave Indian but I do enjoy a good Indian meal every now and then. That hasn't changed even if the caliber of Indian has substantially improved in the West. What has changed is that since moving to the UAE five years ago which has an enormous Indian expatriate population I've come to prefer South Indian to North Indian. It's spicier but less heavy and more refreshing in its own way.

                                        1. My first time was roughly 3 years ago at my friends house. She is indian and I think of the Punjabi area. Her and her family made samosas, cilantro chutney, idyl and dal. I love the samosas especially dipped with the cilantro chutney. The idyl was just weird but it reminded me of a Vietnamese dessert. But the dal that went on top of the idyl made the idyl passable. It made me fall in love with indian food though. But the thing I want to eat forever is garlic naan and chicken tikka masala. I don't need the rest of the things. Well maybe some aloo gohbi thrown in every so often.

                                          1. According to my parents - the first time I had it was when I was around 18 months old and loved it. And then got very ill, so they never took me to an Indian restaurant again until my 13th birthday in the mid-90s. Ambar India in Cincinnati - I don't remember anything I ordered, just that it was amazing.

                                            While that's when I was first introduced, I don't remember it defining my relationship with Indian food specifically so much but with food in a greater way. From that point for my birthday, my parents were really open with taking me to whatever restaurant I wanted to try - either fine dining or exotic or whatever. However, I still remember it being that specific birthday and it being amazing.

                                            1. My age is showing...married an Indian in the mid-70s, and began cooking Indian food then, after having eaten in Indian friend's kitchens for a year (all of his family still in India). That said, once we graduated college and could actually afford ingredients, they were mighty hard to come by in Kentucky then. Even finding an Indian grocer in Cincinnati was tough in the 70s--once bought "fresh" coriander (cilantro) but had a mega-commute, and it was totally wilted by the time I got home. No such things as ready-made naan or chappatis, so I tried frozen tortillas. Guess it made me a better Indian cook, though, 'cause I made everything from scratch.

                                              1. LOVED it from first bite. And while I can't be sure, am thinking my "first bite" was most likely due to my dear mother's early instincts to experiment with ethnic dishes. She was such a wonder, & I thank the Lord every day for her inspiration (she passed away this past Thanksgiving).

                                                That said, I used to really enjoy Indian lunches when I worked in Manhattan, & had an episode that I'll never forget. At the time, my dear father also worked in Manhattan, & we met for lunch one afternoon at a local Indian spot that he really enjoyed. He said they had a fabulous lunch-time/business buffet (this was before "buffets" were popular).
                                                I was mesmerized by the buffet - all sorts of dishes & chutneys, etc. And since I adore spicy food, was willing to try everything & anything. Took samples of everthing, & was particularly intrigued by a ping-pong-ball sized item in the chutney department. After seating, popped that baby into my mouth & nearly had a heart attack!! Blew out of my mouth like something from The Exorcist!! Hot as hell. Luckily I had a napkin in hand so as not to embarass my poor father, who was a regular there. But he was laughing.

                                                Bottom line - when visiting buffets, taste carefully.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                                  Funny. I'm trying to figure out what that ping-pong ball may have been and am failing. Gulub Jamun is not in the chutney section and, of course, it is not hot. But it is the right size and shape.

                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                    Oh believe me - I made it a quest to find out what the heck those were. The restaurant was extremely busy at the time, otherwise I would've asked - after regaining my composure. And this was many, many, many years before the internet.

                                                    After perusing many library cookbooks (& books on Indian cuisine were scarce back then), I found that what I had popped into my mouth was a "whole lime pickle". Normally this isn't incendiary, but sometimes it is. Obviously I ingested - or tried to ingest - an incendiary preparation.

                                                2. I first tried it at a little food court restaurant in my hubby's building. All my friends and I loved the place so after some convincing I eventually got hubby to try it. He ended up eating there more than once a week. Sadly the chef retired so she could start a family.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: mrsfury

                                                    Blast! Some people just have no dam' priorities.

                                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                      LOL I know, right? The nerve. She's got a wonderful blog with her story if you would like to read it sometime. http://www.curryandgumbo.com/our_stor...

                                                  2. The first time I tried Indian food was at some kind of place that served uninteresting glop. Not flavorful, just kind of sludgy. They were probably afraid of serving it with spices or ingredients that people might find offensive. This was quite a long time ago, but still I run into places like that upon occasion.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Steve

                                                      I haven't eaten at Indian restos quite that bad, but have eaten at a couple that were pretty bland--in Harrisburg, Pa. and St. Kitts. The last thing Indian food should be is bland and boring.

                                                    2. Luckily the first Indian food I had was pretty good. I liked it and tried to cook it at home.
                                                      Then I went to India and wow! Loved it! Lots of spice, lots of diverse dishes, lots of variety of ingredients.
                                                      Where I a live now there are a couple of Indian restaurants where the 'brown glop sauce' is the norm. Not much spice, limited condiments.
                                                      I am going to India again in a couple of weeks and I am going to pay lots closer attention to how everything is made!

                                                      1. I did. But the price, I thought, was too much for a nice vegetarian meal. However, I would follow somebody with a bowl of coriander chutney almost anywhere once I tasted it, especially if they had some naan too.
                                                        I haven't had much exposure to Indian food, but I did have the pleasure of having a rocking good Indian cook feed me when I was helping her with a presentation. I loved everything she made, and wanted more. I don't usually have that feeling when I eat Indian, but Devyani was locally famous for being a good cook. I cherish that memory, but don't normally seek out Indian food.

                                                        1. My first time I was in Suva, Fiji and just arrived for a couple of weeks in the 80's and I just got out of the water and had my sulu/sarong and walking into town and the smells of curry all throughout the town was incredible.
                                                          I asked what kind of food smell is that?
                                                          Indian food they said..get me some of that!

                                                          The island is made up of 60%+ of Indians..who knew.
                                                          I had a spicy red curry that is still, one of the best, I've ever had.

                                                          Cellular memory of a food that I knew nothing about but felt it was a long lost friend.

                                                          1. I loved it. I think I loved it so much because my mom hated it and so I didn't really eat it as a kid. Then, I went to university and at one of the cafeteria buildings there were some Indian employees who would make different vegetarian dishes each day. The first one I tried was vegetable pakoras with masoor dal on basmati rice and I was in heaven. A year or two later I moved to Europe and ate at my first real Indian restaurant in the Raval district of Barcelona. I don't remember anything I ate but I very distinctly remember the "mukhwas" (the coated seeds at the end of the meal). That meal was within a week or so of the last time I ate meat... I was starting to realize that my vegetarian options were aplenty!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Jetgirly

                                                              < I very distinctly remember the "mukhwas">

                                                              Heh heh heh.

                                                            2. It was a small place on San Pablo called "La China Poblana" and was owned by a Mexican/Indian couple. I loved chapatis and the tacos, but loved having tastes of my parents' curry dishes, but they were a little too hot to have as my main dish. I must have been about 4 then. Bonus points was that it was across the street from a Winchell's Donuts, so we had those for dessert.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                That place is legendary--I only heard about it. Do you know why they picked "China" in the name rather than "India?"

                                                              2. I've had good north Indian food, but only in India.

                                                                Last year, I ate my way around Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir over the course of a couple of months. With the aid of zomato.com and as many Indian foodie sites as I was able to find, I tried to find the best examples of everything, and ate everywhere from roadside dhabas, a State-run canteen (admittedly, an extremely popular one), the highest-rated restaurants in each city, and a tent in the middle of a high-altitude desert, to the best that Delhi had to offer.

                                                                I count that as my first experience, because Indian in the West doesn't bear much relation to real Indian food - that was clear even before I went there - and it's invariably a complete disappointment in the West.

                                                                It can be extraordinarily satisfying - smashing through mutton kema with roti, outside of a dirty (but very popular) take-away joint, while dripping with sweat in the searing Delhi heat remains probably my favourite experience in all my developing-world-gastronaut travels - but there's no elegance to it, and I defy anyone to describe it as being a cuisine of precisely and delicately balanced spices. It isn't. It's a cuisine of variations upon a few themes, where all of the ingredients and spices of each theme generally end up as an indistinct, single flavour. Brown/green/yellow goop prevails. I almost went insane in the first week, when mixed vegetable subzi was the closest thing that I could find to fresh, light food; after a while I despaired of finding anything that hadn't been cooked for a length of time not seen since 1950s school dinners, then covered in ghee and goop to complete the destruction.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: mugen

                                                                  I know exactly what you mean. In the West we have this expectation that all cuisines should have their more refined versions and also an inverse snobbery attitude towards cheap "ethnic" restaurants in that we accept and enjoy them while at the same time think of them as the bastardized peasant version of the "real stuff" in the home country.

                                                                  Then you go to India and discover that while the food can be enjoyable it's still mostly gloppy, oily curries where both meats and vegetables are overcooked into a brown spicy mushy mess.

                                                                  The hallmark of Indian cooking is the spices but that is also the disadvantage. The heavy use of the spices overwhelms the original flavors of the ingredients. That's fine if you only care about the heat from the spices but after a few days in India I did develop a serious craving for the simple, fresh flavors of vegetables and salads and even a simple piece of meat.

                                                                  Interestingly enough while we were in New Delhi I read an article in one of the local English newspapers that decried the attempt of several chefs to create a "modern" Indian cuisine that was lighter and less of the gloopy spicy mess by saying it wasn't really "Indian" food but something ruined by western influences. I found it amusing as it was the complete opposite of our attitudes towards Italian food in the US where we decry the heavy handiness and gloppy tomato sauces of Americanized Italian food and praise the lighter, fresher style of cooking found in Italy as "authentic."

                                                                2. I have always loved Indian food. I can't remember when I first ate it though, as I was likely quite young.

                                                                  1. Growing up my neighbors were Indian so my first experience was at their house and I hated it. It was the day of my brother's middle school graduation (I was in 5th grade) and while my family was at the ceremony I was next door. And while I was there I ate my first Indian food, poppadom (sp?) and a yogurt sauce. It didn't taste too bad, but thankfully my family returned soon after I ate them. As soon as I got home I started vomiting. It wasn't until college did I try Indian food again and I now love it.

                                                                    But as long as I can remember my mom made a chicken salad with chutney and curry powder that I happily ate.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: viperlush

                                                                      Now that you mention it, my mom occasionally made the old, yellow, retro chicken curry back in the 70s, and I loved it. Whether or not this dish is close enough to the real McCoy to count as Indian food is debatable, but I still prepare the stuff for olde tyme's sake.

                                                                    2. I was lucky enough to have grown up with a close friend whose father is Indian (mother American) so I was eating home cooked Indian dishes from the time I was a young kid and I loved everything.

                                                                      We had a little Indian restaurant in our suburban town and when I was married to the first husband took him there and we got one of their multi-course tasting menus.

                                                                      The food was very good, not as excellent as the home cooked stuff I’d had in the past but I still enjoyed it
                                                                      The husband, not only never again, but he was so ‘anti Indian food’ that he swore he had a stomach ache for two days after that. (big baby/faker)

                                                                      Current husband LOVES Indian as much as I do and we’ve found places not too far which have very good Indian food

                                                                      1. I used to live with a former biker who had grown up in rural Lancaster County, PA. I took him for his first Indian meal when he was 28. He took his first bite of Rogan Josh and turned to me and said "It kind of tastes like you would think potpourri would taste." He continued eating and I noticed that tears were streaming down his face - it was simply too spicy for him. I handed him my chicken masala and took over the rogan josh. He was happier, but kind of overwhelmed by the flaors.

                                                                        The rosewater-flavored falooda with vermicelli thrilled him to death though. He literally giggled when he saw it and was amazed that it actually tasted like roses.

                                                                        Overall, he decided it was not a cuisine that he really enjoyed, but he was really glad for the experience. He had a blast at the restaurant, and I think the waiters got a kick out of his enthusiasm.

                                                                        My first experience with Indian food was in a dingy little place in my rural college town - it was NOT tasty at all and I didn't try Indian food again for years. (The next time I tried it though, I figured out that it was AWESOME.)

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Heatherb

                                                                          Heh. From my experience, bikers are not heavy on the ground in Indian restos. Lots of profs, though.

                                                                        2. I was six the first time I had Indian food (at a restaurant in Coolangatta, QLD -- for years, we had to travel to Australia from the US to get Indian food since we didn't have any near us). It did not occur to me until adulthood that anyone would not instantly love Indian food. It's been one of my favourites ever since.

                                                                          1. I loved it from the very first bite. It was in Ahmedabad, India. Complex and delicious and spicy. Kept wiping my nose and worrying about the next day.

                                                                            1. I had my first Indian meal when I was 15 and staying in London for the summer. We were at the pub and my cousins told me we were going to go for a curry after the pub closed at 11. I can still remember walking into the small, candlelit restaurant - the intoxicating aroma, the white tablecloths, all the servers waiting, as if at attention. It was surreal for this Long Island girl who, up to that point, thought pepper steak and white rice at the local Chinese was exotic. My cousin ordered a Chicken Jalfrazie for me and the first bite set my mouth on fire – it felt like my lips were swollen to twice their normal size. The cousins made me eat onion kulcha (starting my life-long love affair with that bread) and the very nice owner of the restaurant immediately brought out a chicken biryani to soothe my burning mouth. .I can’t say that I enjoyed that first meal but, a couple of months and many after-pub curries later, I returned home to New York addicted. Of course, this being in the late 70’s, there were no Indian restaurants on Long Island. It took some convincing, but I eventually talked my best friend in to going to an Indian restaurant in the city with me. She became an instant fan and, after that, we went in for a curry as much as our meager savings allowed for.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: EM23

                                                                                Indian food makes a powerful first impact. Not everybody will love it, but everybody will have a strong opinion about it. This cuisine demands your attention.

                                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                  So true, PK. Years later I was going out to dinner with a colleague and I suggested an Indian restaurant. “No way!” was the short answer. She lived in an apartment building and had neighbors who cooked Indian food regularly, and she could not stand the aromas that I found so intoxicating.

                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                    Definitely. I think the biggest hurdle is whether or not folks like the initial background seasonings. It's easy enough to convince people that not all Indian food is blow-the-top-off-your-head spicy (although I'm a big fan of that - lol!), but if they really dislike the background seasonings that form a base for most Indian dishes, then you're most likely not going to be able to convert them.

                                                                                2. The first time I had Indian food, I was 16. Three of us classmates decided to do our homework together and went to the home of one of our classmates, an Indian. Her mother made us samosas, pakoras, and a few chutneys. I took one of the pakoras and dipped it in a green chutney, then took a bite. Meanwhile, my Indian friend and her mother were shouting that I shouldn't eat that particular chutney - it was too hot! It wasn't (I'm a mutant that way), and I loved the food. It was a wonderful introduction to Indian food.

                                                                                  1. My first experience was actually at a rijstaffel, so I came to the cuisine sideways sometime during my early twenties? The owner of the restaurant was Dutch, and had spent a lot of time in Indonesia, but really, was a world traveler and a foodie, so he'd have the rijstaffel once a month. On his table were the textures and tastes that make rijstaffel, but also some curries, like chicken gulai that brought Indian influences. Until I was into my 30's, there were no Indian restaurants in my little nook of northeast Mass; that's changed now, and you don't have to go to the city for decent Indian food.

                                                                                    I tend to like the spicier and more savory Indian dishes than the sweeter ones.

                                                                                    1. First tried it in college maybe around 2005. I think it was at a cultural dinner being served at the school and even though I was sick I thought it was delicious and we made it a point to go to the restaurant which catered it which was Passage to India in Harrisburg PA. My roommate was already a big fan. I got my I hooked both of my next two boyfriends. Since then I have been to approximately 6 places. I love:

                                                                                      Nawabi chicken tikka
                                                                                      Chicken lahsooni
                                                                                      Murgh Malai
                                                                                      Saag paneer
                                                                                      Shahi paneer
                                                                                      Naan with fruits, nuts and cheese
                                                                                      Chapati
                                                                                      Lamb rogan josh
                                                                                      Chicken tikka masala
                                                                                      Chicken makhani
                                                                                      Poori
                                                                                      All the chutneys and Raitas
                                                                                      Chicken korma
                                                                                      Papri chaat
                                                                                      And so much more