Bookalokal: South Indian Feast

Last night we carried out another bookalokal verification. This was our third Indian meal through this service, and it was easily as good as the previous two.

Sribindu and her husband welcomed us into their spacious and tastefully-decorated house just outside Tervuren, and we sat down for introductions. They had arrived in Belgium just under a year ago, as he often changes country for work and has spent recent years in Canada, Australia and India. They’re originally from Hyderabad, in the south-east of India, and all the food that night was from that region. Then we headed straight to the table; the mouth-watering smells had hit us as soon as we came in through the front door, so we were eager to get started.

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We started with poppadoms topped with masala papad, which is a delicious preparation of onion, tomato peanuts and spices. Certainly more interesting than the usual mango chutney you get at your local curry house.

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The starter was pepper chicken with curry leaves and cashew nuts. Sribindu explained that adding cashew nuts (which are grown in their home region of Andhar Pradesh) to a dish was traditional for special occasions like weddings. This was perhaps our favourite part of the meal. Tender chicken and beautifully spiced. Sribindu’s husband explained that one of the disappointing things he finds about Indian restaurants abroad is that if you ask for the food to be spicy they just dump a load of chilli powder into it, rather than properly selecting and integrating spices into the cooking process.

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The main course: Andhra fish curry, with plain white rice.

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But then after the main came something of a surprise: curd rice with fried chickpeas. The rice was creamy and slightly sweet, but the hard crunch and toasty flavour of the chickpeas gave it bite and we went back for several servings.

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For dessert you can’t go wrong with gulab jamoon.

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We’ve had a variety of different Indian meals in people’s houses over the past year and I think by now the evidence is pretty overwhelming. If you want a great Indian meal in Brussels, forget the restaurants; you need to bookalokal.