Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No Rice! No Beans!! No Burgers!!!

Thus was my mantra as we left Gallup, NM, and headed north to Durango, CO. But first, let me digress.

In my final Albuquerque blog, I mentioned getting my “Get Out of Jail Free Card.” Little did I know that I would end up being “Quarantined in Gallup.” The plan was to spend just a few days in Gallup to visit El Morro National Monument and do some shopping at Richardson’s Trading Post. It was time to leave, and we hitched the rig to the truck the night before. Come morning, we brought in the slides and Chuck disconnected all of the services. We got in the truck, and there on the dash display was a warning symbol. Trouble with the truck.

The good news was that the only diesel service place between Grants, NM and Arizona was the Ford dealer in town. The bad news was that they were booked for days. So there we were, stranded in our campground while the truck vacationed in town. And even worse, the campground did not have cable service, and our satellite system had decided not to find a signal. Our alternative? The local Gallup radio station--part sports talk, part classic 60’s music, and mostly country. And I have limited tolerance for music about cheatin’ and truckin’. After three long days, we finally received our pardon and were on our way. So enough complaining. Let’s go Dining in Durango.

As much as I love the food of the Southwest, I wanted something new. Something out of the box.

And did we find it at the Himalayan Kitchen, a stylish and classy restaurant specializing in the food of Tibet, Nepal, and India.

And what do I know about Tibetan and Nepalese food? Not a darn thing. And my knowledge of Indian food is limited to samosas, tandoori, and curry. Fortunately, the Himalayan Kitchen lunch service is limited to an all you can eat buffet. No need to try and translate a menu of unknowns.

The buffet was divided into two lines. The first included salad greens (I passed; I was looking for some-thing different.), a cold chickpea salad, a tomato cucumber salad, watermelon wedges, and two desserts. (More on that later.)

The chickpea salad was good, but the Kuchumber Salad (as spelled on the sign) was a cucumber lover’s dream. This was a mix of cucumber, tomato, and onions all soaked in lime and seasoned with cilantro. This was crunchy and refreshing and I could have eaten multiple servings, but I was still looking for different.

The second line contained your main courses. There was a dish of basmati rice (No rice!), a dish of lentil soup (I didn’t try), a dish of broccoli cooked with garlic and cumin, a dish of spinach with tofu, a dish of vegetable pakora, and four entree dishes. The first of the entrees, and Chuck’s favourite, was the Aloo Goondruk--a dish made with potatoes, greens, and Himalayan spices. What Himalayan spices, you might ask. I don’t know. I only know that it tasted good.

The second was an Indian chicken curry in a sauce that was milder than most curries that I have tasted, but still delicious. The third was a chicken dish in a smoky tomato sauce that was also tasty but not as good as the curry. The last was tandoori chicken thighs and legs. My past experiences with tandoori always brought me dry, overcooked, and stringy meat, but such was not the case here. While the skin had been removed from the meat before baking/roasting, the meat was still juicy.

The vegetable pakora reminded me of fritters. Shredded cabbage and sliced onion were bound together with chickpea flour and deep fried. These were crisp on the outside, and the cabbage retained its crunch on the inside. Chuck ate a lot of these (along with the basket of naan [bread] that appeared on our table).

The broccoli was cooked al dente and had more flavour from the garlic than the cumin. The spinach and tofu didn’t work for me, but then I am not fond of creamed spinach either.

There were two dessert options. One looked to be a very milky rice pudding. Rice pudding was one of my mother’s “sick” foods – things you would be fed when you were sick. I hated it then, and I don’t like it any more now. And now I can choose whether or not to eat it. And I didn’t. The other dessert was called Gulab Jamun--deep fried milk balls soaked in honey and syrup. These were surprisingly light and the flavour of cardamom alleviated the sweetness.

I know that I enjoyed this more than did Chuck. Since I have no know-ledge of Tibetan or Nepalese food, I have no basis on which to evaluate Himalayan Kitchen, other than to say that I liked it, so will give the meal a 4.0 Addie rating.

No comments: