When I lived in New York City I tried Indian food for first time and hated it. Granted, it was always from the same delivery spot, as I was working on a political campaign and our only requirement was that the food was fast and easy to order. Tasting good was an added bonus if we got lucky. And this was one place I never got lucky.
When I left New York City, I also said goodbye to the thought of ever eating Indian food ever again. I’m sure I could have tried different Indian restaurants, but my first experiences left such a bad taste in my mouth (literally) that I wasn’t having it.
Flash forward 15 years and somehow I’ve successfully managed to come up with every excuse imaginable to avoid eating Indian food, including faking allergies to curry. Well, that was until one night out with friends when I ran out of excuses and had to make a hard decision. Do I shamefully confess my distaste for Indian food to my fellow foodie friends and potentially get shunned or do I (wo)man up and try to eat it?
As a self-professed foodie, pride is a motha-___. It would had been too embarrassing to confess my 15-year secret, so I prayed the drinks were strong enough to mask the taste and grabbed a seat at Amber India, an upscale Indian restaurant in San Francisco.
As I sat there, I totally was having a bougie-black-girl-freaking-out (BBGFO) moment, but was trying to act calm as hell. My friends knew I was starving, so acting like I wasn’t hungry was not an option. But then I was also terrified about my gag reflexes acting out, which is no joke. To paint a real picture of how crazy this could get, me stepping one foot into a Panda Express (where my gag reflexes think it is a time to shine) turns me into looking like that drunk college girl at a frat party who is about to lose it at any moment. It is not cute. I seriously didn’t know how this was going to play out and could only hope my gag reflexes would be shy.
Me stepping one foot into a Panda Express (where my gag reflexes think it is a time to shine) turns me into looking like that drunk college girl at a frat party who is about to lose it at any moment.
I ordered the tandoori chicken with some naan. I mean really, how bad can some grilled chicken and pita-like bread really be? Funny thing is, it wasn’t bad at all. I loved it. I mean I loved it so much that I was practically eating everyone else’s meal because I wanted to try it all. That didn’t go over very well with the group, but I didn’t care, a miracle had just occurred. I had been converted to an Indian food lover! I couldn’t tell anyone because then my foodie secret would be out. So I silently celebrated in the only way I knew how, by eating as much of their food as possible.
After being converted and now having had Indian food all of maybe five times in my life, I thought I was ready to try to make it myself. What’s even more laughable is that I had the nerve to also invite a date over for this potential disaster. A little delusional especially since I opted to make chicken tikka masala and I hadn’t had nor seen it before, but I had a secret weapon called Plated on my side.
Plated, if you don’t know it, is this awesome food delivery service that will deliver pre-portioned ingredients and easy to follow recipes for you to cook a gourmet meal for two at home. Basically, Plated makes you look like a past contestant on Top Chef without the stress of grocery shopping and having to come up with your own creative spin on a meal. All I had to do is pick a date, select a menu and hope I could follow instructions and not burn the meal.
Not only was it easy to make chicken tikka masala, but the meal also turned out great. I also impressed the hell out of my date, which got me some added bonus points later that night.
I still can’t believe it took me so long to fall in love with Indian food. But whatever, I no longer have to fake knowledge of the best Indian restaurants in San Francisco, because now I go to them with my foodie status proudly intact.
Top Indian Restaurants in SF Bay Area
- Amber India (Union Square-SF)
- Vik’s Chat (Berkeley)
- Udupi Palace (Marina-SF)
- Saravana Bhavan (Sunnyvale)
- Lahore Karahi (Tenderloin-SF)
Let me know if you think I missed a place that’s better than these in the Bay.