Sunday, May 1, 2011

What side dishes would foreigner's prefer with their Indian food?

Last night JH and I went to Old Delhi, a restaurant here in Nowon at the end of Culture Street, which serves up very delicious Indian fare. Around the time we were nearly finished, and ordered more garlic naan, the restaurant owner came over to our table and asked the following question.

"What side dishes would foreigner's prefer with their Indian food?"

Of course, this was through JH's translation and the point of his question was that when foreigners visit his restaurant they usually do not eat the side dishes, and so he was wondering what other options he could serve. The current side dishes were kimchi, pickled radish and pickles. I enjoy the pickles but never touch the rest. 

After much thinking and talking it over with JH we came to some ideas that if he served cabbage and corn salad that would be good. Of course, it would be best if he came up with something that truly complemented the wonderful Indian food, but I figured the guy just wanted something simple and that foreigners would be compelled to eat. We then tried our best to describe a cabbage and corn salad and what dressing to use. I told him to avoid mayonnaise as a dressing, as this is very common and instead use an olive oil or balsamic type base.

He also seemed to inquire why not many foreigners frequent his restaurant, and my simple answer was they probably don't know where it is. He thanked us and let us finish our meal. 

The next thing I knew he came over to the table with a little dish and some small spoons. Apparently, he got the chef to make a dressing and wanted us to try it. The taste was pretty good and I could see it had mustard seeds, olive oil and some citrus juice in it. I said that it would likely work with shredded cabbage.  Then, through translation, I gave some ideas on how he could get foreigners to frequent his place by advertising at bars and hagwons. 

There was a great payoff to all this advice as we left with a take away package of our whole meal re-made for us. I also left him with some written down websites he should check out, such as Seoul Eats and Zen Kimchi. 

So folks, if you are in Nowon and make your way down Culture Street (to the end) and find yourself in Old Delhi having a cabbage-salad-sidedish, you might just have me to thank.


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