Bollywood – the north south divide

Tandoori Palace - Palak Paneer, Murgh Tandoori, Lamb Vindaloo

Tandoori Palace

I remember as a kid, watching television on a lazy Saturday afternoon and being treated to long (they were always long) tamil or hindi movie. As a matter of fact, I think TV3 still shows them to this day.

Those Indian movies always had their dance scene and the inevitable lovers hiding behind trees, pillars or bushes while singing and dancing. Yes I am a horrible racist person for saying that. :D

Back then I couldn’t distinguish between Hindi movies and Tamil movies. They looked the same to me. Not having many Indian schoolmates didn’t help either. Now of course, I can tell the difference between a Bollywood (Hindi movie) and a Kollywood (Tamil movie). Not that I can understand Urdu/Hindi or Tamil neither do I know a lot of their stars, with Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachan the only faces I can recognize with any consistency but through the very inaccurate and racist way of looking at moustaches. Moustaches are not very popular among the Hindi actors, so if you notice a furry caterpillar on the upper lips of the protagonist, chances are you are watching a Tamil movie. Again this is a totally bad, racist and totally unreliable way of doing things as according to this article, the tache is back in hindi cinema!

Anyway, there are more differences to North and South India than just their language and movies, they have different cultures and rituals, their traditional music is different and plenty of other things that I will stay away from as I am not an expert or an Indian! But I will say two things, one is that all these are generalizations and as such they might be as accurate as my moustache movie identifying techniques. Secondly, India is a very diverse place, a place with 1,576 “mother tongues”, and as such for every generalization here there would be cases to the contratry.

However I shall continue with my generalization with their cuisine. We are all familiar with South Indian cuisine, where their staple is rice and they use more dried red chillies, green chillies, coconuts and are generally more spicier than their northern counterparts. The staple in Northern Indian cuisine tends to be wheat, served as rotis or chappatis and thus a need for thicker sauces than their southern counterparts. The use of milk products is also more prevalent in the north. In any case, both cuisines are delicious and that is all that matters!

So where do you find North Indian cuisine in Kuching? Actually, there are quite a few places, but as usual I shall talk about one in particular. Tandoori Palace is located in the Medan Pelita building, that houses a large carpark and the Star Cineplex. It is actually a very nicely decorated restaurant, very posh and that shows up in the final bill too!

I actually had 3 different dishes at Tandoori Palace, the palak paneer, the lamb vindaloo and the Murgh Tandoori. In true North Indian fashion, I chose naan to go with the dishes. The naan here is good and surprisingly filling.

The Palak Paneer is a spinach dish cooked with the traditional Indian cottage cheese called paneer. While it looks like baby food, the dish is very good with a great taste. It is definitely different from the standard South Indian vegetable dishes. The paneer is very nice and mild in taste. I love the firm and yet soft texture, kind of like a firmer tofu. They serve this in a metal bowl that reminds me of a tengkat, although this does make it look like a small serving, it is anything but that. The same can be said of the lamb vindaloo.

The Murgh tandoori is a dish where boneless tender chicken meat is marinated in yogurt and spices and then grilled in a tandoor. The chicken does look a bit plain but it will give your mouth a wonderful experience. The dish gives a very fresh and tangy taste and the tender chicken just makes you want to eat more. Unfortunately unlike the paneer or the vindaloo, I could have done with a bit more!

The lamb vindaloo is probably the weakest of the three dishes but that is like saying coming third in the Olympics makes you the weakest on the podium. The lamb is still a good dish but it is not really as spicy as the warning on the menu indicates. Maybe it is for the benefit of the foreign visitors, which there are plenty of, which in turn makes me wonder whether the place is more of a tourist trap. In any case, the food here is still great. So if you are up to spending a little bit more for a better atmosphere, you can try the northern Indian cuisine here.


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