Today’s tiffin


Dal makhani and matar paneer, to bring back memories of dinnertime on the banks of the Ganges in Uttrakhand.  To think I was only there but two months ago!  Sat at my desk at work in front of the computer, I couldn’t resist putting my spoon down and eating a little with my hands; surreptitiously, as my Japanese colleagues would be shocked at the sight of something so barbaric.  Whenever the subject of eating with one’s hands comes up, I always echo the words of Mughal Emperor Shahjehan (or it may have been the old soak Jehangir): “Eating with cutlery is like wooing a woman through an interpreter.”  Whilst it always seems so hedonistic – mostly making me recall Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii – the food really does taste different when eaten with one’s fingers.  On the campsite in India, we would obligingly hold out the jug of water for each other to wash our hands before and after each meal, a most civilised yet intimate ritual.  Whilst you probably won’t get that in your local Indian restaurant, an after-dinner fingerbowl with a slice of lime in it – to refresh one’s lips – always brings back memories of eating tandoori chicken by the campfire to a background of nightjars and the rushing waters of the Ganges, and my daily mealtime attempts at learning Hindi, butchering the language to the indulgent smiles of my dining companion.  Here in Japan, sushi is one of the few Japanese foods that traditionally should be eaten with one’s hands, and it always seems so much tastier to me that way, and it seems a shame when the beautifully crafted sushi falls apart in the soy sauce dish after being clumsily handled with chopsticks. 


5 responses to “Today’s tiffin

  1. You made me blush! Adam, you know what you do, and you do it anyway… I am trying to currently convince someone to come eat Ethiopian with me for this particular reason, eating with one’s hands is the most civilized yet intimate thing you can do in public.

  2. You must be referring to the famous tablecloth made of injera bread, with hot chicken or lamb stews piled in the middle? There was a place that did that in London, not sure if I can find it here in Tokyo…
    All this talk of such eating made me go and have butter chicken and naan at my local Indian restaurant tonight, my fingers are still stained with turmeric! Jehangir would have had Persian wine and opium milkshakes to wash everything down with, sadly neither of these was on the menu at my place.

  3. Yes, injera bread and deliciousness. Though here in the States they sometimes mix the teff flour with sourdough and it doesn’t taste as good. Chicken, fish, beef, lamb, beans all come with curry like sauces, and they have delicious veggie dishes as well, both hot and cold, my favorite is this potato, carrot green bean dish, I think it is called Fosolia. I hope someone brings it to Tokyo soon, it is so good! Outside of the Metro area, I haven’t seen any here but I imagine they will start spreading out soon since Thai, Korean and Tapas all did after they became popular here. Hmmm, butter chicken and naan sound great. I have never had Persian wine and opium milkshakes. What are they like?

  4. Totally agree. I love eating with my hands, too.

    Btw, where is your dhal makhani recipe from?

  5. Amy:
    I lie! A quick Google search has revealed there is in fact an Ethiopian restaurant here, in Meguro. I must investigate. Hopefully they will have the wot stew made with chicken, chilli powder and butter, which is my favourite.

    Welcome back!
    The dal makhani recipe is one off the top of my head, just like the matar paneer. I just tried to recreate the amazing dal the camp cook made for me when I was fishing in Uttrakhand in September. It is a base of whole urad dal and rajma, finished with tomato puree and a dollop of cream, and the tarka made with ghee. It didn’t taste as good as Gajju’s creation, but it was pretty satisfying, and very economical.

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