I fell in love with Indian food during a book club meeting in 2003. We had read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and we met for lunch to discuss it at Brick Lane Curry House in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. It was my first time in an Indian restaurant. I admitted as much to my fellow book clubbers, all white women themselves. “Try the chicken tikka masala,” one of them advised me. “That’s what I always get. It’s a safe choice for people who don’t know what to order.” I followed her advice, ordering chicken tikka masala and sharing the naan that was ordered for the table. Heaven.
I fell in love with an Indian man in 2005, and we just got married. I finally made it to India and my mother-in-law equipped me with a paneer maker and various masalas before sending me home to the United States, “that silly country.” I’ve got a cookbook with a woodcut of the Taj Mahal on the front, a recipe from my mother-in-law arriving in my inbox every few days, and the wealth of the internet at my disposal. What can possibly go wrong?