Just in time for the Bollywood Oscars, join 10 News Anchor/Reporter Dion Lim as she explores the vibrant colors and tastes of India at Tamarind Indian Cuisine in Tampa.
Tampa, Florida -- It's pretty difficult not to salivate when you're behind the scenes in the kitchen of the new Tamarind Indian Cuisine restaurant in Tampa.
It's pure sensory overload.
The vibrant colors of turmeric, chili, and spices from Southern Asia waft into your nostrils, while the sounds of sizzling oil for frying Indian breads fill your ears.
But the owner, Raju Brahmbhatt, is on a mission. He wants to educate Tampa Bay residents -- and the 30,000 guests from all across the globe expected to attend the International Indian Film Academy Awards next month -- about Indian food. He says it's more than just curry, and more than just spicy hot.
"People have the wrong perception. Indian food isn't just spicy. It has different spices, which make the dish beautiful and aromatic," he says.
Like how Maine is to lobster, or how barbecue brisket is to Kansas City, the cuisine of India depends on the region.
Bhrambhatt presents us with a spread fit for royalty. Different Indian breads, called dosas and naan. One is fried, while the other is cooked vertically in a clay oven and topped with garlic.
There's a bowl of Basmati rice, cooked with spices and vegetables, called a biryani. It's covered with a dough-like skin to seal in all the steam and flavor.
He points to Tandoori chicken, which is from the north, and bright orange mango shrimp from the coastal part of Goa.
Along with the geography, we learn bread is usually used like a fork.
"Most food is eaten with the fingers. In between the finger and the food is the bread!"
Don't worry, almost all Indian restaurants in the U.S. offer cutlery, which is perfectly acceptable to use.
Brahmbhatt comes to Tampa from New York City, where he owned a popular Indian restaurant. He says once the finishing touches, like intricate, carved wooden panels imported from India are installed, locals will soon see how modern and fresh and authentic Indian cuisine can be.