Indian cuisine: So delicious, yet so very, very painful

Indian cuisine: So delicious, yet so very, very painful
The paper masala dosai. Not spicy. Should have stuck with this.

I love Indian cuisine.

My stomach, however, does not. When it encounters a strange spice it hasn't encountered before, it's all like, "What the heck is this? This, my friend, is not pizza. Please try again."

So, my taste buds and stomach were in for a war once again when on Wednesday night my wife and I joined two friends at Udupi Palace, 2543 W. Devon Ave., Chicago, a vegetarian southern Indian restaurant.

We shared a paper masala dosai – a thin rice crepe filled with potatoes and onions; baingan bharta – a dish made from eggplant, roasted in a tandoor (clay oven), mashed and blended in a mixture of fresh herbs and spices; some kind of vada – which looks somewhat like a doughnut hole; and a yogurt rice dish.

I made the mistake of starting with the vada, which – to my stomach – was like eating a doughnut hole with a habanero stuffed inside. It tasted delicious and my taste buds happily wanted seconds, but my stomach reacted to the vada as if I had just swallowed some plutonium mixed with a little napalm.

So while the rest of the meal was not nearly as spicy, my stomach had checked out and gone to another hotel, leaving behind a little pit of pain. I could only manage a few bites of the rest of the delicious dishes before surrendering and sitting as still as possible while my stomach sent taunt-mails to my taste buds for having won the war deciding whether I would continue eating. This is a shame because – again – everything was just fantastic. The eggplant dish was one of the tastiest things I've tried in awhile, yet I could only swallow eight or so forkfuls.

So, next time, my taste buds and I are going out by ourselves and we'll leave the stomach at home.

• Joe Grace is a writer and journalist who lives in Chicago with his wife. Did you like this column? If so, then join your neighbors in liking Going for Gusto on Facebook or following me on Twitter.

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