I have a theory. Maybe even a problem. Eating curries and rice with a fork is immensely unsatisfying. Here’s why:
- Curry is meant to be eaten with rice (or bread), never alone! Rice is the main dish….everything else garnishes, which is why we ask “did you eat rice?”….not did you eat lunch or dinner. We should serve and eat rice like pasta dressed in sauce, lightly coated with flavor. The rice, whatever it is, jasmine, basmati or brown, is the final component that softens, absorbs and most importantly FLAVORS curries. Hey…is this why Biriyani was invented? Hence, first problem is substantive, we should be eating rice flavored with curries, not curries with a side of rice in restaurants.
- The mixing of curry to rice with a fork is always incomplete. It is difficult to break down the rice enough for the curry to be absorbed. Eating with my hand I can press the rice together with the curry just enough to adhere on its journey to my mouth. That moment of adherence, when the rice forms a compressed bite, is the perfect amount of curry to rice ratio. Such a bite, in Bengali, is called a lokma. I would form and arrange these little bites on a plate for my girls when the were little. As you know, there are rules: right hand, finger tips, no food should touch the palm. Second problem is formal, we are missing the optimal flavor when eating with a fork.
We also miss the textural component, the feel of our food, the dexterity of picking out bones and whole spices. BUT, I have to admit, eating with my hand can be messy even when allowed and not frowned upon. And worse, despite all the washing in the world some pungent curries can refuse to leave. I want to eat my curry not smell like it.
This is quite a problem. How can I get the taste of a well hand-mixed bite of Deshi food with a fork? Can I design a fork/spoon that can form little rice bites? Disappointment, not necessity must be the mother of invention.
Take for example my dinner tonight: Chicken and potato curry, basmati rice and roasted vegetables. I mixed and mashed it as best I could with a fork and made bites with a cookie scoop. The bites did not form as well as hand mixing would allow. What to do? Oh….the problems I have….sheesh.
But, it does give me an idea of building a 7 course meal with these premixed rice bites….Rice with Bittermelon (bitter), Rice with Dal (salty), Rice with Vegetables, Rice with fish (Garlic), Rice with Chicken (Ginger), Rice with Beef (spicy), Rice pudding (sweet).
Lokma: A bittersweet journey in 7 bites. This will have to be my next experiment.