Dear The Oven:
Remember when we first met? It was 1988 and my parents introduced us as part of my 12th birthday celebration, followed by the movie "The Last Emperor" starring Peter O'Toole. Weren't we sophisticated? Hahaha. I thought your curry was strange and I was embarrassed when my dad got angry at us for allowing one of your waitresses to take away his salad while he was in the bathroom. But I took one bite of your rice and knew I had to have more. I didn't know it then, but I was already falling in love with you.
In the early 90's I found myself glancing your way more and more. You were so sweet to me; you didn't mind that I wore my band shoes and over sized flannels everywhere I went. I discovered some of the foods you had to offer that fit my underdeveloped palette: Tandoori Chicken, Mango Lassis (yogurt smoothies), Pistachio Kulfi (ice cream)...
By the time I was in college, we had both gone through some changes: you adding your beautiful decor; me beginning a 4-year-long stint with vegetarianism. I found myself eating with you at least once a month, spending money I didn't have on all my favorite new dishes like Vegetable Curry, Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), and Matar Paneer. I couldn't afford you at the time, but your huge portion sizes somehow justified it to me. You taste even better the next day (wink!).
Then there was that fateful day that I ordered your paneer kulcha (flatbread stuffed with cheese and onion) for the first time. With my first taste of that spicy buttery bready goodness, I knew I had found my perfect food match. Were I to meet my end on death row, your Paneer Kulcha would be the last thing to pass my lips.
When I had lunch with you yesterday, more than twenty years after our first awkward encounter, I realized that I'm more in love with you than ever. Sure you have your little quirks that annoy me sometimes-- your mulligatawny soup sometimes has clumps of chickpea flour and you give me my leftovers in unmicrowavable styrofoam containers-- but I still can't resist you. Having lunch with you is a delight; your entrees are a bit cheaper (around $10) and a bit smaller, but every bit as delicious.
Sure I've strayed over the years, trying Indian food in other cities, but it's never the same, never quite as good. Every time I take a bite of your saffron-yellow rice, I'm twelve years old again, discovering a whole new world of culinary adventure, right here in Lincoln, Nebraska.