I'm very reluctant to use the term "ethnic" when it comes to food, because what does "ethnic" mean anyway? According to the dictionary, "ethnic" means "pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like." In that sense, isn't all food technically "ethnic" food? To me, "ethnic food" has always just meant "whatever is foreign to you," but I think a lot of North Americans would laugh at the idea that McDonald's could be considered "ethnic" food in Ethiopia or Bangladesh. Are foods only ethnic when they come from seemingly "exotic" places like Thailand or Peru?
Anyway, I mentioned a little while ago that I've been having crazy cravings for what most people around here would call "ethnic" food. I grew up in a predominantly Chinese culinary household where everything is an abundance of flavour, texture, and colour. When my family eats out, it's not to American family restaurants or that kind of thing, it's always for Dim Sum, or to our favourite Chinese Noodle Shop, or for Thai, Afghani, or Indian. Long story short, and maybe because I keep walking by Ottawa's supposedly best Indian restaurant and because I've been ogling Gina's Indian Food Wednesdays, I've been having a mad craving for it for about two months now. And I wanted the real deal, as much as I love raw food, few know how to slow cook flavor and spice into dishes like South Asian food. Again, it was that comforting marriage of texture and flavor I was after.
The thing about Indian food (amazingness of flavours aside) is that while it's super vegetarian-friendly, it's not optimal for vegans, let alone raw vegans. Most of its dishes will have some form of dairy in it, whether its in the form of ghee, yoghurt, or buttermilk. However, when it came to visiting my family in DC this week, I knew I would have the
excuse opportunity to satisfy my craving by going out with them on one of our evenings out.
Our usual spot is the Bombay Bistro, and while it used to be fun for the whole family, it became less then optimal when I went vegan because of the dairy issue. So when my mom suggested we try a new place, Spice Xing, something about her description gave me the inkling that it would be quite promising... man was I right!!!
First off, it was really pretty place in contrast to the usual. It was all drapes, and mirrors, and bright colors (please excuse, the fuzzy Iphone photos). I love Indian decor, so I was sold right away:
But then, they stole my heart away when I saw this at the bottom of the menu:
Since going vegan, I've never had "too many choices" at an Indian restaurant but I did that night. And it was awesome. Though I'm usually a terrible decision maker, I was in the mood for saucy protein amazingness, and quickly settled on the Chana Masala (chickpeas in Garam Masala and other spices). Because my mom is awesome, she too opted for a vegan dish, and went for the Baingan Bharta (roasted eggplant with onions and herbs in a tomato-ey sauce). They were... mind blowing. Flavour, spice, thick lovely saucy awesomeness... My lack of actual word usage clearly means I can't even begin to describe how I'd been missing this. Of course, this all came with a side order of jasmine rice, naan, spinach, and some raw veggies (I essentially stuck with the raw veggies), and it's easy to say that I loved it.
It was such a treat to be able to find vegan food at an Indian place. So thank you Spice Xing, for giving me my Indian food fix. I'm your new #1 fan. And I think I've satisfied my cooked "ethnic food" needs for another year. If ever you're in the suburbs of Rockville, definitely check it out!