How does Bollywood dream, you ask?
Let me tell you. It dreams in vibrant, verdant, unctuous, “holy-hell-that’s hot!” curries, naan and lassis, that is how.
Ladies and Gentleman of the table, I present to you, tonight, an extraordinary feat in culinary entertainment….or as my friend James describes it: “OH WOW…Curry!!!”
Jason and I have several favorite restaurants in Okinawa, but at the top of the pile is an Indian joint called “Bollywood Dreams.” Walking in to this second floor corner of Island Depot you are immediately greeted by Ganesh, photos of Bollywood stars and usually the slightly stoic yet friendly owner. The place, itself, is glitzed out like some cross between a mid-eighties nightclub and an homage to all the fabulous Bollywood actors, all sumptuous and scantily clad, staring at you like you too could be that gorgeous by eating butter chicken.
It is, perhaps, the most addictive substance on earth….at least from Bollywood. My friend Erin actually asked me if they put nicotine in it or something of that nature. I count myself as a good foodie-head, usually able to pick out ingredients from the pro dishes I consume, but Butter Chicken perplexes me. Perhaps that is why I love it so, for I am sure that there are less than 10 ingredients. Suffice to say the butter is ghee, which is Indian clarified butter, which they also smear all over the Naan (Indian flatbread) and makes this a decadent dish. And I can say it is orangish-red in color and tastes like you started making out with an devilish angel! I dunno what that means but you get my drift. It’s sexy, spicy and addictive as all get out! When you get home, all of a sudden, all you want is more. This is a phenomenon I have witnessed with every person I have taken to Bollywood. I am a curry pusher. What can I say? “Substances like Spice and Salvia and Butter Chicken may seem harmless, but the US government has banned….blah blah.” Kicking a dead horse. You get it, it’s good.
But Bollywood is so much more than a vice-laden opium den for me. It really takes me back. Takes me back to one of my best friends, Reepu, who introduced me to Indian culture when we were the only two non-Catholics at Sacred Heart in 5th grade. It takes me to the Shivakumars, Hari in particular, who was a big old crush of mine! His family and my family were close so we would do so much together…try on saris, go to picnics, and eat! There have been so many Folks from India who have blessed my life and my palate. And loads of masochistic English people, too, because Chicken Tikka Masala is often referred to as “Britain’s true national dish”, notably in a 2002 speech by former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook. Yup. I was there on holiday when that happened. Of course we went out to celebrate and I, being a wiseass, ordered Phall, which is the hottest form of curry (invented, again by Brits with something to prove….oooo gonna get shit for that one too!) and contains a various number of hot peppers, including scotch bonnets! And naturally, in my constant growth from little gal to big old lady is the good old Taj Mahal. The Prescott restaurant, not the mausoleum. It changed hands several times but my mother and I never failed to make friends with the owners and I learned so much about Indian cooking, particularly Punjabi, from those experiences.
When I moved to England…well, every time I moved to England, it was as easy as calling a Pizza Hut, to get a good curry. I was really spoiled.
When I moved back to NYC I realized I had been having a love affair with Indian food all my life and suddenly I could find just a scarce and superficial version of the delicacies I adored, for outrageous prices! Where was my Chicken Tikka Masala? Where the Vindaloo? Where, dear Ganesh, WHERE was the bloody chutney??? New York, Flagstaff….a veritable wasteland when it comes to good Indian.
Then I moved to good, old Oki, and guess what? There are tons of Indians living on this island and the coolest of the cool opened Bollywood Dreams. I think, perhaps, we were there opening day, and have been returning ever since. We usually go for lunch, which is a choice of set menus, but the other night we hit up their massive dinner menu and ordered a ton of food that was spectacular.
Today was really super fun though! We brought my friends James and Erin to Bollywood for James’s first curry ever!
I think I have spoiled him for life. All I heard from him through the entire meal was “Oh WOW!” A good sign, I suspect. We all luxuriated in the warm, happy comfort of good Keema, Tikka, Kebabs, Saag, Vindaloo, Seafood with Coconut, and GIANT slabs of Naan!
Chakra beers and white wine flowed freely and we found ourselves giggling through the heat and rice and enjoying every second of our brunch! This, THIS, is what good food is all about. Happy people, hanging out, trying new things, gettin’ a little tipsy and feeling totally, deliciously full, satiated and having a good gander at the Bollywood hotties on the wall and tvs!
Erin texted me later saying “Well I’m a total believer that after eating that I could do backflips off a trapeze!” I wouldn’t try it myself. Too much in my tummy. I am, however, happy to be the ringmaster and invite you all to the Bollywood SHOW!!!! Oh and please go ahead and like them on facebook, because I sure do!