I love Indian food. In fact, it’s my favorite kind of food. And that’s something I thought I would never say, having grown up in Kansas. That’s because in Kansas the typical diet (at least when I was growing up) was cow, potato, and ketchup. And tuna casserole.
When I moved away from Kansas, I had never really tried many different types of food. So when somebody suggested something other than cow, potato, ketchup, or tuna casserole, I was scared and usually found a way to avoid it. But then one day years ago, when I lived in St Louis, a good Indian-American friend of ours invited Jodi and me to dinner… at an Indian restaurant.
Well, I was unable to convince them to go to a cow-potato-ketchup-tuna-casserole restaurant instead, and thank God they won. I discovered chicken vindaloo, and naan, and vegetable samosas, and rice that actually has flavor. It changed everything for me. All of a sudden, I was far more open to trying foods from all different kinds of cultures. I can’t believe I missed out on all of that amazing food for so many years. But since then, I’ve been making up for lost time.
Why is it that I love Indian food so much? I guess it’s gotta be the spices. My God, the spices. All this fuss I had been hearing for years about spices finally began to make sense.
Back in elementary school they told us about people hundreds of years ago sailing thousands of miles in rickety wooden boats for… spices. Spices? You’re going all that way for spices? I can barely muster the energy to drive to the store for toilet paper and eggs. And you’re doing this for spices? But apparently once you use those spices to make and eat chicken vindaloo, it doesn’t seem so extreme anymore. It turns out that some flavoring is much, much better than ketchup.
Plus, I’m thinking that the reason Indian food is such a good way to eat more vegetarian is due to the spices. You’re so distracted by how good the spices are that you don’t even realize you’re eating broccoli or grass or dryer lint.
Making Indian Food
I know that making Indian food at home can be done. A co-worker of Jodi’s is Indian, and she made Jodi some homemade Indian food. Jodi said it was about the best thing she’s ever eaten.
We’re still working on it at our house. We haven’t figured it all out just yet, but we’re going to keep trying. Jodi has bought Indian cookbooks, and I’ve been… watching her read the cookbooks. Again, I know the key is getting the right spices.
Also, check out this episode of Milk Street. Seems like they got it going on, so we’re going to try this out sometime too.
Truck Stop Indian Food
Yes, truck stop Indian food is apparently a thing. And before you ask, no that’s not why truck stop bathrooms look that way. The thing is, the number of immigrant long-haul truck drivers is growing every year. So the number of ethnic restaurants at or near truck stops around the country is growing too. And that’s a good thing. Because one can eat only so many old, shriveled hot dogs in one’s lifetime.
So the next time I find myself driving across the country—or in one of these out-of-the-way places—I’m taking this map with me. These are some of the truck stops that supposedly offer some really sensational Indian food. I don’t know about the bathrooms at these truck stops, but the food looks really good. By the way, I’m eating Indian food tonight, and you can’t stop me.
1 Punjabi Dhaba – Dixon, California
2 Akal Travel Center – Laramie, Wyoming
3 Taste of India – Overton, Nebraska
4 Panjabi Dhaba Restaurant and Vega Truck Stop – Vega, Texas
5 Truck Stop 40 Punjabi Restaurant – Sayre, Oklahoma
6 Shahi Indian Dhaba – Carlisle, Pennsylvania
7 Eat Spice – White Haven, Pennsylvania