Posts Tagged ‘Indian’

8th February
written by Arthur

A while back, some colleagues and I got to talking about spice tolerance.  One thing led to another and  I somehow found myself committed to the P’Hall curry challenge at Bricklane Curry House.  The challenge had been on my mind since I first saw Adam Richman take down this bowl of inferno on Man v. Food (see below).  I even had plans with various NYC cohorts to take on the challenge, but we never seemed to be able to pull of the coordination.  Though to the detriment of my taste buds, my stomach, and my pride, this week, I finally made it with a group of coworkers (one of whom took the challenge with me).    

The deal is simple.  Thirty minutes to take down a 16 ounce bowl of the stuff and you get a certificate, a beer, and your picture on the website.

To state the obvious, the curry is hot.  Not the hottest thing ever to pass my lips.  That honor goes to the bomb.  But, unlike other fiery concoctions I’ve encountered before, there was just too much.  I got through most of the chicken and maybe a quarter of the sauce.  The only flavor discernible above the heat was the bitter sweet flavor of one of the less finelly chopped chilies.  The heat wore on me as the water, rice and, bread I foolish used in my attempts to quell the burn filled my stomach until I couldn’t take another bite–I felt sick.

I may have lost the battle, but I don’t consider the war over.  An observing coworker thinks she has what it takes and my fellow challenger is eager to declare victory.  I’m reformulating my strategy away from rice and water and preparing mentally for a rematch in the next few weeks!

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24th May
written by Arthur

Despite a late night, I was out of bed by 8 a.m.; not so much by choice as from the firm grip of timezone differences.  My body thought is was already 11 and time to find adventures.  And I did find a few, but this post is for the wedding and it was time to shed Indian attire for a suit.  The day was filed with ceremony.

The Ghor

This ceremony was described to me as the blessing of the groom.  In the presidential suite of the the hotel, the Fayaz’s friends and family gather to lift any curses and impart good luck.  (Word was that the bride had a congruent, but separate, ceremony.)

Chi tea was available in the room:  a strong brew in a pot with condensed milk on the side.

The ceremony appeared to closely resemble that undertaken before the mess-up the groom.  A tray held a cup of M&Ms and cups of quarters.  However, this ceremony involved all feeding Fayaz and M&M and circulating the money over his head.  By the time Nick and I were up, Fayaz had eaten his fill of sweets and passed the M&Ms off on us.

After all had imparted their blessings, we had an hour or so before it was time to head to the mosque for the actual wedding ceremony.

The Mosque

Once we arrived at the mosque, the men and women separated and removed their shoes before entering their respective rooms in the place of worship.   Inside the moque, there were no seats and all took their places, siting on a softly carpeted floor.  Fayaz and his best man were seated against the wall on pillows near the front.  The Imam sat at the pulpit, a large elevated chair which looked well suited for long speeches.

After words from the Imam on equality, particularly of that between men and women, the floor was ceded in for various words on marriage and the couple.  The men listen in person, while the women watched from their room over video.  The Imam again took the podium and explained variations in wedding ceremony across Islamic traditions.  He then explained that Nushin would come over the speaker system and ask to Fayaz marry her and that Fayaz would then (hopefully!) accept.

The microphone was handed to Fayaz and Nushins voice filled the room and asked the big question in Arabic.  To which Fayaz responded.  The exchange lasted  no more that 30 seconds.   When it was over a man ran into the room to get Fayaz’s signature on the wedding certificate.

As we exited, I saw many large tables covered with food and learned that the separation of  the men and women was to continue to through dinner.  I filled my plate with naan, chick pea curry, beef curry, chicken tikka, roasted veggies, rice, and various Indian deserts.  I happily worked my way through the heaping plate over conversation at an outdoor table with Fayaz’s male friends and family.

The Cake Cutting

This portion of the was a hybrid of Western and Indian ceremonies.  Speeches from family interspersed Indian traditions and the exchanging of rings.  The  event culminated with the cutting of the cake and turning the room full guests lose on a table full of coffee, tea, sweets, and sandwiches.  (It had been almost three hours since dinner!)  Strangely, though all events were, in the Muslim tradition, sans alcohol, ham and cheese sandwiches were in the mix.

After eating the table’s sweets and after wedding cake was passed around, guests were invited to take photos with the beautiful new couple.

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15th May
written by Arthur


Fayaz is hit as he draws me into the action.

After arrival at LAX, I  headed directly to a park for the first event in the weekend of festivities: a BBQ and ceremony for the groom.  At the park, I chatted with Fayaz’s family and friends from Minnesota who I  hadn’t seen in ages.  After maybe an hour, there was a brief ceremony for Fayaz which drew on a number of traditions including negotiations for Fayaz’s purchase of fetched water, the eating of sweets, and waving coins over Fayaz as a blessing.

The next phase was described to me as “mess-up the groom.”  Fayaz said that, while this is usually limited to some shaving cream on the groom, his family takes to an all out round robin of shaving cream, cool whip, water balloons, and silly string.  At the end of the ceremony, the action began.  For about ten minutes, no one was safe.   Things finally calmed down when a brawl nearly broke-out as people were thrown in the lake.  May Fayaz’s Blackberry rest in peace.

A lunch of burgers and chicken tenders was served and, over a meal in the beautiful Cali weather, friends and family had a chance to catch-up.


The Mehndi

After the BBQ, we all had enough time to check into the hotel and grab a drink or two at the bar before heading over to the Mehndi at the bride’s family’s home.  Well, at least the men had a moment of leisure.   The women headed to the bride’s home early for the  application of henna.

When we arrived at Nushin’s family home we headed to the back yard.  I was instantly stunned.  I felt as if I’d walked into a fairy tale or the set of a bollywood movie. Set-out in the warm California night were lounge areas.  Large white soft rectangles covered with brightly colored and shiny pillows basked in soft light.  The seating surrounded an open walled tent with a wooden floor.  The air was filled with the smells of meat cooking in one corner of the yard and fresh fruit in another.

It was on arrival that Fayaz’s male friends, most of us white, learned we would be dancing in a precision (in front of a few hundred people) to lead the groom to the tent.  After being shown a few dance moves the music started and we were off.  Fayaz, dressed in all red traditional Indian attire lead the way surrounded by his poorly dancing friends (also in traditional Indian attire).   The attire consisted of a long top and light pants held with a draw string.  Large pants, with a draw string that was very tricky for this white boy.  Half-way through the dance in I realized my pants were falling down.  Thankfully the top is long and I was saved from exposing myself to the crowd as I danced with my pants at my thighs.

After Fayaz took his thrown like seat under the tent,  Nushin was carried to the tent in an ornate box supported by a pole.  It is fortunate tradition, as Nushin had broken her leg only two weeks before.  Fayaz picked her up out of the box and set her on her own thrown–looking more like a princess than any bride I’ve seen.  Speeches and rituals followed.

Then, it was time to eat.  Nushin, understanding Fayaz’s intense love for shawarma arranged for several large spinning cones of meat served with a spread of other amazing Indian delights and guests ate until they could eat no more.  We lounged and ate as traditional Indian music from a live band wafted over the crowd.  Once satiated, many retired to smoke from the dozen or so hookah’s set-up in the yard.

The festivities ended around 1:30 a.m. and only then because the police showed-up (I’m sure half of LA had been serenaded up to that point).  In a near daze I retired to the hotel for a brief sleep before another day of Cali adventures and wedding ceremonies.


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