Stuff White People Like: Indian Food

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img_0335Hi, I’m the gringo you’ll most likely see behind the register when you come to Kasa.  It’s time for me to make a guest appearance on what has essentially (and thankfully) been Anamika’s blog.  She has far more interesting things to say than I do.

If you haven’t read Christian Lander’s now-famous blog, Stuff White People Like, I think you should. It’s super funny (you know, funny because it’s true). Indie Music, Manhattan, Study Abroad, and Promising to Learn a New Language describe some aspects of myself I find pretty annoying (but are nevertheless true).

He hasn’t gotten around to the topic of Indian food yet apart from briefly mentioning it in an Asian Fusion post, but it’s probably just a matter of time.  Well Christian, this white person loves Indian food and now has a vested interest in making sure lots of others (of all races) do too.

I fell in love with Indian food a long time ago while studying abroad at Oxford. I need to give a shout out to Chutneys Indian Brasserie, where my uncle Bill took me to my first Indian meal back in 1996. Since that time, I ate it more and more every year until it crept up to 2-3 times per week.  To provide some context, over the last six years my wife Merideth and I dropped most of our outside interests to focus all our disposable income on finding the best inexpensive restaurants in the city (first New York and then Chicago). We created a spreadsheet to capture our thoughts so we didn’t forget the details of our meals and so we could have something to pass around to friends. We had our favorites in each category, but I’d say Indian pretty easily emerged as our favorite cuisine overall. For Indian, we’d mainly dine in or take out from hole-in-the-wall places, and we’d go out every once in a while for a higher-end meal. Although we definitely loved the places we frequented, we sometimes just wanted a quick, fresh, and delicious Indian option. We had that for sandwiches, burritos, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and even falafel. Why not for our beloved Indian?!

After a few years at Kraft, despite the fun, smart people I worked with, I started to burn out on slinging processed food for a living. Plus, all I ever did was think about restaurants and what the NY or Chicago scene really needed. In the fall of 2006, I decided to flesh out the kind of Indian place where Merideth and I would love to eat all the time. I also called a friend of mine from business school (Suresh), because he was talking about doing something like this way back then.

After the first time I spoke to Suresh on the phone about it, I told Merideth that he and I would probably end up working on this together. Then we hit a snag: Suresh said he was really tied to the idea of his wife being the chef. I tried my best to keep an open mind, but was honestly trying to figure out how to extract myself from this thing if her cooking wasn’t high-end chef caliber. I wasn’t going to involve myself in a project without knock-out good food. So Merideth and I flew out to SF to see what came out of Anamika’s kitchen on a regular basis. We were optimistic, but also pretty nervous.

We picked up and moved across the country to open Kasa, so I’m sure you can guess what we thought of her cooking. I’m actually amazed at the ease with which she puts out her dishes. She’s just plain gifted with the ability to work with flavors and textures—even outside of Indian food.

Merideth and I feel blessed to be here in San Francisco and to be part of what makes Kasa a place our customers enjoy.

Gringo out.