Tiffin Asha flies in the face of what Americans have come to expect from Indian restaurants -- a homogenous combination of Bollywood kitsch, "curries" made with a hefty and unnecessary pours of heavy cream, and piles of naan -- some excellent and some subpar. Of course, there are exceptions to this -- Badmaash in LA, Delhi Accent in NYC, Rasika in DC. But even these tend to focus on food from from the northern part of India, the region with which Americans are most familiar. There are 29 states, over 22 major languages spoken, and infinitely more culinary traditions throughout India; aside for the occasional co-opting of the crepe-like dosa as a "health food," South Indian food does not often register as a blip on the radar.
Golay, an alum of notable kitchens around the country including Boston’s Oleana, is essentially a self-taught South Indian cook. "I did a lot of research online, looking through cookbooks and watching videos," she explains. "Sheila also knows this food so intimately so she would tell me texturally how something should taste, or what the flavor should be."