Cardamom-spiced everything in Atlanta
Drive by Decatur’s most inconspicuous strip malls and the smells of richly-flavored Indian cuisine will consume you. From the complex seasoning packed into biryani, a traditional rice dish, to the yogurt and spice-marinated tandoori chicken, Indian food isn’t for the picky eater. It’s said that any given dish uses a minimum of seven ingredients, like some combination of chili pepper, black mustard seed, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, asafoetida, ginger, coriander, and garlic.
In today’s Decatur, Indian markets, herbal shops, and restaurants greet you at every corner -- but it wasn’t always that way. The US only began accepting immigrants from non-Northern European and Germanic nations after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It was then that Indian Americans made their way to the New York metropolitan area, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, among other cities. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta’s community is still strong, with about 79,000 Indian Americans populating the area and enriching the food landscape with dishes like panipuri (bite-size pieces of crispy dough filled with chili, chutney, spices, potatoes, onions, and chickpeas) and haleem (a rich stew with some sort of wheat, barley, meat, lentils, and spices).