Earlier this year, I had the joy of meeting Saraswathi Vasudevan, a compassionate and sage yoga teacher who flew direct from India to offer her wisdom to a small group of Toronto students.
Among the many gifts I received from her teaching was one I almost wish I hadn't: an Ayurvedic analysis that tells me I've been eating all the wrong things (and loving them). There are three major personality types in Ayurvedic medicine:
According to this system, we are all attracted to the foods that nurture and mirror our dominant personality traits. It wasn't too surprising when the results of my test came in: I am Pitta: warm, friendly and outgoing, but also stubborn, self-righteous and controlling. I'm a tempestuous little firecracker who wants her food as vivid as her personality - salty, sour and spicy. In short, I have fire in the belly.
If I were to believe my Ayurvedic teacher (and let's make this clear: I really don't want to!) then these are precisely the flavours I should avoid. Rather than fanning my internal flame, I should seek equanimity through neutral, bland flavours: dry crackers, white rice, and minimal spice.
Jaipur Grille, with its calm atmosphere and mild food, is the kind of restaurant my teacher would like me to frequent. Pleasantly decorated with soft art, Indian silver, and a cool, graceful interior, Jaipur Grille is elegant, refined and relaxing. The food here is fresh and artfully arranged: crisp samosas filled with soft potato, cilantro and fennel share a veggie platter with sweet cauliflower fritters, delicate deep-fried potatoes and a refreshing chickpea salad. Smooth, sweet mango lassis are a lovely companion to a generous portion of saag paneer, cinnamon-infused veggies and soft, fresh-baked naan.
There is no doubt that my meal was good: skillfully made, pleasantly served, and artfully arranged, the food at Jaipur Grille is sure to be a favourite for many Torontonians. My lunch companion raved about his dishes, gleefully grabbing my notebook to scribble his comments:
* "Delicious food smells interrupted our conversation before the food arrived."
* "Usually saag paneer is liquid mush, but this is solid, with generous portions of paneer."
* "Garlic naan is soft yet crisp, not overdone or crumbly: perfect!
* "Don't forget to mention the chickpea salad with the veggie platter: usually veggie platters are just fried goodness, so this salad was a definite bonus!"
* "Some of the best Indian in TO after Ruchi and Nataraj!"
If my friend was writing this review it would be nothing but adulation, but me? I felt there was something important missing from my meal, and that something was SPICE! To me, a good Indian meal is like a bad relationship: it should get really hot really fast, tease, tantalize, sizzle, and ultimately leave me gut-wrenched, sobbing and clutching my seared stomach in agony. After lunch at Jaipur Grille I calmly walked home and spent a pleasant afternoon writing, as if nothing momentous had happened at mid-day.
If Jaipur Grille were my boyfriend, I think my teacher, my mother, and all my sweet Kapha friends would like him. He would hold the door, write me poems, and be adorably hesitant before making any moves. But he wouldn't be enough. Eventually I would stomp all over his earnest little heart, leaving his sweetness in search of a little more sweat.
Jaipur Grille is a good restaurant. The food is fresh, the service superb and the atmosphere lovely. But it's not for me. With apologies to kind Saraswathi, my Ayurveda teacher, sweet Kevin, my dining companion, and all the stomach cells inflamed by my torpid temperament, when it comes to Indian food and men, I'm going to stick to what I love, good for me or not: hot and saucy!