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Life of Pi and Dinner at The Dhaba

Life of Pi and The Dhaba go hand in hand this week.
Life of Pi and The Dhaba go hand in hand this week.
20th Century Fox/ Heather Hoch

While a jumbo tub of hot buttered popcorn is one of our most frequently indulged guilty pleasures, we think a good movie deserves a little better company than junk food. Try out our movie and meal pairings for yourself or feel free to suggest one of your own favorites in the comments.


The Movie: Life of Pi The Meal: The Dhaba


See Also: - Lincoln and Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café: Our First "Dinner and a Movie" Pairing - Life of Pi Is the Story of How Important Life of Pi Is - Punjabi Spices at The Dhaba

Life of Pi
Yann Martel's Life of Pi has to be one of the most over-gifted books in the history of bestsellers. We didn't read it when we got it and eventually traded it in for another novel at Changing Hands after a year or two on the bookshelf.
Basically, a man named Pi Patel tells this harrowing tale to a writer interested in making it into a novel. Pi insinuates that this story will make you believe in god(s) again or for the first time, depending on how you feel about god(s) currently. The story is of his childhood growing up in a zoo (literally) and when his family decides to move from India to Canada to try to make a better life for themselves.
Fatefully, they opt to ride across the Pacific on the freight ship that's conveniently also sending their animals to North America. A crazy storm sinks the ship and Pi and some animal friends are the only survivors on a small lifeboat.
Survival of the fittest takes its course and the hyena eats the zebra and orangutan and the tiger, named Richard Parker, eats the hyena. The odd thing is, and maybe this is just the animal lover in me, we felt more for the orangutan getting picked apart by the cackling canine than any of Pi's very lovely family members drowning on the boat.
Anyways, Pi and Richard Parker drift along on the ocean on the verge of starvation and killing each other for many days, tripping out and seeing some crazy glowing jellyfish. After washing ashore in Mexico 227 days later, Pi has to alter his story to make it more palatable for logical thinkin' folk. But which is the better story? Which story is the true story? Does believing the "logical" over the "fanciful" tale define you as a person?
Wethinks, no.
Although Ang Lee's take on the book was visually stunning, with some exceptions to cheesy GCI effects, the forced sense of spirituality and the promise of a rekindling of faith fell short. However, we knew our faith in the Dhaba wouldn't be betrayed.

 

Lamb Vindaloo at the Dhaba
Lamb Vindaloo at the Dhaba
Heather Hoch

The Dhaba
After watching some early scenes of the Patel family chowing on curry, we couldn't help but be subliminally convinced to go get Indian food--or as they call it in India, food. The Dhaba sits nestled in a little plaza of Indian cafes and shops and has pretty much been our go-to spot for Indian cuisine for years. Having heard that its food has recently lost its luster, we felt compelled to see if the rumors were true.
Thankfully, they weren't. The lamb vindaloo, a spicy tomato-based sauce filled with large hunks of succulent lamb and potatoes, was as mouth-burningly satisfying as we remember. The saffron basmati rice was intoxicatingly fragrant and who can go without getting a mango lassi?
One of our longtime favorites, the Punjabi veggie platter was also still up to snuff. While the name would suggest a plate of fresh or slightly cooked bland vegetables, what you get is an assembly of lightly fried pakora (fritter) appetizers, like samosas and paneer. The trio of dipping sauces--one spicy, one herby and one sweet--compliment the entire plate in completely different, totally tasty ways. Do yourself a favor and finish it off with their Indian-style rice pudding called badami sevian kheer.
Don't believe the hype, y'all. Good restaurants get called bad after a while and vapid movies get commended on their spiritual depth. Needless to say, we're more inclined to believe in a higher power eating at the Dhaba than watching Life of Pi.

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The Dhaba

1872 E. Apache Blvd.
Tempe, AZ 85281

480-446-2824

www.the-dhaba.com


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