Umami at work at Bombay Palace
If you're on a diet, you might want to eat more Middle Eastern cuisine. I'd read about the effects of umami on satiety before, but at Bombay Palace, I experienced this science at work firsthand.
Basically, my mouth was saying, "More, more, more." But my brain and stomach were saying, "You can stop now." The food is so delicious I wanted to keep savoring every bite, but, as I mentioned in my restaurant review, in three visits I was pretty much done after eating a papadum, a single jumbo prawn, a few nibbles of tandoori chicken, and a couple of spoonfuls of curry.
It was a shocker because I'm accustomed to eating much more than that in one sitting, and in eying the small serving pots, my initial thought was, "That's not going to feed four people." And yet, four people could not finish half of four pots.
Umami is described as the fifth taste after the basic flavor sensations of sweet, salty, bitter and sour. It encompasses the experience of savory, rich, meaty, full-bodied flavors indicative of the presence of the amino acid glutamate. When combined with proteins it delivers a satisfying mouthfeel that speeds satiety so you eat less, and feel fuller faster.
This all meant I ate less of my favorite cuisine than I would have liked, but there's always return trips.
Bombay Palace took over the space in Discovery Bay that was formerly home to Monsoon India. Owner Imran Khan (not the cricket star turned politician) adopted an India-related name for his restaurant for continuity and familiarity. But many of the dishes we think of as being Indian are also common in his native Pakistan, due to the nations’ shared history, before splitting into two independent nations in 1947.
In addition to the curries they share in common with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran, Pakistani cuisine incorporates the sweet-sour notes of pomegranate seeds, and in keeping with the nation’s predominately Muslim culture, there is no pork—forbidden by faith—on the menu.
Why are Middle Eastern curries some of my favorite dishes? I love the complexity of the spice and herb combinations used, and an article that appeared last March in the Washington Post explained the phenomenon. You can read the article here. But in a nutshell, although these dishes may contain only seven ingredients, their chemical compounds and the way they interact amount to almost 200 out of the roughly 381 distinct flavors known around the world.
Come and taste! And no, I didn't eat all this in one sitting. Here's what I tried over four visits: