Cones, Pyramids, and 3D Triangles – Nizam Indian Cuisine

nizam indian cuisine, westwood, ca - samosa
This must be what real writers diagnose as “writer’s block.” Sitting comfortably at the table, the laptop a wide-open target, cursor blinking as if counting down to some incredible explosion of brilliant literary shrapnel onto the screen, fingers poised over the keyboard ready and waiting to pull the trigger, and…nothing. I am waiting for something, anything, a teeny tiny spark, and I keep waiting because there is absolutely nothing. This has never happened to me before, and it’s a very unnerving feeling. When once I cursed because my fingers couldn’t hunt-and-peck fast enough to keep up with my brain, now, literally, I have been sitting here staring at the screen for hours, my fingers itching to type something, and only scratching when I reply to an IM. “TheDeliciousLife: hold on. thinking…brb” And I re-assume the position knowing full well that I’m not going to brb.

No opinion, a loss for words – these are things that don’t happen in my life. At least, not in my Delicious Life. I have opinions about everything I eat. I just don’t express them all the time because I’m always right and that might give others an inferiority complex, you know? ;) I’ve never had trouble finding words, and I might even say that oftentimes, I use too many words. A lot. I ramble. See what I mean? Every time I sit down to write, it’s not always pure genius. In fact, it’s never pure genius. But it’s always something, so when it’s nothing, it’s weird.

I have nothing. Writer’s block sucks.

Technically, it’s not even writer’s block because I’m not really a “writer.” I’m just an opinionated, somewhat long-winded food blogger. This also can’t be writer’s block because “block” implies that there actually is some sort of thought traffic on the neural highway between the brain and the exit onto the screen, and it’s just that some distraction or obstruction, a “block” – a minor fender cruncher on the other side of the freeway (keep driving, you rubber-necking fools!), or unnecessary construction that the City should have scheduled to construct long after rush hour, or a mattress that fell off the roof of a Hyundai into the number four lane because some idiot and his equally idiotic roommate thought they could drive with one hand and hold it down with the other out the window – has severely impaired the natural flow. “Block” implies that there are thoughts on their way out, but they’re just getting blocked by my inability to put them together cohesively or define a unifying theme for them.

There’s no block because there’s no thought-flow to block. I have no thoughts at all. It’s not writer’s block; it’s writer’s desert.

warm and chewy. chewy and warm.

See, I don’t really know what to say about Nizam Indian Cuisine in Westwood. Sure, I know exactly what I ate and can make statements about what each item tasted like, but that’s about as refreshing as, oh, an ice cold glass of sand in my writer’s desert. *sigh* I cannot find new words to describe my experience with Nizam’s lunch buffet in a way that’s inspired and original and distinctive and creative. “The naan was warm and chewy” is the same sentence I’ve written at least half a dozen times before, with the words in a slightly different order each time.

There’s nothing new about the parking situation at high noon on a weekday in Westwood. Open meters are few and far between along Westwood and Pico Boulevards, and parking lots in and around the Westside Pavilion are already full by 11:30. Airing complaints about how much parking sucks is like free broadcast radio – played out.

What unique items can I point out about Nizam’s interior to vividly paint a visual picture of the atmosphere? There aren’t any. The deep, narrow dining room is clean. The walls are pale and hung with intricately designed tapestries or prints depicting Indian things or sculptures of Indian demi-goddesses that every Indian restaurant must order from the same Indian restaurant supply catalog. Furniture is plain and tables are covered with cloths. Nizam pretty much looks like everyone else.

mulligatawny-do over

clockwise from left to right, in order of appearance

How many different ways can I describe the buffet that is set up at the other end of a dark, tight hallway in the back of the restaurant? Inventory the foods in the order they appear on in the buffet from the simple, standard saag paneer that tasted a little bit more like creamed spinach at Lawry’s than it should have and other curries on the steam table to the vat of thin and disappointingly mild Mulligatawny soup at the end? Shake things up a little and list them in the order I actually tasted and ate them around my plate from a flavorful but slightly dry okra to the sweet and crisp carrots? Maybe throw everything off completely by doing it alphabetically, starting with A for aloo gobi which is always a favorite and can never be bad and B for bengan bharta that was creamy without being heavy, all the way to T for tikka masala, chicken in a luscious sauce that was far less spicy than I was hoping? Though the selection on the buffet is wide and varied and changes from day to day, the ways to write it are narrow and limited.

okra was first

so sweet it could have been dessert

There are only so many words to describe how the pastry of the samosas was softly crisp and the potato and green pea filling was mildly spiced, and I think I’ve used them all. Twice. What new words can I use so that it doesn’t sound like I could be describing the samosas from Jaipur just across the street or India’s Oven further up Westwood Boulevard? And there aren’t any synonyms when I Shif
t+F7 “cone-shaped.” The samosas are pyramidal. They are 3D triangles.

i love to hate, but can’t for the tandoori

How do I make my description of Nizam’s tandoori chicken exciting? The chicken had the regular red-color and a nice charred flavor, so I can’t complain, but complaining is so 2005 for The Delicious Life anyway. The meat was a little bit dry, so I certainly can’t gush. About as stimulating as my writing about tandoori chicken is going to get is asking a stupid question. Why does Nizam bring the chicken to the table and offer it with a pair of tongs as if the server were the Colonel at a church picnic with a family meal size bucket? That’s a pretty damned exciting question now, isn’t it?

The food at Nizam was fine and the setting was clean. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. But there’s also absolutely nothing oh-so-right about it. Perhaps that is exactly the point of the lunch buffet at Nizam. Maybe I can’t think of any different, sexy new creative way to write about Nizam because Nizam is not any different from many of the other Indian restaurants in the area. Maybe I don’t have writer’s block after all. *phew* I just don’t think I need to go back to Nizam for fear that it may send me right back into the desert.

Nizam Indian Cuisine
10871 Pico Boulevard (@ Westwood Boulevard)
Los Angeles, CA 90064

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  • Craig

    sarah, one of my favorite lunch spots is the buffet at Jaipur. Many a time I have bought a book or magazine at the soon to be defunct Barnes & Noble and wandered over to Jaipur for lunch. But there is nothing there that really excites me, I like the fact that I can spread out and Indian food and reading seem to go together. :) BTW, my last post is a tribute to your baklava.

  • sarah

    jaipur is on my to-dine list (along with about 30 more restaurants, LOL!). i’m trying to get to every indian restaurant on the westside, on my everquest for thick fluffy naan and spice that truly kicks me in the ass :)

  • djjewelz

    It’s not your fault dear that you have writer’s desert…it’s the food. Food that doesn’t inspire doesn’t just doesn’t inspire…anything.

  • hermz

    I prefer writer’s dessert to writer’s desert.

  • sarah

    thanks dj jewelz!

    hermz: writer’s dessert: the end. LOL!

  • Russkar

    I’m surprised you didn’t understand the “tongs” to serve the CHINESE Tandoor Chicken? Considering the Avian Flu Simplex 4 virus the server was trying to keep from touching it, can you blame him?

  • sarah

    oh…tongs. i love tongs. LOL! (i also love thongs, but that’s an opinion for a different blog entirely)

    i was just wondering why the chicken wasn’t on the buffet. probably to keep it safe from gluttons like me. LOL!

  • Craig

    Leaving thongs alone for the moment and I am not a pimp for Jaipur but they do have tandori chicken at their lunch buffet.

    Now back to thongs… ;0

  • Eve

    i’ll go to jaipur with you any time you want, sweetie

  • Sam

    Sarah, sweetie, put writers desert to the back of your mind and go treat yourself to some writer’s dessert instead!

    I have that block problem sometimes, on such an occasion I forget it and write something else (except for when I have an sfist deadline and then I am buggered and I am usually up til one in the morning struggling away, too)

  • Sam

    oh shit – i didn;t read the comments til after I’d written mine. talk about my joke being tired.

    Or I could just call out to Hermz and remind im that great minds think alike?

  • sarah

    craigm: how about you write about thongs and i’ll just post a sassy, witty comment every once in a while?

    eve: woo hoo! and it’s not that far from you either (for lunch, that is)

    sam: what else do you write? when i am in the desert, i am IN THE DESERT. like, i can’t even write an email.

    oh, and hermz doesn’t have a great mind. he just got lucky this time. LOL! (just kidding hermz!)

  • js

    Wow! I like this more than these easy Indian food recipes:) Is it difficult to cook that?

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