AS a young teenager I was best friends with an Indian girl, who I nicknamed Indie.
Our days together were spent listening to the ballads of Mariah Carey and Boyz 2 Men, while day dreaming of unrequited loves. And consoling ourselves with pizza.
Her mum used to ply us with pizza presumably because she thought that's what teenage girls wanted to eat. And generally, it was.
However, the gorgeous fragrances escaping her kitchen promised something far more exotic than your average margarita.
In hindsight, knowing what I know now of Indian cuisine, I wish I'd ventured past the kitchen door and delved into one of the giant pots bubbling away on the stove.
I also wish I'd sacrificed fewer hours to listening to Mariah Carey too, but that's a different blog post.
I was reminded of the intoxicating scent of Indie's home on my first trip to Jyoti's - a vegetarian Indian restaurant in the Hall Green district of Birmingham.
Despite it's humble interior (a bit like the back room of a shop, which technically it is - the front of the premises sells Indian sweets and treats) it's highly-regarded, with a list of celebrity fans such as Jamie Oliver and Anthony Worrall-Thompson, whose pictures take pride of place in the restaurant as if they were family portraits.
Service was swift and polite without being over familiar and we were delivered a jug of water as soon as we were comfortable.
We started with a selection of starters, including the fiery kachori - sumptuous little balls of deep-fried mixed lentils and peas in pastry, which was served with some excellent chutney.
We ordered some deliciously woody mogo chips too, as well as crispy samosas, and possibly the finest, freshest poppadoms we'd ever tasted. So many Indian restaurants serve up poppadoms which taste as if they are straight out of an out-of-date box labelled Sharwoods.
Our lips and tongues tingled with delight, while out tummies groaned with pleasure.
Main courses were just as flavoursome; the sauces evidently made from an expert blend of spices.
I tucked into the mouthwatering panner stuffed aubergines, accompanied by warmed chapatis and cumin rice, while the boy enjoyed the paneer bhurji, which was packed with the taste of ginger, garlic, cashew nuts and tomatoes.
Desserts such as homemade barfi looked sensational, and priced from 75p, were recession-busting to boot.
But our waistbands were already bursting, so it was time to bid farewell to this friendly family-run restaurant.
Had Mariah Carey been playing, it'd have been a real blast from the past!
For more details visit the Jyoti website at www.jyotis.co.uk