OMG The Food!! Part I

Hi all!

So let’s talk about the food in this country, shall we?  Well, it’s a big country so let’s talk about the food in Pubjab, where I am right now….

It’s primarily going to be about the vegetarian food, sorry meat fans but I’m immersing myself in the life here and thinking about amrit (took amrit actually since I began this post) so… veg it is and it is so good.  India knows how to do vegetarian food, let me just say.

November 6, 2014
Delhi
Masala Dhosa at the Radisson
Blu Marina Hotel in CP

Dhosa
Dhosa is a South Indian breakfast dish that you can get all day and all night if you want.  It is kind of like a crepe but the super thin batter comes out crisp rather than the slightly thicker, egg based crepe.  It is just wonderful.

This is a masala dhosa that I had at the restaurant in the Radisson Blu Marina Hotel at Connaught Place in Delhi.  Masala dhosas are huge and filled with a masala (cloves, cinnamon, coriander, cardomom, etc) potato filling.  It is served with a sambar (a spicy vegetable soup) and all sorts of chutneys.  The idea is to tear pieces of the dhosa up and dip them in the sambar or chutneys.  The result is pure awesome.

The chutneys on this plate from the top to the bottom are;  coriander chutney (mildly spicy), coconut chutney (cooling) and tomato chutney (medium spicy).  Which of things doesn’t belong?  Did you guess the coconut chutney?  Sorry, you’re wrong.  It’s a delicious dip for the dhosa batter and for the potato filling.  Who knew?

Kesar Ale

November 5, 2014
Delhi
Kesar Ale – I really wish I
could remember the name of
the Kashmiri restaurant I was in


I think I might be in love with all things Kashmiri.  The food, the clothing designs, the beverages, and saffron.  The very best saffron in all of the world grows in the mountains and hills of Kashmir – I swear it.

Before any of you get too excited.  Kesar Ale is not an ale at all – it’s non-alcoholic.  It is a saffron sort of soda.  Why do we not have saffron soda in Canada?  We should.  We really, really should.  This lovely drink is a little bitter and a has a very strong flavour of saffron.  It’s not subtle at all – it’s a big old saffron punch in the face of awesome.

This was the perfect beverage to go with my vegetarian Kashmiri meal which included really yummy vegetable kofta (I shall find this restaurant and return there again just for this delicious kofta).  Seriously good stuff.  The meal also included butter naans (much thinner than the variety served everywhere in Canada) more like a chapatti, and jeera potatoes (normally a side to meat dishes but I love cumin and I love potatoes so I’ll eat jeera potatoes anytime with anything).

The saffron flavour is just amazing.  I had no idea what saffron could taste like until I had this drink, except for subtle tastes of the spice in other dishes.  Oh and kesar is the Kashmiri word for … you guessed it – saffron.

I was happy to discover that it also comes in a saffron milk!

Papadums and the World of Chutneys and Pickles

November 5, 2014
Delhi
Papadum with chutneys
Can’t remember the name of
the restaurant

I love peppercorn.  I would put peppercorns on ice cream if I wasn’t afraid that people would sign me in to the insane asylum.  Because I love peppercorn, I was bound to love papadums.  For those who haven’t tried it – what the heck are you waiting for?  They are delicious!!  Get off the freakin’ net and get to an Indian store and get some.  Better yet, go to an Indian restaurant and have papadums with chutneys and pickles.

The papadums are in that huge basket in the back.  In the three little urns in the front of the picture is one chutney and two pickles.

I like to eat my papadums plain.  So, I was sitting in the restaurant eating papadum after papadum like chips.  The poor waiter was so distressed by this that he came over and explained “Madam, you have the finest mint chutney.  It is really a good flavour for your papadum.  Also you might like the kaffir lime pickle, it has many vegetables in it.  The pickles are for eating with the papadum.  It is really very good.”

Sorry waiter.  I like ’em dry.  But… he was right.  From left to right – kaffir lime pickle had bits of cauliflower, french bean, copious amounts of bitter kaffir lime leaves, and bits of what I think were turnip and long squash.  Bitter and hot and perfect!  I could have cancelled the main dishes right there, it was that good.  I am really glad it came in a small pot or I would have eaten platefuls of it.

In the middle is onions and turnip pickled in beet juice.  Amazing.  It was slightly salty, slightly sweet and mostly just savoury goodness.  I didn’t like it with the papadums so I picked them off, the whole pot, plain.  Poor waiter must have been dying inside.

On the right is the mint chutney.  Let me just say this – mint chutney should totally replace ketchup in the west.  This is brightly flavoured and I wanted to just spread that stuff on everything.  What a way to pick up your appetite too.  I’m not actually a big eater.  I don’t eat much at all but I love to cook.  This mint chutney gave me such an appetite that I could have sat there the entire day, grazing on anything that they spread this chutney on.

Gobi and Aloo Paranthas; Onion Paranthas and ‘Simple’ Paranthas 

Amritsar – November 8th, 2014 Gobi & Aloo Paranthas with
homemade yogourt and lemon pickle

This is what greeted me on my first morning in Amritsar.  It was wonderful, simple and probably filled with way to much ghee.  First, aloo is potato and gobi is cauliflower.  These along with some onion and chilies, comprise the filling in this dish, which is like a stuffed roti (chapati) or stuffed flat bread.

It is really rich and delicious, especially with the bitter lemon pickle.  I could have eaten four or five of these bad boys and spend the rest of the day dying from having overeaten and from too much ghee but… hey, what is life if it is not sacrifice?


My hostess, realizing that these went over well with me made these every morning for several weeks or more.  Sometimes its aloo or aloo gobi or onion or ‘simple’ but forever it was always a parantha.  Now that we’re communicating better in our own version of Panjlish, she’s cut it down a little.  These are good, but a lot of work for her and a lot of calories for me.

A note about my host unit and food – she cooks things that are “bahot tasty”,  While I can appreciate good taste, food should be bahot healthy most of the time.  Paranthas… not at all healthy.  I’m trying to explain why I won’t eat it just because it tastes good… so far no luck.  I’ll let you know if I win this particular battle.  I doubt it though, the Government of India has health signs all over the place about healthy eating and the dangers of fat,,,doesn’t seem to have made any difference at all and if the Government is getting nowhere you know I’m not changing her mind overnight.



Oranges – You’re NOT in Florida anymore

So here’s something I didn’t know.  Everywhere in Delhi you will find carts selling what I thought were limes and fresh squeezed lime juice.  Turns out they weren’t limes at all but oranges.  Oranges here have rinds that are coloured just like limes – green and yellowish.  The flesh is a different colour too.  It’s not the greenish yellow that it’s rind would suggest.  It’s more orange, less yellow and it produces a sweet juice that is closer to the colour of orange Kool-Aid than the yellowish Florida orange juice.  It’s too sweet for my tastes but it’s good nonetheless.

Puri!  OMG!  Puri!

Puris are fried bread.  That sounds simple doesn’t it?  Well, hold on a second there.  Puris are fried breads that puff up from all the steam of being cooked and then you pop them and slowly let all that bready, fried, steamy aroma out to whet your appetite.  You dip them in something savoury usually, like this channa (chickpea) curry that I have… Plus hello!  It’s fried bread!  How is there any argument that this is not tasty?

Healthy?  Well, of course not but these are definitely tasty fried bits of awesome that I’ll have once a month… twice… a week… max.  How I didn’t know about these when I was younger and my heart could take all the cholesterol is beyond me…

Lassis

Lassis are a yogurt drink you can get either sweet or savoury.  I love them.  They are fantastic.  But they are also the reason that I became sick when I first arrived here.  The overload of dairy products that I was getting caused a certain… let’s just call it binding which lasted for just over a week without any relief.  So as good as they are, I’m not going near them again for a while.

Veg Koftas 

I know what you’re thinking.  This does not look good.  But it’s delicious!  It’s hard to describe what a kofta is – it’s kind of like the Indian version of a sausage without the cow’s intestine holding it all together.  This kofta is made from potato, cauliflower and bean and comes in a tomato based creamy curry sauce.  I could have eaten these all night, especially with the awesome garlic naan that they served me… endless baskets of the stuff!  


Aloo, Gobi and Carrot Curry


I love curry.  Curry is awesome if it’s made right and it’s made right here in India.  I love potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi) and carrots (can’t remember the Panjabi word for carrot and it’s late at the moment… so sorry).  Curry made with either potato or cauliflower or both is amazing.  I could eat that as a standard meal.  Through a little muttar in there and I’m good to go.  I’m just all full of vegetable love when that happens.  Mmmmm…  Carrots in curry though?  Um, no.  There is something about that combination that is vile and disgusting.  Not just that carrots are too sweet for a good curry … but the colour is off putting, the smell is nasty, and hello… what the freakin’ ‘ell is THAT texture called?  Vomit.  That’s what that texture is.  Carrot curry.  I do NOT recommend it.

Let’s Talk About … Pizza

Pizza here sort of resembles pizza in Canada and does not at all resemble pizza in Italy.  Not at all.  First, this is a pizza from a vegetarian place (can’t remember the name of it) in Hall Bazaar, Amritsar.  It’s supposed to be an onion pizza.  It’s not.  It tastes more like some veggie chili on bread.  Very, very bland bread.  It came with a ketchup packet.  Didn’t care because I was hungry but ketchup?  On pizza?  Oh blasphemy…  I’m so sorry Italy, so so sorry hahahahaha

Chinese Food?

Veg Chow Mein?

Um, that’s the way it’s advertised but it’s not anything like the Chinese or Far Asian that I’m used to… I asked a Chinese woman and her friends who were from Nepal and they all said “no” too… so… Let’s call it a fusion, because that it more like what it really is.

Veg Biryani

The chow mein or sometimes just sold as Chinese noodle or Chinese pasta, is more like Singapore noodles, with curry, a sort of spaghetti-ish noodle, some onion and some veg.  It was okay for what it was but it was definitely not Chinese.  Also, this particular restaurant in Tarn Taran where we had the food is really a bar, so I doubt they ever serve this much.  In any event, it came with so much curry powder in it that it was dry – you could almost blow off the excess powder… ummm…  the biryani was better.  That’s right.  I said biryani.  I bet you know where I’m going with this all ready, right?

Right!  When DID biryani become Chinese food?  It was on the Chinese menu…  This is the Indian version of Chinese fried rice but … it’s not fried, it has almost none of the traditional vegetables in it (except onion), and it has no egg, no soya sauce, nothing.  The only thing similar to Chinese was the rice.  Ummm… oops.  Nope.  That is Basmati rice you see there… so still not Chinese.

This was a tasty dish anyway, if a little too spicy.  I ate almost the whole platter over the course of the next three meals.  It was a very good biryani and they should just switch it over to the Indian side of the menu.  Really good Indian flavours in this.  Yummy.

Okay so that’s Part I of the Indian Food posts.  Stay tuned for Parts II through awesome later.

Peace and Love and …

HAPPY NEW YEAR all

– Himmatpreet

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