Hello again! I’m more than half way through my trip in India and writing from bed at my friend’s house in Calcutta. It hasn’t been as easy as I expected to sit at the computer and post an observation or two, but I have had better luck Tweeting photo here and there. Even that has been a mission, with temperamental service roaming on T-Mobile. That said, the vacation has been amazing, especially for all that I’ve absorbed about this fascinating culture. Here is a sampling of images of my first week or so here, to give you a taste before I return…
One of my favorite dishes that I've eaten so far is idli. This South Indian breakfast and snack staple consists of little steamed cakes made from ground rice and de-husked black lentils that usually come either plain or with a little bit of vegetables scattered about the dough. They are quite porous, and you can eat them with sambar and coconut chutney, as well as other condiments. I actually find them to be a nice light yet satisfying option for lunch.
Cafe Coffee Day above is a Starbucks-like chain in competition with Barista here in India. They tend to serve a rather large menu of cafe fare, and do it well, in addition to other packaged goods like "Pow" masala-spiced potato sticks that I like for their bold seasoning... but I have to side with Barista in my experience so far with the coffee. As far as the Domino's below (in the small mountain town of Mussoorie no less!) the Peppy Paneer and Mexican Green Wave thin crust pies are the way to go. I'm guessing that the medium size is a good two inches smaller in diameter here than in American franchises.
Click here to check out Domino’s India menu, the veg options specifically. It’s so great here for folks who love vegetables and don’t happen to be vegetarian like me! In the U.S., very few restaurant menus have many main dishes dedicated to vegetables. On packaged goods a green dot with a square around it stands for veg, and a red dot, if they contain animal products. Products with eggs will get a red dot, but milk, also an animal bi-product, is actually considered veg (so vegan rules don’t really apply in that sense.)
Bhel puri = puffed rice, bhujia (yellow, crunchy fried gram flour paste, put through a strainer into the hot oil and quickly removed,) diced onion, tomato (roughly chopped,) sliced green chili, coriander flakes, tamarind sauce, chat masala, gram masala, salt/pepper, lime juice, etc. Different varieties depending on what city you are in... I just had one today in Cal that was drier and had roasted peanuts scattered about - it was served in a newspaper pouch (as opposed to the one being prepared above, and featured below that was on a little dried leaf dish.
Just one of the cheeky characters you're bound to encounter on the street...