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A Culinary Journey in India


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#61 docsconz

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 02:51 PM

Fish Amritsari

This fried fish dish originated in the Punjab and can use any firm white-fleshed fish.

The fish fillets are initially marinated for at least 25 minutes in malt vinegar and salt and then pressed gently between napkins or paper towels to remove excess moisture.

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A second marination with ginger and garlic pastes, red chilies, turmeric, S&P, gram flour and water is done for at least twenty minutes.

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The battered fish are deep-fried in ghee

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They are served with chaat masala and lemon wedges

Delicious!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#62 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 07:05 AM

Doc, my mouth is watering at the sight of that scrumptious looking fish. And it's 11:00 pm here and there's absolutely no Indian restaurant where I am located at. *whimper*
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#63 docsconz

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 07:28 AM

Doc, my mouth is watering at the sight of that scrumptious looking fish. And it's 11:00 pm here and there's absolutely no Indian restaurant where I am located at. *whimper*

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Doddie, that fish was wonderful, especially when we had it fresh and hot!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#64 Mallet

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 10:14 AM

Fantastic report and pictures! The Papdi Chaat makes me think of the Indian version of nachos :biggrin:
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#65 insomniac

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 10:58 AM

thank you Doc, this thread has been inspirational...one question.. the second marinade for the fish, when you say water, I presume it is to make a paste, was it quite thick? (2 marinades, what a great idea!)

#66 docsconz

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 11:27 AM

thank you Doc, this thread has been inspirational...one question.. the second marinade for the fish, when you say water, I presume it is to make a paste, was it quite thick? (2 marinades, what a great idea!)

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Thanks! The first photo of the student preparing the fish gives the best visual indication of the thickness. Approximately 100ml of water are added to 50 grams each of garlic and ginger paste, 5 grams of red chili powder, 3 gr of turmeric and 150 gr of gram flour. My recollection is that while it wasn't soupy, it was fairly moist, but dry enough for the batter to adhere to the fish.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#67 docsconz

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 11:28 AM

Fantastic report and pictures! The Papdi Chaat makes me think of the Indian version of nachos  :biggrin:

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Thank you. That chaat was sensational. It was addictive!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#68 docsconz

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 11:57 AM

Aloo Paratha

The breads were delicious as they were throughout our trip. This was fun to watch.

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Heating up the "tawa" pans

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Filling the wholewheat flour based dough The filling was composed of potatoes, ginger, green chilies, coriander, pomegranate seeds, red chili powder and salt.

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Folding over the filling

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Flattening the paratha

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Cooking the parathas on the hot griddles

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Cooked paratha with ghee on top This was cut into triangles and served hot - delicious!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#69 docsconz

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 12:02 PM

Poori

Poori are deep fried breads. These were made with whole wheat flour or atta, water and salt. They were fried in nut oil.

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Rolling balls of dough before rolling them flat

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Frying the poori

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Amazing puffed poori
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#70 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 10:17 AM

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The lunch was a buffet affair prepared by the students. The food was good though less spectacular than what we had freshly made in the demonstration kitchen. The true highlight of the visit was the demonstrations, the interaction with the professors and students and sampling the various dishes prepared in front of us.

Some Dishes from the Buffet Lunch:

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Moti Pulao This was a colorful and flavorful rice pilaf.

Posted Image Red Bean and Sprout Salad Unfortunately, I did not catch its Indian name.

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Boondi Raita Boondi, made from chickpea flour is a typical snack of the Punjab. This raita is typical for festive occasions.

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Pomfret Amritsari

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Paneer Dil-e-bahar

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Chole Pindi. Spicy chickpeas.

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Gobi Dumpukht Cauliflower slow cooked in a dough-sealed earthenware pot called a handi.


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From the school we boarded the bus for a quick city tour. The most interesting sights we breezed by on the bus were the Red Fort, a truly impressive and beautiful structure built by the Moghuls out of red sandstone, a pass through Old Delhi and the Chowdry Chowk market and a quick stop at The India Gate. I did not get the impression that Delhi, Old, New or otherwise was all that spectacularly beautiful as cities go. Unfortunately our guide was pretty bad, presenting us with little information of value and in a very monotonous style. He didn't do much more than tell us about which organizations inhabited the various buildings we passed. He would prove to be the only poor guide of the trip.
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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#71 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 11:04 AM

The evening’s dinner took us to the famous restaurant Bukhara located in the Maurya Sheraton, an interesting building in its own right. Our dinner at Bukhara, rated by Restaurant Magazine as the top restaurant in all of India and one of the top fifty in the world , consisted of Delhi style tandoori and other cooking. Highlights included tandoori cauliflower, chicken, dal, and the breads. The drinks including wine were extremely expensive. I declined to order any.


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Tandoor Cauliflower This was the dish of the evening.

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Raita

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Dal

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Naan

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Tandoori Chicken Surprisingly dry and the biggest disappointment of the evening.

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Pistachio Kulfi Served with noodles made from corn starch and rose syrup.

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Ras Malai These cheese dumplings were textured in such a way that a member of the group compared eating it to eating a loofah. We had these a number of times on the trip subsequent to this. Each time they seemed to get better.

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Kheer Rice Pudding.

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Gulab Jamun Condensed milk dumplings in rose syrup.

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Pan Spiced betel nut chew as an after dinner palate cleanser.

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Bukhara Kitchen

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Chef J.P. Singh speaks with our group.

While the food was very good, I wasn’t blown away by it. In addition I wore a jacket and tie unnecessarily, clothing items that I could have avoided bringing. I am glad that we went, but I don’t think the restaurant provided particularly great value.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#72 bigbear

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 11:20 AM

Thanks, Doc. As always, great reporting.

-- Jeff

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#73 slschnur

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 03:11 PM

We got last-minute reservations at Bukhara in February, through a friend who pulled some strings. We were both very disappointed in the food and service (and prices as well). My pomfret (can't remember now exactly how it was cooked) was overcooked & underseasoned & my husband's meat platter was just undistinguished. The food wasn't bad, but after all the hype, it was a great disappointment.

#74 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 04:14 PM

We got last-minute reservations at Bukhara in February, through a friend who pulled some strings.  We were both very disappointed in the food and service (and prices as well).  My pomfret (can't remember now exactly how it was cooked) was overcooked & underseasoned & my husband's meat platter was just undistinguished.  The food wasn't bad, but after all the hype, it was a great disappointment.

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Although overpriced, I can't say that my meal was bad, but no way can it be the best restaurant in India let alone all of Asia as Restaurant Magazine would have us believe. Frankly, I would be shocked it it is the best restaurant in Delhi!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#75 prasantrin

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 04:38 PM

How was the tandoor cauliflower prepared? It looks almost like a samosa--was it wrapped in something and then put in the tandoor?

You don't by chance have any pictures of sari shops, do you? I love the vibrant colours and billowing fabrics. And given your photography skills, I'd love to see what you could do with the subject. :smile:

#76 OnigiriFB

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 04:58 PM

Thank you so much for taking us on a voyage of delightful eating and culture. I always hated the thought of going to India but I think I take everything back now seeing this travelogue. I want to go so bad now. I loved the pool with the lotuses reminds me of home around Ayutthaya. Dangnabit! I want Indian... like what you had!!!!!! I would be like you so spoiled after eating "real" Indian food. :wub:

#77 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 05:32 PM

Doc,

Nice work.

Just out of interest, and knowing that you spend alot of time in Manhattan, where I have a very difficult time ordering drinks (though I do it anyway, most of the time) because I know that I can often BUY a bottle of whatever the main ingredient for a cocktail is at twice the price of said cocktail...

How much is too much in India? :shock:

Edited by Mayhaw Man, 14 June 2008 - 05:33 PM.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

#78 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 05:56 PM

Doc, your latest culinary trip has me fully enthralled (and I still have visions of the chiles and moles from your trip to Mexico). I love the behind-the-scenes photos and the pictures of fruits on the vine (or tree, as the case may be). I also appreciate the evenhanded appraisal of your experiences.

Your pictures show that males are well-represented in cooking school and restaurant kitchens, but I had the impression (perhaps incorrect) that women do most of the home cooking in India. Did you catch any discussion about this interesting split?

Anyway, your photographic eye is keen as always. As beautiful as many of the finished dishes look, I was particularly drawn to the mise-en-place photos - so much flavor, just waiting to be unleashed.

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#79 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 06:48 PM

How was the tandoor cauliflower prepared?  It looks almost like a samosa--was it wrapped in something and then put in the tandoor?

You don't by chance have any pictures of sari shops, do you?  I love the vibrant colours and billowing fabrics.  And given your photography skills, I'd love to see what you could do with the subject.  :smile:

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The cauliflower was battered and deep fried before being finished in the tandoor.

While I don't have photos of saris per se, I do have some fabric photos that I'll post at the appropriate times.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#80 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 06:50 PM

Thank you so much for taking us on a voyage of delightful eating and culture. I always hated the thought of going to India but I think I take everything back now seeing this travelogue. I want to go so bad now. I loved the pool with the lotuses reminds me of home around Ayutthaya. Dangnabit! I want Indian... like what you had!!!!!! I would be like you so spoiled after eating "real" Indian food.  :wub:

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Thanks for reading! Julie Sahni runs some trips to India on her own that I'm sure would be excellent as well.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#81 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 06:56 PM

Doc,

Nice work.

Just out of interest, and knowing that you spend alot of time in Manhattan, where I have a very difficult time ordering drinks (though I do it anyway, most of the time) because I know that I can often BUY a bottle of whatever the main ingredient for a cocktail is at twice the price of said cocktail...

How much is too much in India?  :shock:

View Post


I did not pay for the meal directly, but I recall looking at the menu and being very impressed by the prices. With the exxchange at the time, the raita was around $16/bowl or something like that. The meats were in the $30-40 range if memory serves me. The wines and other beverages were quite high though I no longer remember any specifics. I don't mind spending money on food and wine (obviously, I think :blink: ), but I do not like being taken advantage of. That was the impression that I had at the time of Bukhara. It charges relatively high prices because of its reputation. Thus is the power of the market. It is very good, but I do not think that it is that good. Based on its reputation and its relative cost it should have been the best meal of the trip by far. Not even close. I hope that I answered your question, Brooks.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#82 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 07:00 PM

Doc, your latest culinary trip has me fully enthralled (and I still have visions of the chiles and moles from your trip to Mexico). I love the behind-the-scenes photos and the pictures of fruits on the vine (or tree, as the case may be). I also appreciate the evenhanded appraisal of your experiences.

Your pictures show that males are well-represented in cooking school and restaurant kitchens, but I had the impression (perhaps incorrect) that women do most of the home cooking in India. Did you catch any discussion about this interesting split?

Anyway, your photographic eye is keen as always. As beautiful as many of the finished dishes look, I was particularly drawn to the mise-en-place photos - so much flavor, just waiting to be unleashed.

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Thanks, Bruce. I think it depends on the class of the home whether women do most of the cooking or not. As you will see, we ate in a few homes, most of them upper-caste. Though the ladies of the houses tended to run the kitchens, much of the actual cooking in those situations was done by (hired) males. I'm not sure that is typical in most homes, however.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#83 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 07:40 PM

DAY SEVEN: Saturday, March 8

I had a light breakfast as this was the first day that I felt that my blood sugar was somewhat of an issue. The previous day was very sedentary with a lot of food spread throughout the day. I woke up early to urinate and had some frequency to follow. Fortunately, this would not be a big day of eating as it would be a travel day to Varanasi.

Since it was Saturday, the traffic flowed smoothly, so our trip to the airport was uneventful as was our flight to Varanasi. The passengers were much more varied ethnically than was apparent on other flights. In particular, there appeared to be a large number of Japanese passengers on board the plane. The explanation for this is that Sarnath, a site just outside of Varanasi , is the site where Buddha gave his first sermon. The site is therefore of major significance to Buddhists of all nationalities.

It was quite hot and dusty as we descended from the plane. We collected our baggage and piled into the bus. This one was somewhat better than the dirty, smelly one of Delhi, though it was not quite as nice as the one in Kerala. The drive to the hotel was eye-opening. The traffic flowed at a crawl as the road was filled with trucks and vehicles of all types . This enabled us to get a good view of the countryside and villages as they limped past. It was already apparent that this would be an India different than what we had already seen, only we were yet to realize how different.
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Once again our arrival at the hotel was met with ceremony. In addition to the forehead tikka, we received a necklace. This time instead of a flower garland, it was a beaded necklace in colors chosen to complement the clothing we were wearing. In my case since I was wearing light green clothes, I received a lovely string of sea green beads. The mint based welcome drink was less sweet and more refreshing than others that we have received. Posted ImageThe hotel itself was old, but quite charming. The grounds were beautifully landscaped with the grandest collection of flowering plants , especially dahlias, that I have come across so far on this trip. My room was comfortably appointed and pretty, number 403.

Edited by docsconz, 14 June 2008 - 07:42 PM.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#84 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 07:46 PM

We had a chance to freshen up and relax a little before meeting up with our guide, Manu, a Brahmin and teacher with a degree in archaeology, met us and continued a lecture in the bus that he had started on the trip from the airport on the nature of Hunduism, Buddhism and Islam and their relation to Varanasi. As we headed to Sarnath, the place of Buddha’s first sermon in the 5th century BC, he focused on the life story of Siddhartha, the Buddha’s given name, from his birth as a Hindu, the crown prince of the land, in a forest, walking immediately upon birth with lotus blossoms springing up under his steps to his youthful seclusion in the palace, to his venturing forth with a servant and discovering old age and death, to his marriage and son to his venturing forth into a life of asceticism fasting for 60 days reaching enlightenment or “nirvana” to his first sermon at Sarnath, a deer park, to his death and ultimate release from the cycle of life and death. His lecture was truly fascinating. It was continued in the Archaeological Museum at Sarnath at which, unfortunately no electronics were allowed.

The museum was fascinating, holding the stonework that is the symbol of India, the Lion Capitol of Asoka, whose image is visible on each Indian banknote. The sandstone capitol, built by the devout Buddhist Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC to honor the Buddha had a special polish, the formula of which has been lost and unable to be reproduced after the time period that the capitol was built. Because of this, the capitol has a shine that has not been produced on sandstone since. For such an old piece, it is also in remarkable condition. From that piece, Manu, showed us and explained in wonderful detail several other pieces in the museum. This was truly the finest lecture I have heard in some time. It was so good that Manu attracted a crowd, including two young students from Varanasi. They were so into what Manu was saying, they followed us through the museum tour listening intently, nodding in understanding with genuine broad smiles and bright eyes. Once we had some free time to explore the museum, I struck up a conversation with the two friendly students, who proceeded to show me some other significant pieces of the museum, which they come to at least once or twice per week. Though they themselves are Hindu and not Buddhist, their reverence for Buddha is strong as Buddha remains a key figure in the Hindu religion representing the ninth embodiment of Vishnu, one of the three principle gods of Hinduism. From the museum we would proceed to the archaeological site of Sarnath where Buddha’s first sermon was to have taken place. The students were so genuinely fascinated and friendly that after asking Manu, I invited them to join us at the archaeological site for further lectures.

The archaeological site was the deer park of Buddha’s first sermon. It was also the home of a number of monuments built by the Ashoka, called stupas. The original site of the Lions was here, part of the original pillar still present and visible. We saw a number of Buddhist monks wearing the burgundy robes of the Tibetan order and the orange robes of the Sri Lankan order amongst the pilgrims. The Dhamek Stupa, the largest in existence is supposed to provide good karma to those who walk around it in a circle. Of course, I did so several times.
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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#85 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:03 PM

From the stupa, we took the bus over to a nearby Buddhist temple from the Sri Lankan order of monks, This famous temple, Mulagandhakuti Vihara, has a mural inside painted in the 1930’s by a well-known Japanese painter, Kosetsu Nosu. We were allowed to visit the altar and its golden statue of Buddha.
Posted ImageThe whole thing was quite moving as we were there as the sun began to set. Our return drive to the hotel once again gave a sense of the perpetual motion of this city sacred to so many people.

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On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the Mehta Silk Works, which specializes in the ancient and dying art of brocade. We enjoyed a demonstration of the process as well as a display of their wares.
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A number of us spent a few rupees on their fine products. In addition to what I bought there, I obtained several swatches of silk to bring home with the idea of choosing and ordering material for curtains.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#86 docsconz

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Posted 14 June 2008 - 08:21 PM

Before dinner we were treated to a lecture on Vedism by the Swami Anant S. Shastri. He explained that the ancient roots of India stem from Vedic culture. These are captured in two major epics, one of which is the Mahabharata, which convey the Baghavad Ghita or Laws of Karma as seen by the Vedics. He explained that the Vedas have two essential elements, those of knowledge and ritual. He explained that struggle is life and life is struggle. The Ghitas themselves do not espouse any particular religion. Instead, he says, they are a guide for life. He continued to explain that there are five universal noble forces, the first of which is “Dharma” or “law eternal”, from which all the universe is created. From law comes faith, then truth and love divine. These “noble forces” are constantly up against a multitude of evil forces, however, the noble forces are strong as exemplified by the fact that “even a small lamp can defeat a large amount of darkness.” The Ghita says, according to Sri Shastri that the approach to life should always be positive. One should always fight defensively to support noble forces rather than to initiate fights against evil forces since one “can not eliminate darkness.” Shastri was dressed in traditional garb of India with large, colorful markings painted across his forehead. He spoke in slow measured tones that sometimes made me threaten to nod off, but his message was quite interesting , especially in light of the dark times our world faces at present. It was truly food for thought.

We followed with a vegetarian Ayurvedic dinner. Vegetarian in India does not mean “Vegan” as within most of the vegetarian cultures milk and even fish and sometimes fowl products are often served. The universal vegetarian taboo is meat flesh. Within the Ayurvedic culture, milk based products such as yogurt and paneer are welcome, however, plant products like onions and garlic are not as they are felt to stimulate an appetite for meat. Our dinner at the hotel was served on individual silver thalis, trays with a variety of small cups containing samples of dishes. Among the most interesting was one containing jackfruit and another with dal.

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Thali

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Raw Vegetables

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Jackfruit

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Peas and Paneer

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Ras Malai

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Dal

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Raita
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#87 Episure

Episure
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Posted 14 June 2008 - 09:33 PM

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Translated
Chowmein, Italy(probably Idli), Egg Roll and Pepsi in the background.
That's a fine example of Globalisation :laugh:

OTOH he seems too be making only samosas, pakoras and kachoris.

Edited by Episure, 14 June 2008 - 09:37 PM.

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja
http://www.gourmetindia.com

#88 Mayhaw Man

Mayhaw Man
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Posted 14 June 2008 - 10:49 PM

I hope that I answered your question, Brooks.

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As always. Thanks.

And I would have been with you on that particular decision-until the spices got to me. At that point, it's every man for himself. :wink:
Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

#89 docsconz

docsconz
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Posted 15 June 2008 - 07:32 AM

Posted Image

Translated
Chowmein, Italy(probably Idli), Egg Roll and Pepsi in the background.
That's a fine example of Globalisation  :laugh:

OTOH he seems too be making only samosas, pakoras and kachoris.

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Thanks for the translation. That's funny! :laugh:

I wish that I had more of a stomach for trying some of the street food. I particularly enjoy samosas, but I was warned against buying them from the street as they tend to be made in advance and sit there in the heat with ingredients like potatoes that are great culture media. A few other fellow travelers were inveterate street food eaters, though, without apparent ill effects.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#90 docsconz

docsconz
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Posted 15 June 2008 - 08:05 AM

DAY EIGHT: Sunday March 9

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Sunrise on the Ganges overlooking the Ghats of Varanasi: this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We left the hotel around 5:45 AM to head over to the Ganges in Varanasi. The sky was already lightening with an eerie color. Our bus took us to a certain point from which we had to walk. The path down to the Ganges was bathed in orange light from the sky with people in various modes of dress, costume, face paint and infirmity moving in various directions and selling a number of items for worship, ritual or sustenance as well as items for daily living such as toothbrush twigs from the neem tree. Manu said that this wood has medicinal and antiseptic qualities. He purchased some, which he gave a sample of to each of us.

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Preparing Neem Toothbrushes


The scene as we reached the top of the steps was surreal. The sides of the path downward towards the river was lined by people of extreme poverty, with a variety of infirmities, while the ground was littered with the personal detritus of people and animals all the while filled with sounds of drums, chants and horns. The sheer number of people was increasing by the minute with a palpable excitement in the air as the devout Hindus arrived at this magical spot. It was indeed magical despite the filth, squalor and poverty. Manu stopped to describe and illuminate what we were seeing. He told us about the meaning of the umbrellas along the shore of the Ganges, that they were places for Brahmins or priests from around the Hindu world so that pilgrims from various regions and with various languages could come and connect with one of their own.

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We eventually made our way to a boat that had been hired for us to take us out into the Ganges. As we entered the area of the boat we were blessed with a tikka from a Varanasi Brahmin. Shortly after we boarded the long row boat with two oarsman in the front and a helmsman in the back. The scene as we made our way into the river was otherworldly as the sun rose over the far side. Its light illuminated the bathers descending into the water as well as those arriving on the steps and celebrating their good karma. There were multicolored saris, long white beards and sounds of rhythmic chanting.

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Once we were out in the river we received a flower garland and a candle boat from Manu. The candle was for us to float out into the Ganges in order for us to send good messages to the departed. The light of the sun was getting stronger, casting a warm glow on the shore of the Ghats. It happened to be a tripmate’s birthday. He was honored with special beads in addition to his garland , a special vermilion tikka and a chanted rite to celebrate his good karma. This was a thrill not just for him, but for all of us as we were able to share in his glow.

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We eventually made our way to a cremation site at which several were already underway and another commencing. We were asked not to take photos of this ritual. As we headed back several boats came by to sell beads and trinkets. We slowly made our way back to the shore above the place at which we boarded. We arrived back on shore to wander the narrow streets of this ancient city eventually arriving at the area of the Hindu Golden Temple. This is an area in dispute between Hindus and Muslims. The original Hindu Temple was replaced by a mosque centuries ago when control of the city was wrested from the Hindus by the Muslim Moghuls. The Hindus now wish to reclaim the site while the Muslims wish to retain it. As a consequence security is extremely high with no allowance for any electronics or cameras as we were searched before entering the central area. As it was, all we could do was get a glimpse of both the temple and the mosque from a distance.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz