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eG Food Blog: Percyn (2011)


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Alcuin set a high bar indeed via posts of succulent braised dishes so perfectly executed that I found myself craving them in 95F weather :laugh: .

And now for something a little different ...

The plan is for this to be a travelblog of my visit to India, where I am visiting friends and family and conducting some business.

I hope to provide a "behind the scenes" look at a typical Parsi household (if there is such a thing) and the various culinary delights that can be found in and around Bombay / Mumbai.

We will visit street vendors as well as fine dining establishments. We will also get to visit a "hill station" (Panchgani) which is where Bombayites escape the 90+F year-around temperatures. The tranquility is also a much needed relief from the hustle and bustle of the city.

This time of the year, Diwali or the festival of lights is celebrated, so I hope to be able to capture of few images of that as well.

Above all, I would like the blog to be interactive but ask for your patience as my response times will be subject to timezone and internet connectivity as I hop between 3 locations.

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So let me start this excursion by giving you a first person perspective and walk you through my trip starting with the day of departure. Shortly after waking, my mind starting to think about what breakfast food items I would miss during the 3 weeks I would be traveling. Would it be sausage, egg and cheese on Texas toasts? Truffle omelettes? Pancakes?... the list was getting longer and time was running out. So I made a quick decision to grab some fluffy McDonald's hotcakes for breakfast while running for errands.

A little last minute packing and it was time for lunch. Met a group of co-workers at Han Dynasty in Royersford for my weekly Sichuan food fix. For those who are not familiar with Han, he is a local character who operates 3 Sichuan restaurants in the area and the thing that makes him

famous - or infamous - is that he really speaks his might. When Craig Laban, the Philadelphia Inquirer food critic visited one of his restuarants, he recanted his "encounter" with Han where he was told not to order the "Americanized" items from the menu because - IT WAS SHIT! His refreshingly honest attitude along with a nack for seeking out some of the best Sichuan chefs in the area has made him somewhat of a culinary celebrity.

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With my belly satisfied, I went back home to wait to await the car which was taking me to the airport. Upon arriving at the airport and checking in, I found myself resuming my hunt for food which I would miss during my travels. So I stopped at the Legal Seafoods restaurant at the airport and ordered a lobster roll.

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My flightpath took me from PHL-BOS-FRA-BOM mostly on Lufthansa, just over 24hrs door to door. I am glad I had that lobster roll as the lounge at Boston and Frankfurt were devoid of any culinary delights and while the in flight meals were edible, I did find myself whether I was hungry enough to eat, which is very atypical for me.

I had documented what they served on the flight, but alas, I left my brand new Canon camera on the plane. The camera Gods don't seem to be with me as I even dropped my Nikon D-SLR and the lense seems to have lost its autofocus. So I appologize for the quality of the pics as some of them are taken on my iPhone and other via a digital video camera. I plan to buy another camera soon, hopefully half way through the blog. Its hard to plan when you are a guest and don't have access to your own transportation.

A few shots from the plane as we were landing, I believe.

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India is a very beautiful country with many virtues, though for those who have not visited Mumbai, or any large city in India - the first few hours can be a shock to all senses. If you think time square is crowded, multiply that by a factor of 3. The cabbies and pedestrians make their New York counterparts seem like law abiding saints. The most important and functional part on a vehicle is not its brake but rather the horn, which is constantly tweeting in the background and used as a kind of sonar for nearby vehicles.

I was greeted at the airport by my brother, sister in law and nephew.

Since it was past 2am and I was tired, we headed home for a few hours of shut eye.

One of the great things about the typical Indian household is that the roti is made fresh every day, sometimes couple times a day. As in this case, the roti can be crisped up to create a snack with tea in the morning.

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A few hours later we ate Akoori, one of the famous Parsi style eggs for breakfast. The Parsi's are known for their love of eggs and mainly non-veg diet in a country where majority of the population is vegetarian.

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Yeah, those rotis look very different to the standard chapati or tandoori roti, they almost look like parathas. For the record, I'd like to see as much proper Parsi food as possible (like dansak perhaps?) as I think it's one of the least represented Indian cuisines in the West. Lots of photos of Bombay would be great too!

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Actually "roti" is a generic name for wheat flour based bread which is made on a tava.

These would also be called chapati. It is made with wheat flour, a few tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt. The dough is then flattened with a rolling pin and puffed until brown on a cast iron pan.

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Looking forward to this, a great week to be in India! Thing are pretty hectic in Allahabad so it must be insane in Mumbai!

Btw, I would argue that it is a fallacy that most of India's population is vegetarian. The figures I have seen range from 30-50% as vegetarians. Of course, for many people meat consumption is limited by income.

Oh, and whilst you are in Maharashtria, will you please eat a vada pav for me? Cannot get satisfcatory ones around here :(

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I'm looking forward to this, because I've been missing India a lot lately!

I got married there early last year and for our honeymoon we had a road trip from Gujarat down to Mahabaleshwar, stopping along the way in Mumbai, Pune and the hill stations. India is such an amazing place, we made our way stopping to eat at random restaurants every now and then, all of which had food much better than any place here in England and gorging ourselves on the amazing Figs, Strawberries and Mulberries that old ladies were selling on the side of the highway. Needless to say we are saving up so we can head back next year hopefully!

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Can't wait to follow along this week! I know almost nothing about the wide and varied world of Indian food, and absolutely nothing about Parsi food, so I'm looking forward to learning lots of new and interesting things. No pressure though :laugh:

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

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Yeah, those rotis look very different to the standard chapati or tandoori roti, they almost look like parathas. For the record, I'd like to see as much proper Parsi food as possible (like dansak perhaps?) as I think it's one of the least represented Indian cuisines in the West. Lots of photos of Bombay would be great too!

Yes, Dhansak was on my list of things to make as well as a few other items like Saaus Nu Machi (Fish in sweet sour white sauce).

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Looking forward to this, a great week to be in India! Thing are pretty hectic in Allahabad so it must be insane in Mumbai!

Btw, I would argue that it is a fallacy that most of India's population is vegetarian. The figures I have seen range from 30-50% as vegetarians. Of course, for many people meat consumption is limited by income.

Oh, and whilst you are in Maharashtria, will you please eat a vada pav for me? Cannot get satisfcatory ones around here :(

Jenni,

Streets are filled with vendors decorating their stalls with bright shiny lights.

Traffic in Mumbai is crazier than usual.

I am now convinced that India is a country of faith - not just religious faith, but also faith that there is an invisible shield of protection that covers the vehicle you operate as it comes hurling onto incoming traffic and pedestrians play a real life version of the game Frogger.

Yes, you are correct that meat consumption is limited by income, but I am surprised to see that only 30%-50% of Indians are vegetarians.

Jenni, may I request you to be the resident Indian expert and keep me honest through the blog?

ETA: I must have read your mind as I had excellent Vada Pau in Pune yesterday. Will post the pics shortly.

Edited by percyn (log)
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Tea or Cha / Chai is very common and usually your day begins with a cup followed by a cup every few hours. The afternoon tea also some with some snacks as dinner is usually eaten around 9pm - 10pm.

Each region or even family has a way to make tea. We usually make boil black darjeeling tea with mint and what in Gujrati we call "Leelu Chai", which translates to green tea but actually refers to the green leafs of a plant similar to a mild lemon grass. I hope to be able to post a pic of this later.

Here my morning tea was accompanied by Batasa or small biscuits which you dunk in the tea and enjoy.

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Of course this has to be followed by some sort of egg - in this case a Parsi Poro or omelette.

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while enjoying the Mumbai view on a rare clear day.

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I'm looking forward to this, because I've been missing India a lot lately!

I got married there early last year and for our honeymoon we had a road trip from Gujarat down to Mahabaleshwar, stopping along the way in Mumbai, Pune and the hill stations. India is such an amazing place, we made our way stopping to eat at random restaurants every now and then, all of which had food much better than any place here in England and gorging ourselves on the amazing Figs, Strawberries and Mulberries that old ladies were selling on the side of the highway. Needless to say we are saving up so we can head back next year hopefully!

Sabiha, glad to hear you had a good time. I will get leaving for Panchgani, which is maybe 20-25km from Mahableshwar shortly and hope to post about the berries and lots of pics.

Stay tuned...lots of catching up to do.

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