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A food tour through (mostly) southern India.


sartoric
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6 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

@sartoric Thanks for this wonderful display! It is 45 years since I was in that part of the world. Memories are flooding back. 

Absolutely love the beetroot pakoras. I would never have thought of them!

 

Looking forward to your take on Sri Lanka. I loved it in 1972, the year it changed from Ceylon. It's been through bad times since, but is hopefully recovering. Its food was wonderful. Maybe the most beautiful place I have been.

It might be quite some time @liuzhou, while Sri Lanka is on the list, it's a very long list.

 

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, sartoric said:

t might be quite some time @liuzhou, while Sri Lanka is on the list, it's a very long list.


That's OK. I'm not going anywhere!
 

It took me half a year to get through India before hitting Sri Lanka for Christmas, so I understand.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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A special lunch of traditional South Indian thali in the Chettinad region. The venue is a beautiful colonial mansion originally built for Raman Chettiar in the early 1900's. It's now a luxury hotel property Chidambaram Vilas.

 

First a tour of the property, including the original outdoor kitchen with displays of grinding stones, the well, cooking utensils and typical spices.

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Lunch was served on a banana leaf, rasa soup in a silver cup, beer in a silver tankard.

 

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There were three kinds of rice, chicken in gravy, a whole fried fish, several veggies (including chokoe which was amazing), dal, pickles, chutneys, vada, and pappads. We ate with the constant attention of two young waiters watching for every opportunity to refill our leaf.

 

Here's the main dining hall complete with Belgian chandeliers, Italian tiles, and teak ceilings, plus a gratuitous shot of the pool.

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Food close up.

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This is a wonderful vicarious tour; your photos are very evocative. I love Indian food, and yet have barely scratched the surface of making it for myself. The food here may inspire me to get with the program!

 

I don't suppose there was explanation of the grinders?  I'm intrigued by the different sizes and wonder about their different purposes. Can you remember whether the middle one has a very shallow depression, or is it flat for rolling, say, breads? 

 

Like rotuts, I want to know more about those bins' content!  It reminds me to things I'd see in the Cairo spice markets.  Bins of spices shared shelves with bins of hair pigment and, for all I know, more noxious substances.  

 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
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4 hours ago, rotuts said:

what are these ?

 

Spice?.jpg

 

thank you again for including us w your trip.

 

Id suggest to your group that you start a new trip much sooner than later.

 

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The left hand two columns are different lentils/split peas. The black one (top left hand corner) is urad dal, an important ingredient in the making of dosa and idly...it's soaked and ground with rice, then left to ferment. The rest are spices, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, fenugreek & dried chillies, all feature prominently in South Indian cooking. Wait til you see the spice plantations we visit later !

 

Our group is only the two of us. He who must be fed has only 0.39 days of annual leave available. So sadly, it will be at least six months before the next trip. It will feature food though wherever it is.

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Thank you @Smithy, we didn't get an explanation of the individual grinders, and I don't remember whether that is a depression or shadow.  It could very well be for rolling small bread. I have lots of market shots coming up soon.

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1 hour ago, Nyleve Baar said:

Are you going to Madurai? We had a wonderful street food tour there a few years ago. The city itself has an unbelieveable temple and the food was amazing.

Ha ha @Nyleve Baar, the street food tour is coming up soon !

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We stayed two nights at The Bangala in Karaikudi. It was the first heritage property to be restored and converted to a hotel, (in 1999 by it's original owners). It is known for it's cuisine, with Madame Meyyappam (now 84) co-authoring a cookbook The Bangala Table. The book was too heavy to carry home (we travel very light) so I've bought a copy on Amazon and anticipate the arrival. They do offer cooking classes in the kitchen pictured below. We didn't really have long enough to take one.

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There is no a la carte menu, you can have the traditional thali for lunch, or a four course set menu for dinner. We couldn't contemplate dinner the first night after our food fest at Chidambaram Vilas, but did manage the second night.

 

They offer a fusion Western/Indian dinner.

The first course was a broccoli cream soup with very good baguette (no photo).

The second course was prawn masala, sautéed mushrooms, strawberry and beetroot salad with paratha.

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The main was quail in gravy, vegetable masala, dal and fragrant rice.

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Dessert was trifle (no photo). 

 

Beautiful period details abound here.

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I forgot to mention breakfast, this is dosa, not the first and certainly not the last. Seen here with black rice and tomato chutney.  Frustrating that they serve in dribs and drabs, there was more that ended up on my plate.

 

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These little morsels of deliciousness are paniyaram, flavoured with spring onions and herbs, served with tomato chutney.

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@sartoric, thank you so much for sharing your experiences in India! I feel so fortunate to be included in your experiences there, and I'm enjoying every word and beautiful photograph. Some of them of larger scope need to be popped out (right click the image in the post, select Open Link in Another Tab) to show detail, and the detail is breathtaking!

 

On 2/8/2017 at 1:53 AM, sartoric said:

Pakoras with beetroot and a dipping sauce.

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I have a question about the image above, and please don't take this the wrong way. I love Indian food, but am still very ignorant about it and the terminology. So many names for just breads alone! I thought I had a small part of Indian cuisine down, though, and am seeking an education here. I would have called your beet pastry a samosa, and I thought pakoras were shredded or finely cut ingredients mixed up with besan (chick pea) flour batter like we would call fritters here in the Southern USA. Or we have what are called chili pakoras made with whole chilis stem and all dipped in this gram flour batter and fried. Whatever they are called, both are delicious, but I like to know what I'm ordering, and there are so many things I'm still confused about. I'm sure I'm not the only one reading along that would like to learn more about Indian food.

 

Am I wrong in thinking that samosas are wheat pastry wrapped around fillings and pakoras are chick pea flour fritters?

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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32 minutes ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

@sartoric, thank you so much for sharing your experiences in India! I feel so fortunate to be included in your experiences there, and I'm enjoying every word and beautiful photograph. Some of them of larger scope need to be popped out (right click the image in the post, select Open Link in Another Tab) to show detail, and the detail is breathtaking!

 

 

I have a question about the image above, and please don't take this the wrong way. I love Indian food, but am still very ignorant about it and the terminology. So many names for just breads alone! I thought I had a small part of Indian cuisine down, though, and am seeking an education here. I would have called your beet pastry a samosa, and I thought pakoras were shredded or finely cut ingredients mixed up with besan (chick pea) flour batter like we would call fritters here in the Southern USA. Or we have what are called chili pakoras made with whole chilis stem and all dipped in this gram flour batter and fried. Whatever they are called, both are delicious, but I like to know what I'm ordering, and there are so many things I'm still confused about. I'm sure I'm not the only one reading along that would like to learn more about Indian food.

 

Am I wrong in thinking that samosas are wheat pastry wrapped around fillings and pakoras are chick pea flour fritters?

 

I agree they look like samosa, terminology can be loose here or I might have just got it wrong. The pakoras you refer to are known as pakoda here. Almost everything has multiple different spellings....

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20 hours ago, Smithy said:

This is a wonderful vicarious tour; your photos are very evocative. I love Indian food, and yet have barely scratched the surface of making it for myself. The food here may inspire me to get with the program!

 

I don't suppose there was explanation of the grinders?  I'm intrigued by the different sizes and wonder about their different purposes. Can you remember whether the middle one has a very shallow depression, or is it flat for rolling, say, breads? 

 

Like rotuts, I want to know more about those bins' content!  It reminds me to things I'd see in the Cairo spice markets.  Bins of spices shared shelves with bins of hair pigment and, for all I know, more noxious substances.  

 

The granite slab with the shallow depression is used for fine grinding. The stone roller is used to scrape the foodstuff across the flat surface. The effect at the interface is the same as that achieved by a twisting motion when using a mortar and pestle.

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Thanks for chiming in @Kerala, we did spend a week in Kerala, a vast contrast to Tamil Nadu, but still lovely.

 

For this part of our trip we had a car and driver, who was excellent btw. As he got to know us, a coffee stop became par for the course. Usually at places like this... Later I would learn to make Keralan coffee.

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Dinner at the Palmtree Restaurant in Madurai, a halal, barbecue joint.

 

Veg cutlets with cauliflower masala, followed by pepper chicken fry with salad and chips. I detest green capsicum, so passed on the salad. Washed down with refreshing lime salt sodas.

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A "Watching the city wake up" tour in Madurai. Still dark at 5.45 am, we are led by torch through narrow alleys and busy streets. Here we learn about the art of Kolam (where women clean the street in front of their house and apply a closed loop design with chalk, sometimes also turmeric and saffron), the cow family relationship, house styles, many other things, and hit the wholesale and retail markets. The line between the two was blurred.

Betel leaves.

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Eggs.

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Bananas (we each tried a red one, yummy).DSC07805.JPGDSC07804.JPG

 

Dried chillies.DSC07816.JPG

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Randoms.

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Tumeric for road painting.IMG_3489.JPG

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@KennethT, that's correct, and many places were strictly vegetarian. Some of our meals were at hotels or resorts that cater to western tourists, so had options for meat eaters. He who must be fed is a devout carnivore (although less so now) and would naturally gravitate to meat options.

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Thank you so much! Your "city waking up" reminds me strongly of a section in the comic "Corridor" by Sarnath Banerjee, mostly set in Delhi/New Delhi, even though the cityscape there is more Muslim.

Those front door/gate designs are made with chalk? I read somewhere that they were traditionally made with rice flour, as an offering to insects (and maybe birds?) and  that this was one custom that some people still like to maintain in cities. When discussing traditions that are and are not maintained in cities, students were really puzzled about this, trying to figure out how "attracting insects to a food source" could fit in with urban life. Puzzle solved!

By the way, I don't see that many women in your photos, except around market stalls. Is that the impression that you get when you are actually in the streets? And is it any different in Kerala from Tamil Nadu?

Thank you for the Kerala photos too, I have often wondered how different those regions would be.

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3 minutes ago, helenjp said:

By the way, I don't see that many women in your photos, except around market stalls. Is that the impression that you get when you are actually in the streets? And is it any different in Kerala from Tamil Nadu?

 

I was just thinking the same. In my markets here in China, the vast majority of vendors (not to mention customers) are women.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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