Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

A food tour through (mostly) southern India.


sartoric
 Share

Recommended Posts

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.

 

 

 

 

Edited by sartoric
Remove photos, take time to read how to use this software. (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

IMG_3360.JPG

 

IMG_3362.JPGIMG_3364.JPG

 

DSC07652.JPG

 

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

 

IMG_3383.JPG

 

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.

DSC07655.JPG

IMG_3369.JPG

Food close up.

IMG_3379.JPG

 

  • Like 13
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.  

 

  • Like 1

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

 

suprise.gif

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.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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 !

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

DSC07708.JPGDSC07705.JPGDSC07707.JPG

 

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.

IMG_3426.JPG

 

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

IMG_3427.JPG

 

Dessert was trifle (no photo). 

 

Beautiful period details abound here.

IMG_3434.JPG

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

 

IMG_3396.JPG

 

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

IMG_3428.JPG

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@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.

IMG_3354.JPG

 

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?

  • Like 2

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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....

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

DSC07753.JPG

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

IMG_3457.JPGIMG_3458.JPG

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

IMG_3488.JPG

 

Eggs.

DSC07802.JPG

 

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

 

Dried chillies.DSC07816.JPG

Banana leaf plates.DSC07803.JPG

 

Randoms.

IMG_3485.JPGDSC07796.JPGDSC07798.JPG

 

Tumeric for road painting.IMG_3489.JPG

  • Like 13
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@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.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

  • Like 3

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      This almost had me in tears of nostalgia. My London home is a few minutes walk from here and I love the place. So glad to hear it seems to be being protected from developers, as I had heard it was under threat.   Wonderful food, too. Mostly vegetarian, which I'm decidedly not, but will happily eat from time to time.   London's most authentic Indian food?    
       
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and lead us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...