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A food tour through (mostly) southern India.


sartoric
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On to the sacred city of Varanasi for proof that cows do eat garbage.

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We took a walk with a charming young man from Varanasi Walks, highly recommended. This is top of the milk.

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The flower market where we climbed to a second storey for the crowd shot.

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A lassi each at the famous Blue Lassi, 80 flavours on the menu, each made to order in a one time use terracotta cup.

His is strawberry and chocolate, mine is pomegranate and pistachio.

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The Ganges View hotel is housed in a beautifully restored colonial era mansion. In deference to the sacred river only vegetarian food is served, all prepared without the use of garlic or onions. There is no liquor license (which doesn't mean you can't get a beer smuggled up to the top terrace).

 

Breakfast pooris, with veg masala and a spicy chutney.

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Dinner is a set menu served buffet style with some shared tables in this gorgeous room.

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One of the dinners, chapattis and pappad, perfumed rice, cauliflower curry, tomatoes stuffed with chickpeas and coconut, pea curry, masala dal, paneer masala, a salad with tomato, daikon and fruit curd, plus tamarind pickle. This is served with water, and followed by a vermicelli pudding, round sweets made with coconut, white chocolate and a filling of apple purée, then coffee. At 350 rupees per person, it's a real bargain. 

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All of the properties that line the Ganges toe the line as far as reverence to the holy sites, sort of.

We had a late afternoon snack at this place, masala pappads and a beverage. Not beer (much).

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Our last meal in India, technically not, we're at 35,000 ft on the way to Singapore.

Hey, we are flying with Air India, so to me it still counted. The choice was veg or chicken, we both went the veg.

IMG_3191.JPGCan't remember the last time I finished an airline meal, and I don't think I've ever said "that was great".

 

Thanks for letting me relive what was an extraordinary time in India. Here's a favourite photo !

Happy travels.....

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Edited by sartoric
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Yay! Thank you so much @sartoric for sharing your amazing trip to far India with us. I will never be able to go, so it means so much to me to share your experiences and learn more about the food and culture.

 

I have a question about the flower market. I was expecting bouquet sprays, but your photos seem to show garlands of maybe marigolds. What is the cultural significance of that? Are they like Hawaiian leis? I haven't heard of this before.

 

Okay, two questions. :$ Why the single use on the terra cotta containers. It seems a bit wasteful in a culture that is not known for that.

 

 

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

Yay! Thank you so much @sartoric for sharing your amazing trip to far India with us. I will never be able to go, so it means so much to me to share your experiences and learn more about the food and culture.

 

I have a question about the flower market. I was expecting bouquet sprays, but your photos seem to show garlands of maybe marigolds. What is the cultural significance of that? Are they like Hawaiian leis? I haven't heard of this before.

 

Okay, two questions. :$ Why the single use on the terra cotta containers. It seems a bit wasteful in a culture that is not known for that.

 

 

 

The flowers are woven into garlands for blessing of the deities, (of which there are innumerable), they can be worn, or wrapped around your car's Ganesh statue (ours sat on the dashboard). Most women have flowers in the hair, especially so for a special occasion. This particular flower market was in Varanasi probably the most sacred city. Many Hindus seek a cremation on the Ganges as a step towards freedom from rebirth. Along with this goes worship, so the garlands are for the various statues of deities. Hindu temples are fascinating. 

 

Each lassi is made to order, the pots are cheap, it keeps the pot maker families fed, somehow it would be recycled into something else. This is Incredible India ! 

 

Good to hear you enjoyed the trip.

Edited by sartoric (log)
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32 minutes ago, rotuts said:

thank you for sharing 

 

it went past me :  the wrapped can was beer ?  if so , why the wrap ?

 

To show respect to the non-imbibing religious believers for whom the area is the most sacred of all. 

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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5 hours ago, KennethT said:

Thanks @sartoric for this!  Did you/will you spend any time in Singapore?  If so, can you share pics too?!?

 

No, @KennethT, this time only in transit at Changi. We've been there several times before, using it as a stopover to break up the long flight to Europe. Great food, and there's some things I haven't seen yet. Maybe next time.

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Thanks for your thanks everyone. The food was fantastic, okay there were a couple of forgettable meals, but overall we were very lucky. The best thing, he who must be fed has lost 4 kilos, and feels that he doesn't need to eat as much meat as before.

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Wonderful photos and stories. We were in India 4 years ago and I would go back in a heartbeat. We WILL go back. It's a huge country and the regions are so different from each other. We loved the people and the food and the really amazing experiences. Thank you for sharing - it brought back so many good memories for me (and renewed my desire to return).

 

As for the lassi cups. It wasn't until the very end of our trip that I realized that these were one-use cups. I was always a little nervous about drinking from them (but of course we did) because I was afraid they couldn't be sanitized properly. Duh. So stupid. If I had known earlier in the trip I would have packed a bunch of them in my luggage to bring home and use to start seedlings! By the time I learned the truth, it was too late to collect any of them. Oh well - another reason to go back!

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  • 2 weeks later...

A Himalayan cooking class - led by Kade from Assam state in the north east corner of India.

 

Snacks of fried pumpkin skin, eggplant and pumpkin shoots.
Kade slices the green striped pumpkin skin into matchsticks and deep fries in rice bran and mustard oil until crispy. The eggplant slices were dipped in a thin batter and fried. The handfuls of pumpkin leaves and shoots were fried briefly and drained on paper.

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Momos.
In mustard oil, sauté 5 cloves of garlic, pierced with a thumb nail, a big slice of ginger, lots of sliced cabbage, small bits of chopped chicken, grated carrot, red miso paste, pepper, soy, sesame seeds, bay leaves, Mangal brand spice mix (turmeric, roasted cloves, green cardamom, coriander, chillies, garlic, cumin, ginger, pepper, mango powder, nutmeg and mace). 
The dough is plain flour, cold water and salt. The trick is to use many hands, thereby developing the gluten. Pass the bowl around so everyone kneads, keep going until the dough is really stretchy. Pinch off a small amount, roll into a ball, then pinch edges to make a circle and use palms to flatten to paper thin. Add filling, and seal edges to make a money bag shape, twist. Steam for 10 minutes and serve with a dollop of sambal olek.

 

 

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Chilli chicken.
We make a batter with plain flour, garam masala, Mangal brand spice mix (chicken tikka masala variety), leaving it lumpy and the consistency of tempura, then add chopped chicken breast. Deep fry bits in rice bran oil, mustard oil and a bay leaf without crowding.
To make the sauce, slice onions, green or red capsicum, then saute with lots of ginger, one clove of garlic ( roughly pounded together) and brown sugar, cook until onions are translucent. Add soy, a little abc (sweet soy) sauce, a pinch of baking powder and pepper. 
Combine the sauce and chicken, serve with rice.
This is suitable for all meats, no need to batter say pork or beef.

 

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During the demo, which could be hands on or not as you preferred, Kade imparted food philosophy from his home region, hints, tips and substitutes for impossible to find items (like miso paste). All the vegetables were organically grown in his garden.

The cook.

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It's forbidden to taste while you cook. So taste with your nose !

 

The beautiful countryside.

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53 minutes ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

A Himalayan cooking class! How exciting!

 

Was a reason given for this?

 

 

Not specifically. I suspect there would be a reason. He explained many things about the way of life in his village. People eat largely what they grow or raise, and make use of traditional medicines, herbs and oils. They are very spiritual (animist) and enjoy excellent longevity. 

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5 hours ago, KennethT said:

Where do they get Miso paste there? I've never heard of it being used outside of Japan or maybe Korea...

They don't use miso paste in Assam, rather an indigenous bean paste. This is one of the substitutes that Kade uses when not able to source the original ingredient. Australia has very strict quarantine rules. All food has to be declared on arrival, an indeterminate brown pasty type thing would almost certainly be confiscated. 

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33 minutes ago, sartoric said:

They don't use miso paste in Assam, rather an indigenous bean paste. This is one of the substitutes that Kade uses when not able to source the original ingredient. Australia has very strict quarantine rules. All food has to be declared on arrival, an indeterminate brown pasty type thing would almost certainly be confiscated. 

Ha ha.  And to those unaccustomed to miso, it looks exactly like an indeterminate brown pasty thing! 

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On why it is forbidden to taste while one cooks.

 

I might be wrong here, as you said that they were animist and not Hindu, but in Hinduism - especially for strict Hindus - ritually purity plays an extremely important role in food, cooking and the kitchen. And customs do get taken from one community to another. 

For example, in the south, strict higher caste Hindu women will bathe and put on clean clothes before beginning to cook.

Some communities offer the cooked food, in a ritual manner, to their gods, before it is consumed, and the food would have lost the pure status that befits an offering to the gods if one had eaten/tasted some of it before offering.

For my relatives in northern Indja, if  one MUST taste the food, one takes a little on a spoon, shakes it from the spoon onto one's hand, and tastes it from there. One does not put the spoon in one's mouth, even if that spoon was not ever going to be returned to the cooking vessel. 

 

 

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