Friday, March 28, 2008

Gastronomical experimentation in Southern India

Hello all! I sniffed my t-shirt the other day to see if it needed washing yet and alas, it smelled like curry. So here it is, my excuse for smelling funny when I get home, my long awaited (I hope) entry on Indian food! Some is great, some strange, and most my meals have been under $2.

March 16
Veggie Biryani $1I was on my first train in India and still pretty freaked out about all the strangeness of everything, so I had decided to take the nicest class of train, an air-conditioned sleeper. The cabin attendant (there was an actual attendant!) came into my hideaway asking if I would like to order lunch. He had a list of three vegetarian options and two "non-veg" ones. I pointed randomly at one of the veggie choices and at noon he promptly appeared with my meal.
Biryani is a rice dish so packed with herbs and spices I swear on the Kamasutra that my brain was tingling afterwards. The white sauce at the side is yogurt (called "curd" here) and onions. Not bad for a buck.

March 18
Paneer Tikka Masala (maybe) $1.50
Nan $.50Now I'm not actually sure if this is an actual typical dish or a misunderstanding. I went to the restaurant hoping for that sweet tomato-ey sauce that I remembered from Indian restaurants at home. I suspect the waiter had no idea what I was talking about but wanted to please, thus all the tomatoes. I think the sauce was even laden with ketchup. I have since found out that I wanted "masala" sauce and that masala sauce does not have any tomatoes in it anyway. The nan (bread more typical from Northern India) was good.

March 19
Aloo Mattar $1.50
Rice $.50
This was the first plate of food in India that I really really liked---YUM! Aloo are potatoes and mattar are green peas. Sweet and not too spicy, wonderful!

March 20
Kashmir dam Aloo $1.00
Chapati $.50
Do you remember what Aloo is? Potatoes! (ok, I don't expect you to learn Hindi for my benefit) This plate had the same delicious sweet masala sauce and the potato was stuffed with cheese. Yum yum yum yum. Chapati is just like nan bread but round. There must be some difference but it looks and tastes the same to me.

March 22
Tibetan Momo $.75
This is not Indian food but I just had to try. There are tons and tons of Tibetan refugees in these parts, and their food can often be found on menus. Momo are steamed dumplings stuffed with veggies served with a tangy sauce, delicious.

Same day
Navaratna Kurma $1.10
Chapati $.50
Navaratna are cashews and kurma is a spiced-up sauce. This particular dish had not only cashew nuts but also potatoes, pineapple and bananas in a hot curry full of spices, truly strange.

March 23
Veg. Dosa $1I have found heaven in India! Dosas are a crepe-like pancake filled with whatever you want (usually masala curried potatoes). Mine was with masala flavored veggies (like the inside of a good samosa) with a yogurt sauce to boot. I have since eaten dosas everyday whenever I find them. Cheap good eatin'.

March 24
Thali $1.50Thalis are all-you-can-eat plates of whatever they give you served on top a banana leaf. They usually come with chapati (nan-like bread), a papadum (delicious giant potato-chip), rice, and little metal bowls full of strange and interesting curries and soupy spicy things. Once I was really hungry and decided to splurge and pay 20 cents more for the "Deluxe Thali"---and had 10 little bowls on my plate! You are supposed to eat thalis with your fingers, right handed. (pic: I can do it now!)

April 2
Keralan ThaliI'm in the state of Kerala now, one of the southernmost areas in India, right on the tip there on the map. Kerala is famous for its delicious food and I could not agree more. Today I am taking a private cooking class from a woman in her kitchen, hopefully I will be able to reproduce this wonderful food at home!


Anonymous said...

Quit it, you are making me hungry. I have to admit that your blog entry this time was a bit reminiscent of a restaurant menu. Kind of like the old Woodhouse menus when they had pictures! Hope you are having fun!

sister Sam

Anonymous said...

I'll have an order of Menu Item #4 from your Menu with a coke, super size it please....easy on the sauce, and hold the veggies.


Shannen said...

*sister Sam*

I need more exciting adjectives like "zesty" and "scintillating", don't I. I am loving the food and being part of the veggie majority. Do you like Indian food? Have you tried it?


You would wither up and die here. They don't serve your vegetable, iceberg lettuce, nor is there a Mister Donut. I love this term "Non-veg". Such the minority. You should use it, say "I don't eat broccoli, I'm non-veg."

Ravioli said...

I am hungry now!!! Your menu look very delicious and so cheap! I want to learn to cook green curry...

Anonymous said...

Great food entries. I think I could eat the marsala with potato(aloo was it) stuffed with cheese, or the marsala with peas. The rest would be pushed around the plate for awhile.


Shannen said...


We can go to Darjeeling or Moti soon! Green curry is Thai food, but delicious, too. Sorry to make you hungry, ha ha.


Not anonymous this time! ha ha Everything "masala" has been delicious. Have you ever tried Indian food? I wonder if there is any in Bismarck???