While on my 5 week sojourn in India, I tried a few Indian foods. Ok, I tried lots and lots of Indian foods. Sometimes I stuck to the same ol’ favorites, like sag paneer and sometimes I branched out to things like goat (not so bad). And there were plenty of times that I skipped the Indian food and dove straight into some hummus. Apparently, an abundance of Isreali travelers in India means an abundance of hummus along the tourist trail. Fist pumps in the air.
During the entirety of the trip I took pictures of the new foods I tried. God bless, PZ for bearing with me on this one. Most of the time she was accommodating as I rearranged the table setting seven times and demanded that she not start eating until I’d taken three pictures of her food. And other times the hunger made her impatient. Can’t blame her there.
So here are a few of the foods I tried…
I’m just gonna go ahead and start with a favorite. I still get excited about masala dosas whenever I see a picture. The dosa is a fried bread made of rice flour. On the inside there are potatoes mashed a bit and mixed with spices (masala).
Masala dosas are commonly available in Southern India where rice grows more abundantly. Once we moved up north the dosas became a rare sight.
Another thing about masala dosas: they are a breakfast food. I would usually crave one around dinner time. After multiple nights of asking restaurants if I could get a masala dosa and receiving looks like I had just asked to eat pancakes for dinner (I’m ok with this too), I gave up and ate them for breakfast instead, even though a big bite of masala is not my idea of an awesome breakfast.
This became another favorite on the trip. A lime soda = lime juice + soda water + sugar. This is the single most refreshing drink on a hot day in India and I’m not even a fan of carbonation. This drink is seriously good.
Warning: if you order a lime soda, the server might assume you want a salty lime soda. While it might be fun to say that you have tried a salty lime soda they taste like you’re eating a lime while swimming in the ocean. Gag.
Warning #2: Sometimes adding sugar to the soda water makes the drink explode and turns into a huge mess on the table and in the lap. Solution: add sugar with care or get someone who knows what they’re doing to add the sugar for you.
This is basically an all-can-eat platter of whatever is in the kitchen. Thalis are commonly eaten for lunch and come with a heaping helping of rice (mine had yet to arrive when I took the picture). The sides usually include a curry or two, dhal, a yogurt dish and a dessert. Also, this simply must be eaten with the hands. There’s really no other way.
Here’s another dish that is commonly eaten in the south. Idlies are made with the same rice flour batter as dosas, however idlies are steamed instead of fried. These idlies came with sides of a watery curry and a yogurt mixture. This is another food that is eaten more around breakfast and lunch time.
My honest opinion of idlies: too spongy. They do taste pretty good with the sides though.
Mango lassi, banana lassi, coconut lassi, mmmm…I like lassies. These drinks are basically a blend of yogurt and fruit. A mango lassi during the peak of mango season is one of my all time favorite drinks.
Warning: lassies are typically served warm. So if you’re expecting a cool refreshing drink to escape the heat, this might not be it.
I like to describe these as fried pancake balls covered in syrup. I think they’re mighty fine, though I can only eat a few because they are oh so sweet.
I for one like to watch people go nuts over gulab jamun, whether it’s observing the bustle around a vendor or a little girl asking her mom for more, more, more. These are clearly a popular dessert option.
Ok, I cannot lie, this is not really a picture of chai. It’s a picture of coffee. How I made it through 5 weeks in India and 700 cups of chai without taking a single picture is beyond me. It just fell through the cracks somehow.
Chai is black tea (typically Assam black tea) made with milk, masala (spices) and a whole lot of sugar. This stuff is available everywhere and we were often offered cups by complete strangers, which we usually accepted.
The best cup of chai I had was in Jaisalmer while I was visiting a family. The mother made the chai from scratch with extra black pepper and hardly any sugar. So good.
Since I brought up coffee earlier, I’ll go ahead and describe it: very sweet and very creamy. Not my favorite.
Aloo Tamatar Masala
Breakdown: aloo tamatar masala = spiced potatoes and tomatoes. This was one of my go-to dishes in India, because I love potatoes and tomatoes. Throw in some seasonings and I am a happy girl. Sometimes this dish came very spicy and other times it wasn’t spicy at all. This one tastes good with rice or chapati.
Here’s an example of a dish that I randomly pointed to on the menu. Sometimes that’s just what you gotta do when you want to try new things. Overall, I really enjoyed it, but I’m a glutton for eggs.
Basically this dish is scrambled eggs with spices. It’s fun to wrap the eggs in the chapati (similar to a wheat tortilla), take a big bite and then lick all the juices off your fingers. Maybe that’s just me.
Ker Sangri Curry and Gatta Curry
This is a meal of desert dishes we enjoyed while overlooking the desert view in Jaisalmer. We asked our waiter to bring us dishes specific to the region and here’s what we got. Plus, we ordered a side salad for some crunch, not a dish native to the desert.
Ker Sangri is a type of long bean that grows in Jaisalmer. Our server brought us the ker sangri cooked in a sweet and spicy yellow curry. Gatta curry is curry with dumplings made of chickpeas inside. The chickpea balls added an interesting taste and texture to the dish. I was sad that we waited until our last day in the desert to try these dishes. Now, I must live off of this one fond eating experience until I return again.
Mutton (goat) was on the menu at virtually every non-vegetarian, Indian place we ate. Being that PZ and I are recovering vegetarians we were always a little hesitant to branch out in our repertoire of meat eating experiences. One day in Agra we grew brave and decided to finally try mutton.
This dish is mutton prepared in a spinach and potato gravy. We both love spinach and hoped that the addition of a different meat in something we already like would make the process go smoothly. And for the most part, it did. The mutton wasn’t too bad. It reminded us a little of beef with lots of fatty pieces attached. It was fun to try something new, but I don’t think we finished this dish. I still prefer vegetables.
What’s your favorite Indian food?