Hello again! My what a wonderful 3 weeks it has been adventuring, tasting, exploring, and drinking up Southern India.
Days were early and long, we jam packed everyday with as much site seeing and cultural exploration as we possibly could. Of course for me the highlight and saving grace of every non-stop day was the delicious meals that we got to experience. I’m talkin 3 times a day curry. After day 1 week of eating heavy restaurant meals I was having anxiety about coming back 10 pounds heavier. But then I had the aha moment to just enjoy my trip without the guilt- there is no way I am portion controlling my naan bread intake when it tastes this good. How often do you get to enjoy the REAL DEAL Indian?
The shining aspect in most Indian food is the use of spices. The complexity of flavours hiding in even the most unsuspecting dishes wow’d me. Cinnamon, cardamom and coconut were in literally everything I tried during our time on the coast. Because of the accessibility to coconuts, most home cooks in the South use pure coconut oil for everything including deep frying.
Vegetarian- Eating vegetarian in India is very common and well enjoyed. Most menues we came across were over 60% non meat and offered a wide variety of dishes that would excite even dedicated carnivores’.My obsession with Paneer (cottage cheese-like cubes) grew immensely during this trip. I had it every day and in every way, served dry with spices or with a rich spinach gravy. You can never get bored eating vegetarian because every cook makes it differently! No two currys are alike!
Freshly Squeeze Juice/ Lassi’s- As many restaurants do not serve alcohol, there is often a wide variety of freshly squeezed seasonal juices available. I enjoyed fresh watermelon and orange juice on the reg. Sweet Lassi’s are another popular beverage that combine yogurt, fruit, honey and ice. They are practically made to cool the palate after enjoying a flame throwing curry.
Snack Food- Street food was plentiful and cheap. On the rare occasion we didn’t want to have a sit down meal, we would grab samosas or other goodies on the side of the road. For about 10 cents you could enjoy the most delicious fried bundle you’ve ever had. Just don’t ask for dipping sauce. Nuts toasted with spices, dates, and dried fruit were also readily available on the go.
Enough with the oil already! While we were overseas we atteneded 2 cooking classes and I was a little perturbed by how much oil is used for every dish. Very little that we had was roasted, baked, or grilled. Instead it was heaved into sizzling vats of sunflower or coconut oil.
Starch gone wild- Breakfast lunch and dinner is absolutely loaded with white rice, and in ways you wouldn’t expect. For breakfast it is common to use rice flour to make little round cakes called idylis, or crepes to be topped with curry. Aswell as rice, most meals were incomplete without various forms of white breads which are baked or fried with plenty of oil.
Cream, cream and more cream- 35% cream drowned most of the curry’s that we enjoyed on the trip. Delicious, yes, but looses its appeal after a while.
I must admit that initially the drastic change in eating in India affected me negatively. The consumption of rice, deep fried foods, and heavy cream slowed me down and made me fatigued. I was missing the fresh fruits, veggies and protein that I was so used to at home. BUT LETS GET SERIOUS- I got over that quickly and enjoyed the hell out of eating rich delicious foods everyday.The massive fruit and vegetable markets that lie around every corner (not to mention 40 different banana varieties) are enough to inspire anyone to whip up an Indian delight.
Food aside- My experience in India was amazing and I had so much fun experiencing their diverse culture, gorgeous scenery and interesting history. I am completely inspired to plan my next trip now, Thailand anyone?