For Dean, when he arrived in India he thought everything was going to be so hot and spicy that there would be little left of our insides by the time we left…. Whilst this excited him I was a little worried! The mass spice attack hasn’t been the case but we haven’t been left disappointed. The food has been nicely ‘warm’ whilst not blowing our brains out and above all has been amazingly tasty.
I have stuck to vegetarian dishes which have been so good that I wonder if I’ll ever truly turn back to meat (with the exception of my Mum’s Roast pork and Mother-in-law’s steak!).
My favourite, which surprisingly came in a number of different combinations were the Thali dishes. Essentially a big silver tray full of yummy goodness. Most had a kind of lentil Dahl, veggie curry, curd (yoghurt which came in handy for cooling things down!), spicy rice and of course some chapati or roti to scoop everything up with. The elaborate versions even had fruit and some come with meat. It was like a mini buffet on a plate and from Nepal onwards they became my dish of choice!
In Jaipur one speciality were tandoori skewers of (mainly) meaty goodness. I passed on this but Dean enjoyed them on a few occasions and seemed to think that you could never have enough!
I have mentioned our love of samosa in a previous blog and this continued right until the end. However along the way we discovered other yummy lunchtime options and snacks. One day Dean had a Masala Dosa (wafer thin savoury crepe) which was a top choice whilst I sampled vegetable Pakora – bite size deep fried veggies! some things here are not so healthy, but hey we are on holiday!
One of the most exciting part of train travel was the food circus that emerged before your eyes both when on the train and at stations when waiting. Sellers with their leaf-made-plates served up a storm to travellers on the train, using playing cards for spoons. You could get anything from samosa to tomato soup, popcorn, nuts and full on dinner platters. Not to mention the constant calls of “chai chai chai” from the sellers offering tea! Once one train pulled out of the station the vendors would load the bowl of their offerings onto their head and climb down onto the tracks to cross the lines to meet the next train. Why use the bridge when you can walk through the yukkiness and amongst the rats! I guess speed is of the essence. On the one journey where we tried the a/c class coach I was disappointed with the lack of vendors. They make the journey exciting. As I write this on our last train calls of “byriani byriani (a type of spicy rice)” have just passed by!
As well as snacks and Thali we have tried many amazing curries. My Dhal Makhani (black lentils with butter) was especially good at a hole in the wall restaurant in Jaipur but we’ve also had some good butter paneer (a kind of cottage cheese) and Dean enjoys a Lababdar…. Key for me is looking out for the word “Aloo”. This means potato and generally speaking means I’m going to love it!
Not to be outdone, sweet treats and drinks all rein supreme in India. On our second train the family who bought me chai also offered me some Indian sweets. Customary when Indian weddings are involved. This family were on their way back from a wedding and had lots of sweets to share! To be honest I’d stick with a bar of Cadbury chocolate any day but I was grateful for their offering. My favourite sweet treat was Jalebis – deep fried batter dunked in sugar syrup. Right up my street!
For drinks one thing that rules on a hot day is a fruit Lassi. Essentially a milkshake like drink with the key ingredient being yoghurt. They come with ‘seasonal’ fruits (or more to the point whatever is available!) and banana was our favourite! No matter what the temperature Chai is everywhere and must be tried. Its a kind of spiced tea which is milky and sweet and is served in small cups.
One thing that concerns a lot of people about the food here is the World famous Delhi Belly. To say we haven’t suffered at some point would be untrue however we decided we wanted to get out there, eat with the locals and try what we could. If all else fails there are pharmacies everywhere who will sort you out 😉 .
The food here has been amazing. Three weeks on and I’m not bored of curry, in fact I can’t wait to try something new from the menu at India Cottage – our favourite curry house in the UK! The food in Myanmar has a lot to live up to!