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Published: February 2nd 2015
The most frequent bit of advice I got when people heard I was going to India was to only eat vegetarian food, I was not overly keen on the idea but thought it was better than being ill, especially when traveling on buses and trains with dodgy facilities!!!! So for the most part I did just that and ate only vegetarian food. I gave in on a couple of occasions where I felt the fish/chicken was safe. It is really easy to remain veggy in India as a huge proportion of the population is vegetarian for religious reasons and so the variety to choose from is massive. Luckily we were travelling with a few seasoned India travellers so advice and explanations were readily available. Whether it was a simple Thali lunch, a mixture of several small servings of curry and as much rice and poppadoms as you could eat, or more sophisticated dishes in better restaurants the choice was vast. In fact the Veg section on the menus was usually the largest. What I couldn't get my head around, or indeed taste buds, was Indian breakfast. The staple is idli, a steamed rice cake eaten with vegetable curry. Hot and spicy
Try it you won't be sorry!!!
curries first thing I just couldn't handle, I tried but gave up after the second or third attempt.
I can honestly say that in all the time in India we only had 1 bad meal and that was in a supposed french/indian restaurant in Pondicherry. One of the best was in a really busy roadside cafe, full of Indian families and workers having lunch and practically everyone eating the vegetarian thali I described earlier. Another favourite was a place called the Old Harbour, in Fort Kochi, they did a bit of east meets west fusion. They had a cardamon Panna cotta with a basil couli......it was great.
Last day in Kochi we got a cooking demo and I am going to share some of the recipes with you, if any of you foodies are going to try any of them then try the beetroot curry...it really is good.
Whether or not these recipes can be truly replicated I am not sure, all the spices were fresh as were the curry leaves, I think it is those two factors that give it its authentic taste, oh and then there is the coconut oil. In Kerala lots of the
Try this out, it turns out blackened, almost like cajun but the flavours are great. Reckon it would work great with salmon too.
cooking is done in coconut oil rather than vegetable oil. The recipes we were given with the demo didn't really equate to what we saw so this are my interpretations of them using ingredients you will get easily back home.
2-3 cooked beetroots, the vacuum packed ones would be fine
Medium onion finely chopped
2-3 red chillis, more if you like it hot
3tsp mustard seeds
2 cups grated coconut
2 cups natural yoghurt
Chop the beetroot into dice, I preferred it when they were bite sized pieces but sometimes it was coarsely grated. In a pan put some coconut or veg oil and add the mustard seeds, wait until they pop then add the onions, sauté until soft. In a blender add the grated coconut with 1/2 cup of water and another tsp of mustard seeds to form a paste, I reckon you could use coconut milk here if you can't get the coconut, you might just need to cook it for a little longer to reduce the liquid. The sauce should be quite thick. Add this, the beetroot and curry
leaves cook for 2-3 minutes, finally add the yoghurt and its ready. I did get a version in the Old Harbour that had Chicken in it, one of my few digressions! It was great too.
If any of you give it a try let me know what you think.
So India all done and dusted for me. I spent my last week in the charming Varkala, a beach town full of Yoga/hippy types really relaxed and chilled. Stayed in the beautiful Villa Jacaranda, run by the charming Ajay. Here I got eggs for breakfast presented beautifully on my terrace every morning with a pot of tea.
That has reminded of one last thing to tell....the tea in India, or as they say Cai, little cups of sweet steaming milky tea sold on every street corner. Thought I would hate it but it was like being transported back in time to when I was a little boy and before I had given up sugar in tea for lent....I kid you not it was great and there was a Masala Cai version with cardamom and other flavours too.
See you in Thailand!!!
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