That’s how I’d describe it, in a couple of words.
Indian food has always been one of our favorites and not surprisingly, we found it both different and better than in the States.
Spicy curries and deep fried snacks, sweet teas and lassis, lots of mango juice (mmm). I swear I was gaining weight until I fell victim to “Delhi Belly.” I’m pretty sure it was the kesar pista kulfi, which is this amazing saffron pistachio ice cream.
Veg and Non-Veg
At least a third of all Indians are vegetarian and most menus have separate sections for “veg” and “non-veg” dishes. You won’t find any beef, as cows are considered sacred, but you’ll find plenty of “mutton” (usually goat, or else lamb), which Root often enjoyed while I mostly sampled the many different vegetarian dishes.
Speaking of meat, one day we walked through the meat market in Darjeeling and let me tell you… it could convert many a meat eater to vegetarian. I’m not sure how meat stored and sold in those conditions could possibly be sanitary. But then again, we don’t “see” the meat we eat back home, not to mention the unhealthy chemical additives.
While on our group tour, our guide led us to a handful of street stalls to sample some of India’s street food.
In the small village of Orchha, we had the opportunity to visit a local home and get a cooking demonstration. A young woman named Rajni whipped up a complete Indian meal for our group (including breads and chutney) using a four-burner gas stove and a tin full of spices. It was so delicious; it easily ranked in the top 5 meals we had in India.
First, she made a pot of fresh masala tea, also called masala chai. (Masala means "mixture of spices" and chai means "tea.")
Here's the recipe.
8 small coffee cups of water
1 cup milk (full fat)
4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons loose Aassam black tea
3 pieces green cardamom
2 pieces black cardamom
2 pieces cloves
5 pieces black peppercorn
a pinch of cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons pressed ginger
- Start boiling the water in a medium-sized pot.
- Combine and mash all spices together, then add them to the pot.
- Add in the milk and let it come to a slow boil until it turns a beautiful, rich color. (5-6 minutes)
- Cover and take off heat for 2 minutes.
- Strain and serve.