Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Catching Up Part II: India

The view from my house, Alibaugh
     Well, and where did I go from Normandy? I went back to Paris, and stayed there for a few days, hanging out with friends, bidding farewell to CV, AB, and AGD who returned to North America, and walking up and down Paris from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre and back to the Eiffel Tower.
The Louvre, Paris
The Eiffel Tower, Paris
     And then? Then I finally left for India! My Air France meal could not have been as impressive this time around because I do not remember it at all. Oh well. How do Air France meals matter when one has reached Mumbai? A city of most awesome foods.

Thali at Chetana, Mumbai
     The thali (which basically means plate) above is from Chetana, a lovely restaurant. This Rajasthani (a state in India with its own distinct style of food) thali contains all kinds of lentils, vegetables - including eggplant, beans, potatoes, and many others, and Indian flatbreads cooked in styles ranging from slightly sweet to very spicy. I explored Mumbai with my friend RL from high school, and I can safely say that she enjoyed it - she is a vegetarian after all, and India is a vegetarian's paradise, especially at thali-serving places.

The sea and Gateway of India as seen from the Taj earlier in the day, Mumbai
     We also arrived in Mumbai right in time for the first rains of the Monsoon. After everyone told us that the rains wouldn't start while we were in town, we were sitting peacefully in the Taj Sea Lounge (a beautiful place) sipping cold coffee and suddenly the waves were getting whipped up, and it started to Rain as it only does in India.

The view from the Taj a few minutes later, Mumbai
     After a few days in Mumbai, we then left for my house across the sea. It is a house on the beach, and a good base from which to explore nearby beaches and little villages. Of course, that is if you are in an exploring mood and not in a sleeping, reading, drinking coconut water fresh out of coconuts, and eating lots of home cooked food mood. Guess which we did? 
Coconut trees in my front yard, Alibaugh
More of the view from my front yard, Alibaugh

     Summer vacation is all about relaxation. Especially if your next stop is New Delhi, where the temperature is 110 degrees F on average in the summer and you will be expected to visit many relatives and sightsee.

Bangla Sahib, New Delhi
     Not that we went out that much during the day, we mostly ventured outdoors in the late afternoon or at night. One day we went to Bangla Sahib, a gurdwara or temple for Sikhs. It is beautiful from the outside with its gold-topped roofs, but it is even more peaceful and gorgeous inside where this pool is with the many people circling around it.

     But, the nicest part about spending three weeks in New Delhi was getting to stay with the most awesome relatives in the world and get fed lovely foods. Look at this dinner! I am afraid I have forgotten the identity of the vegetables because they are not what I was interested in. That red curry is Egg Curry, i.e. curry with whole eggs in it. It's so good. This one contained bell peppers (which, though I just cannot eat, I must say did add to the flavor of the curry itself) and was slightly spicy. The other dish in the white bowl might just be my favorite food (might). It is Dahi Bhalla, or steamed lentil dumplings in yogurt? I suppose that is what it is. But that does not describe the soft fluffiness of the balls soaking in yogurt and the sweet tamarind sauce (that's the sauce that comes with samosas in the states) and slightly spicy chutney. Yum.
Lamb Biryani at the Radisson, New Delhi
     I leave you with fond memories of another Indian dinner. This time the dish in the center is Lamb Biryani, or lamb cooked in a clay pot with rice and a lot of spices. The pot is covered in dough and baked, and then the dough is taken off when it's served. This allows everything to steam together inside so all the flavors get melded together. Yumminess. Yes, these are the kinds of meals I ate. But now I'm back in good old Boston, and today I am going to eat a BURRITO. There are great things about the USA too.

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