I’m a traveller. Travelling is a big part of my life, still is, has always been and always will be. I love the joy off stepping of a plane, in a new place, in a place I have been before and wondering what is to come. The people, the sights, the sounds and the smells, ahh the smells! I’ve travelled to a lot of countries in my life and in various capacities. Backpacking, travelling in small groups, large groups, volunteering, tour guide and now an organiser of travel in India and other surrounding countries, www.eknoexperience.com
For me, food is a huge part of travelling. The anticipation of what to eat, leaving behind bad airline food. Most people have their favourite ‘Indian’ restaurant back home. In 2010 Indian food (Chicken Tikka Masala), was voted the UK’s national cruise. Fish and chips or bubble and squeek out in the cold! Would that happen in Australia? Can Indian food overtake the good backyard barbeque, doubt it. That would be a national disaster.
As fussy as Australians are about their backyard barbeque steaks, Indians are about their beloved favourite dishes. Most Indian women that I know can cook. They have to. They have fussy males at home who want their chapattis (flat bread) just so, their dhal fry and their favourite vegetable dish with the right amount of spice and with the right amount of love added. Naturally!
Food is who Indians are, they love it and they are proud of it! Step into any restaurant in Delhi or wherever and any other city and they will serve it to you proudly. Eating is a ritual for them, no eating on the move!
I love heading to my favourite restaurant in Delhi after arriving back from my travels. I love the whole ritual of being greeted, of ordering favourite drink (lemon soda) with the food next. Palak Paneer with Naan bread. Palak Paneer means green vegetable and cheese. Palak is a leafy vegetable – not one kind but can be many different varieties. Basically it is the Hindi name for Spinach. Paneer is a soft, white cheese similar to Ricotta Cheese. Palak Paneer that is done well comes in a bowl, smooth like texture, very green with big chunks of white cheese, especially good if the cheese has been fried beforehand. This is topped with a drizzle of cream or yoghurt. Perfect! This green and cheese mixture needs to be soaked up with rice or bread. This is followed by Ras Malai for ‘sweets’. Yum, you know you are back!
Desserts are not big in Indian cuisine but remain in a category all on their own. ‘Sweets’. Sweet shops full of tantalizing delights from my favourite, Ras Mali – a white spongy flat ball made from milk and served in pista (pistachio) milk, to gulab jamun (rose balls served in a sweet syrup), to carrot halva (hot grated carrot cooked in milk and ghee), pista kulfi (pistachio icecream) and other little sweet delights cut into squares and triangles. Sweets in boxes are given in boxes for all sorts of occasions. To say thank you, for Diwali (their festival of lights) or as a takeaway ‘dessert’ if you don’t feel like cooking.
India is vast as are it’s choices in food, picking your favourite is the hard part!