Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More Food from Pune & the Karla & Bhaja Caves

In no particular order... some notable eats from the last week:
The Iyengar Institute has not generated huge amounts of commerce in the area, but a few smart produce vendors have figured out our class schedule and placed themselves accordingly. Most notably, there is always at least one man outside the gate selling fresh young coconut off a big wooden cart. As you can see, it's a popular item. In this picture, you can't even see the coconuts because there are so many yogis swarming around! He hacks it open with a machete, sticks a straw in and gives it to you. First you drink it, then you eat the pulp. I must admit, I haven't had one yet (not a huge young coconut fan, I'm afraid... not to mention equally afraid of unknown hygenic standards of aforementioned machete and straws!) - nonetheless, I thought it would be a fun pic to share.

Oh yeah! That IS what it looks like - a TOFU SCRAMBLE! Can you believe it! Boy, India is a different place than it was last time I was here. I was so excited to find "Herb Tofu" at the International Super Market. I've seen other international bloggers talk about "herb tofu " - tofu that is full of yummy herbs, but I've never seen anything like it in Santa Cruz. So, I just had to travel to the other side of the globe to find it! I cooked up this simple scramble for dinner for my roommates and I the other night, and we were truly in heaven!

I thought you all might enjoy seeing the selection of bars that I brought with me (minus a few that had already been eaten!) - i brought a big variety so that I wouldn't get sick of any one flavor. As it turns out, there is a lot more variety and more flavors from home here than last time, but i am still glad to have these around. Whatever I don't finish on this trip, I will use on our trip to China in late February.

Oooooh! This was one of our favorite things from last week. We were roaming around in an unfamiliar part of town last week, when hunger struck! We found this neat looking spot called Savera, across the road from Ferguson college. We scoured teh afternoon menu (only a limited selection) and ended up all ordering the same thing - Palak Masala Dosa. Palak = spinach. This was a dosa, smeared with spinach, and topped with a 5-star masala mixture... in addition to all the usual flavors, this one also had raisins and cashews and fresh coconut grated on it. Whoa! It was wonderfully delish.

All in all, India is an effortless place to be vegetarian, and a relatively okay place to be a vegan - especially if you don't mind the fact that you will accidentally be eating ghee and curds almost everytime you order a meal. So be it. The language barrier is quite significant with most servers... My policy is to do my very best to explain my preferences, avoid entrees with obvious things like cheese or yogurt, and then just eat what I am given. It works fine for me.

This week, we started a great thing! We found out about a woman who does ayurvedic cooking and delivers it to our doorstep in a metal container called a tiffin. I have long been a huge fan of the tiffin phenomena, and I'm so excited to finally be a part of it for reals! Chitra delivers our food to our doorstep 5 days a week by 11:30 or 12. We leave out our empty tiffins and she leaves us new ones, full of hot food. She also speaks perfect english, so it was very nice for me to feel comfortable about explaining my vegan preferences. My lovely roomies are not veg, but so far they don't mind going along with veg food for these home-delivered meals.

Here is a typical meal from Chitra: some sambar ( a spicy brothy lentil soup), some nice breads, some rice, and some veggie concoction. Everyday it's basically the same, but a little different. We may get sick of it at some point, but for now it's wonderful to come home and find hot food waiting for us! All for only Rs 60 per meal, each. That's about $1.75. Yeah!

Here are some snacks we've been grooving on - moong dal crunchy snacks & mysterious giant crackers that we don't know the name of. I must admit, those crackers on the right have me well-addicted. They are flavorful and scrumptious! A nice easy carbo load!

Ha ha!


I accidentally uploaded these next two pictures to this blog , instead of to my travel blog. I meant to upload pictures of muesli and some great flavored soy milks I've found (hello, how cool is "saffron-pistachio soy milk"?!)...Anyhow, uploading is a major hassle, so I probably won't bother to fix the error. IN the meantime, here's a little teaser from "amey-in-india.blogspot.com" - two pictures from our day trip to the Karla and Bhaja Caves, about one hour from PUne.

Inside the large temples at the Karla Caves. Carved out by Buddhists 2300 years ago! imagine that ! And, supposedly!, those teak beams up top are original...

Here's another inside view... complete with Stupa and a bustle of Indian tourists.


  1. Anonymous7:47 AM

    Wow! I don't think I've ever seen so many nutrition bars at once.

  2. Sounds like you're being well-fed out there. I am envious. I always wanted to go to India. Their culture and style really interests me. Perhaps some day I shall save up and take a trip!

    I'm glad you accidentally posted the temple pictures! haha They're very nice and amazing to behold even through a computer screen.

  3. Sounds and looks like you are having a wonderful time. I have to agree that I would be dubious of any food item hacked open on a street, but I don't know that I wouldn't try it. And that plate of food with the palak - oh yum! I am so hungry for Indian food now....and for those big crackers, even though I've no idea what they are either!

  4. Anonymous6:10 PM

    this sound very interesting, what a great experience!

  5. looks like yr getting some good eats!

  6. Palak Masala Dosa! Tiffins of deliciousness! Crispy snacks! It sounds like India is treating you well & I am jealous for the dosa alone! hehe.

  7. Very nice style of writing you have. It was a delight to read your blogs. Visit me at http://www.nirvana73.blogspot.com/

    And reading that you went to Savera restaurant, I understood that u havent been given any tips on restaurants in Pune. So i suggest u visit 'Vaishali', 'Roopali' or 'Wadeshwar' also on Ferguson Road. These restaurants are famous and well-known for their food.

    Let me know if u need any tips on Pune. I am a localite



  8. My God, what an adventure! This whole thing is so far out of my element I don't know what to say. Keep safe over there and have a grea time.

  9. I'm LOVING your photo-essay updates on your time in India - all the food (especially the variety bag, haha - I'm obsessed with Larabars) looks delicious and so tantalizing; and the caves!! WOW!! stunning!!

  10. Anonymous2:56 PM

    Love the tiffin food delivery. That is such a great idea. Wish we had that here in Boise. Looks like you are eating well. Love, Carey

  11. That looks like my collection of protein bars lol!


  12. My husband went to Fergusson College and Savera was one of his hangouts. You are right that it can be difficult to get vegan food in restaurants in India when you have a language barrier. It's sometimes difficult even without a language barrier! That giant mysterious cracker thing in the picture is khakhra. It's nice to see India from someone else's perspective!


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