Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Reflections on Eating In India

It's very nice to be home with Musty and the furries, my family, and also to be teaching my classes again... but before I move on to my cooking adventures at home, I have a few more thoughts and photos to share from my time in India.

Here are just a few things I have renewed appreciation for: brushing my teeth with tap water, FRESH FRUIT & VEGGIES, well-loved domestic pets, breathing clean air (that's a big one), tomorrow's farmer's market, BAKING!, our cozy sofa, eating sweeties, & being able to look at all your wonderful blogs without crashing the funky computers at the internet cafe (not to mention the emotional torture of looking at delicious vegan meals from a far off land)....

Some things I'm missing? - buying fruit & veggies from friendly folks on the street, having delicious vegan ayurvedic lunch delivered to my door 5 days a week, having someone clean my house for me everyday ( sorry, but it's true! it was pretty great), special Indian flavors of potato chips, the spinach dahl from the corner restaurant (more on that later), fresh made roti every day, all the goats and pigs in the streets. However, I did see someone walking their GOAT today, and that made me happy.

Oh, it's never black and white is it?

Here's a lovely all-veggie scramble that we made when our friends came over for dinner. They were having some hardcore veggie cravings, so we didn't mess around. This had beets, carrots, onion, ginger, garlic, methi (fenugreek greens), cauliflower, a few mysterious veggies, and I don't even remember what else. We really made a LOT. Can you see the amazing color of the carrots? It's not because they've been cooked with beets - the carrots there have this AMAZING watermelon-red hue, they're truly stunning!

Hee hee. This is a silly picture of the breakfast we had at our hotel in Aurangabad. My fellow travellers were totally disappointed with the breakfast buffet, but one of the advantages of being a vegan is that I already have my standards lowered. I'll tell you, I was pleasantly delighted to find anything at all that I could eat! I'm sure you all can relate. Breakfast buffets in American hotels are a useless disaster. The best you can hope for is toast and a banana. Whereas, here in India I have a delicious bowl of Sambar (a savory, spicy, brothy soup filled with veggies - and eaten for breakfast with vada), Vada (that little savory donut of sorts... made with rice and/or lentil flour? and other goodies... really tasty! You can dunk it in the sambar like a biscotti in a cup of joe), and of course some toast with jam. Safe eating and tasty too!

I didn't take pictures of our delivered lunches everyday, but here's another sample. Foodwise, these daily meals were such a highlight of the trip for me. It was so nice to have some thing light and healthy and full of veggies that I KNEW was vegan. I ate a LOT of food that was surely covered in ghee... and that definitely got tiresome. I try to be an agreeable vegan, but sometimes that smell of ghee was making me queasy.

Ooooh! this stuff was GOOD. Check out that color! This was from a funky little spot near our house. We went there a couple of times and got this Palak Dal (spinach dal). It's so lovely how they serve you fresh (hot!) roti breads with the soup. I wish I could get this here at home. I think I'll search around online and look for a recipe - see if I can make it for myself!

And! One last wonderful glory from India! I'd seen people eating these as snacks, and I was wondering what they were. I was also afraid of contracting horrible gastrointenstinal problems, so I held off on investigating. Then, on my last day, I decided to throw caution to the wind! Why not? Only 26 hours of flying ahead... what trouble would a little rumble-gut be? Anyhow, I had an aisle seat, so I wasn't worried. Our VERY sweet driver was taking us from Pune to Mumbai, with a few touristy stops along the way. At one remote spot, I saw a vendor selling these, and I asked our driver what they were. His lack of English, and my lack of Marathi made for a very fun day, but eventually he explained that they were Chana - CHICKPEAS! Now, you all know as well as I do that Chickpeas are the vegan motherload. Are there any vegans out there that DON'T love chickpeas? Well, I'm sure there are a few, but I'm not one of them. He jumped out of the car, and procured us a bunch to snack on. Do you see the little pods? Each one has a chickpea inside. How cool is that?

Here's a closeup. Look at that glorious, brilliant green color. The flavor was lovely too - more like an English Pea than a chickpea, and truly snackable. Have you ever seen these for sale in the states? They were fun. I'm sure Santa Cruz is too cold, but it seems like a fun thing to try to grow. Maybe some of you in the South could give it a shot! Maybe you already have!

It was fun to have one last interesting and tasty food adventure before leaving.

Next up... what I've been eating (and cooking) upon my return!


  1. All your food looks SO good! I have been on a major South Indian food kick! Sambar & Dosa & Roti, oh my!
    Those chickpeas are AWESOME.

  2. Are you tired of tofu scramble yet? ;)

    Those chickpeas in a pod are really, really cool. I got all excited when I saw that closeup. How awesome is that? I agree- chickpeas (along with soybeans) are the miracles of veganism. :)

  3. Anonymous8:20 AM

    welcome back, amey! i enjoyed reading about your indian adventures. pune sure looked a lot different than i expected. very cool that you got fresh chickpeas!! i really wish we could grow them here, but they really do need more heat. anyway, sounds like you had a fun time, and i am looking forward to seeing more of the home meals too. :-) -- jen e.

  4. welcome back!

    I am also totally enamored and intrigued by the chickpea plant.

  5. Anonymous6:25 PM

    Here is a link to a vegan roti recipe. I can't remember how I found it but I had it bookmarked.



    Carey :-)

  6. it's always amazing to me how much more enjoyable the process of purchasing (and eating) fresh produce is, overseas - I can TOTALLY understand your feelings about eating well in India!

    wow, I've never seen a green chickpea before - gorgeous!!

  7. Loved reading about your trip to India! Those chickpeas are so cute.
    Sounds like it was a wonderful experience. I would love to travel in India someday!

  8. I got frozen green chickpeas at trader joes at one point...very tasty (though I'm sure fresh are FAR superior) but thats the only place I've ever seen them in the US.


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