Food highlights from a recent India trip

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We travel as a family to India every other year. Visiting our family in India is the highlight of our trip followed by the food. India is a nation of foodies. Mediocre establishments do not last very long – though, sadly, this is changing with the advent of some establishments in the more affluent parts of the country, where the focus is more on “see and be seen” rather than the food. Still, a healthy food culture thrives.

This time we were fortunate enough to travel with our family to Mumbai, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Gurgaon. While we mostly had North Indian style restaurant food, which many of you are familiar with, there were some not-so-common delicacies that stood out. Here are the highlights.

Bhel (Mumbai, Maharashra) – Bhel is the junk food of choice in Mumbai and for good reason. We had excellent Bhel at home this time. I blogged about it earlier (see here).

Daal Baati Choorma (Udaipur, Rajashthan) – A bit of history is instructive here. Baati is a traditional dish from Rajasthan/UP/MP in North Central India. It is a bread that is made by roasting golf ball sized dough balls in an open fire. A popular dish because of the long shelf life and nutritional content, it was the travel food of choice in olden times. When I was a kid my dad often made this when we went for a picnic, it was a dish he had learned as a Boy Scout in India.
In Rajasthan, Baati is eaten with a lot of Ghee (clarified butter) along with Daal (Lentil Soup also generously topped with Ghee – we Indians love our grease) and Choorma (a sweet powdery concoction). On this trip we hunted high and low and finally found a family run place on Chetak Square in Udaipur (M Green Cafe) that served it. Excellent stuff and well worth searching out. Recipe follows soon.

Lemon Coriander Soup (Udaipur, Rajasthan) – Not sure exactly which cuisine this came from but it was excellent. My wife is currently on a quest to figure out a recipe to make it.

Chinjabi (Gurgaon, Haryana) – Chinjabi or Chinese + Punjabi, is the non-Indian food of choice in North India. Consisting of dishes like American Chopsuey, Talu Mein Soup and Gobhi Manchurian, this cuisine that bears a passing resemblance to Chinese food, is the spice-lovers Chinese food of choice.

I could write more and wax lyrical about the excellent Tandoori Roti, or Daal Makhani or the Paneer Tikka Masala that we had but I’ll stop now. Till next time, Bon Appetit!

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