For my last post on India, I thought I’d highlight the best foods I ate while on my recent trip there.
Chana Masala – Other than knowing it was a vegetarian curry, I didn’t even know exactly what this was when I ordered it from Dolphin Restaurant in Varanasi on our first day in India. As I was to find out, it was one of the best vegetarian dishes I ate on our entire trip. For the record, chana masala is a curry made of chick peas, with a slightly sweet and spicy onion/tomato based gravy.
Baby Shark – Shortly after arriving in Goa I overheard another patron at our hotel describing to her companion that she was able to try baby shark earlier that day. At that moment I knew I’d have to give it a shot before I left. Seafood is quite popular in Goa and many establishments will lay out the day’s catch on a table at the front of their restaurant. As customers enter they can simply choose their evening’s meal and let the server know how they’d like it cooked. When the time came to try shark, I went with the server’s recommendation to broil the shark with garlic butter. It didn’t disappoint. The texture is difficult to describe, but I’d say it’s probably similar to, but softer and less rubbery than scallops.
Chicken Lababdar – After spending New Year’s Eve in a taxi on the road between Bikaner and Jodhpur, my wife and I celebrated the new year the following night at Indique Restaurant. We opted for the chicken lababdar and rogan josh for dinner. Both dishes were excellent, but I have to give the edge to the lababdar. Chicken lababdar is quite similar to butter chicken, although the chicken is grilled rather than fried, which adds an awesome spin to an otherwise familiar dish.
Jhal Muri – I had first heard about this dish while watching an episode of the Food Network’s Eat St. last year. This particular episode featured a somewhat eccentric guy who would set up a tiny little table in downtown London and make this Indian snack for his customers. I even found this video on youtube. Anyways, when I walked by a similar setup outside Jaipur’s City Palace, I had to give it a shot. The version I tried had rice crisps, peanuts, chick pea noodles, diced tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, cilantro and curry spices. Awesome.
Red Ants – Okay, this wasn’t exactly a favourite food, but it was probably the most interesting. I mentioned this in my previous post on Spice Farming. Ants are apparently eaten by locals in the form of a paste that can be spread on bread/crackers. I know, that description doesn’t make them sound especially appealing, but I must admit, their lemon-like flavor wasn’t nearly as offensive as you might think.
These were the best of the best foods from our trip. Overall the food was pretty amazing, but I will say that the food in the north tended to be a lot blander than I was expecting. I also wasn’t expecting vegetarianism to be quite as common (again, especially in the north). And I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive that masala and paneer filled “donut” we ate from a food cart in Jodhpur, the effects of which were felt for 2+ days. 🙂