Before coming to India I didn’t have much exposure to Indian food. One of my roommates during med school, Shachi, introduced me to a few things (such as Maggie noodles which are amazing) but other than that I’d eaten it out maybe twice. I also did NOT have a high spice tolerance at all. Luckily, I was amazed by how much I loved all the food and adjusted to spice quickly!
Almost every day while here I’ve started the day with chai. I remember my friend Vibha telling me how amazing the chai was here and she definitely wasn’t wrong. One variation I learned for making it includes water, tea, milk, and sugar. To make it “masala” chai you can add cinnamon, crushed cardamom, fresh ginger, and/or fennel seeds. Every place we had it there was a slight variation but they were all equally good! It was definitely an adjustment to cut out coffee from my morning routine but it was worth it.
Something else I ate almost every day is chapatati, which translates to bread. We were typically served a type of bread called paratha for lunch and dinner every day. Sometimes we would also have it for breakfast, which was then typically deep fried. Instead of utensils it seems that people use chatpati to pick of their food.
One of our drivers in Delhi said that 90% of India outside of big cities is vegetarian. Besides a few dishes, I ate entirely vegetarian and I really enjoyed it. Instead of meat they seem to eat more lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, paneer (which is cottage cheese), and beans. During one of our weekends traveling in Amritsar, Meredith and I went the American route and ate at McDonald’s and Subway. Much to my surprise they were both entirely vegetarian and had solely indian style food. At subway everything was frozen and heated in the microwave but it was still good!
Eating out, I had some really delicious dishes. One of our favorites was Nav Ratan Korma. It was essentially a vegetable and fruit curry. It was so good we went back to the same restaurant to eat it again. Another favorite was butter masala. It’s similar to a creamy tomato sauce and pairs really well with either paneer or chicken. My final favorite was biryani. It is a spiced rice dish that pairs really well with vegetables or chicken. After eating at restaurants, they typically serve some combination of sugar and anise seeds. At one restaurant it was also mixed with sprinkles and dried fruit. It is supposed to aide in digestion and actually tastes very good.
While in Rajasthan, a state in India, we had a 16 course meal of traditional food. For the full experience we were served sitting on the floor in bowls that were made of leaves that are completely biodegradable. Meredith and I were very overwhelmed as all the food began to come out. We had to look at our neighbors and just follow what they were doing 😂
Finally, something I ate all too often, were these delicious chips. They were 20 rupee’s (69 rupee is 1 USD) and were on every street corner.
I am really going to miss all the delicious foods I was able to try. I hope to learn more about using spices and begin making some of my own dishes!