Indian food is something you you either like or dislike. It is full of all kinds of wonderful spices and unusual breads and exotic tastes that are so distinct.
Prior to traveling to India, neither my husband nor I had developed a particular liking for Indian food. It was more on the level of ‘take it or leave it’ if you know what I mean.
However, we had decided ahead of time, that as part of our adventure we would make it our goal to have several cooking lessons, which we did actually accomplish in Munnar at the Spice Tree Hotel and in Kochin with the famous Nimmy and Paul. Excuse the pun , but these yummy experiences will be ‘food’ for future posts!
However, the most unusual food moment of our trip took place in Madurai, where we experienced “Foodies Day Out.” This Indian food adventure was undoubtedly one of the big highlights of our travels through southern India.
ADVENTURE : Foodies Day Out in Madurai
Madurai is known for its excellent Indian cooking. In order to immerse ourselves and learn as much as we could about what had given Madurai it’s reputation we signed up with a lovely gentleman named Pandian…short for Athideerapandian Pugalanthipandian…for his evening tour of all of the best local joints, restaurants, food stalls. etc., in Madurai. Kudos to Abbas of India Someday for turning us on to him!
He picked us up in his car promptly at 6 PM and proceeded to take us around to some of the most ‘off the beaten tourist track places’ you…or we…could imagine. Truth be told, having been seriously warned about what to eat in India, we never would have entered any of these places or dared to try the food off a food cart in the street on our own.
However, before you could count to three, we were right there in the nitty-gritty of Madurai, dodging the motor bikes, cars and pedestrians and bellying up to eat some of THE MOST delectable Indian food.
A FEW SALIENT FACTS YOU MUST BE PREPARED TO ENCOUNTER WHEN DINING ON THE STREETS OF MADURAI: Do not expect plates or silverware. Indians eat most of their food with their right hand. Occasionally, you will receive your food served on a piece of newspaper. Napkins, if available, are usually rough paper or old newspaper. Bottled water is readily available for drinking. If you can deal with all of the above then you are in like Flynn…or should I say, Pandian!
Okay, here is the list of the delights and places Pandian introduced us to:
Sambar Vadai (The donut dipped in sambar), Kesari (sweet from semolina) at Adyar Ananda Bhavan
Bholi (The dosa like dish with palm sugar stuffing), Kara Chevu (savoury made from chick pea flour), Adhirasam (The sweet donut with palm sugar stuffing) at SVT Sweets
Paruthipaal (Cotton seed milk)
Dhal Vada, Green Lentil Sundal at a road side snack bar
Special Stuffed Ceylon Parotta (parotta stuffed with egg and chicken), Mutton Chukka at Ashok Mutton Stall
Milk Halwa, Kesar Kulfi Ice Cream at Amirtham Sweet Stall
Kari dosa (soft dosa layered with eggs and mutton),Chicken chukka (minced chicken) at Konar KadaI
Pine Apple Mixture at Amsavalli Bhavan
Print this up for your records and take it along when you go out for Indian food here in the States. BTW, the New York Times food section featured a great article on top Indian chain restaurants in Manhattan. I checked it out with Abbas of India Someday, and he said most of them had started in India and they all were excellent. Nice to have a buddy in India, right?
Pandian was ready to take us to even more places but we were so full we had to decline his invitation to continue on with his tour. This experience was really fabulous…to be out there eating on the street with all of the locals. Before we left, our ears had been filled by well meaning friends with such fears of of even eating any place besides hotels and there we were up front and central gobbling down scrumptious food with the rest of the crowd. Just really loved it!
For the record, we never got sick…Pandian had insured us we wouldn’t…and we felt like one of the locals where ever we stopped. AND Pandian even gave us a doggy bag of delicious treats for the road trip the following day!
Big thumbs up for this deelicious experience!
Ciao, ciao ’til next time!