South Indian Comfort Food

December 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

idli chai puttu

The hugging saint “Amma” was visiting San Francisco from South India so I travelled to her ashram in San Ramon to attend her retreat. Amma is a humanitarian and has an international charity called Embracing the World that focuses on ending poverty by educating people in India and implementing creative solutions to change the world.

In India she has built universities, hospitals and orphanages to name a few. She gives out free meals and scholarships to those who would not be able to afford education. She has spoken many times at the UN and is an inspiration as she came from a small fishing village.

I enjoy being in her presence and so I took the opportunity to see her in California. I always look forward to the food as it is made with love and warms the soul. One morning when I entered the cafe, I was so happy to find some of my favourite south Indian breakfasts. The idlis tastes just like the ones in India and the sambar sauce complimented it perfectly.

I kind of pigged out and also got a scoop puttu which is made with ground rice and has savoury spices with veggies. I was so in heaven and I washed it all down with a cup of chai.

I had a great time at the retreat and the space for solitude and reflection was what I needed. Back at home I feel more connected and relaxed and eager to research recipes on South Indian breakfasts. If you would like to know more about Embracing the World, visit their website at www.embracingtheworld.org for more info on Amma, visit www.amma.org.

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Street Food in India

April 2, 2013 § 2 Comments

samosa and chai

samosa and chai

Street food in India is usually very inexpensive and a chai and samosa costs about 18 cents. Some places have benches or stalls to sit on that are in the street. Street food usually has more flavour and is more authentically made as it’s geared for locals and not tourists. If you’re in a hurry, you can get something and it’s ready within minutes of ordering compared to spending an hour or so in a restaurant.

chai

straining chai

When I first started going to India, I never ate the street food. I’ve heard many horror stories from people of sicknesses that have lasted over a week over some dodgy meat that tempted them in the market. That was enough to keep me away for some time. But you do hear of people who eat everything and even drink the tap water without any side effects. I decided to give street food another chance and have come up with  a method to help decipher what is safe.

rolling roti

rolling roti

I usually look for places that are busy where all the locals eat. I watch the person cook a few items and see how they handle the food, the money and clean up. Look to see if the person is using their hands or utensils, and using the same hand for money. Often they don’t have running water and only a cloth at their side

roti

cooking roti

Look at how the item is cooked and in some cases like deep-frying for samosa, it may kill some bacteria. Overall you need to use your judgement and intuition as to where to trust. After you’ve tried a place, see how your body feels and then you’ll know if it’s good to go back.

uttapam

Vendor cooking uttapam on the ghat in Varanasi

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