2.22.2011

Indian food in India is just food.

I am so thankful for my recent trip to India, and really enjoyed the experience.  It was beautiful to see all of the rhetoric I hear, in action.  Not for credibility, not to be hip, but because it's a way of life and always has been.  Eating locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, seasonally, has never gone out of style.  Microwaves and preservatives are a strange concept, and don't play a part in their food culture. Lovely.

Fruits and Veggies, sold on the street in Mumbai, India
 Green Beans, headed to market, Mumbai, India
The daily catch, Fort Cochin, India
Flat bread I was preparing for a potluck dinner in Varkala, India
We also managed to find the most amazing chocolate cake in Mumbai.  Nothing Indian about it- it was in a western cafe.....but it was so tasty.  It made us swoon, really! We shamelessly went back for them a few times, in even fewer days.

Our first night in Varkala, Kerala we took a rickshaw across town Kumari's house.
Eating the meal she prepared for us in her back yard next to the cow, without napkins, silverware or drinks added to the experience.  Food was the focus.  She made at least 12 different items, and it cost us 150 Rupees, which is about $3.00.  It was a real life "supper club."
Kristi and I went back a few days later for a cooking lesson and lunch.
The meals Kumari prepared were the best we had in India, hands down.
I will always remember the experience.  She's a lovely woman, standing 5 feet tall but with the strength and energy to run the household.  Her house is small and humble, no fuss, no unnecessary items.  (Lesson number one!)
Her cow in the back yard and provides fresh milk for the family. 
She grows many of the ingredients she cooks with.  
Her husband helps cut vegetables, and she uses her experience and love to prepare amazing food.
Onions, garlic, ginger and okra, which she called "ladyfingers".
Curry leaves from her garden. She explained they are best fresh, and not good as a dried herb.  I had no idea there was such a thing, and am trying to find seeds to grow them here....something which I could get busted for, I'm sure.
Fresh Veggies!

I could share recipes with you, but the best thing is to share technique.
The dish starts with coconut oil on high heat.  I have only been able to find it at an India grocery store, or Whole Foods.  Whole foods is a bit pricier, and had a few additional choices.  Place black mustard seeds in hot pan and cover (unless you like oil, everywhere.)  A combination, depending on the dish, of garlic, onion, and ginger.  The fresh vegetables are next, , Add the remaining spices before closing lid.  Either keep on heat for a minute, which would give you a bright crunchy vegetable dish. Or, keep it on until you achieve what Kumari called the "roasted" look.  Certain dishes can be finished with freshly home made coconut milk, boiling it off until the cream thickens and the dish is deep and rich.  These are the things good curries are made of. 
The vegetables you use are interchangeable, and therefore the options are endless. 


Her foundation spices include:
Fresh curry leaves, black mustard seed, freshly ground chili powder, coriander, fennel, cumin, tumeric, cinnamon, cardamom and chicken Marsala spice (which is vegetarian). 
Fresh onion, garlic and ginger make an appearance as well.
She used ANNA pans, and I'm kicking myself for not bringing one home. I can't find them online...can you?   There will be a curry dinner in it for you!


Kumari's masterpieces

 I'm forever changed when it comes to not only curries, but good honest food, prepared with love. But mostly curries.  

5 comments:

  1. soooooooooooo jealous! what a wonderful experience.
    have you been to little india yet in artesia? if not, and if so, we should take a trip there soon. i could use some food and new spices.

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  2. Let's plan an afternoon trip. Sounds great!

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  3. Oh how I miss that chocolate gooey-forget-that you-walked-to-Victoria-Terminus cake. Unforgettable.

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  4. Kristi- I've feverishly tried to find a substitute- futile. Looks like we'll have to hop on a plane.

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  5. Hii.. Thanks for you posting this blog.
    I bookmarked this blog. I will try it this in summer.
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