Thursday, February 7, 2013

I am LOVING the food here in India!

After five months in Chile of eating pretty limited options of vegetarian food, I have been really excited for India. I was talking about it so much near the end that Caroline had even warned me to tempter my expectations, because we might be too sick the whole time to enjoy the food.

Well, so far after 2 days here, not only have we stayed healthy the whole time, but we have really enjoyed the food so far! As we posted yesterday, our first couple meals were just at the hotel restaurants, since we were exhausted and anyway wanted to play it safe with staying healthy. Today we got a little more adventurous.

For lunch, we went to a sort-of-fancy restaurant near Connaught Place, a very central shopping concourse built as part of British New Delhi (I don't know if it was built to be a shopping area or not, but that's what it is today). The restaurant wasn't actually Indian food, it was more like Chinese and Thai, which seems to be very popular here. The food was pretty good, and most importantly (for me) it was properly spicy! South American cuisine is generally very un-spicy, and as a spice lover, I had really missed some good spicy food. (I had previously expected South American food to be spicy, because of my experience with Mexican food, but it turns out that the food in SA is pretty tame in terms of flavor - though I'm sure there are exceptions!).

We mostly enjoyed the meal, but we accidentally ordered more food than we really needed, which made me feel really bad. I just had this little voice in the back of my head saying "clean your plate, there are kids starving in India." I really don't mean that as a joke, the poverty in some places here is obviously very extreme, and it so it does induce a bit of guilt to throw away food after a meal.

The lunch place was also a bit pricier than other places we've seen. Not expensive per se, but more like American prices rather than the cheap food here. Still, it was worth it to pay a little more for clean food that wouldn't make us sick.

For dinner, we tried to be a little braver. We took the metro to an area called Karol Bagh, which had a very cool outdoor shopping market. There were tons of street vendors, and shops on the side selling beautiful Indian clothing, including a lot of bridal and groom shops (the grooms get ornate clothes here too!). We found a place on the corner that looked clean enough and had a lot of customers.

It was kind of organized like a chinese place in a mall food court, with lots of prepared dishes that they heap on your plate. We scanned the options and decided to get a lentil dish, naan bread, some rice, samosas and rice pudding for dessert, all for about $4.50 total! We took our tray to a little table on the side of the street that you just stand next to, and joined an Indian couple there that was about our same age.

The food was so great! Caroline kept saying "this won't be worth it if we barf, but this sure is good!" Then she tried the rice pudding, and said "this might actually be worth it if we barf!" It was a delicious and fun experience. The couple next to us had a dish that seemed very popular. They told us it was called Chole Bhature, and if we don't get sick tomorrow, we will definitely go back and try it.

Overall, we weren't sure beforehand how much our experience eating Indian food in the US would be relevant here. After all, people often talk about how chinese food in the US is nothing like in China. So far, I would actually say the food here is very similar. The difference is that it is more consistently good here, like even the cheapest places here have been tasty, whereas you can definitely get lousy Indian food in the US. Also, while the food here isn't CRAZY spicy, everything here is spicy, and it just seems like you won't find "mild" level food (fine by me, and Caroline's been doing great with it too).

The one thing that helps a lot from eating Indian back home is that we know the names of dishes. The menus just have names, no explanations because everyone just knows what these dishes are. It would be like if a menu in the US explained that pizza is a bread crust, with tomato sauce and topped with cheese. For us, it's been really reassuring to see the same items we love in the US on menus here, so we know what we are getting. Of course, we plan to try some new things too, that's the whole idea!

For those of you who have been to India, did you also think the food was pretty similar to what you've had in the US? For those of you from India, is this total blasphemy? :)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds amazing! Make sure Samuel doesn't gain too much weight so that they charge him for two seats on the way back to Israel.