My recent absence from the blog is partly due to my foodie adventures abroad, which started with my wonderful homeland of India. Well, one of my homelands as the other half of me is from Sri Lanka. 🙂 But I have definitely spent more time in India and with my wonderful family and friends. I was lucky enough to be invited to a family members wedding in Mysore and the opportunity arose for me to spend some time before the wedding in Chennai. Big smiles as I write this as it’s the first time I have spent time alone with my Grandmother, my ‘Paati’ as we call her, and I dreamt of her food made with so much love and our funny conversations as soon as I booked my flight 🙂
So my foodie adventures started before I even got on the plane in London. And as I hadn’t travelled in a while and seen some of the airports refurbishment, I really was astounded at the increase in culinary delights even before you took your flight. My flight was after lunchtime, so I took the chance to explore the airport restaurants and I was ecstatic about finding Comptoir Libanais, a Lebanese home-style eaterie, which I’ve had the pleasure of dining at in another location. I knew exactly what I wanted and I ordered without hesitancy – the Falafel wrap – oozing with Harissa sauce. Yum yum yum! I was ready and tummy full to set off on my exciting holiday!
So food on the plane is not something that many people like, or look forward to. But I think I find myself in a minority group who eagerly await the mid-air delicacies? I was not disappointed and received a yummy plate of sag paneer, steamed rice and black gram dal. Delish! I was also happy about the side salad, although on the small side (are we still in the “Credit Crunch”?), and the “Sreekand” (sweetened yoghurt) dessert. All in all, a nice plate of food regardless of the presentation it came in.
Having arrived at my grandmothers and her amazing ability to guage all the gossip from me within 10mins of my arrival, I posed her the question that I had dreamed of. “What are you going to cook for me??!?!”. (eyes popping out in real eagerness here). My thoughtful Paati had already quizzed my mother about what she could make for me, bless her, and was ready with a list of things that she planned to make for my week’s stay. I am a truly lucky granddaughter and here are some phone pics of some of my foodie adventures at ‘Paati’s house’:
The first meal at my grandmothers house (2 more servings followed after this plate though)
A variety of Damson plum, which is called ‘Naaval’ in Tamil
The “full works” as I call it 🙂
My nectar in the morning – can’t get this taste anywhere else!
Taro root fries – known as ‘Chepang kilangu’ in Tamil. One of my all time faves!
So my Paati would probably have frowned if I had taken my camera to the table before every meal, so you will just have to imagine the feasts I managed to consume single-handedly 🙂
But I did manage to eat out in the crazy city of Chennai, and I couldn’t have missed out on the dining experience in the Pondy Bazaar at a new venue called ‘Rucira’ and my old haunt SVB (Saravana Bhavan)
Tiffin at Saravana Bhavan, Mylapore
Try this great eaterie in Pondy Bazaar!
And you can’t leave India without one of the best fast foods of all time…can you? No!!! So I didn’t. And I devoured a packet of instant Maggi noodles without hesitation (thanks Chikku!). Unfortunately I ate it so quickly that I don’t have a photo. And the food snobs out there may prefer not to 😉
Unfortunately all good things come to an end and my precious time with Paati & the family did just that. But she left me smiling as I left her house, as she said that she hadn’t managed to make all my favourite things so she would prepare those for my next visit. Grandmothers are just the best 🙂
So I embarked on my next leg of the trip, which was taking the ‘Shadapti Express’ train from Chennai to Mysore. This was the first time I was travelling by myself for a 7 hour train journey in India, so I was a little anxious, but I had been told that I would have a comfortable journey and I would NOT go hungry. Yeah I’m sure you’ve heard that one before – but that was honestly the understatement of the decade! I definitely did not go hungry. Infact it was a continuous flow of food! I sat next to a boy, a toddler, who was travelling with his this parents and who asked me a million questions throughout the journey (he really did!). So I didn’t really have a chance to take many snaps of the food I ate on the Chennai to Mysore express 😦 But I did take a pic of part of the menu!
The menu on the Shadapti Express
A view from my train seat window.
So unlike the Tamil film Chennai Express, I wasn’t a damsel in distress trying to flee from big and scarey villains, but instead I was more of a devouring damsel! Devouring the huge range of delights before me and getting a few odd looks from the passengers nearby as I smiled happily as I ate. Did I care? No. The best part of the train feast was the veg biriyani and raita – wow wow wow! It was amazingly delicious with simple veg strewn in between fragrant basmati rice, served with a cucumber raita. Quite a surprising number from this part of India. I was expecting more of a ‘Sambar Saadham’ or ‘Uppuma’ or an ‘Idli & Chutney’ duet. But nevertheless the biriyani was really simple and really full of flavour and well above the standards that I was expecting. This is not a train full of reserved and shy members; Indians expect good food regardless of how poor or rich they are and would definitely complain if the food was below par. So I felt content that everyone else in my carriage ate their brekkie, lunch and snacks quite happily. I would highly recommend anyone taking this journey, as not only is the food sumptuous and abundant, the journey itself was smooth and much less hassle than taking a flight. Hats off to the train Chef and his team!
So after arriving to the wonderful climate of Mysore, I was immediately struck by how ‘chillaxed’ everything was. And I mean everyone and everything! It wouldn’t have been so apparent if I had not travelled from the hullabaloo that is Chennai, but I really noticed the different atmosphere as soon as I stepped off the train! I wasn’t hassled by train porters or by busy taxi drivers trying to get through the car park. But it was surprising and relaxed affair as I meandered through the crowds.
But…. the Mysore cuisine was BOOM! and nothing dubious about it at all. It was fantastic to have a home cooked meal on a banana leaf, try ‘Paan’ ice cream for the first time, and the absolutely happy and wonderful wedding events!
A home cooked meal on a plantain leaf
Getting ready for the palm leaf wedding canopy
The mehndhi (henna)!
My favourite wedding dishes would have been ‘Paal Peni’ (thin dried noodles immersed in hot, sweet milk), Pineapple ‘Gojju’ (a sweet and spicy side dish), Beetroot Halwa, the refreshing ‘Kosumalli’ salad..and the list goes on and on and on! I am drooling as I type….
Thanks to our lovely family for giving us such joy and happy times and sharing in the celebrations!
After the wedding we had a chance to check out the local area and see some interesting things. Avi & Arch…you guys are the best!
Beer shampoo?? What??
Why would you want this in your hair??? And who buys this anyway??
Another common street food in the state of Karnataka are the ‘Iyengar Bakeries’. Small street side bakeries offering delicious vegetarian bakes. My favourite was the veg puff filled with spicy potato. Thank you to Mr B for introducing us to these yummies! 🙂
The veg puff from the Iyengar Bakery
But I should not forget the nectar-like Mysore ‘Coorg’ coffee with Bonda….ooh la laa! And finished off with purchasing our own ground coffee (which ended up being a rather meandering trip indeed!).
Mysore Coffee with Bonda – YUM!
The coffee shop with lots of time on their hands! haa haa!
But we didn’t stop there….we also had the typical South Indian breakfast at the Airport 🙂 So from Chennai to Mysore, a trip to cherish and memories to last a lifetime. I’ll be back for sure!
Dosa, Chutney & Sambar at Bangalore Airport