Thursday, December 3, 2009


Some of our favorite treats:

Thali (Jeremy's favorite): an all-you-can-eat plate-full of spicy but nourishing vegetarian fare. Chappatis, the whole wheat pita-bread-esque thing in the middle and white basmati rice (not pictured) are constantly refilled, as are the the little tin cups with various curries, chutnies, pickles and sometimes, curd (aka yogurt) or an onion-heavy salad. Some restaurants, including this one, have “thali-only floors.”

Vegetable Thukpa (Ali's favorite): a delicious and spicy Tibetan soup made from leafy greens, carrots, scallions, bamboo shoots, and thick noodles- vegetarian chicken soup for the soul.

Mutton Curry with Appam: We feasted on this chuck in a “working-man's diner” in Kollam (a working-man's town). It was the only item on the menu that day, and it was damn good. Ali loves appams. At first glance, with their spongy centers and flaky outsides, they appear to be fried eggs without yokes; in fact, they are fermented rice pancakes. Mutton (goat or lamb or some sort of combination), is a meat of choice here in India, and especially so in the south.

Chicken Biryani: Many places claim biryani is their specialty, but it is served indiscriminately in restaurants and other food venues throughout the country. We are surprised that we have not yet found it in vending machines. On rare occasions, it can be quite good. Here, it came with chicken, raita (spiced yoghurt with chopped cucumbers, onions and tomatoes) and spicy pickles in addition to rice, and was served on a banana leaf instead of a plate (how about that ya eco-maniacs!). And, for good measure and those with a taste for modern art, a boiled egg was perched on top of it all.

Vegetable Pakora with mango and cilantro chutney: We coated vegetables in chickpea flour and then fried them. And then, we dipped them in these chutnies, which we also made, and then we ate them. Sadly, we forgot to take pictures of the finished feast (too hungry and busy eating), but at least we remembered to take one of the appetizers.

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