Sunday, May 13, 2012
A Spiced Life...: Potato dosai and traipsing through Delhi.......: To see the sights of Delhi or...?...I decide to hit the food court of the stunning New Delhi Imperial Hotel. A crackerjack of a hotel wi...
To see the sights of Delhi or...?...I decide to hit the food court of the stunning New Delhi Imperial Hotel. A crackerjack of a hotel with amazing walls of so many pictures!!! You'd need to first try to understand just how much I crave the taste of an authentic dosai. Filled with chicken masala or potato cooked with black mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaf, fresh coriander, onion, garlic, chili, ginger, and turmeric ~ all wrapped up in a crispy pancake of expertly rolled and fried semolina ~ this dish alone is worth flying thousands of kilometres for.
It came served with a bowl of roasting hot sambal, coconut and red chili chutney...I am in my element. So good.....
(Note. Drinking bottled spring water in most of India is a must even to clean teeth and gargle.) Out on the streets Delhi defies any pictures I have seen before and its looking smart, with the centre roads surprising lined with bright rows of tulips and spring blooms. Sadly I can eat nothing from the food vendors in the street as even though everything looks fresh and good...I know that even my tough western guts are not impervious to Delhi belly. The rows of sweet galabi, gulab jamun and halva's drive me to near distraction and a quick cheap taxi ride in a sweaty no aircon "Hindustan Ambassador" car diverts me to the "Haldiram" centre (the Indian KFC) which is nicely indoors at the Gucci style "Ambience Shopping Centre." The traffic is totally horrible but my bag of goodies keeps me patient. My driver tells me he is from the district of Punjab. I hear about his entire family life while he practises his English on me. I give him some sweet morsel and we natter on like old buddies.
At "India Gate" inner park these sweet women pictured below call me over and pose for me, displaying their henna tattoos and toothless grins. So happy are they very smiley as they touch my arms and cackle amongst themselves. I laugh with them - for me it's a magic moment. They point at my blue eyes.
They all freeze frame for my camera. Just like me they are from out of town...just visiting Delhi. A visit to a mosque in Old Delhi finds me shoeless along with thousands of other stinky, sweaty feet and we all trudge along scalding our feet on the slabs of stone. Gandhi's grave and a zillion sights later ~ it's really time for some kip. My Indian friends only pay 10 rupees to retrieve their shoes but I, as a visitor must pay 100! This happens everywhere I go. When in Rome I guess. My sandal strap breaks after so many steps - amazingly just two Aussie dollars gets it repaired perfectly. My dollar is worth so much here....I find it funny that people are taking my photo, not because I have any fame but just because I am tall with light skin.
....Next stop train to Jaipur!
Friday, May 11, 2012
Leaving the lush green slopes of the River Nile, hearty tagine stews, palm trees and the sugar cane of Luxor ~ it's jet flying back to El Gouna, Hurghada, flying over and around the Red Sea once again. What a crusty dust bowl Egypt is from the moon view. Testimony to that is my face tan, sand blasted sunnies. Despite, I have a deep internal satisfaction that I walked, saw, felt, ate and devoured all that the secret ancient tomb world had to offer me. Ever memories. Thankful. Bye bye little jet. Back in town the spice market tugs me to my senses and I find I'm longing for the dirt and smells from the sacks and baskets that line my current favourite store in El Gouna. Egypt imports many of it's spices from India and Africa but its freshly harvested but dried hibiscus flowers makes a great tea. I love the yellow flowered one best. Cumin seed sits fragrant in a huge basket on the path but the most expensive spice in the world - saffron - is inside the store high on the shelf. I see that it's not the purest of stuff. The best is really behind the scenes for the more discerning buyer. I just love this shop. Just running my fingers through the cinnamon and fennel seed is so calming. The store owner calls me Mama but his eye is on my cash and I know it. I buy a few treats for my chef friend. I laugh and laugh as the trader offers me free five hours worth of "hubba hubba" for my husband!! (It's was actually a fake aphrodisiac in the form of "root" ginger.) He winks.....I tell him "We're all good thanks". Now he laughs like a drain. No offense between us and I tell him I'll see him again (maybe) if the price improves on the cassia bark. Back for dinner I sip a local red wine with a toe tingling meal of lamb and lentils topped with brilliant wild basil and parsley. The night is chill and I inspect the dark red soft lamb leather holdall travel bag that I bought for just $33 Australian. So many zips and pockets but made in Egypt.....bargain for me. I pack up every item I own to travel next to New Delhi, India.