November 2006 Archives

Date and Fig Baked Karanjee

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Karanjee pastries smell like India's sweet shops

I noted down this recipe from Sanjeev Kapoor's "Quick Cook" column in the November 16th issue of Gomantak Times as I sat reading it at breakfast in Panaji, Goa. Half moon shaped pastries filled with cardamom spiced dried fruit and nuts seemed like a perfect holiday baking project.

The pastry is crisp and thin. The filling is sweet but without any sugar - all the fructose goodness from the dates. It's a heavenly combination of flavor and texture.

The recipe calls for ghee, which you can buy easily in India, of course. If you don't have ghee handy, make your own by melting butter and cooking until the solids separate. Then skim the white foam, or strain through cheese cloth. The golden yellow liquid is ghee. It's semi-liquid at room temperature (like butter left out in the summer) and solid when chilled.

Date and Anjeer Baked Karanjee
makes 12

Pastry
1 cup white flour
2 Tbsp semolina flour
2 Tbsp ghee
1/4 cup milk

Combine ingredients for dough. Divide into 12 parts, roll into circles on semolina-dusted surface. Allow to rest while you make filling.

Filling
3/4 cup finely chopped dates
3/4 cup finely chopped dried figs
15-20 cashews, crushed
15-20 pistachios, crushed
1 tsp green cardamom powder
1 Tbsp roasted poppy seeds (white is better, but black's ok)
2Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp ghee, melted

Chop and crush as necessary, then combine the filling ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Fill each circle with a heaping tablespoon of fruit mixture, fold in half and pinch edges shut. Brush with ghee and bake at 180C/350F for 20-25 minutes.

Infested

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An overstuffed, bug infested pantry drawer.

The other evening when I started rubbing flour and butter together to make biscuits, I discovered bugs in my flour. Grrrr. Kinda gross, but it can happen even in the best of pantries. But my cupboards are not a showcase of tidiness.

So I tore them apart today, wiped the surfaces clean and tossed all the open wheat-based products and bug-tasty things. In went some of my precious spices I had stored in not-bug-proof ziplocks, including the whole mace and the nutmeg. Anything expired got chucked into the bin, too.

My pantry was a portrait of a forgetful mind. I found three partially used bags of powdered sugar and two of brown sugar plus four unopened packets of unsweetened cocoa. We like variety, too. We had eight kinds of salt, six different chile peppers and two jars of anchovies. (Don't panic, Tod. I kept all the salts.)

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A tidy cupboard (but for how long?)

Now my pantry is clean, neat and bug free (I hope). Hooray! Plus I unearthed a few of the interesting ingredients that I'd gotten while traveling earlier in the year, so there will be feasts on the table next week.

Everyone wins but the bugs.

College Day

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Sayaka, Kimie, and Hanako pose in front of the idyllic campus pond. Is this really Tokyo?

My friend Yanagi Kimie was visiting from Matsudai, so I joined her and Hanako's art crew for lunch. We ate at the University of Tokyo (Todai) "Metro" cafeteria. The food was typical (Japanese) college fare served on bright orange trays in a large room with scuffed walls, mismatched wall sconces, and vinyl tablecloths. The primary decor in the room are the large signs pointing hungry students to the correct counters for noodles, set meals, rice bowls and drinks. After eating, we scraped and dumped our dishes into a giant dishtray. Todai may be the most prestigious university in Japan, but it's campus meals are the same as every other uni in the world.

After lunch we had a stroll around campus. The leaves are starting to change color and it was quite lovely. We couldn't resist picking up a few red maple leaves and bright yellow sakura leaves. We stopped into one of the empty lecture halls and I found it a very odd mix of old and new. There was a modern computer-based lectern for the prof with wood and iron seating for the students.

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The lecture hall from the professorial point of view.

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Velvet seats! The desks were marked Showa 30-something or about 1960.

Indian Party Lanterns

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Lantern Decoration in Goa

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights that launches a two-month festive season, had just ended when we arrived so everywhere we turned, we saw decorations. One of my favorites were these large lanterns with streamers. I decided to make my own on a smaller scale for holiday parties. Because they are so simple and fun to make, I want to share the pattern with you.

Indian Party Lantern pattern (248K PDF)

You will need:
Paper, construction paper, card stock, thin Styrofoam (reuse those meat trays!), or stiff plastic
Tape (colored or clear)
Scissors or craft knife
optional: ribbons for streamers; cord for hanging

The pattern is designed to make a softball sized lantern from a sheet of A4 paper, so if you can print onto your paper of choice that's easiest. Otherwise trace the pattern onto your lantern material.

Cut out the shapes. If you wish, you can cut a decorative shape from the center of the square pieces and back it with colored plastic as in the lantern pictured above.

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Arranging the pieces on the table before taping makes it faster to assemble

Arrange the shapes by matching the letters on each side. C matches to C, e to e, 6 to 6, etc. This forms a surprisingly un-lanternlike shape. Do not panic; it will all come together.

Tape the pieces together one at a time. Do not overlap - keep the pieces barely touching (if your material is thick, add a gap to allow the seam to fold later). Do your best to center the tape over the seam.

After taping the pieces together flat, crease the seams. This makes sharp edges when the lantern is finished.

Now match and tape the remaining letters and short edges of the rectangles to form the three dimensional shape of the lantern.

If desired, finish with streamers and sew a cord across the top for hanging.

Notes:
To make a different size lantern, cut 4 squares, 8 equilateral triangles, & 8 rectangles. The sides of the squares, triangles and long edge of the rectangles will all be the same length.

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Completed lanterns: as a luminaria. and shading a bulb in my studio

Eating Locally

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I recently read about the 100 Mile Diet, a year-long project by two Canadians to eat only foods that were grown or raised within 100 miles of their home. It turned out to be quite a challenge for them as they discovered there was no locally grown wheat, no fresh vegetables until May, and that sugar really is necessary to make jam.

They uncovered many interesting facts about food production in North America. Here are a few excerpted facts from their 100-Mile Index:

  • Minimum distance that North American produce typically travels from farm to plate, in miles: 1,500
  • Ratio of minutes spent preparing food by English consumers who buy ready-made foods versus traditional home-cooking: 1:1
  • Estimated number of plant species worldwide with edible parts: 30,000
  • Number of species that currently provide 90 percent of the world’s food: 20
  • Major river dams constructed to irrigate California, now the world’s number five agricultural producer: 1,200

Could I do this? I checked a map and drew a 150 kilometer circle around our house.

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150km Diet map for central Tokyo. (Click for a larger version)

I can eat things from many of the nearby agricultural centers, including all of Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Yamagata, Ibaraki and 95% of Tochigi and Gunma. There's a good swath of ocean in there, too, so seafood would not be out of the question.

And since many Japanese grocery stores label the prefecture of origin of their produce, meat, fish and other items, it might not be so hard to manage. The local growers produce good variety in every season, too, to I shouldn't be stuck with a winter menu of all potatoes.

I think I'll give it a try, starting with a 100-mile dinner or two. I think I'd miss sugar too much to make it a permanent thing, but maybe making more informed choices while shopping will help reduce the food transportation burden I am putting on the world.

Masala Chai

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recipe thursdayI think the most important of all Indian foods is masala chai, a sweet milky spiced tea. The chai wallahs who sit on street corners are surrounded by men sipping the strong stuff from tiny disposable cups or real glass glasses. You can get chai (masala or plain) whether you are at a restaurant or sitting on the beach. You can also make it at home.

There are as many combinations of spices as cooks, but every mix includes ginger, cardamom and clove. Some also add cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg and/or mace.

I learned two different techniques for making masala chai: one with whole spices started in cold water, the other with ground spices added to boiling water. In both methods, the milky tea is repeatedly brought to a boil before being served.

The tea should be Assam granules/powder (not leaf), because it can be boiled without losing its flavour. Delicate teas like Darjeeling won't work as well.

Alu's Masala Chai
serves 2

3 cardamom pods
2 cm cinnamon stick
1 cm fresh ginger root
2-3 cloves
2-3 black peppercorns
1 cup ml water
1 tsp Assam tea powder
1/2 cup milk

Bring the water and spices to a boil. Add the tea and allow to boil for two minutes. Add the milk and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat to stop the boil. Return to heat and bring back to a boil. Repeat several times. Strain and serve with sugar to taste.

Shakti's Masala Chai
serves 2

Chai Masala spice mix: 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, and a generous pinch each of ground black pepper, clove, mace, and nutmeg. This makes enough for four pots of chai. You can buy this mix ready made from Shakti's Indian Spice Box if you happen to be in Udaipur.

250 ml water
1/2 tsp chai masala spice mix
1 tsp Assam tea powder
2 tsp sugar
125 ml low fat milk

Add spice mix to boiling water. Boil one minute then, add tea and sugar. Boil one minute, then add milk. When the chai is likely to boil over, lift it from the heat to stop the boiling, then put it back on the flame. Repeat 5-7 times. Remove from heat and allow to steep, covered, for 2 minutes. Strain and serve with additional sugar to taste.

Movie Moment

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The little boy dressed in brown corduroy pants and a red sweater stood at the stoplight. Two older girls in school uniforms called "Ebi-kun!" but he ignored them, intent on getting across the moment the light changed.

"Arrrrwah!" he growled and took off at a run, six-year-old legs pumping as fast as they could towards a large cluster of chatting middle school students on the opposite side of Kasuga Dori. He dodged their blue uniforms and turned left, running full bore through another rank of after-school conversations.

Two boys at the perimeter saw him coming and held out their hands, smiling. He tore through their barrier, turning to shout a greeting as his fuchsia tote bag flew behind him like a cape. He barely broke stride before swinging back towards his destination, a side street into a residential area.

By the time I crossed the Kasuga Dori and reached the street he turned down, he'd vanished. I wonder what compelled him to run so urgently? He seemed too happy to be late. Maybe his mother baked him cookies. Regardless, it really did look like a scene from a little European art film.

Cabaret in Roppongi

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Tonight was one of the most interesting office parties I've ever attended. No bland cheese and syrupy wine.

We went to a cabaret of "new half," transvestites and showgirls at Kaguwa in Roppongi. It was a great performance running about 45 minutes of non-stop, high energy dancing in kimono, short skirts, spangles, and lots of feathers.

Kaguwa seem to have enthusiastic, long-standing, well-to-do fans (sugar daddies, perhaps) who were blown kisses from the star performers. At curtain call, waiters delivered folded money to the two post-op dancers and one of the transvestites who received it with winks and kisses.

After the performance we sipped drinks and wondered "was that one a guy or a real girl?" It was about impossible to tell. Except for the three guys in the show, the others were all hot and sexy dancers with female stage names and great legs.

The stage was as cool as the dancers. Thirty two hydraulic sections lifted and dropped during the dancing to create staircases, platforms, screens, and hideaways. It was beautifully choreographed and must have been interesting to dance on.

But there was a bit of a mystery about the stage construction. When all the sections were lifted to their maximum height, they formed four 2-meter tall boxes open all the way through with a platform above. Dancers were sometimes featured in those boxes while additional action happened on top. But when individual sections were raised for stairs or platforms, the front face of each section was covered with a solid panel, no matter how tall or short it was. Where did the panels go when the boxes were fully lifted?

Indian Pleasures

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We're back from India. What a great trip. We visited cities, villages and towns. We took trains, cars, jeeps, buses, cycle- and auto-rickshaws and planes. We ate at street stalls, roadside rest stops, superior restaurants. My senses were overloaded with gorgeous colors and noxious smells, often at the same time. Some of my favorite aspects of India:

Handcraft
It seems that everything in India is made by hand. Workers mix cement one bowl at a time to create a sidewalk or a high-rise. Shops sport painted advertisements of their goods on the walls. Signs on trucks and buses are hand lettered and frequently misspelled. Cooks start dinner from scratch with produce purchased at farmers' markets. India defines DIY.
Decoration
Everywhere you turn your gaze, you'll find a decorative frill. In Rajasthan, trucks are hand painted with bright designs and depictions of gods and landscapes. In Delhi, Diwali lamps are still flying above the streets. Women all over the country wear colorful saris, gold ornaments, and jeweled sandals. Every surface seems to have a scroll, a flower, or a pattern painted on it or carved into it. All of this decoration is handmade by artisans, craftsmen and regular folk.
Animals
Cows really do roam the streets freely, crossing highways at rush hour, nibbling litter at the roadsides. Some are cared for by the neighbors and decorated with paint and flower necklaces. Some are apparently owned by "rogue dairies" who let them wander at will. There are also elephants that walk the streets attended but approachable. We had a good time interacting with them and their mahouts in several cities. Camels, goats, dogs, buffaloes - India's got lots of fauna.
Food
I have a much better idea of what truly good Indian food is and I'm excited to share it with you, so expect Indian recipes in upcoming Recipe Thursdays. I got hooked on the sweet milky masala chai and learned two ways to make it. We devoured endless curries, street foods, and sweets. There's so much to say about food that I'll save it for another post or two.

If you're interested in following our footsteps, we did Intrepid Travels' India Gourmet Tour. I'll get our photos edited and online soon.

Over the Top & Out the Window

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Tod's fever broke overnight but now I'm sick with digestive issues. Par for the course, but rather annoying.

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Hall of Winds, Jaipur

This morning we walked around the "pink city" of Jaipur with our group, ending up at the Hall of Winds, a five story facade of screened windows that the ladies of the court used to view the city since they were not allowed out in public. They peeked out the windows onto parades and markets without being seen. After our walk, we just couldn't face the aggressive touts, so we caught an auto back to the hotel and rested during our free time.

It didn't help me much. As we waited for the car to come around for our visit to Ladli, I nearly fainted. Then in the car, I suddenly felt hand-over-the-mouth, wild-eyed sick. Our travel companions screamed "Stop the car!" just in time for me to vomit out the window into traffic. Then I escaped out the other side of the van and disgorged my recently sipped orange juice all over the curb. No idea what caused it, but that's India for you.

Our destination, Ladli is part of the i-India NGO project. Ladli gives free vocational training to young girls from the slums and streets. They make lovely beaded jewelry and sell it to visitors like me. The founders of i-India are an Indian couple with backgrounds in sociology and journalism. They began their good works by going out and teaching kids on the streets. Their projects have grown into mobile school vans, healthcare and sanitation, shelters and vocational training for hundreds of street children every day.

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Jaipur at Night (click for larger version)

In the evening, we had drinks at Tiger Fort with a view out over the city. The twinkling lights were beautiful, but the sounds carried up from below were better. We could hear not only a background rumble of city life, but people laughing and singing far below us. Such cool acoustics that I regretted not having my recording gear with me. You'll have to go yourself and have a listen.

Then we went to the Raj Mandir cinema to take in the 9:30 showing of a new Bollywood movie, Don. The theater is decorated in over-the-top pink art deco, like a fancy frosted cake. We had seats in the Diamond section (90 rupees) that had us sitting in a luxurious upper balcony. We had a great view of the audience below us, who hollered and cheered throughout the movie. We were worn out, though, and left the three hour film just before intermission, so we missed out on the snacks and chai that I saw being prepared in the Diamond lobby.

House Call

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Poor Tod. He was up and down all night burning with fever. He missed out on all of today's activities.

While the rest of us wandered through Peharsar village in the morning, Tod slept. We drove to Jaipur and he crashed out on my lap in the back of the car. He went straight to the hotel in Jaipur while we toured the Amber Fort. When I reached the hotel, he was still burning with fever and feeling terrible.

I called in a GP to have a look at him. Dr. Arora arrived 15 minutes later, dressed in a blue shirt and brown slacks, carrying a briefcase with a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff and notepad. He talked to Tod for about 45 minutes, testing the vitals, asking questions about his symptoms and exhibiting a pleasant, fatherly bedside manner. Then he scribbled a prescription for antibiotics and various other medicines on his tablet. His charge for a house call was 400 rupees, or about 1000 yen.

I ran across the street (literally ran, dodging traffic as you do in India) to the chemist. I handed a young man the doctors orders and he moved through his tiny shop, opening glass-fronted cabinets and pulling out boxes from the ones stacked there. He took the boxes back to the counter, pulled out a pair of scissors and checking the script again, proceeded to cut off the right number of pills from each blister pack. The medicine totaled 170 rupees.

Here's some of what Tod missed:

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Peharsar woman forms fuel from cow dung

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Garden in the Amber Fort, Jaipur. "Winter, summer, monsoon palace; army barracks. Come. Look," said our guide over and over...

Fatehpur Sikri and Peharsar

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Maybe it wasn't just the hot day yesterday that had me resting on the marble floor of the Taj. By the late afternoon I had a fever and felt so blah that I skipped dinner and went straight to bed. This morning I'm run-down, but the fever's gone.

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One of the courtyards at Fatehpur Sikri

Visiting Fatehpur Sikri cheered me up. The Emperor Akbar built this city. It took twelve years and was to be the center of his new religion. He had three wives - one Hindu, one Muslim and one Christian - and all three are commemorated in the architectural details, including some remarkable botanical carvings. Unfortunately, due to politics and drought, the city was abandoned after only four years. But I peopled it with my imagination. It was spectacular.

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Sam likes the carvings, too.

After our visit we had lunch at Hotel Ajay Palace (everything is a palace here, even the most modest of hotels). It was quite a simple place, and like everywhere in India not 100% spic and span. Ajay's elderly father, JP, presided over the dark black lemon pickles, which he makes himself. Lunch was delicious. Homemade curd, a thali full of wonderful curries with condiments of super-spicy green chilis and a chili tomato sauce. I loved Ajay's cooking and hope to return someday for another lunch.

Too soon we were back in the car heading towards a tiny village called Peharsar and the Chandra Mahal Haveli, a charming old merchant's house renovated into a hotel. It has courtyards, gardens, thick walls with niches carved into them and bright stained glass in the windows. By the time we arrived, though, Tod was feverish so I put him to bed while the rest of us enjoyed a cooking demo and snack. Sam took notes and I paid close attention, so I should be able to reproduce the dry potato curry they made for us.

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The Indian spice box

Tod rallied enough before dinner to come sit with us in the garden. We had fried spinach leaves, chicken kofta, dry cooked eggplant with a sweet seasoning and a different potato curry. Shortly after dinner, we made it an early night and went off to bed in our purple painted room.

Agra and the Taj Mahal

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I think it's required by law that visitors to India see the Taj Mahal. With that necessity in mind, I was not really looking forward to today's trip to Agra.

We caught a 6:15 train from Delhi. As we were served tea and breakfast with newspapers, scenery of ramshackle huts sped past us. I'd been warned that the poverty in India is terrible and would bother me. But it doesn't. Our world economy is not fair but we all share the same human emotions. Money doesn't change joy and sorrow. The people outside my window have happy and sad moments and so do I.

We arrived in Agra and started our touring at the Red Fort. Made of local sandstone, it really is red. The emperor who built the Taj Mahal lived here with his 3 wives and hundreds of concubines and you can tell it was a complex society by the way the courtyards and rooms are connected (or not). After Shah Jahn built the Taj Mahal, though, his son overthrew him for wasting public funds on the frivolous Taj and his red fort became a jail. Pretty nice jail, though.

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The icon of India turned out not to be such a waste of public funds after all.

Then we were off to the Taj itself. I was expecting to be bored and unimpressed. I mean, who hasn't seen a dozen photos of the building? It's a big white domed edifice. Whoopee. I figured Zoupi might enjoy it a little bit, but he wasn't allowed in. He had to go to "elephant and cell phone jail" while we visited. His jail was not as nice as Emperor Shah Jahn's.

I was wrong about the Taj. It is breathtaking. Inside the vaulted room where the mausoleums are, the tap of footsteps, the babble of talk, eand ven the visitors breathing all combine into the most chilling and enveloping sound that echos through the space. I got up close to the rail, closed my eyes and listened. Shivers ran down my spine...

Here are some un-touristy photos of the Taj and our visit there.

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Waiting for the shoe wallah to take my sneakers.

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It was so hot that we laid down on the cool marble floor in one of the porticoes.

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We spent half an hour staring up at this domed ceiling.

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We weren't alone in enjoying the a rest in the shade

Old Delhi

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Today we tried our first street food - from a vendor in Old Delhi that won a Times of India "Good Food Award"! Well deserved, too. Those were some tasty samosa, aloo tikka, and crispy pea-filled breads. Sarah, the ultra-cautious member of our group refused to try anything; she's fearful of falling ill. The rest of us dug in and enjoyed.

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Onlookers cheer the parade from the balcony of the gudawara

Old Delhi was a madhouse today due to Guru Nanak's birthday. The main street was closed off for a parade of school children, flower-bedecked buses and men sword fighting. We skirted around them to the Jamma Mosjid, Jain Bird Sanctuary and then headed into the fray at the gudawara where all the action was centered.

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Grilling chapati in quantity

We slipped into the gudawara's kitchen to watch the volunteers making chapati for anyone who wanted to eat. While Tod snapped photos, I was handed a long narrow spatula and nodded towards the grill. Everyone else was deftly flipping chapatis from one end of the griddle to the other. Mine all folded in the middle. It was a lot harder than they made it look.

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Choosing nuts in the spice market

By the time we made it to the spice market (after another stop for glorious parantha from a 5th generation back alley dive), I was too tired to enjoy it much. But the colors and scents were sublime and almost reviving.

In the evening, we drove out to suburban Delhi to have dinner and a home visit. While her husband showed us their apartment and it's brightly painted blue and violet rooms, Alu made a feast for us with channa curry, spicy okra, potatoes with fenugreek, several homemade sauces and pickles and, of course, chapati. She gave us a try at forming and rolling chapati. Hers were so nice and round. Mine was rather heart-shaped. I think today was not my day for any aspect of chapati making.

All around Delhi

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This morning, we walked from Ram Nagar through Connaught Place down to Bengali Market for breakfast. Crab had suggested channa bathura at Bengali Sweet Shop and he was right on the mark. Heavenly fried bread with chick pea curry may not be to everyone's taste for breakfast, but we were hungry and it was delicious.

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Before too many "five minutes look" moments

At 11, Didar was ready for us with the auto-rickshaw. We decided on a program of mainly religious places and took in a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple made of striking red, white and yellow stone, and our driver's own Sikh gudawara.

The gudawara was very cool. Though they seem fierce with their religious accouterments of daggers, bracelets and combs, Sikhs sing their holy book and give free food to anyone who turns up at lunchtime and dinner. Their blessing is a sweet paste of ghee and flour that is sticky and delicious. There is a big Sikh holiday tomorrow - Guru Nanak's birthday, and volunteers were stringing lights and decorating. We walked around the enclosed reflecting pool, strolled through a book fair and bought a book.

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The reflecting/bathing pool and book fair

Auto drivers are notorious for taking tourists to places where they will get commissions or freebies, and Didar was no exception. By the end of the day we had been inveigled to "five minutes just look, no buy OK" at several shops. And we did "look no buy" at most of them. But I succumbed to an overpriced Aruvedic treatment for a blossoming headache and bought a really lovely silk scarf at just under Tokyo prices, I imagine, but it's beautiful and I need a head covering for visiting mosques and such.

Battling traffic at rush hour was quite an experience. I should have been afraid of the buses and trucks barreling alongside us and the other autos and cars performing a ballet of passing and crowding into roads without lane markers, but somehow I wasn't at all perturbed and enjoyed it immensely.

In the evening we started our Intrepid tour and met the group for a meeting. Expecting a party of twelve, we were surprised and pleased to find only five people on the tour, plus our tour leader, Paula. After the usual self-introductions, we talked over our itinerary, responsible travel, and Intrepid's projects. Then we went to dinner.

Dinner was fun and we talked a lot about food and ingredients. It seems that Tod and I are pretty knowledgeable even though I don't feel all that skilled in Indian cuisine. I smiled when the band struck up Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, a classic Bollywood love song by Kishore Kumar that I've heard Jim sing to Yuka.

We will sleep well tonight and without the blare of morning call to prayers, I hope.

Delhi Impressions

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Random Delhi intersection

This is going to be an interesting trip. At first glance, Delhi reminds me much of Beijing - the chaotic traffic hurrying along on filthy streets past fenced off enclaves.

5:15 this morning at Hotel Ajanta in the Ram Nagar district, I heard a clang. A dropped pipe? A bell? It was the start of the dawn call to prayer - a very loud and melodic call for 30 minutes, followed by somewhat muffled prayers and chanting from the mosque next door. This, along with an extraordinarily inedible breakfast and a rip-off change of rooms when we were too tired to complain about it last night is the reason I will not stay at Hotel Ajanta again or recommend it to anyone.

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Me & Crab inside the uncompleted minar

The day got a lot better when we met our friend, Crab, at Qutab Minar. Crab, who is really named Abhijit, is an enthusiast of India's historical ruins and mausoleums and he showed us some fascinating details in the complex, including the first true arch ever built in India (along with some of the few precursors which didn't fall apart). We had a late lunch at one of his favorite South Indian restaurants, then he dropped us off at Hamayun's Tomb and went into work.

As we left the tomb later on, we negotiated a ride back to the hotel by an auto-rickshaw driven by a Sikh fellow named Didar. He persuaded us to use his service tomorrow for a ride around town to various places. I didn't want to, but recalled one of the bits of advice in Shantaram: surrender. So I gave in and arranged to have Didar pick us up at 11 am at our hotel.

Still full from lunch and exhausted from the busy day, we skipped dinner but walked through the Main Bazaar near the New Delhi train station. I was offered hashish three times but only bought some sandalwood soap.

To India

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We're off to enjoy Indian food and culture. Mediatinker won't be updated until I return round and happy like Ganesha.

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