Finally India, Finally Fooding! (August Edition)

Tonight, I had an interesting/agonizing debate with a Hindu grandpa who wanted to make the point that there is no lasting happiness to be found on this earth.  Simple pleasures, like ice cream, often lead to pain, like frozen headaches or diabetes.  More complicated pleasures, like that of loving your family, are inseparable from fear and anxiety.  Finally, even those pleasures that are in and of themselves innocuous, like going for a nice stroll, still only temporarily allay the desire they were meant to fulfill, and if you really enjoy them, they encourage the desire to come back quicker and stronger.  Having immersed myself in Buddhist countries and cultures for most of the past eight years, this view makes a certain amount of sense to me.

On the other hand, the fact that eating a single plate of dumplings doesn’t fill me up for eternity can be construed as a good thing, right?  That’s the reason I get to keep eating and eating and eating and eating, sometimes three or more new things in a single day.  Sometimes three or more old favorites.   Sure, the food doesn’t solve any of my existential dilemmas; but given that nothing else will either, why not enjoy it?

With that, I present you with: August!

 

2014-08-04 to Shillong 004 (res)

Aloo Paratha, one of India’s staple breakfast foods.  It’s like a quesadilla, except instead of cheese it’s got mashed potatoes inside.

2014-08-22 to Jalpaiguri 002 (res)

$0.50 truck stop veg meal.  Flatbread, runny lentil dish, beans and potatoes, some sort of pickle, five Chex.

2014-08-28 to Darjeeling 022 (res)

Another veg meal, this time with Okra, sliced the long way.

2014-08-05 Shillong 002 (res)

Khasi (main ethnic group in Meghalaya) set meal, notable for the raw radish dish (2 o’clock) sprinkled with something like PERILLA!

And a word of advice if you ever come to India: learn to distinguish between your green sauces.  Sometimes they’re sweet and limey and made with cilantro, sometimes they’re just peppers blended into a paste.

2014-08-18 to Tura 004 (res)

Homemade set meal courtesy of Senkham and Puii in Tura.  Mashed potatoes, salad, lentils, and Garo style smoked fish.

2014-08-23 to Siliguri 001 (res)

If you’ve been following along for the previous two India food posts, you probably already know what a dosa is.

(Photo Courtesy of Chris Buchman @ www.fromatobe.com)

I order them pretty frequently when I’m tired of set meals served with rice.  They’re lovable not only for their crispy texture and sourdough-like pungency, but also for the chilled coconut chutney that comes on the side.

 

 

 

 

 

2014-08-24 Siliguri 001 (res)

Happened to find a pretty awesome pure veg restaurant in Siliguri.   Here’s an oldie and a newey: Aloo Paratha (right) with a bowl of some sort of veg soup with sour cream.

 

 

 

 

 

2014-08-25 Siliguri  99 (res)

Same restaurant.  Same day, even!  Kidney bean and paneer curry.   Man was not meant to eat food so rich, but I’d do it again in an instant.

(PCoCB @ www.fromatobe.com)

Same restaurant, next day.  Paneer Malai Kofta.  Kofta is like a vegetarian meatball, made of potatoes and lentils when it’s cheap or of spinach, raisins, cashews, and paneer when it’s high-class.  This was the latter.  Served in blended spinach sauce, with cream on top for good measure.  Veg heaven!

2014-08-25 Siliguri 007 (res)

Following day, same restaurant, same dish.  My lord was it good.

2014-08-25 Siliguri 008 (res)

I liked the restaurant so much that I did something a little out of the ordinary and splurged on a deluxe flatbread for $0.39 instead of $0.14.  Don’t know what it was, but it was crispy and had ghee slathered on top.   I’m not sure how ghee differs from butter, but I do know that it tastes like old vegetable spread that’s been left out to uncoagulate.  Decoagulate?  Disagulate?

2014-08-06 to Cherrapunji 017 (res)

Another beauuuuuuutiful Malai Kofta dish.

Fried rice + pea and paneer curry.

2014-08-27 Makaibari 011 (res)

Green pea dry fry.

2014-08-20 to Alipurduar 010 (res)

Curry ordered at random from the hotel menu’s veg section.  I recognized the second two-thirds of the name as referring to a mixed veg curry; a conversation with the waiter revealed that the first word was actually the name of an ancient queen who liked pineapple and fruit salad dumped into her curry.  Yeah, sweet and tangy and toothsome!

2014-08-26 to Kurseong 013 (res)

Tomato soup, perfect for recovering from either a cold, rainy ride or a lunch with too much rice.

2014-08-30 Darjeeling 030 (res)

Veg (i.e. cucumber and tomato) sandwich.  $0.67 – a little overpriced, but when I order this it’s not so much because I want a weakass sandwich as because I want to eat ANYTHING that’s not runny rice.

2014-08-26 to Kurseong 014 (res)

Veg Burger, king of the non-rice menu!  Oh my lord how I love India!

2014-08-04 to Shillong 014 (res)

Even the lamest veg burger (scratch that….this one, a potato and lentil patty, wasn’t the lamest.  The lamest was the one where the patty was actually a piece of fried bread dough.) fills me with some sort of deep-down satisfaction that mere taste and caloric content can’t get close to explaining.

2014-08-18 to Tura 002 (res)

Best veg burger in the northeast, hands down!  Nice patty, cukes and tomatoes and beets on top, mock cheese, and an egg to boot, for less than a buck!  Hats off to you, oddly-moustachioed (even by Indian standards) chef at the cutesy little cafe just on the north end of town in Williamnagar, West Garo Hills!

2014-08-30 Darjeeling 019 (res)

Notrice dish from the zoo in Darjeeling.

2014-08-22 to Jalpaiguri 001 (res)

Potful of mixed sweets of varying sickliness.

2014-08-24 Siliguri 002 (res)

Mmmmmmm Barfi!

2014-08-29 Darjeeling 001 (res)

Another entrant in the notrice category: Breakfast Set A from Sonam’s Kitchen in Darjeeling.  I ate this every day for ten days, except on the days when I ordered Set C, which came with two thick slices of toast and a few chunks of Nepali-style Parmesan cheese.  How in the world did a sweet little Nepali auntie (whose uncle-in-law played an Indian Army officer in the film Seven Years in Tibet) learn to make the best hashbrowns in the universe?

Perhaps the biggest culinary surprise of the month: we pull up to an empty church and ask the neighbors if we can sleep there.  They send their kids up to the soccer field to get this kid, who calls his dad, who’s the pastor, who tells him to a) let us in and b) serve us plates of homemade banana bread!  Way to go Seventh Day Adventist missionaries!  If spreading the good word also means distributing banana bread recipes, I’m not gonna stand in your way.

 

 

 

 

2014-08-21 to Jaigaon 005 (res)

Lastly, a meal on the Bhutan border.  Momos and, up top, a potato and pepper and cheese casserole that tasted like it might well have come out of a Betty Crocker box.  I mean that in the best way possible.

So ends another month well-lived!

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