Finally India, Finally Fooding! (July Edition)

Another month where Stayin’ Veg ain’t no thang.

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Somehow even after crazy steep inclines both of us twin Shakies still manage to make time to document our “fooding.”

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Veg Thali with a surprise twist: Textured Vegetable Protein chunks.  Chewy and spongy, reminiscent of meatloaf that’s been sitting out a little too long.

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Fast food, Indian style!  Samosa on the left (they’re all veg!  you don’t even have to bother asking) and Matar Cholay, which is essentially a big steamer tray with a mound of curried green peas on top.

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Chana (Chickpea) Cholay

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Cholay again!  One of my favorite things about Indian food is the ubiquity of beans, lentils, and other sorts of pulses.  I wouldn’t be sad if I never ate tofu again.

Served with two fluffy paratha that tasted like something out of my childhood.  It wasn’t til the following day that I placed it: bisquick!

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Assorted fried goodies (including fried bread at about 5 o’clock) with a nice stack of Cholay in the back.

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Pakora (random battered and fried veggies) and veg chow mein.

Continental sauce = tastes like a mix of ketchup, bbq sauce, and sugar.

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Veg chow never fails to underwhelm. It’s useful only on those occasions when you just need a little break from Indian food.

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My own camp stove Chow (prepared on a Bandh/general strike day), bombarded with fresh tomatoes, peanuts, sesame seeds, and nutritional yeast.  Now that’s how it’s done, son!

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Such as after too many days in a row eating stuff like this.  Rice, runny lentils, potatoes.  Stop it already!

Served to us on a Bandh day when all the restaurants and stores were shut.  Luckily we managed to grab brewskies just before everything went dark.

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Another Bandh day treat!  We took the 4th of July off in honor of the homeland, only to find that the entire town of Bomdila ( “Medical Services, Media, Fire Services, and Milk Van will be exemped”) was on lockdown.  Some locals were kind enough to lead us around to the back entrance of a “hotel” that was defying the Bandh and secretly serving up fried rice.

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All the windows and doors were shut and boarded up and the electricity was off, too.  Romantic lunch by candlelight!

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What it looked like when we ordered it again the next morning.

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A top-tier veg roll, filled with BBQ sauce and shredded n sauteed onions, carrots, and cabbage.

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When in doubt, go with the “mixed vegetable” curry.  Somehow it both a) often contains paneer and b) is about half the price of the other paneer dishes.  $1 or less.

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Fried rice and peas n paneer.  Maybe.  The gravy curries are always tasty, but all tend blend in to one another after a while.

As do even the best Thalis.  This one may or may not be from the Bengali restaurant.

Masala Dosa, a perennial favorite.  Fermented rice flour pancake stuffed with onion and potato curry, served with one runny veggie soup and one thick, chilled coconut chutney.

(Photo Courtesy of Chris Buchman @

Masala Kulcha, a flatbread lathered with oil and punctuated with ground cashews and diced peppers.

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Chris puts on his “redruM” face in an frigid, powerless hotel room 2/3 of the way up to Sela Pass (4200m).

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With no restaurant (or even school) there in the village of Sange, we had no choice but to dig into our supply of ramen that had been donated to us about a month before by David and friends, our hosts in Kohima.  Not too bad when supplemented with onions, tomatoes, eggs, sesame seeds, and Braggs Liquid Amino Acids that we already happened to have on hand.

Bonus section: Tibetan Goodness! 

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In other words, finally, something other than rice and flatbreads.  Any guess what these little dudes are going to be turned into?

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Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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Yeah!  Veg dumplings!  Wheat not rice, steamed not fried, fresh not yesterday’s, instantaneous but not instant…does it get any better?  Both plates = MINE.

(PCoCB @

The cheapies usually have shredded cabbage in the middle.  Higher class ones may also incorporate green onions, carrots, or even squash.  Or, they might just be twisted into a more luxurious shape.

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Ginormo-momos from our hotel in Tawang…filled with not only veg but also Textured Vegetable Protein chunks.

In my humble opinion, one fair measure of whether any given traveler is worth his/her salt is whether or not he has not only sampled various local foods, but also contributed to making them.  Level up for me, Chris the Shaky, and the other volunteers as Jhamtse Ghatsal Children’s community.  Big thanks to Tenzin (yellow shirt, face obscured by purple shirt’s wrist) for coaching us in the gardens beforehand and instructing us in proper dough rolling and pinching techniques.

Plate from the buffet at the Tibetan Independence Day (or something like that) party that we accidentally hitchhiked to.  The salad up top wasn’t much by western salad standards, and the potato fry down at the bottom was average Indian fair, but thumbs up to to the fried glass noodles with peas and paneer on the right, and quadruple thumbs up to the 5 o’clock dish: stir-fried local green chillies with local cheese AND processed singles mixed in.

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My reward for sitting through two hours (4AM-6AM) of Tibetan style morning Puja (religious services), complete with the sounds throat warble mumble chanting, drums of various sizes, horns long and short (some made of human thigh bones) , conch shells, and young monks chatting and roughhousing.  Some of theme even managed to nod off in spite of all the noise.

That’s all for July.  Happy Fooding to you, too!

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7 Responses to Finally India, Finally Fooding! (July Edition)

  1. Niall says:

    nice foodage dudio. Love the beans myself. Love em

  2. Tanya says:

    Divine. I want it all.

  3. Suze says:


  4. yunyeong says:

    You look really good! I miss you Mike 🙂