During our time in India, I have been making a list of my favorite things. Not surprisingly, most of them are food related! But there are a few other things unique to India which have also won our hearts. So in no particular order, I give you the favorites:
- Lemon Soda – As simple as it sounds it’s the best drink in town. Take the fresh juice of a lemon (a couple tablespoons worth) and add to it icy cold, super carbonated soda water. You can order it sweet (Dave’s preference) or salty, but I like it plain.
- Mango Juice – It’s mango season here and the fresh squeezed juice is unbelievable. I am a little cautious about where I drink fresh juice since some reportedly water the juice down (and not with bottled water). The best places serve you up pure juice. No sugar. No water. My absolute favorite was the little juice stand in Ft. Kochi by the Chinese fishing nets at the water’s edge. And when the real thing isn’t available, the bottled mango juice, Maaza, is a good second best.
- Magic Masala Chips – Masala is a blend of spices used in many Indian dishes. Much to our snacking pleasure, Lay’s makes potato chips seasoned with masala spice. Yum! And they are just about the spiciest thing we’ve eaten in India. (It’s surprising. Even when we ask for “Indian spicy,” the food just hasn’t been that spicy. Though we’ve met a few Europeans who would disagree!)
- Masala Dosa – Locals seem to enjoy asking us how we like the food. They are usually quite pleased to hear that we are vegetarians and have yet to find an Indian dish that we don’t like. They also are curious what our favorite India food is. Tough decision. We both have definitely developed a new love for south Indian food (sorry Delhi Dhaba), but the real stand out has to be the masala dosa. For those of you unfamiliar, it’s a fairly large, thin lentil and rice flour crepe that is rolled into what looks like a big tunnel on your plate. In the center is a mixture of potatoes and diced onions cooked with masala spice and if you desire other veg like tomatoes. It’s served with sambar – a broth made with tamarind, vegetables and spices – as well as with a coconut chutney. It’s popular for breakfast, but we like it for lunch or dinner. It’s a great mix of flavors. Not too oily and not too filling. If you’re in the DC area, we recommend trying a dosa at Udupi Palace in Silver Spring.
- Hill Stations – No, not a food related item, but our appetite certainly improves when we cool off at 2000 meters. If you’ve been following our blog than you’ve probably gathered that we’re hot almost 24/7. So whenever we hear there’s a hill station nearby, we make the like the British and head for it. It’s kind of like a vacation from our vacation where we can go on walks without sweating buckets and sleep with a blanket at night. What’s more, the hill stations tend to have a carnival like nature. They’re extremely popular with middle class Indian couples and families on little weekend get aways making for a happy crowds.
- The Head Bobble – I first learned of the head bobble when Dave tried to convince a friend of ours (who will remain nameless) that she should waggle her head from side to side during a date with an Indian man she had been seeing. She really thought he was pulling her leg. But it turns out to be quite common and really endearing. It seems to mean “ok” when used as a nonverbal response, but sometimes I think it might mean, “I’m not sure what this white person is asking me, but I guess ok.” Either way, it’s very catchy. I’ve even noticed Dave bobbling more than once.