achchha lagta hai!

Means “It’s very tasty” in Hindi…or something to that effect. Forgive me for possibly butchering both spelling and meaning but it is what I’ve been taught to say since arriving…and I use this phrase about 10 times a day.

Am I in heaven?

Writing about the joys of veggie-voyaging in India is like shooting fish in a barrel. Let me just say that, if you are looking for the vegetarian mecca, it is here. Four days in and my pants are already a size too small, and we’ve done our fair share of “walking it off.” I feel like its hard to find a restaurant that does serve meat. Let me offer you a list of the things I have had the good fortune to consume since our arrival early Wednesday morning.
Pani puri, pav baji, dosa, chana masala, chai, bathura, malai mutter, mysore masala dosa, ginger lime soda, sugar cane juice, bhel puri, dahi patata puri, sabudana, aloo palak, baingan bharta, wada sambar, coconut water, samosa, idli & sambar, vegetable pulao, fresh juice.
upscale dosa…

 

restaurant dosa…

I don’t even know where to start. I’m loving the dosa of course. If you are not familiar with this delicacy, it is a fermented rice and bean flour crepe filled with deliciousness, eaten with the hands. We have had corner store dosa, fancy catered dosa, street food dosa, and restaurant dosa. Happy to report that the hands-down best version yet would be the street food dosa. It was so flippin good that I will tell you how to go there in the event you are in Mumbai, near the train station and the post office, and not afraid to eat street food while standing on a noisy road. Slathered with ghee, loaded up with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and spices and served with sambar and coconut chutney, I actually spent 10 minutes after we finished eating directing other foreigners straight to the stall so that they could share in my culinary delight. Here is the approximate location on the map for your reference. It’s on Saint George Road, just outside the train station by the post office. Eat at Tamil Nadu Foods, for a culinary taste explosion. See the locals also enjoying the delights? Always a good sign.

best. dosa. ever.

But really, I have yet to try something that was not delicious. Like I said, I think I’m in heaven.

aloo palak and baingan bharta

Of course, India is not just about the food. There is so much to take in here, like a sensory overload. In addition to big flavors, there are big colors, big smells (good and bad), big sounds. Our color and sound sensory input were turned up to 11 on our second day here at the holi festival, or festival of color. Marking the change of the season, this is the holiday in which people blast each other with colored powders and water, basically a big water balloon fight on the streets. In the olden days it was believed that during the change of the season it was prudent to throw around medicinal colors to help ward off sickness. Neem, turmeric and other natural powders were smeared and tossed around in a communal inoculation of brilliant hues. These days the colors are synthetic dyes that can stain the skin and hair for days. I was encouraged by my friend who we are staying with to douse my blond hair with coconut oil and then cover it up. That of course, did not stop her husband Vijay or Ryan from wrestling my scarf off my head and then dousing my hair with colored water and powders. Fortunately, the coconut oil did the trick and I am still looking natural. A few days of pink hair would be fine but Jill reported that one year her hair stayed colored for months.

 

all dressed up for holi
the aftermath

 

the pyre for a holi bonfire

We are in Mumbai, and will be here until Tuesday, when we depart for Delhi. The rest of our trip will be spent in the northern states, where Ryan called home years ago. So I am doing my best to soak up the sights and sounds of the south while here. We visited caves, saw monkey families and a festival in the street yesterday. Tonight will be spent with old friends of Ryan’s and I hope there will be much more walking and eating today. Maybe we’ll check out a Bollywood film at some point, Ryan claims samosas and chaat are on offer as well as popcorn…

One more thing…Ryan has posted some pretty funny pics of our time in Capadoccia…check it out
http://everthine.blogspot.com/

a sweet way to end a meal
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