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what rhymes with ‘DELHI’

It’s hard when you live away from home for so many years. You come back and see things with such different eyes…

 

Women clutch their handbags so SO close. Men walk arm in arm and don’t think twice about sharing icecream from a single cup. They also have glorious moustaches. Children go to bed at the most ridiculous times.

  
  
My Madras smells like coconut oil and jasmine flowers. And did you know only 1 in about every 10 people wrap you in their arms and give you a jolly good great big hug. With damp patches under their arms. It cannot be helped. We are all going to drown in our collective sweat here.

And there is a lot of noise. Always. Loud talking. Loud horns. Loud calls to prayer. Loud street music. 

   
   

Would I change all this? Not. For. The. World. Because this is where I grew up, it’s all I knew for the first 20 years of my life. It’s where I feel at HOME. And the food. Please don’t make me cry thinking about the food.

We started our holiday with Mahiar’s Biryani. It is a long standing tradition at home that that’s what we eat for our first meal. He loads it up with pieces of succulent mutton and bones filled with marrow that can be sluuuked out in one gusty shot! Then you have to sleep it off for an hour or three and wake up and have some chai. We actually had this two days in a row just because we could.

The next few days went by in a blur. Sweet and spicy daal, masala fried fish, mums oogly boogly amazing cauliflower bacon bake, garlic bread, mutton ras… the list goes on and on. 

As if that were not enough. Greed then got the better of me and I longed to eat chicken malai tikka and daal roti at my favourite restaurant. So off I went with a couple of crazy girlfriends and we ate till we popped at the seams. One of them even taught me what I should do in the event I want to rob a bank. 

  (Chicken malai kebab. My undoing)

  (Disguise. In case you need to rob a bank). 

And this then, my dear friends, was my complete and utter undoing. When you’ve lived overseas for so long you tend to have very sanitized insides. You forget how quickly – and why – Delhi rhymes with Belly. Man oh man. Suffice to say for the rest of the week I lived on jam and toast, lots of lime juice, an occasional chappati and when I was really feeling fantastic, curd and hot white steamed rice. Uurgh. 

But like any brave soldier, soldier on I did. I’ve loaded up on the homeopathy, the ayurveda, the home remedies and even some positive thinking. I think I’m ready to go out again and conquer the food world.

Between yesterday and today I’ve eaten possibly the world’s best Indian Chinese. Twice! I’ve had ginger chicken and dragon chicken and this mind blowingly delicious lollipop chicken. (Yes. There’s plenty of chicken). I’ve eaten an ice-cream sundae at Haagen-Dazs and paan icecream and a DIY butterscotch and nut bar at Ibaco. 

   
   

Next I want to tackle the old haunts. Ajnabi. Oh Ajnabi, how I long to step into the slightly dirty, oily confines of your chaat shop. Saravana Bhavan of old, I need to compare you with the dosas your sister store makes in Sydney. Cakes n’ Bakes, do you still make that sickeningly sweet, disgustingly delicious Japoise Pastry? Ponnuswamys, Samco, how about some Chicken 65 and Egg Masala?

Be still my beating heart. We still have two weeks to go. Dee x

  
  

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ghee stoned

Today with hungry bellies and eager hearts we drove many kilometers to a quirky little slice of India right here in Sydney itself! It is a purely vegetarian piece of paradise. Saravana Bhavan. Ah how heavenly…. 

 

We started with medhu wada and cocktail idlis. I love idlis and thought they’d be a tiny little plate full. Well, they were. But there were 14 of them swimming in ghee goodness sensational sambhar. The BEST I’ve ever tasted! And that was only for entree.  

 

For mains it was dosa. My husband devoured a masala dosa. My ghee roast (it really is called a ghee roast, that name should’ve given it away) arrived minutes later and I had to half-stand to take a photo of it. It was HUGE! It was sublime. It was perfect. It was India in Sydney, just better … and no passport required. 

 

At this point I was starting to lose my mind. I couldn’t decide whether I liked the coconut chutney best or the sambhar. I loved the daal they served with it too, that was an unusual touch. I wanted to eat and eat and keep eating. But my jeans became tighter and tighter with every bite and when the waiter asked if he could bring us anything else, I asked for a bed. That was a sure sign I was slipping in to a food coma…

  

I have been sleep deprived and tired and even yoga stoned before, but never GHEE STONED. Yes… That feeling you get when you’ve eaten just way too much. The food was so good. The wait staff were thoughtful and funny and my little boy’s favourite was Bala. He served us with a laugh and a smile and was even kind enough to bring him out some plain parathas to eat.

 

  
That’s the Management Team and…
 …that’s Small Foodie smackin’ his chops!

And in true Indian style we started talking. (Indian farewells last longer than most meals). Turns out the owner knows my dad and my dad knows his business partner. One of them knows my husband’s grandma’s brother’s son and they in turn know someone else’s wife and our ex neighbour here in Sydney!!!! I am not making this up! This is really how it’s done! Come along with me next time, I’ll prove it to you while we feast. 

I cannot recommend this place highly enough. When you live so far from home a 30km drive means nothing in the grand scheme of things when all you want to do is take a bite from your childhood.

We also worked out that from our house it’s one long straight road and a single left turn. Guess I’ll be driving there in the future!! I need to have a sleep now. The ghee is singing me a gentle lullaby… Romba Nandri.  Dee x


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thadak thadak, thadak thadak

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Ah the sweet sounds and smells of train travel in India. Memories of my first train ride alone with my bestie SariBear come flooding back. This was the same train we travelled to Bangalore on. The trusty Brindavan Express!

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I insist on train travel this time. I need to show my children the real India. The India I grew up in. So we pack our bags and most importantly our ‘train food’ and set off early in the morning. It’s cold (cold enough for my fellow men and women to be sporting a monkey cap or two in about 25 degrees), and raining and drizzly and gray…

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Eating on a train is as important as knowing how to breathe! But what happens when you forget the food bag. Aiyoo!! Now how do we eat our chips and sandwiches and egg parathas? Oh ho! Where is the bag? Rama Rama, who forgot it at the back of the car?? Errr. I did! So I explain to the little foodies that all travel is an adventure. We just need to embrace it.

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And so it starts. Breeead aaamlette. Masla dosaaaa. Sips. Potato sips. Garama garam kaapi kaapi kaapi, chai chai chai. Soooop. Tamatar sooop. Biskate. Wadai. Chutney wadai. We eat and we play… We read and we sleep and we giggle. Nannu and the boys and me. We miss Daddy Foodie who’s waiting for us in Bangalore but in this case the journey is nearly more fun than the destination.

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So as we sway in time to the thadak thadak of the train we leave you with some photties of our adventures. We look backwards and outwards and inwards through the dusty smudged glass and we know that nothing is as sweet and simple as traveling with our children by train.

Dee & boys. X

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