Tomato and Coriander Chutneys

When Kenny and I go to Delhi, we like to stay at Saubhag Bed and Breakfast, run by our own adopted Indian auntie, Meera. During our visit last month, I complimented Meera on her delicious tomato chutney, and she promised to send me the recipe. Here it is, with a bonus recipe below for coriander chutney. I haven’t tried either yet (the second will be difficult, as I am mixie-less here in Kampala), but I am hoping to try my hand at the tomato soon.

Meera’s Sweet Tomato Chutney

Ingredients

  • 2 kg tomatoes
  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 large onion (80 gm)
  • 7 flakes garlic
  • 1 large piece ginger (30 gm)
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp chili powder (10 gm)
  • Garam Masala (2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp pepper, 4 small pieces cinnamon, 5  cloves)
  • 3 tsp acetic acid (concentrated vinegar)

Instructions

  1. Blanche and peel ripe red tomatoes. Cut into small pieces (I put them into the blender for a few minutes).
  2. Cut onion and garlic very fine, grind ginger
  3. Add sugar to tomatoes. Put in onion, garlic and ginger. Cook on fire.
  4. When chutney turns a little thick, add salt, chili powder, cumin, pepper, cinnamon and cloves.
  5. Cook for a few minutes more. Turn off fire and add acetic acid.
  6. Cool chutney and enjoy!

Meera’s Green Coriander Chutney
Ingredients
 

  • 1 medium bunch coriander leaves
  • 1 small onion
  • 5-6 flakes garlic
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground cumin
  • 3-4 green chilies
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ lemon squeezed
  • Salt to taste

Instructions 

  1. Grind all above
  2. Add one heaped teaspoon plain yogurt if desired

Passage Back to India

We’re back in the Motherland. After five days touring around London and environs, and yet another red-eye, we’re in Delhi. We’ll be here for a couple of days playing tour guides for our good friend Gio, including a one-day stopover in Agra. Of course, Kenny insists that we will have a meal at the new and improved Khan Chacha. I just can’t wait to try Indian mangoes.

On Tuesday, we head down to Bangalore to join the fun for Sean and Archana’s wedding festivities. I can’t wait to see them and to revisit the neighborhood where we lived for two months this past fall. I’m also extremely excited to take all of the folks coming in from the US shopping for Indian wedding clothes. We already have ours, of course.

The Next Six Weeks

We have only 10 days left in Thailand. I know it will be extremely difficult to leave. On the one hand, I do feel a bit ready to move on from our small town. It is lovely, but after three months I certainly feel like I’ve seen what it has to offer. On the other hand, it will be very hard to leave my volunteer assignment. Not that I didn’t accomplish my goals – on the contrary, the staff and I have accomplished a lot more than we expected. I just know that I will miss them horribly and I want to continue helping them work for democracy in Burma. The separation will also be a poignant reminder that while I’ve been here helping them voluntarily, this cause is their life and they can’t just leave. In fact, they can’t really go anywhere.

Here is our plan for the next six weeks. As usual, it’s ridiculous and it involves a lot of flights:

  • Thailand: We have one more week volunteering in Mae Hong Son, then we head to New York (via Chiang Mai, Taipei, and San Francisco).
  • New York: We’ll be in New York for about a week for Kenny’s sister’s wedding. We have a bunch of errands to run — AJWS post-mortem at their office, get new India visas, get yellow fever shots for Uganda, etc. — but we’ll also get to spend time with family and friends while we’re there. My parents are also coming to the wedding. I’m excited to see my Dad again so soon, and I’ve promised to take my Mom on the Jewish tour of New York (Lower East Side, Brooklyn, etc.).
  • Boston: We will have four days in Boston to visit our dear friends Julie and Damian, and their newest addition, Sophie. A few friends from Seattle will be joining us.
  • London: On our way to India for Sean and Archana’s wedding, we arranged for a four-day "layover" in London. Kenny has never been to Stonehenge, so we will probably try to squeeze that in too. It will be a weird, very first-world tourist experience in the middle of this year of Global South adventures, but hopefully New York and Boston will help with the transition. I expect that we’ll spend more money during four days in London than we typically spend in four weeks here in Thailand.
  • Delhi: Delhi always seems to be our gateway to India. Gio is meeting us, and we’ll spend a couple of days showing him the sights (and we need to take him for a celebratory meal at Indian Accent). Then we plan to make a day trip to Agra, since we promised ourselves we’d see the Taj Mahal this time. It’s going to be HOT, but I suppose it can’t be much worse than April in Northern Thailand
  • Bangalore: The main event for us in India is Sean and Archana’s wedding in Bangalore, which promises to be an all-out traditional Tam-Bram affair. After the wedding, we’re all heading to a Jungle Retreat in the Nilgiris for a few days.
  • Kampala: On June 11, we’ll fly from Bangalore to Dubai to Addis Ababa to Entebbe, in order to start our next volunteer assignment, which is a technology for agriculture project, based in Kampala.

Indian Accent

Rating:

Before we left Bangalore, our friend Josh recommended we eat at Indian Accent during our stopover in Delhi. Josh has a good track record on recommendations, having referred us to Dunes, Well Garden and La Plage in Goa. He said that it would be a bit of an event, with food best described as “modern Indian fusion.” And so for our final lunch in India, we indulged in a three-hour, multi-course adventure.

Advance warning: what follows is an epic food post, as is only appropriate for such an epic lunch.

Indian Accent is located at The Manor hotel in Friends Colony, which is a newer sub-neighborhood within New Delhi. We entered The Manor and were shown into the restaurant. It felt upscale without being gaudy, with modern, minimalist decor and ample natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows. There was a beautiful courtyard outside where an Indian wedding, with all of its accompanying flowers and bright colors, was taking place.

Indian Accent outdoor wedding

We sat down and our waitress Priya introduced herself and the menu. As we started reading through the menu, Priya brought out a complimentary dish of blue cheese naan. The chewy naan and pungent blue cheese were a great combination, and they were served with a cashew and coconut chutney that offset the blue cheese with a touch of sweetness. A tasty start, and we hadn’t even ordered yet!

Blue cheese naan
Blue cheese naan with cashew and coconut chutney

While you can order a la carte, the focus at Indian Accent is on the tasting menus. They have vegetarian and non-vegetarian tasting menus, each of which are twelve dishes strong, with the option of a “light” tasting menu that has a mere six courses. Both tasting menus looked amazing, so we ordered one of each type of light tasting menu and split a five-glass wine pairing.

As we were lingering over our first glass of wine, a crisp and slightly sweet Riesling meant for the first course, Priya brought us an amuse bouche (I guess the blue cheese naan didn’t count). Pani puri is usually filled with potato, some onion, and some flavored water. Indian Accent’s version uses dry-ice, which makes for a great visual,  and was filled with coconut and wasabi green peas.

Pani puri
Upscale pani puri on dry ice with wasabi green peas

After the multiple teasers, it was time for the first course. Lauren had puchkas served with two naturally flavored waters – pomegranate with cinnamon, and mint with cumin. Puchkas are Bengal’s version of pani puri, and as you might expect they were similar to the amuse bouche, though the waters provided some different flavors.

I had a chicken tikka salad, which was served cold with khakra, which is a popular Gujarati snack whose taste is roughly approximated by spicy tortilla chips.

Puchkas
Wholemeal and semolina puchkas, masala cous cous, two waters

Chicken tikka salad
Chicken tikka salad and khakra mille fueille

The second course had the least Indian influence of the meal. Lauren’s panko crusted bharwan mirch tasted a lot like an upscale jalapeno popper. The tandoori salmon was not very different from broiled salmon, though the passion fruit chutney was a nice touch. The wine for the second course was a terrible sauvignon blanc that was the one big misfire of the pairings.

Indian jalapeno popper Tandoori Scottish salmon
Panko crusted bharwan mirch, goat cheese mousse, chilli aam papad chutney
Tandoori Scottish salmon, dill leaves, passion fruit chutney

Fortunately we had some time before the main course, while we were served quality glasses of chardonnay and shiraz as our pairings. When the main courses arrived, they were a feast in and of themselves. My red snapper molly tasted like skate wing – silky smooth and served in a light Kerala-style curry. Lauren’s masala morels were another strong fusion entree, served with crisp water chestnuts, fresh asparagus, and a hat-shaped dosa. Along with our entrees were a collection of side dishes, including naan, dal, couscous, and a raita with pomegranate and avocado. Simply delicious!

Lauren with masala morels and paper roast dosai
Lauren enjoying masala morels, water chestnut, asparagus, paper roast dosai

Rice coated red snapper molly
Rice coated red snapper molly, local greens and pine nut poriyal

Naan with dips
Anaar and avocado raita, dal, naan

At this point in the meal, we were quite full (and more than a little tipsy). The staff did a good job of pacing the meal and giving us time before dessert, and we are fortunate enough to be equipped with separate dessert stomachs. Lauren had the coconut and jaggery brulee, which was creamy with a crisp sugary top. It was served with ruby grapefruit pops, which was a fancy description for small pieces of grapefruit on a stick. I had three delicious ice creams, my favorite being the spiced chocolate. And just in case we didn’t have enough sugar on the table, rather than wine, dessert was paired with a Bailey’s martini.

Enjoying a chocolate martini and ice cream
Enjoying a Bailey’s martini and trio of spiced chocolate, coconut/jaggery, and vanilla bean ice creams

Overall we had a fantastic time at Indian Accent. The food was both inventive and delicious, the service and ambiance were top-notch, and at less than $40 per person for the aforementioned food and wine feast, it’s a steal by Western standards. If you want to celebrate while in Delhi, make yourself a reservation at Indian Accent and arrive hungry!

Indian Accent
The Manor, 77 Friend’s Colony (West)
New Delhi, India 110065
+91 11-2692 5151

Daily: Lunch, Dinner

India Shopping Spree

Inspired by most of our Indian friends who make visits to the motherland, we spent much of the past week stocking up on all kinds of goodies to take home with us. It started in Bangalore, where we acquired:

  • 2 tiffin boxes
  • An appam pan
  • 1/2 kg appam flour
  • 1 kg ragi flour
  • 1/2 kg ragi
  • 1/2 kg rava
  • Garam masala
  • MTR sambar mix
  • 1 Indian shirt for Kenny and 2 for me plus a pair of earrings at Anokhi
  • Various arts and crafts gifts from Archana’s mother’s crafts collective, including 4 purses for sisters and friends, 4 necklace/earring sets for mothers and sisters, and an elephant figurine for Gio

Then the madness continued here in Delhi, where we have added:

  • A pressure cooker
  • An idly stand
  • Chicken tikka masala seasoning and roasted chana at Roopak in Karol Bagh
  • A long kurti set for Kenny, several tops for me, and a shirt for Shawn from Westside
  • A shirt for Kenny from Fabindia
  • Another couple of shirts for me from various other shops in Karol Bagh
  • Two shirts for Kenny at the State Emporiums
  • A scarf for Jessica and an elephant-mobile for Jadon near Janpath

Good thing we bought that pressure cooker, ’cause we’ll need the box to carry all of this extra stuff home. We also bought a roll of packing tape to seal the box as checked baggage. Next time I come to India, I’m bringing an empty suitcase.

It’s Not the Taj Mahal

It’s Safdarjung’s Tomb!

This one is on the must-see list after Humayun’s Tomb. It’s supposedly the softer, more “feminine” version. We didn’t make it to Agra this trip (we’ve promised ourselves that we’ll go next time), but at least we got our fill of Mughal architecture in Delhi.

Kenny at Safdarjung's Tomb
Kenny in front of the tomb

Safdarjung's Tomb image
This shot was oddly reminiscent of the cover of our Rough Guide

Safdarjung's Tomb

Space Artichoke

Seema would never have forgiven us if we didn’t make the pilgrimage to the Lotus Temple, the most famous Baha’i House of Worship in the world. It receives more visitors per day than the Taj Mahal, a statistic to which we have helped contribute, given that we will not be seeing the Taj on this trip.

All of the tour guides are well-spoken young volunteers from around the world. After the tour, we walked around and enjoyed the peaceful environment. The breeze off the pools makes it a particularly pleasant place to spend a hot morning in Delhi.

Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple

Lauren explaining the Space Artichoke
Lauren explaining the Lotus Temple

The Next Two Weeks

We have a little over two weeks remaining in India. It’s incredible how the time has flown. We had originally planned to spend our final two weeks in the north, perhaps in Rajasthan and/or Agra. However, we’ve decided we haven’t quite had our fill of the south (or its tasty cuisine), so the new plan is to defer our tour of the north until our next India trip. Yes, the Taj Mahal will have to wait, but does give us a nice excuse to come back.

This is the new plan:

  • Attend our friends Chandrika and Kirill’s India wedding in Bangalore this Saturday (we already had the honor of attending their US wedding in September). I’ll get to show off the two sarees I purchased last weekend.
  • Fly to Goa on Monday for a week on the beach. We’ve booked the entire week in Mandrem, but could potentially check out early if we decide we want to see some other beaches.
  • Back to Bangalore on Monday 12/14 for a couple of days with Sean and Archana.
  • Fly to Delhi on 12/17.
  • Fly to Seattle via Chicago on 12/19.

Then, as originally planned, we’ll have a week in Seattle, and a few days each in Los Angeles and Miami making the family rounds (including my high school reunion, meeting our new nephew, and Kenny’s stepbrother’s wedding). I’m really excited to see my family and friends – I miss everyone even more than I thought I would. I know I’ll miss India too, but it looks like we may be back as soon as June.

That’s Nacho Khan Chacha!

After a fantastic dinner of roomali rolls at Khan Chacha, I became a fan of their Facebook group. As a result, I found out today that the purveyors of grilled meats were tossed out of their space in Khan Market due to a major dispute with their landlord. At the crux of the dispute is the legal ownership of the name Khan Chacha. Coverage by the local media here, here and here.  I hope the Salim brothers resolve this dispute and reopen before we return to Delhi in December!

DeAnn, I hope you enjoyed the title :)

In Bangalore!

Yesterday we flew from Kathmandu to Bangalore via Delhi. It was much more of an adventure then we expected. To kick things off, even though we had booked the entire route through Jet Airways, they weren’t able to check us all the way through to Bangalore. Which meant that when we arrived in Delhi, went through customs, and caught the shuttle to the domestic terminal (a process of about 1.25 hours) we still didn’t have our boarding passes for the Delhi->Bangalore flight.

When we arrived at the domestic terminal, the guard wouldn’t let us into the terminal without a printout of our confirmation page. Which meant we had to go to the ticketing building next door and have them print out our confirmation page so that we could get into the main building. Of course, the ticketing people can’t actually check you in for the flight. Time check – 18:25 (flight was scheduled to depart at 18:45).

At this point we assume we’ve missed our flight, but this being India we rush to the checkin desk with our bags and find out we’re ok, they haven’t started boarding yet. They mark our bags with “Late Arrival” tags and away we go through security.  Delhi’s domestic terminal is basically one big room (the advantage of shuttles taking you from the gate to your plane), and you don’t go down to the gates until boarding starts. Around 19:05 (20 min after our scheduled departure), we start boarding. Then boarding stops after 15 people. Then we are dismissed back to the waiting area since there’s a problem with the plane. Finally our flight is rescheduled to 22:30 since they need a new plane.

The new time works, however we now land at 1:15 instead of 21:30. Originally Sean was going to meet us at the airport, but with the new late arrival time we decided to take a cab to his place instead. Turns out our adventure wasn’t quite over yet.

Cab drops us off at the address we gave him, but the description wasn’t quite how Sean described it. If we had been more alert we would have used the cabbie’s cell phone to call Sean, but instead we got out and started looking for Sean’s apt. No dice, but there were some people awake upstairs from where we were dropped off and we went to see if they could confirm we were at least in the right general neighborhood. Turns out they are good friends of Sean, invited us in for a drink, called Sean over, and we wound up all hanging out until 4:30AM. Ah, India!