We went for a day trip to a place called Varanasi, in India. This was ages ago, when I was still a pony tailed middle-schooler and not taken seriously by anyone – kids or adults.
Varanasi is beautiful. One of the oldest cities in the world, the city’s grandeur and history is breathtaking. It is also crowded, congested, with narrow lanes and by lanes that are centuries old, all of which are crammed with humanity. I borrowed the following pictures from a dear friend of mine – Bhaskar – these are current day pics of the city.
Our group consisted of 5 adults and 3 kids. The trip had been scheduled for a visiting relative of the family that was travelling with us. We covered a lot of miles that day, hopping from one beautiful destination to another with an excitement filled frenzy . It was a day trip (we lived in a city which was a three hour drive from here), which meant a lot of travelling during the day, with frequent stops for snacks. It seems the adults had agreed upon not to take a lunch break, instead go for dinner straight.
By evening, we were happy, but tired. And ravenous. However, when travelling in a new city, figuring out a place to have a sit down dinner can be harder than one thinks. Throw in the absence of modern day marvels like cell phones and internet, and an ancient city like Varanasi, what you have is a perfect recipe for ‘groping in the dark’ so to say. One half of the group, including yours truly, wanted to go a ‘dhaba’, a roadside eatery which is never fancy, and is mostly a mud like structure with wooden benches and cots to sit on. However, the food served there is always hot, made fresh and delicious.
The other half wanted to go to a fancier restaurant, as ‘dhaba’ food was not to their taste. In the end, much to my chagrin, our group opted to look for a better restaurant..
So we did. We spotted this magnificent building called “Hotel Narendra”. A part of it still looked to be under construction, but its restaurant was open for public. By this time, we all were hungry enough to start feeding on our leather seats.
We were greeted by a solemn faced attendant, and I felt like we had walked into a funeral sitting rather than a fancy looking restaurant. The interior was nice enough. Soon, we were seated, and handed the menus and water.
We decided on the items we wanted to order in record time. I remember everyone ordered loads of chicken and mutton dishes, with some paneer and kababs thrown in for a good measure. We were starving! The server politely took down the order, and then disappeared. We then looked around. We were the only people sitting in the restaurant (always a bad news).
The server was back in a few minutes. Wearing an apologetic expression, he informed us that nothing that we had ordered on the menu could be served as we had come in a bit early for their dinner time. We looked at our watches. It was close to 7pm.
Desperate times needed desperate measures. The adults sighed and said, ‘bring whatever you can as long as it is enough for all of us.’
So the new order was: Dal, Egg curry, salad, rice, roti and some vegetable dishes.
A few minutes after the waiter left, we saw a man hurrying out through the hallway with what looked like a shopping tote in hand.
Then we waited. And waited.
We were serves salads, which were gone in minutes. We waited some more.
About half an hour later, we saw the man who had hurried out, come back in. He was carrying egg cartons, and the bag looked like it contained the vegetables that we had ordered. Dismayed, we all looked at each other. While we were waiting for our food, the kitchen was shopping!!
Now an adult from our group left us to check if there was any other place nearby that we could go for dinner. He came back about 10 minutes later, shaking his head in disappointment.
Another hour went by. By this time, I was ready to cry, my sister was already howling, and the adults looked ready to commit annihilation.
Finally our food arrived. We wolfed it down like famine stricken people. I don’t really remember what the food tasted like, though one thing I do remember is that all the dishes were made of the same gravy.
It was a dinner none of us ever forgot. Even today we laugh about it. And I have never been able to eat an egg curry without remembering that outrageously aggravating dinner that our fuzzy mushy nostalgic mind has turned into a funny escapade.
This week’s power food is Eggs. If there is one ingredient you can always find in my kitchen, it would be eggs. That they are power foods comes as no surprise to me. I do think the poor eggs have been treated abominably by the food community by and large, and finally are getting their dues. Can you name another super duper delicious food that is also a powerhouse of ALL good nutrients that you can think of? Or rather, can’t think of. It has complicated stuff like lysine or Glutamic acid and more popular stuff like folate and riboflavin (VB12), and everything else in between.
And to think all this in a food kids can’t have enough of!
Waxing eloquent this week on eggs are my fellow power food bloggers: Alanna – Kitchen Parade Veggie Adventure – Alyce – More Time at the Table, Ansh – Spice Roots, Casey –SweetSav Jeanette – Jeanette’s Healthy Living, Jill – Saucy Cooks Martha – Simple-Nourished-Living, Mireya- My Healthy Eating Habits
Recently, I discovered Allspice. It’s not an ingredient that is common in Indian cooking, though some middle eastern inspired dishes of North India boast of having it. I wanted to give it a try. I decided to experiement with this egg curry. This egg curry does not have any of the regular Indian spices. It is made of ingredients that you can regularly find in your around the corner grocery stores. The coconut milk and cilantro leaves gives it a wee bit of Indian twist, as does the pounded green chilies. The result is a very creamy, spicy, flavorful curry that was a hit with everyone in the family, including the kids. Enjoy!!
- 6 Eggs boiled and peeled
- 1 medium onion chopped fine
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp Allspice
- 1 tsp pounded whole red chilies
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 2 tbsp yogurt
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp Agave nectar
- 1 tbsp cilantro leaves ponded
- 2 Thai green chilies pounded
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Halve the eggs and keep aside
- In oil, fry onions till light brown
- Add ginger and garlic paste
- Fry Allspice powder and add pounded red chilies
- Fry for 30 seconds, then add yogurt.
- Lower the flame and cook for 30 more seconds.
- Once the oil starts floating, add ketchup and stir well.
- Pour the coconut milk, slow and nice, and keep stirring so that it gets nicely mixed with the rest of the spices.
- Bring it to a boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Let it thicken a bit – at this point, it should look creamy.
- Spoon in Agave nectar.
- Finally, add the pounded cilantro leaves and Thai green chilies.
- Serve with rice or any other carb of your choice.