Salted Lassi

Salted Lassi is a 10 rupee (15 cents) drink that Indians love, particularly in the morning. You can find it at most breakfast bars around Bangalore. It is drunk as a refresher and is considered to have good health properties.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. yogurt
  • 2 tbs. fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp. ginger, rough chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  • Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Add about 2 cups water to dilute.
  • Drink.

Makes about 3 cups

Note: This drink is definitely an acquired taste.  The salt makes it tart, the ginger pretty strong and the overall texture something not quite like a smoothy, but also not milk. I’m afraid neither one of us enjoyed it much.

Bangalore’s Many Cuisines

Bangalore is a multicultural city with people from many parts of the country and the world. There is also diversity in language, religion and ethnicity.  In particular Bangalore is known for big breakfasts and spicy foods.  Here are examples of the kinds of cuisines from around Karnataka, our Indian state, which can be found here in Bangalore:

  • South Indian Breakfasts – major hotels have huge spreads of many different cuisines, but an authentic Southern Indian breakfast might include:
    • idli – fermented steamed cake.  Very white with not a ton of flavor on its own, but good with different chutneys.
    • Vada – savory fritter.  I guess anything deep fried is good and at least worth trying.  I’ve found them to be a bit doughy though.
    • dosas – savory pancakes.  Now we are talking.  The thin pancakes resemble crepes, but are made from rice and beans (although you wouldn’t know it to taste them) and can be filled with all many things like masala dosa (a potato curry mixture that is delicious).
    • other things include set dosa (fermented savory pancake), bisl bele bath (rice, lentil, vegetables), pongal (savory rice and lentil), uppittu (semolina porridge), avalaki (flattened rish), rava idli (steamed semolina cake), pesarattu (green gram crepe), idlyappa (string hopper), appam (fluffy pancake) and puttu (steamed rice cake).
  • Chettinad Cuisine – Chettinad is a region in Tamil Nadu, home of a large and successful trading community.  They use many spices and the food is hot.
    • dosas (savory pancakes), appams (fluffy pancakes) or idlies (fermented steamed cakes) are used to offset the spiciness of
    • pepper chicken, lamb varuval (dry curry) or kothu paratha (minced meat dish and bread)
  • Kerala Cuisine – Kerala is on the southwest coast of India thus fish is a big part of the menu.
    • puttu and karla curry (steamed rice cake with chickpeas curry)
    • idli (fermented steamed cake)
    • pidiyan (rice dumpling)
  • Andhra Cuisine – Very cool because a traditional meal is served on a fresh banana leaf as a plate and fingers are used for eating.  In the center of the leaf is a huge mound of white rice, usually with ghee (a kind of clarified butter that is everywhere).  There might be a meat as well.  Around the rice you’ll find many little dishes with:
    • spicy pappulu podi (lentil-based condiment)
    • pappu (lentils)
    • vepudu (dry vegetables which means cooked vegetables, just not in a sauce)
    • gojju (curries)
    • pulusu (sour gravy)
    • pappu chaaru (lentil broth)
    • pachadi (chutney)
    • rasam (soupy lentils)
    • ooragaya (pickle)
    • curd (yogurt)
  • Coorg Cuisine – coffee country in South West Karnataka where Pandi Curry (pork) is a local speciality, but there are many different rice dish variations as well.
    • akki roti (rice flour bread)
    • puttus (steamed rice cakes)
    • nei kool (rice dish)
    • spicy rice dishes
  • Coastal Cuisine – coastal Karnataka is far south and seafood specialities.
    • Spicy coconut-based dishes with fish, prawns, clams and crabs
    • kori roti (rice flour bread)
    • neer dosa (rice pancakes

What do we eat?

Amazingly enough after being here over two months we aren’t hankering for non-Indian food.  That doesn’t mean we don’t periodically go out and enjoy a bowl of pasta, but generally we are very, very happy eating Indian food every day.

I think this is because of the immense variety and wonderful flavors.  The spices are incredible (I’ll do a separate post on that!), the breads varied and we haven’t found eating vegetarian to be difficult.

Paneer provides the protein.  They call it cottage cheese here, but it is more sturdy in structure than our cottage cheese.  There are lots of ways to include paneer in your diet.

Because India is a poor country things are really available seasonally.  Right now we are in summer so the mangos are really starting to appear (they need a few rains to make them even sweeter), jackfruit, and other seasonal fruits like mash melons (looks like cantaloupe to me!) and watermelon.

Right now because of the mangos Annette is making mango lassis daily.  They haven’t been too hard to consume.  So this might be breakfast.

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For us lunch is usually leftovers from the night before.  Annette makes enough for Eric to pack a lunch box, or a modern day tiffin box and enjoy a great meal.  It makes it really easy, but by the time he gets home it is time for dinner so we eat early.

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Annette works 10am-4pm and leaves dinner for us each evening.  Here are some sample meals over the past few days.  My next post will show how these are made (including recipes!)

  • Meal 1 – Fried Eggplant, Green Gram Dal with Onions and Tomatoes, Vegetable Biryani, Paneer Masala, Cucumber Raita and Chapati

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  • Meal 2 – Methi Paratha, Scrambled Eggs with Onions and Tomatoes and Chana
  • Meal 3 – Vegetable Fried Rice with Prawns, Prawns with Spices and Okra with Potatoes
  • Meal 4 – Dosas with Potato, Onions and Coriander filling and Onion Chutney and Coconut Chutney

Most Indians actually enjoy a large breakfast and lunch with a small and late dinner, around 10pm.  The heat around dinner time makes it less pleasant to eat a heavy meal. Obviously we are still on an American clock!

 

What food do we miss?

Cheese and Crackers.  They sell some but odd kinds (who ever heard of eating Parmesan cheese on a cheese board?).  Indians don’t eat crackers so they aren’t available.  The imported ones are crazy expensive – and outdated.  So, we might be bringing in cheese and wheat thins on our next trip back!  This vintage cheddar is pretty good!

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Pizza. Because the cheeses here are different pizza, which is everywhere, including several American chains, doesn’t taste like home.  I’m sure the tomato sauce is canned as well. Heading to Bills for a slice or two when we are next in Newton!

Fish.  Bangalore is landlocked and with questionable transportation and refrigeration (I was given a free ice cream bar the other day from a supermarket after buying a lot of stuff and it had clearly melted and been refrozen, maybe multiple times) so buying “fresh” fish isn’t an option.  Sometimes the odors of the fish market area even in expensive supermarkets is enough to knock you off food.  So, we have tried prawns and they were good.  Waiting for some good salmon at Legals.

Hamburger.  There is beef, but from questionable sources.  We’ve eaten it at hotels, but have resisted purchasing it in stores.  Shake Shack here we come!

Salads and Raw Vegetables. This has been the saddest part of our journey.  Not feeling comfortable enough to eat salsa, or a salad, or a raw carrot.  I’m happy to report that just this week I was able to do my first lettuce harvest so Eric and I had homemade salad.  We expect more over the coming months and hope to add peppers and tomatoes to make it more colorful!

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Ice cream. It is hard to compare anything to ice cream from Massachusetts, particularly our hometown favorite, J.P. Licks.  Even though they imported Jersey cows into India a few years ago because of the better output (versus A2 native Indian cows) they still don’t have the same cream and that’s what makes for good ice cream.  We found a temporary placeholder, but expect to consume quite a bit when we are home!

Note, there are higher end grocery stores that are tailored to ex-pats that have Halo tangerines (I think they were about $1 per tiny tangerine) from California and other fruits and vegetables from Australia and Japan.  And other things like cereals, jams, peanut butter, etc. Much more expensive, but sometimes worth a splurge.  They will have some specialty ingredients for Japanese, Mexican or Italian cooking, but again they are expensive and more of a treat to break from regular dining than to use with any kind of frequency.

So we will wait to indulge until we get home.