Indian Summers . . . “can’t get into it,” commented a fellow traveller.
The Jewel in the Crown . . . “too violent” rejected the same tourist.
“Well, it certainly wasn’t boring,” I returned . . . meaning I loved it.
Sipping wine in the shady but warm garden of the Oberoi Maidens Hotel, I almost felt as though I could, if I turned quickly, catch a glimpse of Baker and Lutyens chugging gin and tonics while arguing over the placement of Rashtrapati Bhavan. (Might explain why they got it wrong!)
So far, however, the highlight of our trip has been our night visit to a restaurant right in the middle of the Chandi Chowk market in Old Delhi.
Our driver was a 34 year old Hindu who apologized for his poor English. He told us he has eleven year old twins back in his village with his wife, his mom and dad, and his brothers and sisters because renting a room is too expensive in Delhi, he said. “Four or five thousand rupees a month." (That’s one thousand dollars Canadian.) Both children are going to school and learning to speak good English.
He talked a bit about Indian weddings. “A man like me,” he said, “spends 4 or 5 lakh on a wedding.” That’s 400,000 to 500,000 rupees (ten thousand Canadian dollars).
A rich man in India spends 40 to 50 lakhs on a wedding . . . or more!
The driver had to park the car a ways off and paid some guy to keep an eye on his car. Then he led us down a BUSY narrow street, wending our way around motorcycle cabs, rickshaws, and PEOPLE, none of them white. I think the only light came from the shops on one side . . . the crispy brown chicken street food looked sooo tempting, but I was glad we were going to end up in some kind of a restaurant.
Karim’s is a Muslim restaurant which is highly recommended by Lonely Planet for both the food and the experience. Good job, Lonely Planet!
On the way home from supper the driver was so grateful. He told Nestor, "I am so happy I got to eat chicken with gravy." (He ordered the butter chicken.)
India is, of course, a country of side by side marble and mud . . . showy streamers and scabby squalor.
So yesterday we visited an immaculate and opulent Temple. This religion dates back to . . . 1968 :). Everybody was looking for something and the wealthy Gujerat found this swami. Now, saffron-robed monks ring bells and chant in front of a huge golden statue of him . . . and that immense stone adorning the forehead is, I am assured, a genuine ruby.
Security is very strict and no cameras are allowed. Well, never mind, my camera’s kaput anyhow.
MATAR KHORMA (Peas in Tomato Sauce)
From Premila Lal’s INDIAN COOKING FOR PLEASURE
1 lb tomatoes
1 lb frozen peas
½ inch fresh ginger root
1 green chili (jalapeno)
1 tsp oil
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt
· Boil some water in a saucepan. Dip in a tomato and roll about in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Set aside and blanch the other tomatoes.
· Peel the tomatoes and blend them in a food processor.
· Boil the peas for 3 minutes and drain. Set aside.
· Discard the seeds of the green chili and finely chop it.
· Peel and finely chop the ginger root.
· Heat the oil over low heat. Add the garam masala and chili. Stir for one minute.
· Add the tomatoes and peas. Remove from heat and let stand until 15 minutes before serving time.
· Cook for 15 minutes over low heat.