Friday, March 9, 2012

Incredible India

Hello, everyone!

How's the new year treating you? Since January, I've been in two trips, and many metro foodtrips. My latest trip, which I am going to feature in this post is exotic in every way- was in India.  M had another conference (thank you, lucky streak) and I got to tag along again. Thank you, God :) 

I wasn't as prepared for India as much as our previous trips. We were too busy, plus our visa was a miracle, so I did not get my hopes too high up for this trip. But there we were last month- in India

Well, India is all that we heard it to be- chaotic and exotic. Both good and bad- like the Philippines, or well like any country for that matter. We experienced the extremes though, from almost royalty to indignant squalor. A matter to be discussed in another forum. For now, I will talk about the food. 

I am no stranger from Indian food. I actually enjoy having the vegetable samosas at a certain weekend market in Makati. I like ordering vegetable or beef kebabs, and have cumin powder in my spice shelf for my ground beef. I also have curry powder for those rare instances that I have some coconut cream and make chicken curry. So I thought, I wouldn't have a problem with the food for a week. I did bring some soda crackers, chips and sweets for the occasional hunger pangs.

We got to taste out first Indian dish on our flight to Bangalore on board Singapore Airlines, via Singapore. I had a fish dish with a spicy tomato sauce, and M had a chicken masala dish. Both were good, save for M's dessert which looked like a yogurt dish with raisins.


For the flight back to Singapore, I think we almost ordered the same stuff .
So, that was our first Indian fare on this trip.

We stayed at an amazing hotel in Bangalore City.
It had a lot of Indian, British and Persian influences in its architecture, I think.
The standards were very international, and the breakfast buffet was superb.
Day 1

M's omelette. They shape omelettes this way. I don't quite like it, but I am very amused. :)

After a half day trip around the city- we had our first dinner at  the hotel's resident Indian specialty restaurant.
There were three of us, so we each ordered one dish, which the waiter graciously served individually in each of our plates, so we could taste each dish. We had fish and chicken kebab, while M had a lamb dish.

After dinner handwash. :D

Our mouths were pungent with all the spices, so when the waiter graciously served us these after dinner mints, we were elated! There were candied anise with a a few combinations, also candied and dried fruit. Some looked like colored and sugared millet seeds. One of the bowls here tasted like lavender. It was fun trying out each of the mints. :)
Day 2

I had breakfast alone this time, because M had to attend a conference.I got to take a few pics though, so I had a fun time. During the half day Bangalore tour,  the driver recommended that we try certain Indian food, which I tried as soon as I recognized them with the name cards on each dish.

This is the Idli. It's a savory rice cake, with nuts and a few Indian spices. It tasted like a salty puto (rice cake).:)

Medu Wada-
 a spicy/savory doughnut made with black beans and flavored with ginger, coriander and others. 

This is not Indian, but I did want to highlight my favorite pastry in the buffet.- Danish  butter pastry with strawberries. I'm telling you, it was divine. :D

There were a host of other dishes, that I wasn't able to try and was too shy to take a picture of.  Really, it's alright to take pictures in a buffet, right? I seem to cower in hotel buffets.

After M's 3-day conference in Bangalore, we flew to Delhi so we could take the tour to Agra. Sad to say that our food experience is Delhi was not pleasant. The business hotel we stayed in served almost the same kind of food in the posh Bangalore hotel, except that service was not good and it wasn't that clean. I don't know if the stay in Bangalore had affected our senses, but I'd like to think that cleanliness has a universal standard. So there. We also ordered a Tenderloin burger in their cafe, and the meat smelled awful. So awful, I couldn't eat it, and swore hence not to eat beef during the duration of our stay. We had KFC for dinner. Even that was not that pleasant, the servers needed more training in handling utensils, and I noticed a spot INSIDE the disposable soda cup, after drinking from it. Sigh. No, I didn't enjoy it. I really hope it was just that one branch at the Connaught Place that did that. Please.

The day after, we drove to Agra for 5 hours. On the way, we saw my favorite big yellow arches- McDonald's!

The McSpicy Chicken.
No, they weren't kidding about the spice. Hotter than a KFC Zinger, it served to satisfy my hunger for a burger. We then resolved to buy the same thing for dinner.
The reason for being there.

After the tour of the Taj Mahal, we had lunch at a local restaurant  that was recommended by our tour guide Mehran.

The one in front is the Chili Chicken, and the one behind that is the Chicken Tikka Masala. We loved the Chili Chicken, which was ordered by our guide. He says the dish is not featured on the menu, but is a local favorite. It was good. It tasted like a spicy chicken dish with an almost sweet and sour-ish sauce. The sweet was provided by the bell peppers and the sour notes, by the tomatoes/ M objects to my description of the sauce, but I think you will agree with me. Hehe. The Chicken Tikka Masala was just spicy, and paled in comparison to the Chili Chicken. 

They say the Indians from the north eat bread, and the south eat rice. And for this meal, we had Naan for our  carbohydrates. M had the Cheese Naan, the guide had a garlic naan, and I had the regular Naan. I love Naan. Someday, I will try to make at home. 

I ordered the Kebab Platter. Having had that amazing Kebab at Jamavar in Bangalore, this one was  blah. Dry and not much flavor. The guide's Chili Chicken was the clear winner. :D Tip: Next time, let the guide order.

The day after the Taj Mahal trip, we hied off to Singapore so we could take our flight back to the Philippines. Since we had to stay the night, M and I met up with his friend so we could tour the city.

He brought us to No Signboard, a popular restaurant along the esplanade 
which was highly recommended by M's boss.

 White Pepper Crabs .
The history on the menu says that the restaurant was known for the White Pepper Crabs, and so this is what we ordered. I think we should have stuck to the Chili Crabs that the city is known for.
Garlic Prawns

Saute Chicken with Dry Red Chili

No Signboard Seafood Restaurant gets the thumbs up! Yum. I hope next time, I will be able to make tummy space for the sidewalk ice cream sandwich. :D

For brunch, M's friend recommended that we go to one of the food courts along Orchard Road- the Food Republic, for some easy, fast, local fare.

M had to have his coffee,  so we had some of the local favorite- Toastbox Nanyang Kopi. I then had some  Floss Thick Toast, soft boiled eggs and a Milo Dinosaur. The Milo D in GB5 is thicker and better.

Hot Sauce & Garlic Sauce for the Hainanese Chicken Rice.
If M and I were sauces, he would be one and  I would be the other. Guess which is which. :D

Hainanese Chicken Rice.
My second time to try Hainanese Chicken and this one was really good. Yum!

I spotted this sweet shop at the Changi Airport.
It was a Malaysian dessert shop and each and everything looked yummy! I need my sugar!

Lapis Sago
Feels like "sapin-sapin", but is softer, smoother, creamier. I am in love with this dessert.

Gula Melaka.
Just like our "Malagkit" or "Biko", but with shredded coconut mixed in the layers. Sweet. Good with coffee.

A sweet ending to an amazing adventure. 
Thank you God for Thy guidance and provision. You are amazing!


gwacie said...

I want to try naan! Lumette, this post is making me hungry. I doubt there's anything exotic in our kitchen, but I will have to make to. Drool!!!

gwacie said...

Oh, and those omelets look like footballs. :)

Shalum said...

Hi Gracie, it's not so hard to make food taste like theirs. Just grab some cumin in the grocery. Add it to some of your food and tadah! Hehe. Their food is really pungent with cumin, garlic and onions. Try empanada mix with cumin powder, and thery become samosas!:D

gwacie said...

Thanks! Will see if cumin is in stock next time I go to the grocery. Couldn't find any last time.

Guia Obsum said...

How I miss traveling and the food that comes with it! :)

Shalum said...

Hi Guia! I hope you travel soon.