Tag Archives: travel

Santha in Vizag

During my two year stint in Visakhapatnam, I had the pleasure of going twice a week to a village Santha where villagers would come and sell their vegetables, fruit, fish, meat and other wares. These were my impressions of the Santha at Scindia Junction in Visakhapatnam…

Below is a picture of the flower seller at the Santha. He sold Jasmin or Mullapoo as it is called and Sampangi, Chamanthi, Kanakambram, and tulasi malas for the hair as well as loose flowers including roses for pooja.

The Andhra Chilly is famous for its intense heat and this old lady is selling some of these. The heat of these chillies can be made out by their size, and colour. The smaller, the thinner and the darker green they are, the spicier they will be.

Below is a picture of my fish lady…she sold me amazingly fresh fish that she brought all the way from the Yarada fishing Village.

My fish lady had a fish cleaner lady who sat beside her. She chopped and cleaned the fish for a paltry sum of 5 Rupees.

After they saw that I was taking pictures they all wanted their pictures taken. Before I left I printed out the lot and gave it to them. They laughed themselves silly at the results!!!

Street Snack vendor selling Onion Samosas,  Dal Vadas, Arusu, Bobbattu and Gaari’s 

Juicy, tangy, yummy Jamuns at 20 Rupees a glass…

This is a picture of the lady I bought vegetables from every week…we became quite good friends.. 🙂

I just love the smile on the Lady…she looks beautiful…

The Black and white bag is one of many that are found in abundance in the Santha. They are hand made from plastic thread or strips and can only be ordered from some ladies who make them at home. Approximate cost 150/- rupees.

I love this picture and the way the lady looks but when I gave her her picture she told me frankly that she thought I knew nothing of photography and that I had taken a horrendous picture. Chandalam is the word she used. It means disgusting!!!! LOL

Colourful Fryums…eaten as a snack or as an accompaniment to a meal of rice, lentils and a vegetable fry.

The market has two tea sellers who walk around carrying this bag with thermos flasks filled with tea and small plastic glasses. They are a total lifeline for the villagers. The tea is milky, sweet and laced with ginger, cardamom and cloves…Masala chai!!!

The Bullock Cart that transports the produce to the markets.

Onion Seller. She looked like she had woken from a restful nap.

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Gandhi Bazaar, Bangalore – II

Here are a few more memories of my walk through Gandhi Bazaar…I just can’t get enough of this place. The smell of flowers intermingles with the smell of tulsi leaves, incense sticks and hot filter coffee. It smells like heaven and my childhood rolled into one… 😀

Doggy Nap

The dog and the flower seller

Banana Leaf seller

Doggy with a glass of tea

Fruit Market

Drishti Dolls

These dolls are called Drishti dolls and they are hung outside homes to keep away the evil eye.

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Gandhi Bazaar, Bangalore

Gandhi Bazaar is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only because it holds the superlative Vidhyarthi Bhavan but also because of its vibrant street market of fruit, vegetable and flower sellers. I don’t have anything else to say and would rather let the pictures do the talking.

Banana Leaf stall

Flower seller

Flower Market

Flower Seller

Multi colour roses

Red and green dyed roses

Papery Gomphrena flower Garlands for Shiva

Doggy nap time

Gandhi Bazaar

Lotus buds

Mango Mango Mango

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Delhi Belly – III

Trip to Jama Masjid

It was a cold cold night. One that set the mood for the kind of foodie debauchery I have seldom indulged in. But hey…it was fun!!!! The atmosphere was magical, the company was fantabulous and the food was great…so why complain.

This was the night we set out to Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi…Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, in the year 1644 CE and completed in the year 1658 AD, it is the largest and best-known mosque in India. It lies at the origin of a very busy central street of Old Delhi, the Chawri Bazaar Road. And thats all the history I am going to indulge in…for I am more interested in the today where the cooks are busy and the food stalls are thronging with the hungry multitudes in search of some good food.

Sevaiyya and Rusk shop

Our first stop was a biriyani joint where the gentleman was selling Beef Dum Biriyani in huge metal vessels. To say that it was great is an understatement. There is something about hot, spicy biriyani and a cold night that warms the soul as nothing else does.

Bum Biriyani

Digging in

Next we stopped at a place selling fried chicken. The chicken was chopped, marinated and fried on the same table. The whole operation was carried out with surgical precision. Needless to say the results were drool worthy.


Delhi Fried Chicken - DFC!!!!

Digging in

Having eaten a good amount of spicy food we decided to cleanse our pallet with some sweet rabri. Basically a dish made of milk boiled till it thickens and flavoured with saffron and dried fruits. I do not exaggerate when I say it was the best rabri I had ever eaten.

Rabri @ Jama Masjid

Then we went along a labyrinth of narrow lanes in search of what people called Sutli (thread) Kebab. Finally, we located it in a narrow lane. We tried all the Kebabs on offer and had a moment of doubt as to the origins of the meat!!!! Sutli Kebab by the turned out to be a long kebab held together by a sutli and grilled.

Sutli Kebab

Then we went to the famous Karim’s and frankly I found the whole experience a bit disappointing. Perhaps having read so much about the wonder that was Karim, the reality of it could not live up to the hype.


Food @ Karim's

After a meal at Karim’s we headed out onto the street to find a man selling Shahi Tukda. This a bread based desert made by frying slices of bread in ghee and then soaking it in sugar syrup and topped with a creamy custard, dried fruits and nuts. The Shahi Tukda was being served sizzling hot and is part of my list of most amazing food experiences ever.

Shahi Tukda

The trip to Jama Masjid that night was like something out of the Arabian Nights. Delhi is a very multi-faceted city with a blend of the modern and the traditional, the new and the old. To experience Old Delhi a trip to the Jama Masjid market is a must do.

Yellow Chicken Soup!!!

Fresh Naan from the Tandoor

One of the numerous meat shops

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Chai wallah

The chai-wallah (tea seller) is the most ubiquitous sight in India. You will find one in any part of the country. And the chai you get at the chai-wallah’s is like nothing you can conjure up at home. It could be the fact that they boil their chai much more than we do at home or the dust and the dirt combine to give the chai its taste. At any rate a potion of this strong cuppa can drive away the sleep and put a bounce back in the step.

Cutting Chai

Chai-wallah chai is usually made with anything between a 50-50 to a 25-75 proportion of milk to water. They use strong tea powder that is locally bought from the tea wholesaler. Most of them have their own individual blend of masalas that they put in their brew. These differ from ginger to cardamom and clove. Some even add tulsi (holy Basil) leaves. These masalas are ground fresh or stored in bottles and added when the tea reaches a boil.

fresh ginger and cardamom masala

The tea is served in small thick glasses with biscuits, rusk or khari. In bigger shops they may even have samosas, pakodas and pau. Other than the regional differences in chai, there is also chai that can be distinguished by the communities they belong to. So you have the Parsi tea which is eaten with brun-maska. Then you have Irani chai which is served in beautiful gold tipped glasses on dainty saucers. This is black tea with a dash of lemon straight from the samovar. Iranian tea of this kind is available in Mumbai and is served with a biscuit or a piece of cake. There is another Iranian tea which is popular in Andhra Pradesh. This is a water less tea or pani-kum-chai as it is called by the locals. A tea made purely out of milk and spiced with cardamom, this is a rich tea that is very popular, though quite unpalatable to a lactose intolerant stomach such as mine. Then you have cutting chai which is half a glass of tea and the one meter chai which is chai that is frothed by pouring it into the glass from a pot held a meter high.

Brun Maska

One meter chai

I have had road side chai at a variety of places…I have had South Indian sea side chai, and Kumaon mountain tea and Mumbai city tea and Marathwada goats milk tea. They all tasted different, but the thing they had in common was the warm, smiling chai wallah who doled out the glasses of tea with his own inimitable brand of wit blended with wisdom.

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Ingesting Insects

Thai Insect Snack Seller

When the family planned a trip to Thailand, I had two things on my agenda. Eat every thing no matter how exotic and pet a tiger. I managed the first and the second…well, it will have to wait for my next trip. Thai food by and large was fantastic. Spicy, coconut-y and fishy. All the things I like in food. But there are some memories about thai food that are more intense than others.

On our way out of the Walking Street in Pattaya, I came across a street vendor selling fried insects. On the menu were crickets (Jing Leed), silk worms, water bugs (Maeng Da), scorpions, grass hoppers (Tak Ga Tan), wood worms (Non Mai) and bamboo insects (Non Pai). It was a truly gut churning display. But I had decided to try everything and so try it I did. I took a plate with an assortment of crickets, scorpions, grass hoppers, silk worms and wood worms. The stall owner fried them in a wok and presented them to me after dusting them with some spices. And though I would like to say just how horrible it was to eat these critters, I must admit that they tasted quite nice. I would even have a bag of crickets on the go if I had another shot at it. The only insect that presented a challenge was the scorpion. Despite removing the tail and head, it was still a bit too crunchy and insect-y for ones liking.

The Eaten Scorpion

Further investigation revealed that the insects are cooked in a mix of Golden Mountain Sauce (Soya bean sauce, water, sugar and salt) and Thai pepper powder. I also found out that eating insects is not as weird as I thought it was. It seems it is quite a common snack in Africa as well as Central and South America – where they greatly prize edible flies and ant eggs. Insects are said to be very healthy being low in fat (Do I see a new celebrity diet fad coming ;-)), and high on protiens, iron and calcium. Also in the future insects maybe a viable food option as the cost of meats is going to increase hugely. There are plenty of people who encourage the eating of insects and an interesting article by Vincent M. Holt (1885) can be found at http://bugsandbeasts.com/whynoteatinsects/.

So I say, let go of your inhibitions and the next time you see a roach…don’t squish it – cook it!!!!!

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