This week (22nd-28th October) is National Curry Week – who knew?! What better timing than for me to give you my top 5 favourite India dishes, but also to share with you some of my experiences in India from the last two weeks!
As some of you know, I’m graphic designer and I work at a company in Huntingdon, whilst Perfect Shot continues to grow. We have had a team of graphic designers at an office in Pune, Maharashtra for the past 4 years and during that time I have spent over 20 weeks in India. The past two weeks I have been completing some refresher training with the newest staff, but I also set myself a couple of photography projects and challenges to do in my free time. One was to complete a portrait session with one of our team’s supervisors and his family.
Little Puru was 6 on Friday, he attends a school which teaches the Cambridge curriculum so he is learning English and has come on so much since I last saw him! I am so thankful for Amol, his wife Ashwini and Puru to welcome me into their home for the afternoon. We had so much fun and, as with most 6 year olds, the bribe of pizza worked a treat when Puru was getting bored of posing for me!
During my visit, there was a 9 day festival taking place – Navatri. Over the weekend it was planned that we would attend a Dandiya party, a form of traditional dancing. So we put on our finest traditional Indian clothing and learnt some new moves! I’m not a night photographer, so my second challenge was to capture the essence of the party and to bring the huge array of colours home with me to be able to share the experience. As always, there’s room for improvement, but I’m very pleased with how these turned out! The party was really as bright, crazy and colourful as it looks!
You will have seen on my facebook page that I visited an orphanage too. What a truly remarkable and humbling visit. I didn’t know what to expect, there are varying levels of poverty as you travel around India, but the schools and homes that Maher provide children were such happy, vibrant places! The children sang a welcome song as we entered (please find the video on facebook, if you haven’t seen it, it will bring the biggest smile to your face!) and then tucked into a huge lunch, that we had sponsored. I’ve never seen such little humans put away so much food! To find out about Maher, click here.
The second best part about India is the food! It’s not until you have eaten real Indian food that you realise how much Britain has changed ‘curry’ in our takeaways. I’ve visited India 5 times over the past 4 years, spending 20+ weeks out there. If you’re wondering, I’ve never experienced ‘Delhi Belly’, luckily, but I think that’s partly because I’m all for eating their food (sensibly!) and not trying to find ‘English’ alternatives, as they just don’t know how to cook it properly. They know what they’re doing with their own food!
Here’s my top 5 dishes:
- Paneer. Anything with this form of cheese on the menu will always win hands down. It’s a cross between cottage cheese and halloumi. It’s available in most supermarkets over here too.
- Dhal; made from lentils and chickpeas, perfect for dipping your roti bread in. I’ve not found a dhal that I really love in the UK yet, so I make the most of it in India.
- Roti. It’s much smaller and thinner than naan bread, so not as heavy. You also eat your curry using the roti, just with your right hand. A challenge to begin with, but I’m getting quite good at that now!
- Poha. This is a spicy rice and nut breakfast dish. 5 years ago, I’d never have dreamed of thinking about a spicy breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t eat it every day, but a couple of times a week it’s lovely!
- Kulfi. Indian ice cream. It’s like a nicer version of mini milks…who doesn’t like a mini milk?!
You might have noticed I said food was the second best part about India. What’s the best thing? The people. There are some huge cultural differences between the UK and India, but once you understand them, the people of India are the most accommodating you will ever come across, and if you ever get the chance to visit India, please do. I’ve only experienced a very small part of this huge country, but I hope to see more parts of it in the future.
Have you visited India? Where would you recommend? Post in the comments under this blog!