Tuesday, 19 April 2011

INDIA: Jaisalmer

We left Jodhpur for Jaisalmer and had Indian style breakfast/lunch on the train: masala chai and aloo pakoda

Jaisalmer has a beautiful sandstone fort but the main reason to come here is for a camel safari through the desert. It is much more hot here and very dry and dusty so it shouldn't come like a surprise that we had a sandstorm. What was a surprise though was that it was followed by rain. The first rain in this area since October but the monsoon is still a long way off.

We left early in the morning when it was still bearable and met our camel guides. It's very quiet in the desert. All you hear is the rhythmic ringing of the bells around the camel's necks.

We had lunch in the shade under a thorn tree and Malou, one of our guides started making some fresh chapattis on an open fire to go with the aloo ghobi and some Chinese style noodles (thinking we might be more accustomed to than Indian food).

The camels had lunch too. Though they look a bit more like giraffes then, no?

For dinner we had some pakoras followed by a dhal with rice and more chapattis. All washed down with some warmish beer watching the sunset and relaxing our aching bones.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

INDIA: Jodhpur

Jodhpur is known as the blue city due to the blue-painted houses around the old town.

There are some great local specialities to try and saffron lassi is one of them. Another one is Makhaniya lassi. It's simply a lassi with some butter to make it creamy, almost like a milk shake. Other variations are lassi with cardamom, dried fruits or any sort of fresh fruit like banana or papaya.
Also refreshing in the heat is sugar cane juice. This one here was squeezed with a lime to balance the natural sweetness. Delicious. See the machine? It's hard work to extract the juice so usually they are powerd by a generator.

Indians eat their dinner fairly late so to bridge the gap or if they just feel peckish they might have some of these: Wada or vadai is a savoury fritter-type snack. A bit like a donut. But Indian style with a hint of cumin.

Another great snack are these deep fried Thenkuzhal (made from gram and rice flour with black sesame seeds) formed into a spiral or Murukku ribbons (with some cheese added) and fried. It usually comes with fried chilies. Great with an ice cold beer.

Monday, 11 April 2011

INDIA: Udaipur

Udaipur is considered the most romantic city in Rajasthan, if not even in India. "Everybody will promise you the most romantic hotel, restaurant or view but you can't buy any of that. It has to come from the heart!" Well spoken Chill (real name Filuz), our tuk tuk driver.

Udaipur is also known for it's appearance in the 1982 James Bond film 'Octopussy'. For in case you have forgotten you will be reminded every night with screenings at most restaurants over dinner.

With the summer approaching fast the days are getting hotter and nothing is more refreshing than a cold lemon soda. All you need to do is mix it yourself.

We took a cooking class with Sushma in her kitchen and learnt how to make three different kinds of curries, chappatis and proper chai. And the best was we got to eat it all afterwards.

Meet: Rakesh. He is a miniature painter specializing in the Rajput-Mughal style that Udaipur is famous for. The smaller and more intricate, the more expensive his work is. So does size matter? Rakesh will definately say yes!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

INDIA: Jaipur

Puri stalls can be found all over India. It's a great snack that can be served with either halwa, korma, chana masala, dal or potato based curries. It's made of wheat flour and salt. The dough is then rolled out in a small circle and deep fried in ghee or vegetable oil. While deep frying, it puffs up like a round ball.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Or kulfi. In this case.

Ghewar is a delicious Rajasthani sweet made of wheat flour which suger syrup is poured. Ghewar sweet known for its matchless sweetness comes in varieties such as plain, desi ghee, paneer and mawa. Paneer ghewar is garnished with paneer and is highly demanded for their tasty flavor. It is a speciality prepared for Gangaur festival here in Jaipur.

I am glad we were in town for the festival. Elephants, camels, beautiful costumes and a great parade with music.

Friday, 8 April 2011


Well, last time I checked we were no cannibals but just now we ate a tourist. And it was crisp and chocolaty with a creamy vanilla centre. Yum!

We took the train from Delhi to Agra and were served food en route. As it was an early train leaving at 6.15am a staming hot chai is always appreciated. We were served two meals. For breakfast we had black tea with TRUST superfine sugar and NOVA dairy creamer (or milk powder), some Parle-G cookies and Nütrive chocolate eclairs (actually candy). The second meal some time later was our lunch.

So here we are in Agra to see the Taj Mahal.

And it is picture perfect though if I had to criticise one thing it's the lack of windows inside the modestly spaced chamber (you have ornately carved screens cut from marble instead) resulting in almost no ventilation. Everybody had to take off their shoes to enter so now imagine the smell inside...

A great sentence I learnt from a travel guide in Udaipur that I have to add here goes as following:
If you have a great idea you can build the Eifel Tower.
If you have love and passion you can build the Taj Mahal.
But if you have patience you can build them all over again.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

INDIA: Delhi

I thought I'd start the travel blog with the bare necessities and what could be more essential to life than water. In Delhi you can buy yours from a refridgerated trolly and it will be served to you in a glass with whole lemons (just to flavour the water) and maybe a piece of charcoal. Charcoal removes chlorines, odors, colours and any cloudiness. Please be aware this is just chilled tap water so unless you are a resident this may not be advised for travellers and may cause a 'Delhi-belly'...

There are lots more of these trollies and stalls that we will expore and post about in the next couple of weeks.

Another thing you notice are the street vendors. This one here is selling papadum, also known as papad in Northern India, and a great snack on the go.

Is it just me or does the middle piece resemble the Indian subcontinent?

Friday, 1 April 2011

Colour lovers: cherry blossom

Pink is a mixture of red/magenta and white and is nowadays considered a feminine colour. Ironically in the 1920s, pink was seen appropriate for boys because it derived from red which was the more masculine and decided color. Blue on the other hand was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color and associated with the Virgin Mary. Since the 1940s, this had been inverted: pink became considered appropriate for girls and blue appropriate for boys, a practice that has continued into the 21st century. Check out the palette at colourlovers