My host family had a shop set up in what would have probably been a garage originally. The shop had to be sorted early in the morning, for example the milk was delivered at dawn, so they had to wake up at about 5 am. So when I got up at 8am, my Indian mummy, Urvashi, had prepared my breakfast already: “Paratha”, which is some kind Indian bread, and “Indian Chai”, which is tea. Tea with masala spices, and cloves, milk and sugar. I was dying for the tea she was making! I guess it was one of the main reason I was getting up in the morning 🙂
In India, forks and knives are not as common as in Europe. People use a sort of break called “Chapati” with usually their right hand, to take whatever is in their place and eat the food together with the Chapati. The left one is said to be used for toilets so it would not ben hygienic to also use it for the food we eat.
One of the many dishes I can remember is the Daal, which is a mash of lentils. You could have a yellow Daal, a red one, or even a brown one. There are about 10 sorts of lentils to cook Daal. I had never tasted Daal in Europe before and now they got me addicted to it. It’s probably the way it reminds me of my time with them!
When there was rice, and some “Ghee” (clarified butter) had been prepared, I loved it!
One day, I found some sorts of “satellites” in my plate when I arrived at the table, and my Papaji explained that they were called “Gol gappa”. They were round fried crisp street snacks. Next to them, there was one a bowl of lemon water. I found it a lot of fun to fill in the gol gappa with the liquid and eat it in a mouthful, trying not to drop anything on the floor, or on me…how I managed?…I don’t know.
For a special occasion, I remember my “Maa” (“mother”in Hindi) had prepared a delicious “Biryani” which is rice with bits of chicken and pieces of vegetables. I had tried this in Europe, but this one was the best!
My Papaji was always fighting my habits of drinking water during the meal. It is no good for you, he used to say, you will drink afterwards when we are done. He was my Papaji, taking care of me, so I had to obey.
When he wanted to serve more food in my plate, I used to tell him “I am full, I just can’t anymore…” and he used to laugh saying <<do you know “full”(similar pronunciation) in Hindi means “Flower”>> ?
For all the food they were cooking for me, I have prepared for them a Tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette, my father being of Spanish culture) for dinner, but of course, with all the good spices they have in their Indian dishes, it was tasteless for them or almost. But they said they liked it anyway (probably to be polite). They were happy that Spain had come to their home that evening.
Another time, made a chocolate brownie for my little Indian brother, who was 5 at the time and loved chocolate. That was hard work for me to find chocolate in Jaipur: I went to the market near the house, and the guy attending the stand did not have any but told me he knew someone who could find some for me. So he took my Indian phone number, and called me later that afternoon when he got the chocolate from that person for me. Then I went again to the market to pick it up.
I looked at it as if it was GOLD! When at home, I live next to Switzerland where it is difficult not to find any!