In Kashmiri, Potatoes, Vegetarian on October 22, 2014 at 11:34 am
dum olu and dal
I am breaking the journey through the Kashmir Himalayas to share with you a family favourite from the region. ‘Kashmiri’ dum aloo appears on the menu of Indian restaurants more often than it ought to. I don’t imply that it is not worth offering, but that what is offered is not the real McCoy, but an outright imposter. The only thing they have in common is the main ingredient, my favourite vegetable, the potato. You may well say, “What’s the big deal?” If Saveur (their tagline – Savor a World of Authentic Cuisine!) can invent their inauthentic versions why not Indian restaurants! Of course, one is free to try restaurant dum aloo, even like it, but there is nothing Kashmiri about it. All I want is for you, my readers, to make an informed choice.
I used to cook it only occasionally as it involves a bit of frying and uses more fat than my average everyday cooking. That meant cooking a larger batch since “who knows when I will cook it again,” which, consequently, involved consuming even larger quantities of oil. I decided to change that. Now I cook it at least once a month, enough just for two meals. I get my treat and there is no need to binge.
In Road Trip, Travel on October 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm
Day 3, September 1, 2014
Sonamarg-Kargil (195km, 6 hours)
I woke up around 6 am to a quietness through which I could hear the Sindh river flowing not far away. The rain had stopped and so had that racket from the downpour onto a metal sheet below. I stepped out to check the view on the other side and found the tops of the mountains still hidden behind thick clouds. Little by little the clouds started to lift to reveal fresh snow on the mountain tops around.
The plan for today was to drive up to Kargil through our first real mountain pass (Banihal Pass was through the Jawahar Tunnel) and we were in no hurry. There was time to take in the surroundings. Anand decided to take Vikas’ bicycle for a spin. Bharat went out to find a replacement for the petrol tank-cap for his Gypsy which he seemed to have lost while refilling the previous night. The rest just ambled around doing nothing in particular.
Sonamarg is at an altitude of 2800 m (9,200 ft) and is primarily a tourist town with no permanent settlements. The hotels shut with the onset of winter. At the moment, the meadows looked mossy-green and soft.
Stop with the construction already!
In Road Trip, This and That, Travel on October 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm
Mid-August I was getting ready to accompany students on a study tour to Cuttak, Odisha. It is one of the few states of the country that I have never visited. Naturally, there was some excitement. A week or so before we were scheduled to leave TH casually asked if we shouldn’t go to Ladakh instead. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide you want to get behind the wheel and take a road trip to Ladakh. Or, maybe you just do! It had been on TH’s mind a long time. Even so, this seemed sudden. But being the good spouse that I obviously am, I didn’t bat an eyelid, and replied equally nonchalantly, “Yeah, sure.”
The following week the car underwent a thorough service at the garage and the mechanics there assured us that the Maruti SX4 was game for whatever the Himalayas might throw at her. There was a long list of supplies, food and other items, that had to be procured. Driving in the Himalayas is not be taken lightly, and you are advised to stock survival rations for at least a couple of days. The weather is unpredictable and takes a heavy toll on the roads. It is not unusual to find yourself stranded for the night or longer. Some of the places on our itinerary were remote and isolated, and we were traveling at a time when the tourist traffic would be past its peak. We stocked up on non-perishable food items that included some junk-food but also nuts and cheese. Our survival bags included sunscreen, tow-rope, flashlights, and oxygen canisters. Winter woolies were dug out and we were good to go.
We’re off to a rainy start!