Eating my way through Jordan – A Day in Amman

Up until last month my travels through the Middle East had been restricted to the airports of some of the bigger cities there – Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi – when flying back and forth between the US and Delhi during my 3 years of grad school. But earlier this month I got an opportunity to visit Jordan and it became my window to the Arabic world.

For neighbours it has Syria, Iraq, and Israel, countries associated with war and disturbance. The region that was once the Cradle of Civilization might as well be called the cradle of instability today. Murmurs within the family doubting the wisdom of my choice for travel were only natural with even the son voicing concern (wow, he’s all grown up!).

And here I am, after spending a week in the gorgeous desert country of Jordan to tell you that it is as safe as traveling to those places for which there are no advisories. The people there are friendly, most speak English, there is lots of fresh vegetarian food to chose from (yes, I do prefer to eat mostly vegetarian), and the US Dollar is as legit as the Jordanian Dinar. Mental conversion is also quick and easy for us Indians; 1JD=₹100!

We took off on an early morning AirArabia* flight and arrived at the Queen Alia International Airport (Amman) via Sharjah absolutely sleep deprived. There was no time to waste. A quick shower fixed us up for the moment and we reported promptly for lunch. We were spoiled for choice at the lavish buffet lunch at the Crown Plaza Amman. The centerpiece of the spread was a pilaf – lamb shoulder with rice. But before that I piled my plate with all the mezze fixings – got to eat your salads first! There was an entire counter devoted to pickles – imagine my delight. Pickled olives, chillies, cucumbers, gerkins, and even eggplant stuffed with chillies! The black olives on offer here were surely the best on the trip. Continue reading “Eating my way through Jordan – A Day in Amman”

The Perfect Flan: In the Kitchen with Manisha

The Perfect Flan: In the Kitchen with Manisha

At the Garden of the Gods

[Continued from the previous post]
The next morning Andrea graciously offered to drive us through the Garden of the Gods before dropping us off at Jim’s office downtown. Kristin was driving up from Denver to pick us up. She, her husband Paul, Jim, and I, had been classmates at KSU and later Paul and I ended up working together in Denver. Today they own a successful design firm that is doing impressive work in and around Denver. It was so good to note that not only were all of us make a living out of what we had trained to do but also that we loved doing it!

In Denver, Paul and Kristin took us down memory lane, literally. Together we drove to some of the once-familiar places including the little garage-unit at Corona and 11th (it had it’s own fractional address: 1125 1/2!) that had been my home, and the office at Cherokee and 11th. By the time we were through it was too late for a Japanese country-style lunch at Domo’s, which had been a favourite with the office bunch. So we went to Benny’s for Mexican instead – chimichangas and margaritas it was. Later we hung out at the City Center Cultural Complex with quick visits to the Denver Public Library, the Capitol Plaza, and the Denver Art Museum before catching the bus to Louisville from the all-new Union Station.
Continue reading “The Perfect Flan: In the Kitchen with Manisha”

Off to a great start in Colorado!

Off to a great start in Colorado!

After a long period of careful planning tickets had finally been booked for an extended visit to the US of A. Many changes later, on June 5th, we were on the plane to Denver looking forward to our holiday. Yes, we were going to visit Manisha at home and check out her mountains! I was also hoping to catch up with three very close friends from grad school. We had all moved to Colorado after graduating from KSU. It would be fun to walk the streets with V and show him bits and pieces of what made up my daily life for that one year that I was in Denver. Ten days in CO seemed like a good way to start the vacation.

We were flying British Airways (they have fabulous baggage allowance, by the way, 3 x 23 kg per person!) but not looking forward to the eight-hour layover in London. Heathrow is quite the maze and it took us a couple of trips up and down the airport train, to figure out our holding area for the day. Clearing the security check at Heathrow took awfully long  with a few anxious moments when it seemed like I was going to have to trash some of the expensive Forest Essentials lotions and potions I was carrying as gifts. A mad dash across the security zone to locate V (he and I had been separated half an hour before), a good throw that sent a tube of hand cream sailing above the crowd of people between us (is he a good catch or what!), and I was able to zip my sanctioned clear-plastic bag. Pretty exciting stuff, enough to break a sweat. Continue reading “Off to a great start in Colorado!”

Monsoon Tales

What a Summer! In a city where Summer is the longest season, this year it seems to have gone by in a blur. The highlights of this season were extended visits from family members living abroad.

First, May through June, it was TH’s brother and kids (we missed you, Aparna!). Despite the heat, and with help in the kitchen (yes, Kumari is back!), I spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen. There were old family favourites: poori-bhaji, Punjabi chhole, rajma, dal makhni, idli-sambar, besan-parothe, and newer ones like gavar with kaley vataney, and my original and disarmingly simple, pumpkin kootu. We partied a lot and I introduced the brother-in-law to my peanut sambal, fresh salsa, and roti-chips. When cooking got too much, we trooped out for food nostalgia to Karnataka Sangha for tiffin, and to Bercos for Indian-Chinese. Nathu’s chhole bhature (Bengali Market) have fallen from grace; Bikanerwala is the ‘new’ find.

The family drove up to Ramgarh for a short break. They (I stayed back to house-sit) spent two lazy days at a cottage there feasting their eyes on the peach and apricot-laden trees. It was only natural that they bring back boxes-full! The peaches were ripe and juicy and needed to be consumed right away. I made a huge batch of jam. If only I had thought of freezing some like Manisha did! Yet, in the end, I hardly had any left; it was all picked up by family and friends! I hope you are all enjoying it! The children also got their fill of aloo paranthas for breakfast at the cottage and at highway dhabas.

Ramgarh 2013

Continue reading “Monsoon Tales”