I have been so excited for so long to come to India and give my taste buds a fresh lease of life, authentic food from somewhere I had never been to before and flying into Mumbai I was popping like a mustard seed in a hot pan.
I know it's not like me to post a picture like this one and you're probably wondering if I've encountered a technical error and not realised it yet. When I saw this beautiful plant growing from a dirty old cement container it made me think of the dining experience we've had here. We've been to a very lovely fancy restaurant in Fort Cochin, we've had a beautiful private meal on a houseboat on the backwaters of Allepy but one of my favourites still remains my first. The first meal we had was in Mumbai, we were recommended it by a local as a great veg restaurant which sounded good on two counts, it was close and it was veg, I don't think we were ready for meat on our first day after the horror stories you hear.It was a place called Sadguru and it was exceptional. The bill came to £3 for the two of us and it was the most exciting I had ever tasted. Thing is, these restaurants, some of the best food we've found are dirty. No, they're filthy and you wont be surprised if you see a dead cockroach in the sweep pile or a hole in the floor for a toilet. Whoever said you should judge a restaurant by their toilet hadn't come here!
The best thing about travelling around a country as vast and as steeped in history and culture as this one is that the food seems to vary so much from town to town, even if only in subtle flavour. We're in Goa now and the food is great but to tell you the truth I miss the food of Kerala. The Kerelan curry leaf was something of a revelation to me and quite unlike anything I had tasted before. It's fresh for a start like a delecate version of a kaffir lime leaf, fresh and green and vibrant. It's only similarity in taste is in a hint of citrus. Of all the dishes I tasted and loved, the ones in which I couldn't put my finger on what it was that made it so special, there I would find at some point a couple of aromatic leaves hiding in its sauce. They are strong and pungent enough not to have to use too many and are kept on the stalk until ready to throw in the pan.
I will be bummed if I can't smuggle a few of these back home!