India is cows wandering in traffic. India is craving coconut rice. Once you have had authentic refreshing coconut rice you crave it with every spicy Indian meal.
India is a rainbow of colors so bright it hurts your eyes first thing on a grey smoggy morning. It’s hard to tell if it’s the millions of motorbikes polluting the grey brown skies or just the dirt and waste kicked up on the streets from the majestic Bangalore trash cow, as she lumbers through piles of trash and munches on a waste land of breakfast snacks. Behind the background of smog and trash cows, saris in bright pinks, greens and oranges are so bright neon against the smoggy grey sky and crumbling grey cement buildings. Green and bright yellow rickshaws dart around beeping their horns as this city of 4.3 million wake up and start their day.
Outside of the trash cows and the traffic, India is the most amazing freshly made Parathas, rotis and chapatis, grilled just minutes earlier, cooked on the griddle with ghee and delivered piping hot to your table in the corner at the popular Empire Restaurant. Empire is kind of like a fast food Chipotle restaurant back at home in the U.S. if Chipotle felt like it was dropped into the middle of a poverty stricken country with trash coating every inch of street in between cattle milling with traffic and two hundred motor bikes.
India is the most amazing orange and hot pink sunsets watched from the roof top of buildings as the sun dips behind mosques and church steeples in the distance and you listen to the evening call to prayer reflecting off the buildings. In Bangalore, you can always hear the evening call to prayer amid the honking horns of thousands of impatient lawless Indian drivers.
Three weeks ago when we arrived in Bangalore, I was bitching and morning like a spoiled American about having to pee in a virtual hole in the ground. That was before I started to discover what life in India really is like.
Three cow dodging, curry consuming, paneer making weeks later and I’m that person squatting over a hole in the ground plumbing system that India considers a toilet and cursing the stupid Americans in this tourist knick nack shop that can’t use the India toilettes correctly.
I’m also smiling and saying thank you India toilets for cracking my back for the first time in two weeks. Squatting over a cramped Indian women’s restroom toilet while balancing a long summer skirt, my handbag and my tourist shopping packages was enough to crack my back in an exquisite way that usually takes a visit to the chiropractor.
Thank you India from my spine and my stomach for an exceptional Tour of India.
Of course this was right after I noticed that even though there was a waste bucket in this restroom someone, a dumb American I’m quite sure, in this touristy area of Bangalore, threw their paper into the loo.
Three weeks ago The Hungry Mountaineer was grumbling about having to bring her own TP to Indias toilets and packing it out with her afterwards (I’m a camper; Leave no Trace!) Honestly traveling in India none of the toilet experiences I have had have been anywhere near as bad as people told me about!
One of my favorite things about India (Besides the sunsets) was the Coconut Rice; It was unlike any rice I have ever had before in my life!
My boyfriends sister in law made making coconut rice look easy. I thought it would be until I had two Glasses of Chardonnay and decided to attack a coconut with a mallet for the first time.
Take my advice; don’t try to get the meat out of the coconut while drinking wine! It’s a lot easier to do this step when you are not hosting a dinner party and everyone is watching you attacking a coconut with a mallet and a knife!
Coconut Rice with Saffron and Star Anise
2 cups basmati rice
2 star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons ghee
4 cardamom seeds
6 curry leaves, chopped
Small handful mint leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground saffron
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Climb up the tree and pick the coconuts. Scoop out the meat with a sharp knife and let rest in warm water twenty minutes. Grind the coconut flesh and about a cup of water in a food processed for thirty seconds until smooth. Squeeze out all the milk through a strainer.
Reserve about half a cup of the coconut meat to add at the end.
In the ghee cook the mint leaves, curry leaves, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.
Cook the basmati rice in about half the recommended water for ten minutes. Add the strained coconut milk. Add the star anise and the cooked herbs. Let the rice continue to cook until the fully cooked. Serve with fried onion pieces and a sprinkle of cashews and the reserved coconut meat.
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