Thursday, 23 April 2015

The On Tour Diaries: Coimbatore

The last stop for me On Tour was Coimbatore. I haven’t been to many places down south and I was pretty excited about the different kinds of food I was going to eat. I dreamed of dosa like I’ve never eaten before, of medu wadas and appams, of sambhar and ermm.. sushi? Until I was told that South India’s non vegetarian food was even better. *Rub hands together in glee*.

COIMBATORE

We stayed in a pretty clubhouse called Jennys Club, which is one of the older buildings in Coimbatore and reminiscent of the British Raj. The façade is still covered with statues and carvings, and your first few steps into the echoing hallways transport you back in time. Unfortunately, that’s when reality sets in and you see the modernizations they’ve made to the place, which have not been done keeping design sensibility in mind.

Reception hallway
Beautiful old staircase
Lovely building
More stairs
That being said, the rooms we were given were HUGE – if I needed to, I would have been able to sleep my entire family in mine – and I was pretty comfortable.

I woke up hungry the next morning, and we set off in search of Coimbatore’s best dosa house. Hello, Sree Annapoorna. A multi level place that boasted of an A/c ‘family’ section and a regular section, it was completely packed. We waited around for 20 minutes and were then ushered to our table. Did you know that in South India, they call dosas ‘Roasts’?  First up were 3 Ghee Roasts, and a Masala Roast.

Unlike in Mumbai, the dosas are presented to you as tall conical shapes and it is only the amount of ghee shining on mine that prevented me from putting it on my head to take a picture. It was pretty damn good. Crispy and crunchy is how I like my sada dosas, and that is what I got.  

Le ghee roast
I also tried the Rava Roast, which sadly, did not come to me like a top hat, but more like a regular dosa, and a few bites of upma, medu wada and south indian coffee (which was too milky and had waayyyy too much MALAI for me to manage).

Rava roast
I prefer the upma we make at home
Coffee
All in all, the show went great & we had our biggest turn out in Coimbatore. Naturally, we were starving by the time we wrapped up and went on our biggest adventure yet – finding a place that would serve us street food at almost midnight in Coimbatore. Not an easy task I assure you. We found a tiny hole in the wall called Burma Bhai that was just shutting up for the night and convinced them that 6 starving travellers were a good reason to stay open. 

The decepticon guarding our venue
We didn’t have a choice on what to order – we got what they had left over, which was not a problem. Creamy tomato chicken, pepper chicken, chicken masala and south indian parothas were fantastic. Each slightly more spicy than the next, and demanding to be eaten with more and more of the flaky buttery parothas. We washed the meal down with lime sodas (apparently a specialty of the south as well) and called it a night.

Pepper chicken
Parothas
More chicken
Tomato chicken
My plate
The menu is super simple and tiny - you take what you get and you love it. 'Nuff said. 

The On Tour Diaries: Jaipur

This year has been full of travel. Yes, I know that we’re just about a quarter of the way through, but it’s been full of flights & food in different places that I would never have eaten at on my own. High fives for working in different cities!

JAIPUR

My usual trips to Jaipur involve eating at the Rambagh Palace a lot, and I miss out on all the street food. Now I’m not really complaining, I love Rambagh, but it's nice to eat at other places too :) We did an event at Mahima Trinity Mall which unfortunately didn’t boast of any food court whatsoever. 

woefully under exciting food
Luckily, there were 2 guys with food carts right outside that kept us happy all day.

Aloo parathas (Rs 20 for 2) with a little bit of lime pickle & some gravy made amazing breakfast every day, as did the Chole Khulche – something I have never eaten before! 

Slurp
I peeked into the Chole-walas cart, and got some up close pictures. I am onion-phobic and refuse to even taste food with raw onion in it, which meant that I was eating a lot of food on my own each time. (It explains the few kilos I put on in Jaipur too).

Yum
Prepping the chole

Heating the kulcha
Mixing masala
The lal maas in Rajasthan is world famous, and my favourite place to eat it is at Dhola Maru, in Clarks Amer. ‘Handi’ comes a close second. Lal Maas - translated as 'red meat' - is essentially a mutton curry that's made with lots of spices and yogurt to temper it down. The gravy is thick and delicious, and the meat is so soft it falls apart at the lightest touch. 

It was the first time I’d eaten there. You walk through a narrow doorway into a huge space that is brightly decorated with Rajasthani art. Uniformed waiters hand you menus that are just confusing – how do you choose from so many different dishes!  I can’t really tell the difference between one gravy & the other, and let someone who has been here before order for us. That’s the most intelligent thing we did! Say hello to Jungli Maas, which is succulent, tender pieces of lamb cooked in an equal weight of ghee and red chilli. Unbelievable. So good for the soul, so terrible for the waistline. 

Heart attack on a plate
While we did eat a lot of the other food, the one that's worth talking about the most is the Jungli Maas. Their tikkas, butter chicken, lal maas and fantastic kulchas and naans are also pretty awesome. 

This is definitely a place I am going to visit again and again and again. Oh my lord! 


Parathas in crime