Monday, 29 July 2013

The Asian Kitchen - Part 1

Something I was really looking forward to when I was waiting to start my travels was the food.  I love Asian cuisine! All of it (except for Laos...)!

I had a good idea of what to expect but my first experimentation was not until Singapore where I had Kudul curry.  It was under the fish section so looked interesting.  When it arrived it had the look of tripe.  And the texture and taste that I would have expected from tripe.  A quick Goole search suggests that it may actually have ben something from, well, shall we say a bit further down the line...?  It is most definitely not fish!

I had a good guess of what to expect from India, except that I would be mainly be experiencing food from a single region.  In order to avoid being ill I also decide to try something hithertoo anathema - a vegetarian diet.  Who would have thought that cheese would go so well in curry!  But I have come to love Paneer in all sorts of curries now, both creamy sauces and more tomatoe based ones.  The biggest surprise was I have actually started to enjoy cauliflower, although this may be restricted to its appearance in curries.

Something I have loved though is having curry for breakfast.  I got used to this in Malaysia but went overboard in India - puri with potato curry, paratha stuffed with cottage cheese with lime pickle and curd!  The homestay in Jaipur did pancakes with banana blended into the batter which tasted gorgeous.  It's definitely a good way to start the day!

I have surprised myself with developing a taste for tea.  OK, this may not be out of the ordinary for most people but I have never got on with tea - I find it leaves a dryness on the palate which is not pleasant.  But the tea in India has changed my opinion.  Firstly I was introduced to a saffron, cinnamon and coriander tea from Kashmir which was, frankly, a taste sensation, and then to chai. This is a milky spiced tea, quite sweet and very nice! Now I seem to be trying all sorts to catch for lost time!!

I am now in Nepal and have discovered a couple of very tasty treats!  Firstly, Momo's - a steamed dumpling filled with spicy vegetables, chicken or buffallo with a curry dip (still on the veggie diet so only had the veggie ones!).  You get ten of these little things to a serving, for just about 1 pound and they make a very enjoyable lunchtime snack! (I have just noticed that foreign keyboards may not have a Sterling key!)

The second discovery is Sandeko.  This is a marinade of various things, but primarily a selection of finely chopped tomatoe, garlic, onion, chilli, ginger and coriander with mustard oil.  It's very much like the South American cerviche marinade, and goes particulary well with potato, which helps to soften the chilli, and peanuts, where the ginger and chilli are free to blow your taste buds away, especially with a drop of lemon juice!

I am really looking forward to our next stop, Malaysian Borneo, as Malaysian cuisine holds some of my favourite meals and I can't wait to see them done properly, and also to discover new unknown tastes!

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