Whatta day I enjoyed with Uma. 

One of my last in Bangalore began with a whirlwind tour of Maleshwaram neighborhood.  We descended on a provision shop with greedigut passion and soon I was buying papads, pickles, halwa, sugar, you name it.  Normally I hesitate to buy stuff to lug around.  The spirit of shopping possessed me here though and I purchased with abandon.  Good times. 

I dearly hope Suresh or someone returns to this store for the CD shaped discs of Karnatakan sugar!  I misplaced mine.  These were stored in a leaf wrapper and tasted a little bit like cocoa.  They looked like plastic.  They are certainly a product that deserve some time in the spotlight along with the sugars of Bengal! 

Outside the shop were these leaves rolled into cups and secured with toothpicks.  They’re used to steam a kind of idli in a special idli steamer.  Talk about artisanship!  Somehow, someday I hope America’s dining elites gain an appreciation for one of their favorite terms:  “artisanship.”  Handmade, precious, small shop-produced food is all over India.  Farm fresh produce is all over India.  Intricately produced, labor intensive culinary goods are common.  Often, quite cheaply.  (And with this may go an analysis of economy and labor I leave to brighter minds.)  But in many ways the sort of homemade goods you get in America only at Farmer’s Markets are *easy* to find here:  jams, candies, digestives, sundrieds, namkeens, snacks, oils, vinegars, nuts and fruits, dairy, meat, appliances, spices.  It’s endless.  The sort of thing I would normally consider quite rare and expensive at home, say a homemade jam, is rather everyday here.  But!  I leave to my fellows their artisan salt shops and chocolate boutiques.  This is just a photo of some stitched up leaves…

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We left with bulging bags to make our stomachs bulge.  Uma knew of a small dosa shop that serves a tremendous rival to Chalukya’s.  (I also leave this debate alone.  If you pay me well I’ll tell you which I prefer!)  Central Tiffin Room, if I remember correctly. 

A couple pictures are important: 

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But this one is the most: See the ridges and valleys?  MMMMMmmmmmmm.  Thick and sweet are the ridges, crisp and savory the valleys. 

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I forget what this is called, perhaps it’s just a kind of upma: 

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Then we dropped by Sri Krishna Sweets, where everything is made with good, aromatic ghee.  I sampled a Horlick’s sweet here!  (Think, Ovaltine sweet, heh.)  I bought their yummy Mysore Pak instead. 

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Properly fueled, Uma took me to the Maleshwaram Veggie Market.  Great place!!   A snake gourd is coming off the rafter for us, in front are some drumsticks and ash gourd. 

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We got our haul home, here it is on the counter awaiting our afternoon in the kitchen, superfun. I think most of you will recognize the ginger, pineapple and coconut.  Other veggies are banana stem, a hunk of ashgourd, the snakegourd, a woodapple (these show up frequently on my travels, though I have yet to successfully ripen one without it going rotten) and drumstick leaves (which we didn’t cook).   

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Here you can see how a snakegourd is hollow.  It will cook down to a much smaller proportion. 

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Ashgourd batons, peeled and ready to be microwaved before dressed with sauce.

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And finished, with coconut and raw cumin seeds.  The texture of the ashgourd is excellent, juicy and toothsome.   

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The pineapple is turned into a savory dish, too.  It does not turn out too sweet. 

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The snakegourd is microwaved until tender with a little water and salt, then added to spiced oil and sauteed.  This is a Marathi dish (I have neither found nor eaten ANY Marathi food on this visit, except perhaps a bit at Swati Snacks) called a zhunka, I think. 

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Chickpea flour is added and it’s sauteed more.  Then, a good handful of chopped cilantro is added.

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These are the Lots-of-Work-to-Chop banana stem juliennes.  After peeling the trunk down, the outer fibers are stripped off, then the chopping is done.  Uma did most of this, and I pitched in at the end.  Phew! 

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She turned it into a tasty pachari, relative to the raita.   

And here they are.  Warm ashgourd, pineapple and snakegourd dishes, and the banana stem salad. 

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On the plate. 

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Uma let me feast on these, and she had a supper of spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, broccoli and fennel seeds which I watched over. 

The last photo I have is far from the least.  Uma has been making her own yogurt in this beautiful, red clay pot.  It makes an amazing and delicious product, no doubt a cousin to the curds and cultures of Bengal.  Since the pot is porous, moisture will slowly evaporate from the entire vessel, leaving a concave surface on top over time.  But more importantly, somehow setting up absolutely delicious, lovely curd.  Another dream for home:  finding a non-toxic, unglazed clay pot to cook with!  Anybody know?

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