Our journey to India started and ended in Delhi (foggy as always).
This mega city in Uttar Pradesh was the first and last we saw from the country that impressed us so much. Entering and leaving India via Delhi was like completing a circle – a symbol we were facing many times during our trip. Once I had started to understand the Hindu circle of life (as in “being born, living, dying and being re-born”) I found it easier to understand at least a tiny part of a country that is so different from any other country I’ve ever been to before.
To give you an example: In Europe it is part of the social responsibility of a country to renovate ancient buildings such as castles or palaces and preserve them for our descendants. Think of Neuschwanstein Castle: the Federal State of Bavaria spends tons of Euros every year to preserve a castle that was built by a mad king and that is of no use except for entertaining crowds of Japanese tourists.
In India everything seems to rise, exist for a time and fall before it is being “born” again. Many buildings are surrounded by this morbid charm that captivated me in an instant. Some of the most beautiful things I’ve seen were hidden behind trees and bushes or tiny details the visitor didn’t realize on first sight:
But the circle wouldn’t be complete if there wasn’t today’s Delhi – loud, overcrowded, always busy and with the most incredible traffic jams I’ve ever been stuck in. The scenes in the streets were so new to me that I wanted to make thousands of photos every single minute. On the other hand I just wanted to watch and listen and see and feel without having a lense between me and the streets of Delhi.
After more than three weeks in India (we visited parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala before we returned to Delhi) and millions of unforgettable impressions and encounters, re-entering Delhi was a sort of homecoming. The streets and places of interest seemed kind of familiar to us as we recognized some of the corners we had been to before – not an easy thing in such a huge city!
However, we felt differently about it compared to the first time there. Every second sentence between us started with “Oh, do you remember how we’ve been here for the first time?” Although it was only about three weeks ago it felt like ages! Those weeks were so full of new experiences that we looked upon our “old” selves like scenes from our childhood.
On our last day – which started incredibly early and lasted until we arrived in Frankfurt the next morning (7am, minus 15 degrees Celsius!) – we had the pleasure to have dinner with one of the hubby’s colleagues who we first met in person at the IAA trade show in Germany in September last year (and who is the reason why I write this post in English). It was a wonderful and lovely evening with one of the nicest and most polite persons I’ve ever met. So nice and friendly, that he didn’t show the slightest sign of tiredness after a long and busy day and even after having listened to our stories for what must have been hours. Thank you D. for being such a lovely host!
By the way: If you ever come to Delhi, don’t miss dinner at the Restaurant “Drift” at epicentre in Gurgaon – we had some of the best Indian food EVER! I’ll never forget those aromas and spices combined with most delicate ingredients and creative presentation.
Last but not least, D. remembered my enthusiasm for the Indian cuisine and gave to us a cookbook by chef Hemant Oberoi, one of the brightest stars in India’s gastronomy. What a surprise! And what a lovely gift!
The book is full of beautiful mouth-watering recipes which are for advanced cooks rather than for newbies who aren’t familiar with Indian spices and the ways of preparation.
To start with one of the “easier” dishes we made Hare Pyaz ka Jheenga – Prawns cooked with spring onions (and spinach). Absolutely delicious and not too difficult to prepare:
The prawns are served with tomatoes (which I seasoned with a pinch of Tellycherry Pepper, sea salt, some drops of lemon juice and vegetable oil).
As an appetizer for two you need the following ingredients (I made some tiny adjustments):
10 large raw prawns (without skin, deveined)
3 spring onions
a handful of spinach
50 ml vegetable oil
1 tsp Cumin seeds
2 tsp of Ginger-Garlic-paste (you find a good recipe in English here)
1 tsp Green chillies, chopped
1 tsp Tumeric powder
1 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 tsp butter
For the tomatoes:
4 tasty tomatoes
a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, lemone juice and vegetable oil
Ground the Cumin seeds and mix with the Tumeric powder. Put aside. Ground the Fenugreek seeds. Chop the spring onions and seperate the white from the green parts. Chop the green chillie in tiny pieces. Blend the spinach in a mixer to get a smooth purée. Quarter the tomatoes and add the salt-pepper-lemon juice-oil mixture.
Now heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic-ginger paste. Add the cumin seeds and tumeric powder and stir. Add the chopped chillies and the white parts of the spring onions and sauté. Add the prawns and cook them on one side until they turn pink. Then turn them to the other side and also allow them to turn pink. Add salt and the spinach. Cook on low heat and cover the pan. This takes just a couple of minutes – not too long! Otherwise the prawns get too dry.
Then add the onion greens and the fenugreek powder and stir everything. Add the butter to finish the dish and serve everything on a plate.
It’s a yummy little appetizer and easy to prepare – even for those who are new to the Indian way of cooking.
And it reminds us to Delhi and that lovely evening with D. – which completed our Indian circle.
PS: Since some people asked me about it: We planned and organised our trip with Shanti Travel who I can definitely recommend for trips through India.