Food: Chandigarh and Pune

Yes, I have tourist photos, but they’re a lot more work to put up because I need to do the background research and add links. Many of those must therefore wait till I return to Amerika. Today, once again, you get to see food porn.

The cook at the IISER (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research) in Chandigarh is very good, and they made me a special vegetarian lunch. The highlight was a dish of “saag’—usually spinach but here a special seasonal mixture of greens.It was superb. 

Aloo ghobi (cauliflower and potatoes):

Special dal (lentils) with butter. Fresh hot chappatis (flat, round hot breads) were brought round throughout the meal, as they are best served hot and supple. As always, we eat without our right hands, using the bread to enfold morsels of food:

That night the students in Dr. Prasad’s fly lab took me out for a North Indian Mughlai dinner. We ordered separately (we usually share), and I had an enormous vat of butter chicken, eaten with the thin rumali roti bread:

The local speciality tarka dal (lentils):

And one of my favorite desserts: gajar ka halva: a carrot dessert that I’ve made once and never will again, as you have to constantly watch and stir the grated carrot-butter-sugar-spice (cardamom) mixture as it reduces and combines for hours. This is a fantastic sweet:

I am now in Pune (formerly “Poona”) now until Christmas Day, and Pune is here:

We had a kebab dinner on my first night in Pune. Here’s one of the specialities that, I’m told, is available only here: a stuffed chicken kebab (soft mutton kebab not shown). A cabbage-y salad is on the side:

After dinner my host decided to take me for two desserts. The first was a Mumbai-based ice cream chain, “Natural”, which is now expanding. It’s popular because it has extremely high quality product made with big pieces of fresh fruit and natural flavoring. The small stall is on the right:

The flavors (look up the fruits you don’t recognize). It was a hard choice:

I had anjeer (fig), with a lovely figgy flavor and loaded with chunks and flecks of dried fig. They could easily make this flavor in America, but I’ve never seen it.

We then repaired to a local Bengali sweet house for our second dessert, where I had a steamed version of misti dohi, a yogurt sweet made with spices, pistachios (here), and flavored with jaggery, or boiled down raw cane sugar. Luscious!

I was tired last night and wanted a light, quick dinner, so we went to a south Indian place where I had a Mysore masala dosa with extra spice. It came with sambar (the spicy soup) and onion and coconut chutney:

And breakfast this morning in the guest house (I moved out of the hotel downtown as there was a LOUD discotheque immediately above my room): idli (steamed rice cakes, a South Indian staple), coconut chutney, channa (chickpeas), sojji (a sweetened cream of wheat), fresh fruit, fruit juice, and good strong South Indian coffee with milk. Although we’re not really in South India, its vegetarian cuisine seems to be quite popular in Pune:




  1. Joseph Stans
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Jerry, you are goiingto weigh 500 pounds when hyou comae home.

  2. GBJames
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    That sure looks good.

  3. Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Re “As always, we eat without our right hands” Well, there is a helpful tradition. Do they cover one eye and one nostril so as to disadvantage the right side of your face, or is it just hands?

    Once again, tradition seems to be a rough translation of “well, we’ve always done it this way.”

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      It is for reasons of hygiene!

      The right for eating & the left for wiping the derrière. More specifically the unclean functions are handled left-handed [take off a sandals with the other foot or the left hand, clean below the waist with left hand] while you shake hands, pass food around, eat, wipe mouth & clean the upper body with the right hand.

      Your cultural ignorance is rather shocking to me.

      • Steven in Tokyo
        Posted December 23, 2017 at 4:13 am | Permalink

        I doubt that it is cultural ignorance. I understand the hygiene aspect too, but I do feel that washing (both of) one’s hands carefully before eating would probably be better than reserving certain ‘clean’ things for one hand, no matter how traditional it may be.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted December 23, 2017 at 5:26 am | Permalink

          It’s ignorance.

          The tradition [I’ve just been reading up] includes washing BOTH hands before sitting to eat, I don’t know how strictly washing before eating is kept up judging by what I’ve just read in Indian newspapers – individual hygiene seems to be as variable as everywhere else in the world.

          Where Jerry is in the above pics it’s bread used as a shovel, but in other parts it’s rice & the separate hand rule makes perfect sense where there is no toilet paper!

          • Steven in Tokyo
            Posted December 23, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

            Well, perhaps Steve should reply as to whether it is really ignorance on his part, or whether he intended something else. I try my best not to assume that people intend things that I find offensive, and ask them to clarify when I can. Steve, would you care to comment?

        • Hempenstein
          Posted December 23, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          Re. using the right hand, is there great pressure on natural left-handers as kids in India? (Asking as a lefty.)

          • Hempenstein
            Posted December 23, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

            (I started to make this a comment in this thread but thought I’d changed it to be a new comment. Seems it came back here anyway.)

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted December 23, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            I don’t know about pressure on kids, but here’s the “about” page for the Indian Left-Hander Club

            The way it goes as I understand it [purely from reading, not experience]: There are southpaws in India who reverse the hygiene tradition, but mostly they will conform & if meeting old timers the non-conformists will conform rather than upset people. In the more Westernised locations, such as inside hotels, there would be no comment, but on the street or in rural areas there might be a polite disgust. There are peculiarities which I have seen for myself, such as using both hands to tear up a chapati, but eating with the ‘correct’ hand.

            For myself – I have no use of my left arm due to an explosive trauma damaging the nerves [brachial plexus] & this has caused double problems for me with Hindus
            [1] They [or some of them] believe this must relate to how I behaved in a past life…
            [2] They [or rather some among those I’ve met] are loath to shake hands, because they realise I must use the right hand for everything

            Being disabled is especially tough in some cultures compared with others. I know this for sure.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 23, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

        And of course in the West we have Dexter [right] & Sinister [left] from the Latin. The latter word, Sinister taking in the additional meanings of “malicious” or “underhand” in Middle English.

  4. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Good gracious

  5. Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Yes, food porn! Might have to have another dosa for lunch today which will make two this week.

  6. Jim batterson
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    It looks like you have travelled a thousand or more milesin country. Trains or planes? If planes, do you suffer the same indignities by the indian tsa asin the states?

  7. Karan
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    The cook at IISER Chandigarh did good by you. That dinner is pretty much as Punjabi as it gets as far as a home cooked meal is concerned.

    Saag is one of those things kids never like and one sure fire indication that you have “grown up” is when you start eating it. I used to hate it growing up and now I can’t get enough of this stuff 🙂

    And that yellow dal is probably the most commonly cooked dal in Punjab. Probably because it’s the easiest to make and cooks in no time flat. It was the first dish I learned to make.

  8. Heather Hastie
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    It all looks so good!

  9. Posted December 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Scrumptious. Indian is on the menu the rest of the week in order to endure these pics.

  10. Michael Fisher
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I would love to try the Mysore masala dosa as shown, with those sides – I’ve never, ever had that

    Looks simple, but I know there’s a lot going on in the filling of those fermented batter pancake things. [last, but one photo]

    Also that cleansing light breakfast [last photo]

  11. Fikir Köşesi
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Looks delicious 🙂

  12. Taskin
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Everything looks wonderful! I especially want to try the chicken kebab and the fig ice cream mmmmm

  13. Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The Kesar Pista icecream would be for me. I guessed that it had pistachios in it, and what a surprise – saffron! Found a recipe:

  14. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I propose a trigger warning:

    Do Not Read Post If Hungry

  15. jhs
    Posted December 22, 2017 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I am going to get myself an Indian cookbook for Christmas.

  16. Posted December 23, 2017 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    Wow!! Mouth watering!! The best vegetarian food happens to be Indian. I’m not a vegetarian (I love my chicken), but I love a good vegetarian meal, now and then. My favourite happens to be Naan with Malai Kofta!! Yup, Love North Indian cuisine more than Southern Indian food.
    I actually wanted to post a comment under your post where Bill Maher & his guests speak about punching a man dressed up with the Nazi symbol of the swastika. But the comment section was closed.
    I like Bill Maher anyway, and I agree with him, here as well. Violence is not the answer (self defense is a different matter). What happened to humanity??
    Swastika is used by Buddhist too, and in Sri Lanka it’s used as a sign of Buddhist supremacy. Which is wrong as well. But that does not mean people have the right to punch people, just ’cause of their beliefs, false ideologies. If someone tries to harm a person, or their loved ones, then it’s a different matter.

  17. MP
    Posted December 23, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    As you go to Poona, I recommend that you abstain from eating North Indian food and try Western Indian food. A completely different experience – just my humble opinion

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