The one-dollar dinner at INSA

They provide three meals a day to people staying at the guest house at the Indian National Science Academy. Breakfast, which includes eggs, toast or chapattis, coffee, and juice, is 50 rupees (78 cents US). Lunch is a thali (a tray of different dishes including rice and chappatis), and that costs 60 rupees 94 cents).

And here’s tonight’s dinner, which was preceded by a cup of spicy tomato soup and a papad. What you see below is a thali dinner, including clockwise from 11 o’clock: chappatis, a big bowl of rice cooked with peas, raw vegetables (I don’t eat those: unsafe for tourists), daal (lentils), matar paneer (peas cooked in tomato sauce with Indian yogurt-derived cheese), dahi (yogurt), and to its lower left a sabzi, or vegetable stew with peppers, beans, and potatoes, and, finally, right below the yogurt is a sweet, a longish gulab jamun.

All this cost 70 rupees, or $1.09 U.S. It was good, too, and of course healthy. And they gave me extra chappatis, for I’m a bread man rather than a rice man. (I did have a big glob of rice topped with daal.)


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 1, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Really hard to take those prices. Do you get local money to handle these things?

    I remember the days when we still had a presents in the Philippines the cost or prices were so much less. The employee wages in the 80s was roughly a buck or a buck 50 and there were lots of local employees on bases everywhere. The tendency over time was to have three employees for every job and that also results in lousy or nonexistent management. Your bottom line and productivity looked great when it really was very bad.

  2. John Frum
    Posted January 1, 2018 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Paneer doesn’t have to yogurt derived.
    I make it from cows milk and use citric acid as the coagulant.
    I believe there are other coagulants that can be used too (epsom salts perhaps as I use that for making tofu).
    It’s really easy to make and it’s great in dishes such as the matter paneer and my favourite is with spinach (saag paneer).
    Now I’m going to have to make some.

  3. Posted January 1, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I know a place where you can get a meal of bread, cheese, beef and a special sauce all for a buck right here in the USA.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 1, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Dollar day at McDonald’s

      • Posted January 1, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Or, if you want exotic international fare, Taco Bell.

  4. Jake Sevins
    Posted January 1, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Healthy?? Look at all those carbs!


  5. David Duncan
    Posted January 1, 2018 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    “…raw vegetables (I don’t eat those: unsafe for tourists)…”

    What about the raw onions and tomato I’ve seen in your dishes? I’d like to visit but am obsessive about food hygene. And I’ve heard about “bottled” water that comes straight from the tap.

    • Posted January 1, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      I eat raw onion but try to avoid raw tomato. Sometimes I get some raw veg by mistake but I try to avoid them on health grounds.

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