entering the land of the gods

a study abroad journey

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

Praising with the Mizos

This Sunday I attended church with the Mizo community in Hyderabad. Who are the Mizo’s you ask? The Mizos are the people from the Northeast state of Mizoram. It is a hill country traditionally made up of small tribes. In the late 1800s, however, the land was officially declared part of British India which led to colonization and the introduction of Christian missionaries. Now, over 80% of the state is Christian.

mizo(Mizoram is the red section in the NE corner of the country.)

In Hyderabad, 300 people who make up the Mizo population and about 50 of those are students here at the University of Hyderabad. So every Sunday they attend church together and worship as a community.

I was invited to join them through a mutual friend! The transportation went like this:

  • bike across campus in the sweltering heat of the day to Main Gate
  • take a shared auto to Mediputam area
  • take a rickshaw to St. George’s Church

So an hour later we were at the church- quite a trek but I guess it goes to show how dedicated the Mizos are to make the trip every week.

It turns out that the Mizos don’t have a church space of their own, but St. George’s allows them to use their space on Sunday afternoons to worship, free of rent.

IMG_1544

IMG_1546

The church is gorgeous! And after doing my research, I found that St. George’s is the oldest church in Hyderabad, build in 1884 by the Anglicans. Now it is a part of the Church of South India (CSI) which is a union between Anglican and Protestant denominations. I may have to check out their morning services sometime. Anyway, like I stated, it is beautiful. A pure white building surrounded by lush trees and flowers.

IMG_1553

The Mizo service was pretty standard, however, it was all in the Mizoram language. Luckily, I made friends with a girl named Lawm, sitting next to me. She was so welcoming. She translated some of the dialogue and helped me to pronounce the words in some of the hymns. Yes, I sang Mizoram hymns! The pronunciation is tricky because the some of the sounds are different. For example, a ‘w’ is a ‘0’ sound. Also, as you can see from this picture, music notes are not used so I relied on listening to the tune and repeating it back. The songs were accompanied by piano, guitar, and a drum.

IMG_1540

In addition to song singing, there was reading of scripture, offering, a short message, and reciting the Lords Prayer. With it being the last sunday of the month, there was also a “fun activity.” The Mizo community in Hyderabad has spit itself into 4 groups respective to the area of the city. The groups switch off once a month, planning an activity or performance for the last sunday of the month. The group on campus is all part of one group and it was their turn to provide an activity. Therefore, we had a bible quiz game on the book of Romans, right in the middle of the service. Again, I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it was neat to observe the camaraderie between groups and friends. The students also performed two songs as a choir! Click here to hear the choir!

IMG_1543

All together the service was 2 hours, which was then followed by tea time (of course). Overall, I found the Mizos to be welcoming but not very talkative. They asked me how I like the service and were very grateful that I was there. In general, the men were very easy to talk to but the women tended to stay in their own groups and chat among themselves instead of reaching out to me.

The women cracked me up! The Mizo style of clothing is very different. First of all, Mizos have more of a Chinese-Asian look to them. The women are very petite, wearing woven, colored skirts wrapped tightly around their waist. Upon getting off the rickshaw they all sat down in chairs, removed their flats, and put on 2 or 3 inch high heals! Then they all took out their compact to touch up their make up. Haha!

After the service I went out with a few of them for Biryani, a tradition on Sundays. We took a rickshaw to Mediputam and entered a place right of the streets for Beef Biryani. It was the first time I had eaten beef in Hyderabad and it was very delicious. For those of you who don’t know, Biryani is a popular rice dish of Hyderabad. Marinated chicken or beef is cooked with rice along with various spices. Traditionally it is served with chutney or raita.

IMG_1556

From there we picked up another shared auto, returned to campus, and biked to the ShopCom for a few more minutes of conversation. This mutual friend who took me, Andy was explaining that all the Mizos on campus meet up on a daily basis to see one another; around 5pm and 10pm for chai. Same spot, same time everyday. It is a chance for them to connect and converse.

This is a theme that had struck me multiple times throughout the day. As an outsider, it was amazing to witness the sense of community for the Mizos. They are all a minority in Hyderabad- Mizos look different and talk different- but they stick to their heritage and cherish the time they spend with their fellow Mizos. I loved being able to hear about how their land is different. Maybe I will have to visit Mizoram at the end of the semester…

Advertisements

Protected: For Dad

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Cooking Class #4

My professor, Bhavani, is such a sweetheart. Once again, she invited me over to join her and another student in more cooking lessons! How can I resist?

Lesson #1: Daal (Lentils)

Daal or lentils, is a staple dish to Indian cuisine. However, it is made differently throughout Indian because there are many types of lentils. In the south, yellow daal is used. Two varieties are commonly used: moong daal and toor daal. 

Begin with washing 2 cups of dry lentils in water. Put them in a small pressure cooker pot and fill with water until just covered. Then add:

  • 2 cups diced tomato (about 3-4 medium)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili powder

Pressure cook the mixture….I would say it was in there for about 10-15 minutes. The pot whistled about 4 times before Bhavani took it off the stove. The lentils should be soft with a slight bite and most of the water should be gone.

IMG_1514

Then add more water, until thick but soupy. In another small frying pan add:

  • a touch of oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole red chilies
  • 1 small red onion, diced

Sautee the spices just slightly. Remove from heat and temper by adding a bit of the daal mixture. Then add all the spices to the daal pot. If desired, add chopped fresh curry leaves or cilantro and season with salt to taste. Voila! South Indian daal! 

Daal is best served over rice, of course. 🙂

IMG_1519

 

IMG_1521

Lesson #2: Bagara Baingan (Eggplant Curry)

This dish is a little more complicated because of the curry.

First prepare the eggplant. Look at these cute little things- they are so delicious!

IMG_1506

Wash each one and cut the bottom into an X so that it is split into four pieces but still held together by the stem. Put them in a bowl of salt water so they do not brown. (We used about a dozen eggplant).

IMG_1507

Meanwhile, make the curry. This process includes roasting almost all the ingredients in a dry pan to bring out the flavors. Add the following ingredients to a blender cup:

  • 1/2 cup peanuts, toasted
  • 1 small red onion, chopped and roasted (in a dry frying pan)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds + 2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp coconut powder (Bhavani makes this herself by drying out pieces of coconut and grinding it. Unsure of a substitution so I may have to go without in the U.S)
  • 1/2 cup chana* 

Combine in blender until thick, adding water as needed.

IMG_1511

In a small bowl, cover a handful of tamarind with water to soak.

Start a large frying pan on the stove. Add a few Tbsp of oil along with and additional 1 tsp mustard seeds and 1 tsp cumin seeds, as well as 2 Tbsp Kaali “half” daal. (This is a black daal in which the outside of the lentil removed and the parcel is split in half. Therefore, it does not look black.) Brown in the oil and then add the curried paste. In tempering the paste, all of the raw smells and tastes are removed.

Come back to the bowl of tamarind, work the pods with your fingers to infuse the flavor with the water. Pour the fluid into the paste on the stove, careful not to include the tough tamarind pod. Add 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp salt, and enough water to make a gravy. Let simmer.

Heat a separate pan with oil. Remove the eggplant from the saltwater and drain. Add the eggplant to the hot oil and let it bubble until the eggplant is soft.

IMG_1515

Then transfer the eggplant to the pan of curried gravy. Cover and let simmer. Once the oil begins to form on the top of the gravy, it is done! Give it a good stir and serve with roti.

IMG_1517

The chota baingan (little eggplants) become so creamy and delicious! It is definitely one of my favorite dishes.

Another variation is to blend the paste but not temper it in a pan. Instead, “stuff” the eggplants with the thick marsala and then but the eggplant into the hot oil to fry.

*chana daal looks like a yellow split pea but is actually related to the garbanzo bean. It has a slightly puffy texture and can be eaten plain or cooked like a lentil/bean.

IMG_1510

Bombing In Hyderabad

First and foremost- I am safe. In fact, everyone at Tagore International Hostel is safe.

On Thursday night (Feb 21), around 7.00 p.m, two bomb explosions occurred near a bus stop in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad.  This is about 20 miles away from the University of Hyderabad, hence we were not affected directly. However, 12 were killed in the blast and over 50 injured. Hyderabad police have stated that the city of Hyderabad and the State of Andhra Pradesh are on high alert.  The area where the blast took place has been cordoned off for police investigation by the National Investigation Agency.

There has been no confirmation who brought on these blasts but it is believed that it was a terrorist attack in response to the execution of Mohammed Afzal Guru.

“India has been on alert since Guru, who was Kashmiri, was executed earlier this month in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Guru was convicted of involvement in the 2001 attacks on Parliament in which 14 people were killed, but many in Kashmir in particular believe he did not receive a fair trial and were upset by the handling of his execution.”

Read more on the attacks: http://world.time.com/2013/02/21/hyderabad-bomb-blasts-two-deadly-explosions-leave-terror-cloud-over-india/#ixzz2LcYvlHli

The city of Hyderabad is on alert today and a bandh has been called in that part of the city. Needless to say, I will not be venturing into the city the weekend.

Please say a prayer for those families affected by the bombings and that peace can be found amidst this violence.

Indian Cinema!

Last night I went to the movies to see a new Bollywood film, “ABCD (Anybody Can Dance)”.

It is your classic dance movie (like “Bring it On”). Though the dialogue was in Hindi without subtitles the plot line was so stereotypical that is was pretty easy to follow. There is actually a surprising amount of English words mixed in as well. “For Vishnu, widely regarded as India’s best dancer, dance is more than a passion – it’s the reason he lives! So when he finds himself thrown out from the swish dance academy he himself set up, by his manipulative business partner, it feels like the oxygen has been sucked out from the air he breathes. Heart-broken, Vishnu decides to give up dance and leave Mumbai forever. However the night before his departure he witnesses a most amazing sight – a group of dancers preparing for the upcoming Ganpati Dance Battle – an annual festival that pits Mumbai’s best dance groups against each other. Watching the raw talent of these amazing dancers helps Vishnu arrive at a decision – he will take this disparate group under his wing, help them overcome their personal rivalries and past demons and turn them into India’s best dance squad!” (from IMDb)

The dance is thrilling- a fusion of Bollywood and Hip Hop. Check out the Movie Trailer!

Oh! And did I mention that this movie was in 3D? Haha- I am not a huge 3D fan but it was pretty neat.

Another reason we went is because one of my good friends, Kate, knew one of the dancers. Actually, she was the lead dancer! Lauren Gottlieb is from Arizona and got cast in the role after performing on “So You Think You Can Dance.” She is amazing!! She will have a great career here if she decides to pursue Bollywood further 🙂

Here is one of the songs from the movie: Shambhu Sutaya

Enjoy and be amazed 🙂

As for the theatre, it works a little differently here. Movies are very popular so most people buy their tickets online or at the theatre ahead of time to reserve places. Tickets are only 150 rupee (about $3) and and you are assigned a seat number!

Once you get into the theatre you pay an extra 100 rupees for 3D glasses…however, if you return them at the end of the night, you get the money back! How nice!

Every movie has an intermission. For Hindi movies- the action has a specific break for the reel to stop. But in Hollywood films, there is no break in the action. So I have heard that the reel will literally stop in the middle of the action so everyone can take a break. For example, I know some people who went to see Les Miserables last month. They said that right in the middle of the song “Red and Black,” the reel stopped! Ahhh- how terrible!

Anyway, the snack items are very similar to the U.S only with an India flare.

  • Marsala popcorn
  • Hot dogs
  • Chai tea
  • Chat
  • Spicy chips
  • etc..

It was a fun experience and a perfect 1st Indian Cinema experience!

Cooking Class #3

More cooking- best week ever!

Though there were some repeat lessons, it gave me a change to really engrain the techniques into my brian.

Once again- roti making was in progress, a staple to the south indian cuisine.

For the main course, Gobi Palak (cauliflower in spinach curry). This is made the same way we made Aloo Palak the other day. Instead substitute cauliflower florets for the potato cubes.

IMG_1452

IMG_1459

Bhavani also added a touch of cream this time. While it is not necessary to the dish, it added a bit of creaminess. The cream here is very thick, almost like sour cream consistency. IMG_1465

IMG_1464

Bhavani also made a chicken dish to go with our meal, her take on Lemon-Pepper Chicken

She began with a whole chicken from the street market which was already cut into pieces. As a marinade: mustard oil, salt, and garlic ginger paste.

IMG_1461

 

To cook the chicken, heat oil in a wok pan. Brown the chicken and cook until “half-cooked.”

Then add:

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powderIMG_1460
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, crushed

After a quick stir add:

  • fresh mint leaves, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • juice of two small lemons

It was a beautiful blend of spice and lemon! Another amazing picnic meal to share amongst friends 🙂

IMG_1473

IMG_1475

For dessert, we made one of my favorites, Gajar Halwa. This literally translates to “carrot sweet dish.” I like to think of it as a sweet relish of sorts.

Carrot is shredded and added to a pot with:IMG_1470

  • a bit of oil
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup jaggery

Sautee the carrot until soft and juicy. Continue to stir so it does not burn. If desired you can add crushed cardamom pods, cashews, and golden raisins (which are all essential in my book 🙂 )!

IMG_1477It is an amazing concoction and can be made with other vegetables too! I have had Cukandar Halwa (Beetroot) and Bottle Gourd Halwa (the green stuff!) Yum 🙂

IMG_1481

 

So…when’s the next lesson??

 

Cooking Class #2

For our second cooking class we made an entire lunch!

Lesson #1: Roti

Roti is very simple to make. Combine flour and salt in a bowl and add water slowly, kneading until the dough is thick. Then form the dough into small balls about the size of a ping pong ball. Like this:

IMG_1410Next roll the dough into a circle. Bhavani emphasized that the dough should not be too thin or too thick, you simply know by feel how thick it should be!

IMG_1415

IMG_1408

IMG_1404Then, on a hot skillet, bake the dough. When the dough begins to bubble a bit, flip the dough. Flip it again when larger bubbles form. There should be black bubbles on each side! Be careful of too much flour on the dough as it will burn on the pan. Note that the pan used is like a flat iron skillet! It just has a slight lip on the edges.

IMG_1421Place the baked roti in a covered bowl or warming dish to stay hot…or wait till the end and make the roti last! After all, there is nothing better than garam roti (hot roti!)

IMG_1429

Lesson #2: Aloo Palak

Aloo Palak literally means potato and spinach which you combine with spices. First assemble your ingredients:IMG_1427

  • 8 bunches of spinach (palak)
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (aloo)
  • 1 red onion, diced (pyaz)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (lasahun)
  • 1 piece ginger, minced (adarak)
  • 5 fresh green chilies (whole) (mirch)
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seedsIMG_1426
  • 1-2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 whole dried chilies
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 small bunch curry leaves

First, put the spinach and green chilies in a pot with a touch of water. Toss until spinach is tender and slightly wilted. Strain the spinach (saving the water) and let cool. Then place the spinach in a blender until smooth and set aside. Look at that gorgeous color!

IMG_1430

Start a new pot with a bit of sunflower oil. When hot, add garlic, mustard seed, cumin, and whole dried chilies. After the mixture infused for a few minutes add the onion. Cook some more. Then add the potato, curry leaves, and turmeric, tossing until combined.

IMG_1437

Cover the pot. Cook until the potatoes are al dante. Add the spinach mixture, extra water, and chili powder. Cover once again and boil until the potatoes are tender. Season with salt and coriander.

IMG_1438

Lesson #3: Dessert- Bread Jamun

Bread Jamun is similar to Gulab Jamun in the fact that it is a fried sweet ball, but Bread Jamun is made of bread rather than a dough.

Start with a loaf of bread. Cut off all of the crusts. Take a square of bread and wet it slightly with water (pani). Place a few golden raisins (kishamish) and cashews (kaju) at the center. Then squish the bread into a pouch, forming a ball. You must moisten the bread as needed to form a cohesive ball.

IMG_1428

Next, heat a pan with oil. Fry the balls in the hot oil until brown and crispy!

IMG_1433

Meanwhile, combine a cup of water (pani), 1/4 cup of sugar (cini), and 1/2 of jaggery to pot and simmer. Add the fried balls to the syrup! Can be served warm or at room temperature.

IMG_1434

IMG_1442

In the future, I think it would be really delicious to add cardamom pods or cloves to the syrup for an added spice! Also, you may be wondering…what is jaggery!? Jaggery is a traditional, unrefined cane sugar. It is made of sugar cane and the sap of the date palm tree. It is formed into a hard, golden block and can be shaved easily.

JAGGERY

We ate our lunch picnic style on the floor! How delicious!

IMG_1440

Indian Tempest

At Tagore, we have had a group of actors staying with us this week. They were from the Footsbarn Theatre out of France. This company is the world’s largest travelling theatre company and has performed in over 42 countries across 5 continents. This particular troupe has been touring with their version of Shakespeare’s Tempest- Indian Tempest. “This spectacular production has a distinct Indian flavor with an evocative reworking of one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays and is set on a timeless imaginary island, in a world of spirits, shapes and monsters where music rules everything.”

Of course, I sought out tickets for the show, inviting Ayush to join me. So after an hour of recuperation after the Zoo, we headed to the show. I looked outside to see rain falling yet again, so I grabbed by umbrella and a scarf before heading out. Luckily it stopped as we made the long motorcycle ride across the city. Finally we arrived at Lalitha Kala Thoranam, an open-air theatre space. What an amazing space to have a show!! We sat on the ground directly in front of the playing area in took it all in. The main “stage” was a round space draped in white cloth. The cloth was later removed to reveal a copper spiral staircase on stage right. On stage left, another curtained space that was used to reflect shadows. And then off stage right was a array of instrument. Many of the players were also instrumentalists but there was one main musician who seemed to play them all!

IMG_1377

IMG_1382

 

(You can see the musician on the left)

IMG_1383

(Use of light and shadows)

From the first moment of the show, I was caught in the magic. Mystical music played, shadows reflected off the curtains with amazing lighting, and the actors came out in full spirit. What a fabulous vision!

IMG_1385

We had only made it halfway through the first Act when it began raining again. You have got to be kidding, I thought. A tarp was put on top of the musician area and the actors were continuing so I popped up the umbrella and tried to ignore the water seeped through my clothing. We all figured it would let up, but instead, it poured even harder. Most of the spectators had left for cover but Ayush and I sat under the umbrella in the front row getting soaked! The players went on for almost 10 minutes before calling it off. “You are a brave audience!” One of the players called out. Ayush and I ran to cover with the other spectators to wait it out. However it rained for a good twenty minutes and by that time the entire set and all the actors were soaked to the core. You could tell that the company felt terrible about called it off. This was there only performance in Hyderabad and they had never had to call one off before. However they were so gracious- running out in the rain to meet the spectators, dancing around and banging drums. As a theatre person myself, I know how much it stinks to call a show off and was utterly amazing that they lasted as long as they did.

While I wish I could have seen the entire performance, it was still an amazing experience. I will always remember smiling and laughing in the rain at the Indian Tempest!

Check out the troupe here: http://www.footsbarn.com

To the Zoo!

IMG_1359

This weekend I received the opportunity assist in chaperoning a trip to the zoo for 70 Indian children! I was so excited to be able to interact with kids. The trip was through a NGO called Kriti. This place provides aims “To make a sustainable improvement to quality of life of the urban poor by providing them with required services in the areas of livelihoods, health care and education.” As far as I know, the trip to the zoo was mostly kids whose parents (mostly single mothers) are involved in the program. (For more info check out the website: http://www.kriti.org.in/index.aspx)  Therefore, we had ages 5 to 14 and they came from various schools in the city. After getting them all tagged we loaded the bus and headed to the zoo!

We were each assigned a group of kids to keep track of. I had a group of 6 girls who became attached to me instantly!

IMG_1330Here they are in line: Anusha in front, then Sneha, Uzma Saba, Neha Jabeen, Seema Nazeem, and Arshiya Fatima. I struggled with their names a lot and felt terrible about it! All of the children were so curious about our names and knew all five of us by the end of the day. They were fascinated by Emily’s

name but once they figured out how to say it they repeated it over and over- ‘eem-ly, eem-ly, eem-ly!’

Anusha was attached to me the entire day- always holding my hand 🙂 What a sweetheart!

IMG_1344

There was a bit of a language barrier as well. While all of the children were learning English they didn’t understand everything I said. I was able to practice a bit of my Hindi with “Apka nam kya hai? / What is your name?” and “Mera nam Maria hu / My name is Maria.” But many of the girls only spoke Telegu and didn’t understand other Hindi words or verbs I tried to use. Fortunately we still understood each other enough to enjoy ourselves!

The Nehu Zoological Center is a beautiful place and we had a perfect cloudy day to experience it. There is a wide array of animals to see. The girls would shout out the name of the animal when it was in view and repeat it over and over to me as if I didn’t know what it was! Hippo, Giraffe, Rhino, Peacock, Monkeys, Cheetah…The favorites were the Siberian Tigers, sleeping on some rocks and a gorgeous White Tiger. I was amazing by how many different types of deer they had- beautiful creatures with perfect white spots and fuzzy antlers. There was also a large array of birds. From storks to parrots, flamingos to heron. My favorite was the Snow Pheasant! It looked exactly like those native to South Dakota except that it’s feathers were pure white with a long, black tale feather.

After walking around for almost 3 hours we were all hitting the wall. We found a shady spot and lunch was served. Here is our picnic style lunch: roti, rice, garbanzo bean curry, and a sweet. Even though I had authority over my girls in leading them around the zoo, I felt like their guest when we ate. They were like a mob of moms- “Eat!” They told me when I would put my spoon down. “Do you like?” They asked. Without me asking they brought me extra bread and more sweets and insisted that I eat even if I rejected it. I found it so sweet and very intriguing. This attitude is so a part of their culture- they will make good moms someday. 🙂

IMG_1348

With lunch in our bellies all of us chaperones were ready to be done for the day, it being 3:00pm already! But alas, we still had to take a train ride! We hopped on the small train, painted like a tiger, and rode around the zoo. Every time the kids saw and animal they would make noise and yell like Native American warriors. Needless to say, I was ready to get them to the buses.

We finally made it back to Tagore at 5:30pm. I honestly did not think it was possible to doze off in a rickshaw but I was close.  All five of us where physically exhausted and so dehydrated. Though I brought a large bottle of water with me, my girls drank it all within the first hour at the zoo. I knew from that moment that it was going to be a thirsty day. The girls refilled the bottle over and over- but us Westerns can’t drink the tap. No fair!  With a cramped head and a cramped stomach I slowly rehydrated myself, took a shower, and caught a quick nap, for I had more evening plans…

Here are some great photos of the kids!

IMG_1364

IMG_1362

IMG_1340

IMG_1333

Here are my girls 🙂

IMG_1338

Playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie

 

The Power of Connections

Here is a story to tell…my dear Aunt Mary and Uncle Jeff live in Portland, Oregon. Both spent time in India a while back and they have a love for Indian food. Their favorite Indian restaurant in Portland is India Oven. This is the place I actually had Indian food for the first time! I remember traveling to Portland with my Mom one summer and aunt Mary took us to this place one day for lunch. One taste of Chicken Tikka Masala and I was hooked on Indian food.

Anyway, Mary and Jeff were at India Oven last month and got chatting to the owners, who are from India of course. It turns out that the owner has a brother living in Hyderabad and passed along contact information to my aunt who passed it along to me.

I soon received an email from the couple, Taranjeet and Raman Samra, inviting us to dinner! Tonight they picked us up at the main gate of campus full of words of welcome. They drove us through the city and into Banjara Hills to a restaurant called Serengeti. We walked into a jungle, literally! Fake trees lined the walls with vines hanging from the ceiling. The chairs were lined in animal prints and all the waiters walked around in safari outfits- haha! The food was phenomenal! We let Raman order for us. We started out with Paneer Tikka- deliciously tender paneer cheese rubbed with spices and backed in the tandoor oven. Served with mint chutney, this dish melted in your mouth.

For the main spread:

  • kaali daal (black lentils)
  • paneer marsala
  • fish fennugreek (tender fish fillets in a green, spinach-like sauce)
  • hot, buttered naan

Wow, was it all amazing! Perfectly spiced and flavorful. At first, the naan came out. Taranjeet immediately sent it back. He explained that the food should always be on the table before the bread comes otherwise the bread gets cold to fast. “We like our food garam.” He said. Garam = Hindi word for “hot.” And there is nothing better than garam naan!

IMG_1326

As we dined, Emily and I got to know the Samras. The couple is from Punjab, in North India. They moved down to Hyderabad when Tarenjeet got a job at a company here. Previously, Tarenjeet was in the army for years. Raman was a teacher and is now a principal at a public school. However, in India, a public school means “private” in our terms. 1,800 students grades K-12 attend the school. It also functions as a boarding school. The two live on the campus in faculty housing. They have two children- a daughter in New Jersey and a son in Canada! And they are practicing Sikhs.

As you can imagine, there was lots for us to chat about: religion, schooling, families, etc. Both Emily and I found them to be a very warm and inviting couple. We so appreciated their hospitality and kindness! I was so caught up in conversation that I neglected my picture taking!

They even invited us to join them at their home next week to cook! What a gift of friendship. I so look forward to getting to know them even more.

Thanks auntie Mary and Uncle Jeff! 🙂

Post Navigation