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A Continental Cuisine Series

India Journal

Day 2

breakfastReally good sleep, one of those ones that you find it difficult to open your eyes and are conscious of the fact that you wake up in the same position you went to sleep in. Its 9am I NEVER sleep in to 9. Up showered and downstairs for breakfast. I get a text from my wife; she tells me she is still in Strictly Come Dancing, Jerry Hall was booted out, relief… I order a cappuccino and survey the breakfast offering, again its good. I try a thick, wonderfully fresh perfumed mango yogurt. Next idli a steamed rice bun with sambal, rice served with a light saffron and curry potato gravy. All served with a variety of relishes and chutneys, its so hard to choose. Breads are cooked to order, as is a potato and cake called tikki stuffed with tomatoes, onion and coriander. Pumpkin and sweet potato are served in a light sauce with a vegetable called ‘drumstick’ a sort of bean that you suck the seeds from, all absolutely delicious.
My waiter and I chat about cricket and football then the others arrive. We are all a bit jaded, but rejuvenated. They have their fill.
We meet up with our fixers and head out again, this time being Sunday the traffic is much calmer. It’s quite a shock.

We head towards India Gate to get some GV’s. This very impressive monument is India’s equivalent to the Champs Eleysse and commemorates fallen soldiers from the First World War. Locals mill about and are fascinated by our cameras and sound kit. It’s very hot today and a bit sticky.
We finish and then drive off to find and film in the Garden of 5 senses. On the way we pass many parks and they are packed with people playing cricket. It seems that any available space is used for cricket. All ages are represented, from full-blown serious looking individuals to young kids with nothing apart from a few bricks for stumps and old bits of wood for bats.
After filming in tuk-tuks and checking in with the garden security we head off to an early lunch at Hareem a local restaurant.
It was very good; Reza seemed impressed with the menu, so we let him order for us in conjunction with the owner and the chef.
The food was pretty good and was a cross between Indian and North African, not really what we were here for but nevertheless interesting.
We started with 3 varieties of chicken tikka. Mint marinade, mustard marinade and traditional red. The meat was soft and full of flavour. Next Kebabs on sticks served in glasses with humus. Panthar ka gosht, a sort of marinated lamb using dried flowers and served on hot stones (not really for me) This came with very nice pineapple relish plus a coriander chutney.
Next fish mojito, white fish steamed in banana leaves, delicious, light and perfectly cooked. All it needed was a squeeze of fresh lime.
Accompaniments included a jeweled rice mutanjan pulao vegetarian rice. This came with onion gravy and raita. The dish is said to be the oldest pulao rice in India.
To finish a light, Lebanese baked semolina pudding topped with rich, creamy ice cream all washed down with a delicious iced peach tea.

india 109We film in the garden and shoot various sequences, some very funny. Reza teaches me some Yoga moves and we all have a good laugh. It’s a warm balmy Sunday. Next stop is the red fort probably one of Delhi’s most famous landmarks. Unfortunately we are refused permission to film, so we use the small camera instead and finally get in. It’s a huge beautiful building with some 2km walls and built in 1638 so my man informs me. It was primarily built to safe guard the town and to keep out marauders. It’s an impressive place, and we rush to film as the light is fading fast. We get all the shots we need and move on. Filming is always one big rush.

By the time we get back into the city center is dark and head off to a busy part of town to film Chicken Tikka. We end up at a small row of restaurants in a small car park. The air is full of a wonderful grilling/roasting aroma. You can smell the spice in the air, very similar to spice market, only this time cooked.
The restaurant we are going to taste from and film at was Ranjinder Da Dhaba. Again we draw a big crown and Rhian does a sterling job in keeping everybody away and out of shot.
The food looks amazing but I’m slightly worried about eating warm chicken that has been out in 35C for hours on end. They seem to be placing large irons full of half cooked chicken in and out of the tandoor and just keeping it tepid. Christina hands me a few tissues and said spit it out after tasting. We film walk up pieces to camera and then the tasting of the three on offer. They were a green variety flavoured with coriander, green chili and spices. A Bright yellow one with mustard seeds and pickling spices and a traditional red version with ginger and cardamom. They all I have to say tasted wonderful and very fresh, accompanied by mint chutney, and sliced onions and lime.
Reza informs me that tikka was invented for the Emperor Mughal Babor because he was fed up with bones in his food and choking on regular occasions. I did feel rather embarrassed about the thought of spitting out the food and felt it was not very respectful, so swallowed and kept my fingers crossed.
We finally get back to the hotel and have a quick shower before another very good dinner and off to bed.

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