The chaotic city of Dehradun cradles me for a week: 7 days dedicated to discover and amazement
As European, at first, I was struck by all the different cultural and social aspects which characterized India, the way I’m knowing it: the chaos of the urban traffic controlled by common rules which seems so curios to me, the huge sharing mood that defines the citizens and the absolute importance given to hospitality, a worldwide appreciated business card.
Once I’ve heard: “you’ll never understand deeply a culture until you won’t taste and appreciate its cuisine” and I totally agree with it. Needless to say, food is an essential side of Indian culture marked by multitude of colors, scents, tastes.
Armed with some courage, and maybe too much recklessness, I ventured the street-food universe, you know, looking for the real Indian food, I guess. Said and done: in front of me a steaming plate of Chicken Biryani. For beginners: a one-dish rice-based meal normally made with basmati rice flavored with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf, coriander, mint, ginger, garlic onions and served with chicken meat and curry sauce. Literally an explosion of scented flavors. Indian cuisine can masterfully create constant contrasts which will always result in delicious harmony anyway. Well, considering the spiciest ingredient in my usual diet is the cinnamon I put in hot chocolate you’ll certainly understand my mouth was on fire: I didn’t expect anything like this!
Despite this first and little bit shocking attempt to approach Indian food culture I must say I’m completely in love with the scented atmosphere created by fresh-backed meals, I adore the wise command of flavors and the ability to compensate strong and delicate tastes.
The main character of my second street food experience was a delicious Chhole & Kulcha, a dry peas-based preparation (chhole) served with a type of levered flat bread made of Maida flour (Kulcha) all offered on warm tree leaves at a picturesque stand obtained from a barrow with big heels and equipped with a grill to keep the food warm. Big success! As always the simplest things turn out to be the best.
Certainly, I must admit I’m surrounded by many kind people always ready to guide me and help me to find out the greatest things Indian culture can offer. For instance, everyday three warm homemade meals are provided to me straight to my room; just a “knock! Knock!” and fresh delightful food is served! Since the very first day I looked at it like a game, a funny way to explore a culinary culture so far from the one I used to, but equally rich.
Through Roti, Parantha, Tandoori, Curry, brightly colored soups and sauces and many other dishes with exotic names – I’ll never be able to remember all of them – my voyage is only just beginning and, must say it, I couldn’t be happier.