Karam ka saag
One of India’s staple dishes is karam ka saag, or hak in Kashmir.
Karam ka saag is made from collards boiled in a mixture of water, salt, chili, cloves, and other Indian spices. It takes about thirty minutes of cooking for the leaves to become tender.
Nowadays, some people cook karam ka saag with a pressure cooker to save time.
Karaam ka saag is often eaten with rice or the Indian bread roti. It could be served with roasted potatoes.
Paneer is a cheese made with lemon juice as a curdling agent. Since it does not use rennet, it is quite suitable for consumption for Indian vegetarians.
This cheese is easy to prepare. Simply add the lemon juice to hot milk to create curds. Drain out the water, and dip the resulting paneer into cold water for a few hours to firm it up.
A popular way of eating paneer is by cutting it into cubes and using it as the “meat” for curries. It could also be served as a salad.
Goa’s layered pudding called bebinca makes a fascinating picture when it is served. This rich dessert is a staple during feasts; it is never absent during special occasions such as weddings and birthdays.
Bebinca is made from a mixture of flour, coconut milk, sugar, egg yolks, and clarified butter, or ghee. The process is painstakingly complex, as each layer needs to get cooked and settled in place before one can put another layer on top.
Steamed rice cakes called puttu are a culinary specialty in Kerala. Made from rice powder or wheat flour, they are consumed as breakfast fare, complemented by Kadala curry or bananas.
What is most unusual about this rice cake is its cylindrical shape. To achieve such form, special puttu molds are used. And for that definitive puttu flavor, ample amounts of grated coconut are mixed with the rice flour.
If the mouth-watering selections on the festive table fail to titillate your senses, you might consider tasting bhang thandai, a milk-based beverage mixed with cardamom, almonds, poppy seeds, pepper corns, and fresh rose petals; it will surely not fail you.
But be warned: while this harmless-looking beverage may look innocent enough, it is in fact infused with cannabis extract from the marijuana plant.
Bhang thandai is a popular drink during the Holi festival. The explosion of flavors and sensations that the drink creates is a perfect match for the riotous splash of colored powder during the Festival of Colors.
Needless to say, bhang thandai should be sampled at your own risk – probably not a wise thing to do while you are in a foreign land.