Puran Poli

Puran Poli for Chalks and Chopsticks

  The Ghost of the Banyan Tree The story was that the Ghost lived in the 100-year-old banyan tree that stood just behind Building No. 13 in J. P. Nagar. At night he or she (for no one had actually seen the Ghost) would come out and hang around the domed water tank that sat…

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Vegetable Cutlets

Vegetable Cutlets

Vegetable cutlets are kitschy stalwarts of India’s wonderful railway cafeterias. I remember them as flat patties, usually in the shape of a teardrop or round, with specks of sooji or rava or farina. They were served up with ketchup and didn’t taste of any particular vegetable. Heck, they didn’t even taste particularly good. And they…

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Vegetable Puffs

Vegetable Puffs With Homemade Puff Pastry Recipe

Train journeys in India are the stuff of mystery, drama and good eats. Mystery because you may have waited an hour in line to get your reserved seat but when you’re actually in the train there’s no guarantee that seat is going to be empty and waiting for you. And if you’re the kind that shirks…

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Baked Samosas

Baked Samosas with a Chickpea Filling

My first job as a journalist was for a then brand-new (and now defunct) newspaper in Bombay called The Independent published by the Times of India group. Our offices were on the fifth floor of the vast, domed, Gothic Times building in south Bombay, just across the street from the buzzing Victoria Terminus where trains…

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Kande Pohe

Kande Pohe

Miles and miles of beautiful beaches. Seas, rivers, lakes. Crooked mountain roads that make you feel you are on a roller coaster instead of in a car. Breathlessly grand mansions. The birthplace of a man whose message of peace and nonviolence resonates to this day, more than 40 years since he was assassinated, and the…

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Zunka Bhakar

Zunka Bhakar

I once spent a magical year in Pune, a then-sleepy city three hours southeast of Bombay’s concrete jungle, and nestled in the emerald-green valley of India’s Western ghats. To a young woman from a fast-stepping city like Bombay, Pune in those years seemed a little like the backwaters, at least in the beginning. The pace…

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Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji is the ultimate street snack from my hometown, Bombay. In a time long ago, I worked in the Bombay bureau of a Calcutta newspaper called The Telegraph. The bureau was made up of a couple of dozen or so people, including four journalists, all crammed into four rooms of a high rise in Nariman…

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Frankie

Vegetable Frankie

In the days before burgers and pizzas descended on Bombay’s food landscape, there was the Frankie. The Frankie is a delicious, flaky wrap stuffed with veggies or meat. It was ridiculously popular, especially among the city’s modern young crowd, perhaps because — with a name like Frankie– it appeared less homely than a vada-pav or…

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Hot Pakoras for a Rainy Day

Do you remember the magic of the first rain? If you ever lived in India, you most certainly would. Unlike here in the United States, where it rains any time of the year, India has a specific monsoon season between June and October when the skies pour without restraint for nearly four months. But that’s…

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Bhel

Bhel, Bombay and Bollywood

I grew up in Bombay, the capital of Bollywood, India’s hyper-productive film industry, but Bollywood never managed to cast its technicolor spell over me. I always found the melodrama and over-the-top acting hard to stomach. But there was one aspect of the movies that I just couldn’t resist: the songs crammed between each Romeo-and-Juliet start…

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Chana Bhatura / Chole Bhatura

Chana Bhatura

Growing up in Bombay, it was hard to miss the delicious flavor of Udupi restaurants, which dot the city (and now other parts of the country and the world), serving fast food that is vegetarian, reasonably priced, incredibly tasty and even healthy.Udupi restaurants came to be known as such because they were, at least in…

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Savory Eggless French Toast

Savory Eggless French Toast

One of my favorite snacks from my childhood, this Crispy Eggless “French Toast” is wonderfully vegan. Although I call it a “French Toast,” it doesn’t have anything in common with the original dish other than the method of preparation and the fact that the chief ingredient is bread. In this version, herbs and spices perfectly…

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