Besan Kaju Halwa

Besan Cashew Halwa

In India, right now, ’tis the season to be holy. Everyone’s just winding down from a birthday bash for Ganesh the elephant-headed god, Dussehra’s already at the doorstep, and Diwali will be here before you know it. All of this festival fever is accompanied by, quite naturally, a whole lot of food. A lot of…

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Mumbai: Life Along the Railway Tracks

The local trains of Mumbai are as legendary and chaotic as the city itself. Each day they chug across a vast network of tracks, ferrying millions of passengers from far-flung suburbs to work and college and school or– best of all– home. But the tracks also play what might seem to an outsider an unlikely…

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South India: Life in Pictures

In Madurai, one of south India’s biggest cities, peddlers beg visitors to shell out a few rupees for their wares just outside the 350-year-old Meenakshi temple, home to a towering pillar covered in nearly 200 kilos of gold. When they sense a sympathetic ear, most will tell you of hardships at home, like a sick…

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Bombay: Life in Pictures

. It’s hard to imagine a city as crowded, as frustrating, as vibrant, as ugly and as beautiful as Bombay. Today, Desi and I are in the city known to the world as Mumbai, but always Bombay to us. It has been nearly five years since our last visit– a period inexcusably long to stay away…

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eggplant pulao

Pulao with Eggplant

Long ago, when I hadn’t yet learned how to boil water, I read an article in a Bombay newspaper about the great filmmaker Ismail Merchant and his passion for cooking. The reporter had spent a day with Merchant as he prepped dinner in a Bombay kitchen for friends and his film crew. I don’t remember…

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Andhra-Style Stuffed Eggplants, And Tips For Traveling Vegan In India

India is point zero for vegetarianism. More than 30 percent of the country’s billion-plus residents shun meat — in fact most people in this group have never, ever eaten a creature that once breathed– and this is perhaps the only place on earth where you can find as many exclusively vegetarian restaurants as non-vegetarian ones….

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Puri Bhaji

Poori Bhaji

Poori Bhaji(puri bhaji) is about as delicious as Indian food gets: and by that I mean pick-your-fingernails-with-your-teeth-to-devour-every-last-crumb delicious. This is pure comfort food: the kind that gets made at every festive occasion in an Indian kitchen, no matter where in the world that kitchen is. The kind that kids carry to picnic lunches, the oil…

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Lovely Lisboa

The sidewalks of Lisbon deserve an ode themselves. They curve, sweep, stagger, climb and drop, leaving a visitor dizzy. But it’s not just that. Paved with sturdy, usually ivory-white cubes of hardy stone, they sometimes burst into a flurry of artistic expression. In plazas and circles and other notably historic spots they mingle with black,…

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Lucy the Road Tripper

Over the long Columbus Day weekend, Desi, Lucy and I took a short road trip through upstate New York. As much as we love to go on road trips, and despite the many, many pet parents we always encounter at rest stops who travel with unflappable dogs and even cats, Desi and I have always…

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Potato Wada

Vaidehi Manni’s Super-Crispy Potato Wadas

Madras is a bursting, flourishing metropolis in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu that remains, to this day, firmly rooted in age-old culture and tradition. This is where Desi was born and where he grew up before moving to Bombay for a job. Some of his siblings still live there, so it is always…

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Vegetable Vindaloo

When the flower children went east looking for spiritual enlightenment, it is not surprising that many ended up in Goa, a lush paradise along India’s scenic west coast.Not surprising because not only is Goa indescribably gorgeous, but because it also is the home of an inclusive, diverse, happy people steeped in the intoxicating culture of…

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Moong Dal Dosa, and Mayberry

Mount Airy is a gorgeous, sleepy town nestled in the valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains right near where North Carolina meets Virginia. Once you’ve driven into town past the inevitable neon-lit fast-food restaurants, gas stations and strip malls, the landscape becomes kinder and gentler. The houses are small, the yards neat, and the streets…

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If Horses Had Wishes…

What comes to your mind when you hear the words “animal cruelty”? Dogs shrunk down to the bone with hunger, perhaps, or left chained and uncared for in backyards by irresponsible people? Cats with tails burned off by some evil kid? Or, if you read this blog and other animal issues pages, perhaps the cruel…

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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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