New Delhi

Stuff I wrote down when I was invited to the Cinefan festival in New Delhi in 2002 by the magazine I wrote for (Cinemaya):

What was New Delhi like?  Awful and wonderful.  The heat would hit forty degrees sometimes (which I'm told is actually cooler--summertime was forty-plus degrees, or so they claim; weather from October to February is actually wonderful, from fifteen to twenty degrees tops).  God help you if you try to go somewhere outside of Delhi--the drivers here don't quite drive like in Manila, but they do try their best to scare you (in Manila, they're sincerely trying to kill you).

The food is terrific--the rice, even in the poorest hole in the wall, is that delicious basmati rice; when I came to a dinner party at my editor's house, the basmati was mixed with poppy seeds, giving it a wonderful fragrance.  Then there's the standard dahl, which comes in a million different shades of brown or yellow (depending on the kind of lentils used), and a million different levels of heat, from mild to flamethrower.  Tandoori chicken was incredibly tender and juicy, and a specialty of the city (southern India is more vegetarian).  And the breads--hot, buttered, fresh-baked naan, chapati, roti, filled with all kinds of sauces, cheeses, vegetable stews and curries...The mutton is meltingly soft, in a gravy so thick and tasty you could hold it upside down and it would just sit and stare at you.

The desserts are inedible.  Round balls of dough, cream puffs and fried whatever in sugary syrup.  But when we had dinner at the Turkish embassy, they had baklava (Remember baklava in Detroit?)--crisp phyllo pastry and pistachio nuts in honey.  And the baked salmon in a cucumber and mayonnaise crust was good...not to mention the Turkish Delights (tiny but rich confections made out of dates and nuts).

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