Thursday, February 15, 2007

Amazing India: Magai Paan

Have you ever tasted Magai Paan?
It is probably among the strangest, weirdest food items I ever tasted. It's not really delicious but it is really fascinating. To make it short, Magai Paan is the Indian version of a chewing gum, people eat it after a heavy and spicy lunch to kind of change the taste and keep on chewing for a while.

It is made of maybe 20 or 30 ingredients including the famous betle, it has the betle leaves as well as the nuts, but you can also find there many fragrant things like clove, rose petal, I suspect some other types of nuts (cashew?), many spices and a lot of secret ingredients coming from small bags, tin boxes, plastic bags, etc.

What is amazing is that you are supposed to keep on chewing this thing for a long time and that at least the first few minutes are full of surprise. First it is a really big bite, then it is surprisingly made of many different tastes all very strong and unfamiliar. So you keep on chewing and suddenly there is this new taste happening, maybe you're cracking the clove, or maybe it's a betel nut, you don't really know.

Take a look here, this is the work table of the paan cart - See all the boxes?
magai paan preparation -

This is the man at work:
Magai paan preparation

This is a close up in mid preparation - you can see some of the ingredients:
Magai paan close up

This is my friend Grish after eating his double bite magai pan:
After Magai Paan

This is me just before attempting my double bite:
Double magai paan

Now you can judge it yourself - Take a look at this movie, it shows the whole preparation for the magai. This is taken from the streets of Bangalore.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The writing on the wall

I saw this sign at Ben Gurion airport - I guess the guy who did this just didn't know what to write and in what language, so he asked his 3 year old son to draw something that would indicate a low latrine for boys :)

Guess what this is about

Dahi Puri Chaat

This is a real delicacy I just discovered - The amazing thing about it is that it is a really entertaining snack or light food. It is really fun to eat. Why?

  • It crunchy outside, tender inside and liquid too
  • It is spicy, sweet, salty
  • It is cold inside, wam outside
  • Usually it is served on a plate containing 5-6 servings, and each serving is supposed to be eaten in one gulp. This is not so easy as it is big and juicy
So when you eat it, the puri breaks in your mouth and then you start feeling all these different tastes explode one after another, the hot and the cold, the crunch and the soft. It really makes for a fun eating experience.
I think Dahi Puri is the Indian answer to a fusion Panko Crusted Fried Avocado Maki Sushi with Wasabi Crème Fraiche :)

Here's a picture with the Puri bread formed as a shell - This is the toughest one to eat.

Puri Chaat

Here's a picture of the version in which the puri is crumbled - Delicious -

Puri Chaat

Sometimes I am wondering why European food is so blend and unsurprising. Are European spice impaired? I mean compare this to a steak or burger, what a difference !!