Mumbai, India: Ego & Idli

Hi Blog!  I’ve missed you!

I’ve just returned from 2 1/2 weeks of a life-changing holiday in India, and am working to catch up on blog posts for while I was away.  Expect tons of Indian recipes in the weeks to come, and some travel/food/India ramblings until I get time to test things out in the kitchen.


I’ve run away to India for 3 weeks to find myself.

Well, almost.  I’ve come on holiday, and after my plans for the next few years of my life got turned upside-down (when I didn’t get into the university program I had hoped for), I’m figuring out next steps.

It seems like the universe is working hard to point me in the right direction.  We spent our first three days in India exploring Mumbai (formerly Bombay with a wise tour guide, Ramananad, who dispensed sage advice, including:

“Don’t seek.  Find.”


He brought this gem up in the context of travel – don’t be working so hard to seek out specific sites, but instead allow yourself to experience the moments, people and places you encounter along the way.

This idea of enjoying the journey not the destination is resonating for me right now in a big way.  After some mind-opening yoga classes earlier in the year, I’ve been thinking about enjoying the journey rather than waiting impatiently for the destination.  The yogis I’ve been working with have phrased it differently, but I’ve taken away the same meaning: we are all  so ego-oriented (where ego is the self-differentiating part of us and the drive to succeed), that we forget to revel in the bliss of living!

So here in India, I’m making the most of every minute – catching myself saying “no” to opportunities and instead jumping in with both feet.  You’d probably guess I’d do a lot of this through food – and you’re 100% right . . . but in order to see through the lens of food here in India, you need a little bit of context.

Mumbai is a city of contrasts: royalty, celebrities, and the wealthy are on the very same streets as the merchants, commuters, beggars and stray dogs.





Security is tight (due to threats of terrorism): metal detectors are in front of every bank and hotel, and guards with scary guns are everywhere.  And when you make eye contact with them, they join hands in “namaste”.

Top tourist spots include the Gateway of India:



The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel:


And some beautiful religious spots, like this Jain temple:



And off the beaten track are the dhobi ghats (outdoor laundry grounds):







Our hotel is on the posh Marine Drive, with a view of Mumbai across the Arabian Sea and the lights of the 3km long “Queen’s Necklace” outline the view.



The food is spectacular – breakfasts are the best part.


All of my favourite things appear on the breakfast rotation:

Paratha – a wheat-flour flatbread stuffed with aloo (potatoes), gobi (cauliflower), lentils & mustard seed, or methi (fenugreek leaf):


Lots of fresh papaya and pineapple served with lime juice:

And my new-favourite-breakfast-food – Idli with sambar.  Idli are lentil- and rice-flour steamed dumplings, and sambar is a spicy lentil-vegetable soup.  They are usually served with coriander, coconut and tomato chutneys:




The fresh watermelon, guava, or sweet lime juices are refreshing and immediately remind you that “you’re not in Kansas anymore” – at least until your tour guide tells you not to drink the juice or eat watermelon for fear of digestive issues.  (I was fine, phew, but the worry is that the fruits like melons are grown in nightsoil and our sterilised North American systems don’t have the iron-rule to battle the bugs!)

Now I’ve got to get myself and idli-steaming-pan-insert for home.  I’m hooked on my breakfast idlis.  Which of course means that there will be a recipe forthcoming for all of you.

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Categories: Travel


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12 Comments on “Mumbai, India: Ego & Idli”

  1. fran
    April 5, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    So interesting and thank you for sending these amazing photos..
    I will speak to your Mom about the university course you will be taking, ….opera related?
    this food looks wonderful..
    I look forward to some delicious recipies..


  2. Fiona
    April 5, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Love your post can’t wait to see more. You have me hankering to go back to India and explore some more.

  3. April 5, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Hey there.. thank you for the post! This is my first day of blogging and you are the first person that caught my eye! I am planning a trip to India very soon and would love to know more about yours.
    One of the main attraction is food and weather (me being in the cold and damp UK) of course along with rest of the parameters such as culture, people and heritage…

  4. Pemma
    April 5, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Looking forward to the posts to come – will give you a call today ; )

  5. April 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    Welcome back! 🙂 love love love this post and looking forward to more, and to seeing you of course 🙂

  6. April 6, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    I love the photos! It makes me want to go so much. There’s such a huge amount of “life” there. So much to take in. And those breakfasts look amazing!


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