November 22, 2011

I’m Back from my Dairy Free Vegetarian Trip to India

Hello everybody! I hope you are all doing well. What seems like a month ago but was only a very short 2.5 weeks have passed me by and now India is but a dream and it’s full blown christmas with sleigh bells ringing in Tesco and Brown Thomas’s Christmas windows unveiled and Grafton Street all lit up... WHERE has the time gone? Seriously, I’m just back from my summer holiday ;)
And how was India you ask? ..Well, it was a crazy place. It was interesting and ugly and beautiful and fun and upsetting and glorious and filthy almost always at the same time!
I had a couple (thankfully minor) food allergy slip ups but all in all things were easier than I had anticipated. I also fell upon two diamonds in the rough which I’ll tell you all about.
I like Indian food as much as the next person but I’m not likely to wave flags and promote the stuff to every passer-by. Too much deep frying even though I LOVE the breads (Gluten Free was not my 1st priority, although it is very possible with a whole range of Wheat Free and Gluten Free flours in general use) My main concern was to not get sick and stay away from milk. I also wanted to stay away from eggs and meat which was a cinch! All I had to do was follow what they refer to as ‘strict vegetarian’ and then eggs where nowhere in sight. The milk, if you remember, was my worry. The infamous ghee and paneer and butter and curd hiding in every corner. But I found that if we ate at ‘cheaper’ places ghee was seldom used, do to its notorious expense (yay!!) and paneer was almost always listed in the title on the menu. Curd and butter were a bit trickier... a lot of imaginative questions were required to work your way around the answers.
If you are thinking of travelling to India my best advice would be to do a lot of research on Indian food, what it is and what it’s made of. Just read a lot of recipes and you will be that much ahead of the game. F’s knowledge saved me on a couple occasions. Most important: ALL the desserts have dairy... every last one of them. Even if you ask, and they say no milk, no butter ask if they have ghee or curd etc. and at the end of the list you will always find a yes.
However, if you are just DYING for a mango lassi or some type of sweet to pass your lips I did happen upon two unexpected diamonds.

Pushkar (Rajasthan):
Honey and Spice (Laxmi Market, off Sadar Bazaar) served Soya based Lassi's! Alleluia!

and in Delhi:
There is a sort of imported health food shop, The Oriental Fruits Mart (23 E Block, Connaught Place, New Delhi, 110001) owned by a very smily elderly man. He was the only person I met who seriously understood what an allergy/intolerance was and even insisted that if I was Dairy Free that I needed to stay away from Gluten too. He was able to direct me to some honey coated almonds and even some nut clusters covered in Dairy Free and Gluten Free chocolate which he produces himself! The mixed nut & raisin was nicer than the walnut but he insisted that I try both before buying :) (note: he also said that the chocolate was sugar free but I have my doubts about that!)

Happy Cow had a few vegan restaurants listed on it’s website but I couldn’t find my way to the German Bakery in Pushkar because EVERYTHING said German Bakery and everything was most certainly NOT Vegan (milk abounded) although the Sunset CafĂ© (just follow the signs down to the lake) served my needs well.

I’ll put some travel photos below if you are interested :)

p.s. I’m still fairly jet lagged and haven’t slipped back into my normal schedule yet so excuse me if my posts take a while to get back into the swing of things!