Some time ago I came across a written source that read about paying attention to my food while I eat. It was a physical health article and it referred to how when I stop other activities and actually focus on the food I am eating, that my brain recognizes this activity, that I am ingesting nutrients, and I will eat less food and do so in a healthy way.
While in India, however, the eating experience was much deeper than that. There was a yoga practiced while eating, and a spiritual connection that was easier to let myself be in (let myself go) than I have let happen in the busyness that the physical world can bring.
At the ashram most of us were surprised by how much food we were provided, and moreover how delicious it was. I did not know what prayer(s) people were saying, but I can share what I did before imbibing in the physical food that nourished both body and mind.
The volunteers at the ashram, under the guide of Brother Mukesh (kitchen manager) prepared simple yet delicious meals. The main items were rice, khichdi (rice and lentil porridge), soups, fresh vegetables, mixed cooked vegetables, roti or chapati, and chai (tea).
For tea break they would give us chai with biscuits (cookies) or kakhra (a flat, crunchy, semi-spicy bread).
On many occasions I found myself looking at the tray on my lap or on the ground where I was sitting, and noticing the items on it in a different light. In my connection to the rest of creation (as crazy as it may sound), I felt the love put in cooking the food and felt the love from the food ingredients themselves. It made me stop and pay attention to the colours, textures, spices, heat, cool, and to the harmony that the different foods brought each other. For instance, the lentil soup was great atop the white rice. Fresh pomegranate seeds were added with fresh culantro in a milk curd-base soup, and tasted fantastic together.
What I noticed is that every time I paid attention to the food before me, I felt satisfied physically and spiritually.
People warned me about eating food in India, as my stomach is likely accustomed to food standards in the US by now. Luckily having lived in Tanzania has instilled in me a certain awareness about food and water, so I only had one very brief ‘Delhi Belly’ incident (I don’t know if there is such a term for a sour stomach in Ahmedabad. LOL). Besides following my intuition on what to eat for the majority of my time left in India (2 more weeks), my new friends…my new family came to the rescue! Everyone was so kind with sharing homeopathic medicine they had, nurse advice, making sure I was okay, and making sure I ate enough nutritious food.
One cool thing about eating at the ashram, is that every so often we would get food that was especially blessed. This is called Prasad .
During the last week of our training we went to see some of beautiful and historic Ahmedabad. After a few hours touring sites, we were ready to eat! We went to The House of MG and ate at their al fresco restaurant, The Green House. They have this Super Hydrating juice blend, of which I have no photograph. Cucumber, apple, ginger, and pineapple blend together to make magic!
We tried a few items, including dalvada, methi na gota, bataka vada (fried snacks platter); muthiya, patra, handvo (steamed snacks platter); dosa, dabeli, and pani puri.
Eating pani puri is really fun! The ball you see on the right is empty. You tap one side to crack it open and fill it with what’s inside that bowl. This filling was made of potatoes, sweet peas & spices. After filling it up, you pour that green deliciousness in the bottle, on the ball. Then you stuff your mouth, just like you would do with sushi.
Street vendors may do this a bit differently, but I wasn’t bold enough to try anything water-based on the street 🙂
This burger-looking sandwich is a street food named dabeli, and it’s from kutchhi: the desert region of western Gujarat . Dabeli is made of spicy mashed potatoes, pomegranate seeds, and roasted peanuts. Scrumptious! And… it was put in that take-away container made of palm tree husk!!!
Now, because our AMAZING Ahmedabad sister and tour guide is SO amazingly amazing… she took us to Ahmedabad again at the end of the training program. After a bit of shopping and me trying not to take 1000 photos of the Maharaja designs in a textiles shop, we went to lunch.
Pankhi took us to eat at Swati Snacks . My senses were fully awakened by how delicious the food was! I mean, the food was amazing in taste, cheap, and plated on appetising & bright-colour dishes!
This place is in the Law Garden area and is a top choice for foodies. It’s really chilled out with a welcoming atmosphere.
After eating these amazingly tasty foods, we, of course, had left room for freshly made lemongrass ice cream, and saffron & pistachio ice cream. Say whaaaaat! Our Persian, French, Indian, Italian, Eritrean, Tanzanian, and American palates were all quite satisfied!
One last thing I will mention is that while in India, the Chinese year of the Rooster began. Our Chinese friends celebrated with us by making us a celebratory meal. It was such a happy occasion!
Here are a few last photos of more food.