Just back from my fabulous, dizzying culinary tour in incredible India! Eleven guests plus myself and my trusty assistant traveled from Delhi (madly busy, loved Old Delhi and its spice markets-shown here–and flower markets) to Jaipur (the pink city with a fabulous outdoor cooking class at the gorgeous Raj Mahal Palace Hotel), Agra (absolutely perfect weather for our early morning visit to the Taj Mahal), Lucknow (a sophisticated city with complex cuisine not often visited by Americans), and back to Delhi.
Whether by bus, tuk-tuk, taxi, auto-rickshaw, train, and even an elephant ride up to the Amber Fort in Jaipur, we made our way, doing food walks in the bustling crazily-crowded narrow streets of the old parts of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and Lucknow, tasting a myriad of vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods, learning new recipes, culture and history, and having the opportunity to speak to knowledgeable locals.
We happened upon this procession of women honoring a local fertility god while visiting the 8th Century Stepwell. All were dressed in the same brilliant yellow-orange and carrying earthenware water pots on their heads filled with coconuts and bananas as offerings.
Along with irresistibly beautiful hand-woven silk and pashmina shawls dyed with natural materials such as eggplant, tomato, saffron, and turmeric, I brought back the best saffron in the world, from Kashmir–deep red threads potently fragrant, rare white poppy seeds (known there as “opium seeds”) used to make creamy korma sauce, big fat deep green freshly harvested cardamom pods, and hard-to-find hand-pounded silver leaf used to decorate pastries. Show above are two masala dabas (spice containers) each filled with colorful, fresh spices used for our first cooking class at the charming Saffron Palate in Delhi–a charming rooftop kitchen overlooking bustling Delhi.