Thursday, 27 February 2014

Spare a Though for Food! Or is it Food for Thought?


It’s probably the first thing you’ll think of when you head abroad (and yes beer is food). Where are we going to get it? How much will it cost? How much will we get and how are we going to store it? After all, we usually eat three meals a day.

Big issue number 1. We’ve both been sticking to a strict plant based diet since October 2013. Sherren much longer. For the folks out there who still think fish, eggs, milk and cheese grow on trees. We don’t eat that either (“Where do you get your vitamins from then?” was one comment I had to endure courteous of John McCarthy). So what is actually in the meals we are buying out? India may have the highest proportion of vegetarians per capita in the world but they have an undying love affair with ghee (clarified butter) and do they add milk or eggs? You can always ask but you’ll probably be met with a stare like you just shown your best card trick to a dog (You’ll get that stare everywhere else in the world too). We may have to just bite the bullet and pretend it’s not in there.

Big issue number 2. For the last four years, I’ve primarily been eating a whole foods high protein diet. I learnt the hard way you don’t get one of these (See Fig 1.0.0) sinking 6 pints a day and eating GBK 8 times a week.

Fig 1.0.0 (Disclaimer: I never look like this through the winter months)

Even though I’ve given up meat and dairy and ultimately had to reintroduce those once thought evil carbohydrates, I’ve stuck to my guns when it comes to eliminating the refined carbohydrates, high GI foods and pretty much all processed foods. The one weakness, especially in the winter months is booze. And eating out, no matter where you are in the world it will usually consist of all of those ingredients.

Big issue number 3. This is India. They eat a lot of curry. I love curry. I eat it at home. And when I do………………… I fart! How the hell are we going to attempt to bind in the Marichyasana poses with a belly full of gas?

Eating Out

We arrived at our apartment (Urban Oasis) at 14:00 on a Tuesday. Despite being utterly exhausted from the trek. We opted against going straight to bed (better to wait and sync yourself to the local clock) and proceeded to unpack then dig out the notes on the local restaurant scene.
One eatery most yogi’s seem to frequent is Tina’s on Gokulam Rd. This one seemed perfect as it was only 5 minutes walk away.
It’s a small establishment will about 8 tables of varying size. Self service, as in, you go to the counter yourself, tell them what you want from the small selection displayed on the counter top, take a seat and when it’s ready, they’ll ring a bell and you go pick it up. We reckon we can order, eat and settle the bill within 10 minutes. So if you’re in a hurry it’s perfect and to top things off the food is lovely.
When ordering at a restaurant for the first time, one concern is always, how big are the portions and how much should you order? This time and probably the only time, we got it right. We shared a Veg birihyani (Rs100 of £1), a dal (Rs40 of 40p) and an aloo (Rs40 of 40p). Total bill £1.80. Can’t argue with that.
Now the reason Indian’s are not farting and shitting all over the place like we do after curry night is they exercise portion control, novel idea. The curry dishes are about the size of a small fist and then they have a rice or dosa (rice bread/cake) on the side. We were so impressed with Tina’s we went back the next 3 nights before attempting to cook that epic failure you’ve already heard of.
Tina’s being closed on a Sunday we decided to try ‘Amina’ on Kaladisa Rd. This one coming off as the preferred when compared to ‘Rasa Dhatu’, an organic place with vegan dishes we were keen on. Up on the second floor, you’re met by a waiter who kindly asks you to remove your shoes and waves you in. This place will also only fit about 30 heads. Only difference being you are seated on the floor (a bit like Japanese). Amina’s serves organic food ‘a la carte’ and made to order. That being the case I naturally assumed it would be slightly more expensive than Tina’s so we proceeded to order a soup to start each and then a platter of dosa to share. The platter came with 5 dosa. Well that’s what we were told. When the waiter brought out the dosa. He brought 5 plates of different dosas. Each with two or four dosa and two bowls of curry or yoghurt mint. In total 12 dosa, 5 small bowls of curry and 5 bowls of yoghurt mint. What was I just saying about gas? Oh well. The total bill here came to £3.35p. We couldn’t move and we couldn’t finish what we ordered either. Guess it’s not more expensive.
All this eating out is great but starting to long for some simple meals cooked at home to avoid the refined carbs and high GI breads and white rice grains. So it may now be time to re-attempt to nuke a dinner. See figure (See Fig 1.0.1) for the re-attempt. Fatboy’s is the double portion.
Fig 1.0.1 (Brown rice and Large yellow split peas/Dal seasoned with masala spices, served with cucumber, and bell peppers – Cooking time 30Min)


We’ve been eating the complimentary breakfast at Urban Oasis each day. They put on a different local dish each day which I have (spice millet, ground chick peas, dosa’s and various soups) and Sherren has been eating fresh fruit and oats. I don’t eat the oats because they don’t have jumbo oats here and yes, size does matter.
When we move in a few weeks and have to get our own breakfast, I’ll probably just suck it up and have the little oats and fruit tooL.
Interesting note: We were in the supermarket today and found ‘Curry Flavour Oat’. Do I or don’t I?

Fruit and Vegetables

On our first full day here, we were wondering through the streets of Gokulam just trying to find our bearings and see where everything was. Once we’d had our fill of the heat and dust of the day and constantly sounding horns, we headed back to the room. Seeing across the street a couple of other yoga travellers purchasing some fruit from a stall. We decided we’d stock the fridge back home with a few of these local delights. Not wanting to be overcharged and not being skilled in the art of the barter system, Sherren asked the other two what they’d just paid for their spoils and was met with 2 answers. “I got these 4 tomatoes for Rs4” (4p or 1p each) and the other answered “Oh it doesn’t matter, I don’t care if they overcharge me, it’s nothing to us”. Well she is obviously not travelling on a budget for 2 years or she is extremely wealthy. So being no better off for information we threw caution into the wind and decided to buy a small bunch of mini bananas and a small water melon parting with the enormous sum of Rs80 or 80p. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot but two days later we were in the supermarket and saw the very same fruits at half the price. I found this to be a bit of a shame as I’d rather put the money in the hands of small private stall owners than large supermarket conglomerates but if they are going to charge double, I’m not.
Note: India doesn’t have the advanced logistics we do and the fruit and vegetables you find in the supermarket come from similar if not the same local source as the market stall traders.

Prices for comparison:
Water Melon: Rs10 or 10p per kilo
Musk Melon: 40p each
Mini bananas: 12 for 40p
Nagpur Mandarin: 8 for 60p
Apple come in at about the same as the do in England. They’re not very nice either. Imported and cool stored.
Tomatoes: About 1p each
Bell Peppers: 2 for 40p
Cucumber: 5 for 40p
Mushrooms: 40p for 300g

Oh That's Right, Smile!


  1. Looks great..such a great diet, although this week I've been dining on roast veg (ramiro, mushrooms, onion,aubergine) on a bed of baby leaf spinach and quinoa.. While everyone else consuband'sht angle, white bread sandwiches which have the uniform colour and texture of window putty. Love your pics, we've just come out of the London monsoon season but it's great to see real sunshine.. Not sure about the 'boy band' six pack shot..your facial expression is quite alarming

    1. Hey Matt, I'm not quite a natural born poser so the face is a little scary.
      Your lunch sounds pretty damn good. Hard to find salad leafs here, other than an iceberg (devoid of nutrients and flavour) but everything else is full of it. Most veg seems to be picked ripe. Seems the rest of the world is killing themselves with convenience food and furthermore don't care.

  2. The curries sound delicious , perhaps you could send some nice recipes for a good vegie curry. Would love to see pictures of your accomodation and the surrounding area. You both look great so whatever you are eating must be good for you.