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An Indian wedding

I have been going nowhere with posting on this blog lately, it’s almost as if I were a giant spider who suddenly realized she’s in the middle of a mine field.

That sooo did not make sense.

Maybe I should just keep quiet and post photos instead. Like these shots from an Indian wedding we attended on our trip to Trinidad almost two months ago. Yes, it’s been that long. So long, it’s almost as if I were a a giant roll of dough in the hands of an expert noodle maker in China who—never mind.

  Continue reading An Indian wedding

Night shots

My latest Pioneer Woman photography post is up now, and if you’ve been holding back from shooting at night, maybe I can encourage you to give it a try.

I probably wouldn’t have tried it myself if not for my love of taking sunset photos. I eventually noticed that, in the Philippines, night invariably came almost right after sunset. It took some getting used to, and it prompted me to try and figure out the reason behind it.

I know, I know. I’m a nerd like that.
Continue reading Night shots

Reality check

I took probably over a thousand photos during my recent trip to the Philippines, and you bet many of them were shots of the sunset, the beach, my family, and tons of food. But there are a handful of photos taken while riding with my cousin to their office deep in the city that make me stop in my tracks and get serious for a moment.

I think they’re beautiful shots. They’re not pretty like sunsets and flowers, but their beauty lies in their stark honesty and the fact that they remind me of the reality of things here. They remind me that not everything lovely is pristine, and that life here is not all private resorts, daily massages, and endless restaurant meals.

Continue reading Reality check

Final New Bombay post

This post wraps up my New Bombay recap. Mostly because I just can’t take any more reminders of this lunch when I’m practically halfway around the world away. The home delivery charges alone would exceed our mortgage.

So here are the final dishes from that memorable meal. These were the most unconventional ones (at least, to me). I would not have guessed my carnivorous cousins would be inclined to order these, but I’m glad they did.

This is called, quite simply and rather generically, okra with gravy. The okra was partly crispy, which gave it a wonderful texture and eliminated its characteristic slimy feel. The ‘gravy’ was yet another curry-based sauce, creamy and full-bodied. They were perfect together.

The last of the entrees was the Bombay egg masala. Hard-boiled egg quarters with sauce flavored with red chili powder, ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, and tomatoes (I think). I couldn’t tell if the softness in the sauce was from some added milk/cream, or from a bit of the egg yolk mixing in with the sauce. Either way, it was simply wonderful.

Finally, dessert came. We didn’t have a chance to order more because the owner came by with a tray of complimentary sweets for the table. They were like milk candy with a nutty flavor. Great way to end a heavily-spiced meal. Plus, I had never seen the chocolate flavored kind before, so that was a nice treat.

My cousin sneaked in an order of gulab jamun too, which is basically a fried dough ball in a sugary rosewater syrup.

It was good, but I have to admit that the best gulab jamun I’ve tasted still belongs to my aunt. Yes, she of the homemade lassi fame. (No, I’m not biased. Why do you ask?)

Now, you may have noticed that most of the angles of these food shots are identical. I can explain that. Imagine a gang of serious eaters at a table, all starving (except that one loser *cough*me*cough* that we won’t mention). I didn’t have the heart to ask them to please hold off on digging in while I painstakingly tried to find good angles with which to document our gluttony feast. All I could do was sit still, hold my camera, while my cousin hurriedly put one dish after the other in front of me for its glamour shot. Then, after just one photo – just ONE – away it was whisked, on its way to an unceremonious demise.

It was a massacre, I’m telling you. It was difficult to watch. Almost as difficult as trying to keep track of where the dishes were.

I loved every minute of it.

More New Bombay specials

If you are in any way familiar with me and my family, you’d know that there’s no way there’d only be three or four dishes ordered for the table. Even when we’re eating solo. As my grandfather used to say, with an amused but slightly disapproving shake of his head, “you know, hunger isn’t the only thing that kills people.”

He was too much of a gentleman to bandy about the word “gluttony.” I loved him to pieces.

So, where were we? Ah yes, New Bombay specials. In addition to the garlic naan, samosas, chicken makhanwala and palak paneer, we had some mutton rogan josh. Now, I’m no big fan of mutton. I can totally relate to Jerry in that Seinfeld episode with the mutton and Grandma Memma’s napkins.

“I had dogs chasing me for that mutton. I was almost mauled because of that mutton.”

“What exactly is mutton?”

I’m no fan of lamb or goat, either. Except when my husband, his brother, or his aunt is cooking. Then it tastes like beef, without the gamey flavor, and my tongue can relax and stop being so scared of it.

This dish, I actually enjoyed. The cardamom, cinnamon, and chili powder really sang, and there was none of the gamey taste to it. I still wasn’t sold on the texture of the mutton, but I was in the minority here. Everybody else ate it up. It was especially good with this plate of saffron rice.

All I’ll say about this is that you absolutely must try it. The subtle nuttiness of the dish really complements the flavors of the entrees we ordered.

On the side, we had multiple orders of papadum. The papadum was a stack of thin wafers (think anorexic tortilla) roasted over an open flame, with chopped onions and tomatoes and cumin powder as toppings. It’s best eaten still warm and crispy, when it practically melts in your mouth. This is why we had multiple orders of it, so that each stack came straight from the flame. (Yeah. That’s why we had multiple orders.)

We had this with a side order of raita.

There are many different types of raita, and I think we ordered the plain one. I’m not sure because I didn’t really taste it, and I’ll tell you why. About half an hour before this, I had no less than three sweet lassi drinks at my aunt’s house while waiting for my cousins to pick me up for lunch. Her lassi is unbelievable, consisting of homemade yogurt, some water, and pandan-infused simple syrup. I’ve been dreaming of it every single day since first tasting it, and it’s pretty much ruined all other lassis for me. It’s also the reason I’m searching high and low for a way to grow my own pandan here at home. Because I could seriously just live on that lassi.

And that is why, by the time we reached the restaurant, I was pretty much way over my daily quota of yogurt. Sorry about that, raita. You looked pretty, though.

I have a few more dishes to show you, but I’ll do that in a final New Bombay post so as not to overwhelm you. What, you thought we were done with the food? No, sirree. Never mind that our party consisted of three women and two men, and one of the women who shall remain nameless gorged herself on her aunt’s lassis and a breakfast sandwich right before lunch and could barely eat more than a bite of every dish.

To tell you the truth, I don’t even know why I hang out with such a loser.

New Bombay specials

So, let’s talk some more about New Bombay restaurant, of the previous post’s garlic and cheese naan. (I’m still drooling. Mentally.) While I would have been perfectly happy with just the naan, my cousins were intent on showing me just what this little place had to offer.

Actually, I flatter myself. My presence was incidental. The rambo-like ordering of just about every item on their specials list is pretty much par for the course when it comes to my family. And when I say ‘rambo-like,’ I truly mean it in the take no prisoners context. We leave behind a table that could be classified as a disaster area. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, I have photographic evidence to offer up in a future post.

But back to the naan. Because, well, most things good in the gustatory sense always go back to the garlic and cheese naan.

For starters, we had samosas. I’d report on them if I could, but I’m allergic to potatoes, so this is as close as I got to them.

Then, the specials came, beginning with palak peneer. It’s spinach and cottage cheese, and a host of aromatic spices (I tasted cumin, garam masala, coriander, some tumeric, and ginger). Full-bodied and creamy, it made me think I’d have no problems going vegetarian if I had choices like this.

Then followed the chicken makhanwala. Chicken with yogurt and butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cilantro, and more of those spices in the palak paneer. Every single taste bud in my mouth was doing the happy dance.

I’m going to stop right here because if I see any more photos from that lunch, I might start trying to thumb my way back to Manila. Which would be fine, except for that bit of underwater part called the Pacific Ocean. Or Atlantic Ocean, depending in which route you take.

Plus, I have to go make some cookies. Because, well, most things good in the gustatory sense always go back to cookies. Especially when you’re nowhere near any garlic and cheese naan.

Excuse my while I lament my deplorable state of naan-lessness.