digesting india + a recipe for ginger lime soda

I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I have a good excuse, I was in India…eating. India was all I wanted it to be and more but if I got into it, this would be a very long post, so I’ll try to keep it succinct and cover just my food highlights.

My trip started in the bustling city of Mumbai and then I did a little bit of hopping around the southern state of Kerala. The food was completely different in the three cities that I visited and while I eat New York Indian food at least once a week, I was enthralled by the nooks and crannies of this intricate cuisine.

Mumbai

I’m not lying when I say that my local Indian restaurant’s cooking (Spice Garden) tastes pretty similar to the basic Indian dishes I was eating in Mumbai. Things like paneer tikka, bhindi masala, malai kofta and all the wonderful breads tasted pretty identical. What was different was that before every meal we were served an accompaniment of mango pickle, raw red onions (or sometimes pickled pearl onions) and sliced sweet lime. I loved munching on the raw onion sprinkled with lime while I waited for my food and the mango pickle was my substitution for salt. I rarely saw salt and pepper shakers at the table (I hardly ever needed them), but just a tiny dribble of the mango pickle elevated the flavor of any saucy dish. Mango pickle doesn’t taste like mango at all. It is a condiment that is prepared by preserving green mangoes in oil, chili and salt. It’s super salty, sour and spicy so a little goes a long way.

accompaniments of raw onion and mango pickle varied from place to place

Besides the extensive savory breakfast options available at our hotel, the most memorable thing I ate in Mumbai was an order of clams smothered in a thick paste of green chilies, ginger and coriander at the Melting Pot. I sopped up every last drop of sauce with buttered naan and washed it down with a refreshing mojito.

While I didn’t take much to Indian desserts, I did love the kulfi, a firm textured ice cream that is served sliced. The “plain” flavor at Moti Mahal was super creamy, firm enough to chew and tasted like dulce de leche. Yum!

Fort Cochin

Cochin was my first stop in Kerala and it was a food dream come true! It was here that I got to drink ginger lime sodas and eat fish at every meal. Firm white kingfish was either smothered in a tomato-coconut sauce, steamed in a banana leaf or simmered in a spicy tomato curry. My choice of rice? Coconut basmati every time.

traditional Keralan fish at Oceanos

Munnar

Munnar was a breath of fresh air after the intense, sticky heat of Cochin. We stayed at homestay called Rose Gardens up in the mountains overlooking manicured tea plantations. The owners, Tomy and Rajee, housed us and prepared breakfast and dinner every day.

tea plantation in Munnar

All of our meals consisted of many small dishes so we got to try a little bit of everything. I couldn’t tell you what I ate exactly, but what has stayed with me is the use of coconut in Rajee’s cooking. She prepared a stiff (not soupy) vegetable curry that tasted strongly of coconut, and not from canned milk but from freshly grated coconut. For breakfast she prepared a mixture of rice flakes and coconut (again, freshly grated) which we mixed with mashed  steamed bananas one morning. The follow day we had soft crepes filled with coconut, sugar and drizzled with honey from Tomy’s honey bees.

learning to make chapati at Rose Gardens

Most of the spices, herbs and vegetables used in our meals came from Tomy’s backyard, which we got a complete tour of. Bananas and yogurt were also a big part of our meals at Rose Gardens. Yogurt, or fresh curd, was spooned over our rice to tame the heat of the meal and miniature bananas picked right off the tree were served with every meal.

Tomy and his peppercorns

Not once in the two weeks that I was away did I feel like I couldn’t keep eating Indian food everyday. The rich flavors of every meal kept me satisfied and somehow regulated my eating. I have yet to attempt to make any of the dishes that are still lingering on my tongue but I was able to get the juicer up and running today to press some fresh ginger for a taste of the spicy Kerala beverage I loved so much. When ordered, a glass was delivered with about 1-1/2 inches of lime and ginger juice, a bottle of soda water and sugar syrup. You could adjust the spiciness and sweetness of the drink as desired.

ginger and lime with a soda on the side

ginger lime soda

serves 2

ingredients

  • 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons ginger juice
  • 2-4 teaspoons agave
  • 1 bottle club soda, chilled

procedure

  1. Squeeze limes and divide juice among two cups.
  2. Add a tablespoon of ginger juice to each cup.
  3. Add one teaspoon agave to each cup; mix well.
  4. Top off with club soda.

fizzy lime ginger soda

saving ginger juice for instant ginger lime sodas

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77 thoughts on “digesting india + a recipe for ginger lime soda

  1. Looking at Kerala cuisine through your eyes gave me back my appetite. I’m in love with coconut all over again.Thanks from a resident Keralite!! :-D

  2. Pingback: Ginger lime soda and more delicious recipes… « My Favorite Spaces

  3. I love this blog, top of the apple :)
    That ‘mixture of rice flakes and coconut (again, freshly grated) [which we mixed with mashed steamed bananas]‘ is called ‘Puttu’. It is pronounced ‘put’ with an little more stress on the ‘t’. This is my favourite !!!! Your blog just reminded me that I haven’t had this for a looooong time. Hope to have it sometime soon. Good day !!

  4. When you eat Indian food be carefull of curry powder. Ask before u eat.

    They have hot one your stomach might not accept it.

    Ask for mild one.

    I love their food .

    The pictures u posted are so nice

  5. I so want to go to India. I enjoyed reading your story and imagining I was with you. I have a question. You mentioned “homestay” at Rose Gardens in Munnar, what is homestay? Is this a good way to see India for the first time?

    • Hi Fran. A homestay is where someone provides you with accommodations, usually at their house or at a sort of bed and breakfast. Rose Gardens is literally a home where Tomy and his wife live with their sons. They have about 5 rooms that they rent out. They cook breakfast and dinner for you – this was definitely a great way to experience Indian culture. I tried foods here that I didn’t see anywhere else. In Cochin, I stayed at a homestay called The Secret Garden, but this had more of a bed and breakfast feel. The owner lives on site only 6 months out of the year.

  6. I must say you’re quite adventurous with foods! And talking from experience, all you ate right there, especially the ginger lime mash is giving you a furious wind output… LOL!

  7. This recipe looks really nice, like a much improved ginger beer. Have bookmarked to try this one :)

    I loved your photographs, they really highlight your experience well. Unrelated, but where is your dress from in the last photo? Great print! x

  8. I’m new to wordpress and just stumbled across your blog. Your trip to India sounds amazing and I love your use of fresh and healthy ingredients! I love ginger and lime together so I’ll definitely be trying this! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Your picture of the manicured tea garden is amazing!

    How did you find a homestay in India?

    I travelled around India for a month and a half, but I didn’t go to Munnar. If I ever get the chance to go back you’ve inspired me to go there.

  10. Thanks for sharing this entry, wow I’m starving just by looking at the first picture. My favorite Indian recipe is curry, be it pork curry, chicken curry or fish curry. I find it really delicious. Congrats on making this post to freshly pressed, by the way. :)

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  11. Loved your post! I, too, love Indian cuisine. Would have loved to have taken that trip. Indian cuisine is truly one of the most varied in the world–so far beyond “curry houses.” Your ginger lime soda looks most refreshing. And for a refreshing cocktail, how about adding a jigger or two of Canton ginger liqueur?.

  12. Lovely post, thank you for sharing! I recently came back from India myself and miss the food, among other things… I actually haven’t found that the restaurants here have similar food – for me the food was much better “at the source” :)
    Yulia

  13. I love the first picture of this post! I have been drinking those fresh coconuts like three times a day, when I was in India…;) I am planning to visit Kerala to do an intense Yoga class. And I love Indian food anyway, so now I really can´t wait to go!

  14. Great post. I loved India and you captured their food beautifully! I’m curious to know how you make your ginger juice? I have started making my own to mix with organic apple juice, but I don’t have the method quite right yet! Any help would be wonderful.

  15. The presentation of the food is notable as well. They don’t just slop it to you on a plate. Thanks for the great photos and write-up on the food. We are Indian food lovers as well and can’t wait to travel to India at some point in the future. Our little girls eat Indian food as well. I think they would find plenty they like!

  16. Ginger lime soda will me a must for me this summer! I also like rosewater lime soda made much the same way, but you substitute rosewater for ginger juice.

  17. I have a Vitamix 500 2-hp blender that pulverizes anything that comes near it. I don’t bother to peel apples or cucumbers or what have you–but do think I should peel the ginger first? Do you?

    • I didn’t peel my ginger, but then again, my juicer strains it for me. For a Vitamix I’d say peel. It’s easier than it looks. I just use a pairing knife and cut generously instead of trying to get in all the little grooves.

  18. Good to know you had such a great time in India! :) And loved the photos! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  19. Fabulous! So glad this post had been ‘Freshly Pressed’ and so discovered! Sounds like an amazing trip, I spent 2 months in India a few years ago and the food was just incredible, I loved the sodas so much, never tried this though {and I love love love ginger}, Mumbai was a south as we got, I have never tasted scrambled eggs so good! The trip cultured a life long addiction to paneer. I love your pictures xx

  20. So are you using fresh ginger juice…or is there a product called “ginger juice” that they sell at stores?

    This is too funny, because just last night I used fresh ginger in a recipe. For the first time. There was definitely “juice” left behind, but is there a specific technique for “juicing” ginger.

    Now I’m off to Google to look that up…

  21. So happy to hear about your adventure. Munnar looks beautiful and a very unique experience, so this was a home stay? Your ginger lime soda looks so refreshing and a wonderful digestive after weeks of rich unique foods. On a side note love that dress you are wearing. Happy Spring to you. Take Care, BAM

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