Today I would like to tell you an amazing experience I had a couple of weeks ago.
As many of you may know, I am currently completing an internship in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Before I moved, my mother suggested to me that I look up a group called Girls Gone International. This is a group for girls who live in foreign countries to meet other girls and find friends. Last week this group in Dubai organized a traditional Indian dinner.
So, many of you may say that that cannot be something so special. We have all had Indian food at one point or another, but, trust me, it is not the same. First, this was home cooked which always tastes different (better). Second, it was served in a traditional way, which made the experience special.
The moment we walked into the apartment we were greeted with a sweet coconut. This is not something I am used to from Europe. It is true that in many South and Southeast Asian countries they grow in masses, but in Europe you have to be lucky to find a good one.
Once everybody arrived, we got to the actual food. We tried a few different appetizers. I am going to do my best to remember the names of all the foods. We had Wada, which is a fried doughnut like dish made of lentils served with a coconut and a coriander chutney. It was absolutely delicious. Since we were not aware of how much we would be eating this evening, all of us ate quite a few of them. We also tried a starter made of a puff filled with yogurt and some pomegranate seeds. For some reason I assumed this dish would be warm (I have no idea why), so I was very surprised that it was cold, but very delicious. They also served fried shrimp, which were delicious.
Now on we move to the actual dinner. Since it was a traditional dinner, our host set the table with banana leafs. We were also instructed to eat with our hands, since it made the experience more authentic and the food taste better. The laid each part of the meat out individually on the banana leaf. First the sweet to welcome the guest. Second, the condiments on the left side of the leaf. She explained that all these were placed on the left to avoid using the left hand for eating. She gave us this amazing mango chutney, as well as a tomato pickle. Then the three vegetables. One from above the ground, one from under the ground and one more. We had fried Okra, which was absolutely heavenly, as well as a vegetable with potato to eat with dosa.
From there we ate a rice pancake with sweet shredded coconut dipped in a milk like drink. It was so sweet and lovely and somehow worked in the middle of the meal, even though we Europeans were confused about eating something sweet in the middle of the meal. From there we had rice with dal and gi. Very simple but still tasted fantastic. At this point we were all so full, when we were told there is still biryani and chicken with cashews. So we bent under the will of a strong Indian mother and ate more food. I don’t know how I didn’t explode at the end of the meal we ate so much.
After a little break the brought us the staple desert, made from condensed milk and vermecili, as well as curd rice. It as absolutely delicious, but I couldn’t eat any more food even if I had to.
Of course as a good Indian mother she would not let us leave the house without taking some of the leftovers with us for the next day. So we happily accepted biryani for lunch the next day, although we had no idea how we could eat again for the next week.
My first real experience with traditional Indian dinners and how to serve and eat it properly. I had a blast with the girls and encourage you to seek out the group if you are in my situation and trying to make new friends in a place.
Did you even experience any interesting traditions of another culture? Share your stories with me in the comments below or on Instagram @lettersfromatravelinggirl
Talk to you soon.