I begin my exploration of India in Mumbai. It’s a city of almost 15 million people, the home of the Bollywood film industry and the country’s foodie capital. I’m ready to get started but, as I’ve never cooked Indian food before, I need to learn a bit more first!
I’m off to explore the Grant Road Markets and pickup some equipment and supplies to exchange for a cooking lesson tomorrow.
This market really has everything you could imagine, from dozens of varieties of fruit and vegetables, to cooking utensils and services every way you turn.
I love the way the food is displayed, such wonderful respect for ingredients, and I am able to buy everything I’ll need for tomorrow!
I’ve been told about a street very famous for its food — Tulloch Road, Colaba — and a restaurant, Bademiya, that’s been there for generations. It’s rumoured that Bademiya do the best chicken tikka in Mumbai so I simply have to visit.
They let me have a go in the kitchen helping with the shish kabobs before I order, I really can’t wait to try the food though!
Apparently the cameras grant me VIP status so I get the best table in the house — dining on the bonnet of a car! This is experience is exactly what I wanted to do on this adventure — bon appetit!
Today I’m in the neighborhood of Dharavi, visiting the home of a beautiful family who have offered to teach me how to make Idli — one of the most famous breakfast dishes in Mumbai.
In exchange for a cooking lesson I give them the ingredients and equipment I bought yesterday. It’s a pretty good trade off if you ask me!
We start by making the coconut green chilli dhal and the spicy tomato chutney while the idil bread steams, and then I share a bite to eat with the family before I go about the rest of my day.
After my lesson I meet up with a familiar face at Elco Pani Puri Centre to explore more street food — the local way. My friend, Pallavi Sharda, is an Australian expat living in India and working as a Bollywood actress. It’s great to catch up and have a laugh.
Pallavi first introduces me to Pani Puri, crispy bite-sized shells filled with lentils or chickpeas and sweet, or tangy, water.
Next up is Bhel Puri, a refreshing dish made from spiced puffed rice, onions, chutney.
Then it’s on to the Bhatura. A large puffed fried dough served with spiced chickpeas and yoghurt for dipping. Yum!
I’m taking the train from Mumbai to Kolkata later today, and I think that if I make some food to sell along the way I may be able to make some of my ticket money back.
Luckily a local cafe lets me use their kitchen to cook up a batch of Vada Pav.
These Indian potato burgers are an explosion of flavour and, from the spices to the crisp batter to the sauce, everything works together so perfectly!
At the station I splurged on my train ticket to go in an air-conditioned car, but with a 28 hour journey ahead I think the extra $10 is well worth it.
I wasn’t sure how my potato burgers would sell but they were a big hit — I ended up siting down in one cabin and selling out in about 15 minutes! Only 27½ hours to go…
After over a day of travel I arrive in Kolkata at the oldest train station in India. It’s a sea of people and very overwhelming!
The second biggest city in India, Kolkata is known for its colonial architecture, art galleries and cultural festivals.
My first stop here is at the flower market, Mallick-Ghat.
It operates, like most things in India, at a constant frantic pace — and is a sight to behold. Much to the amusement of the locals I attempt to help out with some of the more strenuous market tasks including wrangling the bike carts and carrying a 25 kg bundle of flowers on my head.
At least it was a good way to work up an appetite!
I’m told that before leaving Kolkata I must try a famous street-food fish dish, Rohu Bhaat.
I stop for a quick plate of the fish curry before it’s off to the airport for a flight to Hong Kong!
Watch Episode 4 of Around the World with Manu in Australia this Sunday, 30 October 2016 on channel 7TWO.