Nisha's Toor and Mung Daal [fr]

[en] Une des deux recettes de daal que je fais régulièrement.

So far, when I’ve been making daal in Switzerland, I’ve been doing either Aleika’s masoor daal recipe, or this one — which I’ve had for some time but never written up. Time to do it!

  • boil toor daal and a little mung (roughly a quarter) to a paste
  • add chopped tomatoes, mix and cook a bit
  • in a separate pan, heat oil, half a spoon of black mustard seeds, half a spoon of cumin seeds, curry leaves, 2 green chillies (chopped if I remember correctly)
  • add turmeric (a quarter spoon)
  • add to the daal (or add the daal to it, but be careful, it will spit! the daal is water and the oil is hot!)
  • add a teaspoon of salt or to taste, and lots of chopped coriander leaves

I usually make a lot and freeze it in handy portions — comfort food!

Nisha’s Famous Sweet Sheera [en]

[fr] Une autre recette de Nisha à base de rawa, sucrée cette fois.

Here’s another rawa dish of Nisha’s — a sweet one (see upma for the salty one). I really think I need to get myself a karahi, because pans with flat bottoms just don’t seem to cut it when it comes to making spices and stuff swim in oil or ghee. I’m just wondering if a karahi is compatible with an electric stove like the ones we have in Switzerland. Anybody know?

Nisha's famous sweet sheera for breakfast

  • heat quite a lot of ghee
  • add half a cup of rawa and mix them together — the rawa absorbs all the ghee
  • mix in half a small banana cut into little pieces, and mash everything up
  • add in cashew nuts (broken up), raisins, and pine nuts (I think they’re pine nuts)
  • heat half a cup of water and half a cup of milk separately, then add them in
  • heat for five minutes, add lots of sugar, and some green cardamom powder


Love the Chaos [en]

Shinde and I took a rickshaw across town today, and as soon as I was in the streets of Pune, I was gripped by this now-familiar feeling of elation I get when being on the road in India. I get it on the ride from Mumbai to Pune — despite the stink of the slums we drive through, I can’t stop smiling and want to jump up and down in my seat.

What I love here is the chaos, and nowhere is it more present than in the streets and traffic. Vehicles, roadside shops, painted signs all over the place. It’s ugly, but it has some kind of rickety beauty in my eyes.

Hard to say if it’s just because it represents a lot of what India is to me, and I have a bond to this place because I lived here, or if there is also a more personal dimension in play: being a pretty controlled (controlling, ouch!) and organized person, maybe I find some fundamental excitement in this seemingly disorderly sprawling mass of life.

Pune at the Shindes 1.jpgPart of this chaos: Flickr is acting up, so I can’t upload the photos and video sequence I took for you from the rickshaw. They’ll be online later, when I manage.

In the meantime, keep an eye on my “India snapshots” album (photos I’m taking on the road with my iPhone and instagram) and on the growing collection of Pune photos taken with my proper camera (which I’m still learning to use, so forgive some technical clumsiness).

Lunchtime: Nisha’s Sweet Aloo [en]

[fr] Encore une recette indienne de Nisha.

Another recipe! I already have one of Nisha’s aloo recipes from my last or previous visit (aloo = potato) — I have it in my notes but haven’t published it here yet — here’s another, more saucy one, and somewhat sweet (not that sweet, though).

So, here we go:

  • in enough oil, add mustard and cumin seeds, curry leaves, and salt (the mustard seeds start popping when you put them in if the oil is hot enough, and the curry leaves will fizz — give them a few seconds before continuing)
  • chopped onion: add and let it soften
  • then, add red chili powder (quite a bit — Nisha added a teaspoon and a half for two smallish potatoes… a good handful when chopped up), garlic/ginger paste (Nisha liked my idea of freezing it in an ice-cube tray), coriander powder, and goda masala
  • add in the potatoes, a tomato, enough water, and cook
  • after a while add in some jaggery or sugar

Goda masala, which I’m discovering for good today, is a typically Maharashtrian spice mixture. There are of course multiple variations if you want to make your own (see one, two, three for starters). I’m going to buy some to bring back (hear that, Raph?)

Here’s the dish, somewhere in the middle of the cooking process:


And jaggery, if you’d never seen it.

Weird sweet thing Nisha doesn't know the name of

Bon appétit!

Breakfast of the Day: Nisha’s Upma [en]

[fr] Recette de l'upma de Nisha (petit-déjeûner indien).

I promised myself I would steal all of Nisha’s recipes during this trip. Here’s the first one: her upma. This is what it looks like:

Nisha's upma for breakfast

And here’s how she made it:

  • heat enough oil in a karahi (maybe I should get one? I wonder if it would play nice with my electric stove)
  • throw in mustard seeds, cumin seeds (half a spoon or a spoon each), curry leaves (give those 15 seconds before continuing), a spoonful of urad (urid) daal (you can replace the daal with whole peanuts) — let the daal go brown
  • add a green chili broken in half, onion, salt, and let the onion soften for a bit
  • add two small cups of water, chopped coriander leaves, a little sugar, and bring to a boil
  • add rava (roast it when you buy it before storing it in an air-tight container), turn the heat off, stir well, and let it sit for a few minutes
  • remove chili and fluff it up before serving

You’ll have to figure out the exact quantities through trial and error 🙂


I'm in Pune, India [en]

[fr] Ça y est, je suis à Pune! Plus de nouvelles plus tard, quand j'aurai dormi ma première vraie nuit ici (la nuit entre l'avion et la voiture roulant comme folle de Mumbai à Pune, ça compte pas). En attendant, lisez L'Inde, dix ans après...

I made it. After all these years of not managing to come back to India, here I am. The blood of a dozen mosquitoes on my hands, a bottle of Bisleri by my side, stomach full of delicious home-cooked food by my friend Nisha.

Travel went smoothly, aside the hour of waiting for our luggage at Mumbai (but these things happen). Mumbai airport is unrecognizable and so, so much nicer. A lot has changed in 7 (or 10) years.

I have a few photos already, and things to say (India is has always been about taking the time to do things, for me — and I will). But’s 11pm local time and I’m really tired. This is a good thing, because it means I’ll sleep and get over the jetlag quickly.

Keep an eye on Twitter, and Flickr.

L’Inde, dix ans après… [fr]

[en] As the editor for's travel blog, I contribute there regularly. I have cross-posted some of my more personal articles here for safe-keeping.

Cet article a été initialement publié sur le blog de voyage (voir l’original).

Bon, j’exagère un peu: si ça fait dix ans depuis l’époque où j’ai vécu un Inde une année, ça ne fait cependant que sept ans depuis ma dernière visite.

Mais quels sept ans!

Complètement à chaud, des constats en vrac:

  • je n’ai mis dans ma valise ni guide de voyage, ni carte, ni dictionnaire Hindi: j’ai tout installé comme application iPhone ou sauvegardé dansEvernote
  • dans Evernote également, des photos de mon passeport, de mon carnet de vaccination, et de tout autre document de voyage précieux
  • pas de stress pour mettre la main sur une copie des tarifs des rickshaws! Un calculateur sous forme d’application iPhone existepour la ville de Pune, et probablement pour d’autres… (tuyau: cherchez le nom de votre ville de destination dans l’iTunes store)
  • une fois encore, j’ai fait le voyage Mumbai-Pune en taxi collectif organisé par un ami sur place (KK Travels) — sans un accroc, du gaillard endormi sur sa pancarte à la sortie de l’aéroport au dépôt à domicile, en passant par l’escorte privée jusqu’à la voiture et le changement de véhicule en cours de route (échange de passager, on rationalise les trajets de dépôt des voyageurs)
  • et puis tiens, venant de chercher le lien ci-dessus: tout est sur internet à présent (je vous avais déjà dit pour le train)
  • la traversée des bidonvilles de Mumbai par la grande route sent toujours aussi mauvais
  • il y a toujours plein de monde (à pied et en véhicule) dans les rues à 4h du mat’, et il faut toujours avoir le coeur bien accroché face au style de conduite indien

Bombay airport arrival has greatly improved in 10 years!

  • l’aéroport de Mumbai est méconnaissable: complètement refait, et aussi nettement plus civilisé (personne n’a tenté de se jeter sur mes bagages, ni de me proposer un hôtel ou un taxi que je n’avais pas demandé)
  • la ville a gagné en voitures et en magasins (et je n’ai encore pas revu la ville pour de bon, juste une petite expédition pour acheter de l’eau et deux-trois indispensables comme les anti-moustiques à mettre dans la prise)
  • le « beau supermarché » d’aujourd’hui est environ 5 fois plus gros et mieux fourni que celui d’il y a dix ans; on y trouve des pâtes Agnesi, comme à la Migros
  • la campus dans lequel je loge baigne dans le wifi; tout le monde a un téléphone mobile (c’était déjà quasi le cas il y a 7 ans, mais là c’est indéniable)
  • j’ai pris dans mes bagages mon ordinateur portable et mon nouvel iPhone, en plus de l’appareil photo de mes rêves; que de technologie, direz-vous — oui, mais un de mes plaisirs en voyage est de pouvoir partager ce que je vis (un téléphone avec bon appareil photo c’est d’un pratique, pour ça)
  • parlant de téléphone: mon opérateur (Orange) vend des paquets de données à l’étranger prépayés (ça reste cher mais toujours moins que les 15.- CHF/Mb du tarif « normal ») — dans le même ordre d’idées, il y une option voyageurs (Travel) qui permet de faire des appels depuis l’Inde pour 2.- la minute au lieu de 4.80… (ouille); c’est les vacances, et mon téléphone n’est pas juste un outil professionnel, c’est un moyen clé pour communiquer avec mes proches
  • les bouteilles de Bisleri ont été relookées
  • j’ai pris avec moi un peu moins de saris et de salwaar kameez, et plus de vêtements « occidentaux » (pantalons et haut) — la mode évolue et s’occidentalise de plus en plus (j’ai vu des choses durant ces premières 12 heures que je n’aurais jamais pu voir ici il y a dix ans).

Je suis vraiment heureuse d’être de retour. Les odeurs, qui m’avaient relativement peu frappées lors de mon année ici, me prennent les narines et me renvoient dans le temps.

Indian Scrambled Eggs Improvisation (Potato, Tomato) [en]

So, just because it was yummy and if I don’t write it down I’ll forget how I did it (and because some of you are jealous of my Indian cooking skillz), here’s what I threw together for lunch. (Words in bold will give you the list of ingredients.)

Indian Scrambled Eggs Improvisation 2

  • slice a medium-sized potato finely (I do it with the peeler)
  • chop some variety of onion in fine slices (I used one small yellow onion and one shallot that was lying around)
  • put a large amount of butter in a pan (+ some cooking oil so it doesn’t go brown), maximum heat (I never lowered the heat till the end)
  • add 1/4 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon of whole cumin (not black cumin, eek), and a healthy quantity of curry leaves (10-15 I guess — they freeze very well btw, best way to store them)
  • when all that has crackled for a bit, add potato and onion, salt generously, stir around (and keep on stirring while you continue doing what follows)
  • chop some garlic and a small green chili (freezes well too) rather finely
  • add that in the pan, and half a teaspoon of turmeric (keep stirring!!)
  • chop a tomato (I did one and a half) into rather small pieces
  • when the onions start looking tender and the potato slices start being cooked (shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes in total) add the tomato, and salt again
  • break 4 eggs in a basin (or however many or few you wish), salt, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala (mine contains black pepper, cinnamon, black cardamom, and cloves) add chopped coriander leaves (they also freeze well), and beat that all up (don’t forget to keep an eye on the pan, you don’t want anything to burn)
  • by now the mix in the pan should be reasonably dry (if it’s swimming in tomato juice you’re in trouble), so add the eggs, and keep on stirring gently so the eggs start looking like scrambled eggs with lots of nice indian stuff inside
  • when the mixture seems dry enough and edible to you, you’re done!

I’d normally eat this with naan or a chapati or lebanese bread (sometimes easier to get by here), but as I had none available I just used a spoon.

Indian Scrambled Eggs Improvisation 3

Bon appétit!

India [en]

I feel an itch to write about India. All these classes on Indian culture at university are bringing me back there.

There are so many things I have to say.

For a start, here is what I have been telling people these last three (heavens!) months when they ask me the usual questions.

So, how was the trip? Tell me about it!

I must admit I’m sick of hearing this question. And as university has just started, I’m again meeting a whole bunch of people I haven’t seen in over a year and who are impatient for news.

The trip was overall a very positive experience but the first three months were really hard… >>>

Would you say India is “behind” the West?

As much as I would like to be able to say that cultures are not to be hierarchically classified, and that they are all equal, but different, my experience of India has somewhat disturbed this position. Let me explain… >>>

So, How Was the Trip? Tell Me About it! [en]

I must admit I’m sick of hearing this question. And as university has just started, I’m again meeting a whole bunch of people I haven’t seen in over a year and who are impatient for news.

The trip was overall a very positive experience. I would encourage anybody who has an occasion to have a similar life-experience to simply go for it.

I grew up a lot (but of course, one always grows up during a year) and feel that I belong to adult-land now.

The first three months were really hard, looking back. My solitary arrival, sickness the second day, a landlady I didn’t get on with and who gently kicked me out, illness and money problems in Delhi – all that was no fun.

The worst at that time was solitude. I was suffering from culture shock, slightly depressed, didn’t know whom to trust, and I had the feeling that try as they might, the people I confided in couldn’t truly relate to what I was going through. That was normal, of course – just as we have trouble imagining what it is for an Indian to land in our culture.

I wrote a lot during that time: my logbook, and “culture shock” notes – which I can’t really find courage to go through and sort out, as they send me back to deeply into those “hard times”.

Meeting Nicola in Delhi and the subsequent weeks in Rishikesh did me a lot of good. I had people to talk to, and got a chance to see how much I had already adapted to this strange culture. Going back to Pune was not too hard, as Mithun‘s family had kindly accepted to put up with me until I found a flat.

The third and last “part” of my journey is the longest – after having met Aleika and settling down in her big and protected home.

When I am asked what I did “over there”, I often answer (amongst others) “babysitting”. People often laugh a little.

It was much more than that, of course. Not everybody gets the chance of living with a baby before having their own. And I must say Somak and Aleika really let me take an important place in Akirno‘s life – I’m very grateful to them about that. It really contributed to making my Indian adventure such a great life experience.