India

My alimentary tract has come alive with the smells, sights and sounds of Delhi

How much of my alimentary tract?

All my alimentary tract! I’ve just returned from eight nights away from Canberra, five of which were spent in Delhi, India. I was participating in a World Health Organization meeting on poliovirus containment.

One of the highlights, apart from the meeting, was the food. Every meal was filled with flavourful spices from all parts of India.

Twitter embed for alimentary tract alive tweet

Facebook embed for alimentary tract alive tweet

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I think I’ve managed to work out how to use e-mail lists for sending post notifications and newsletters. I’d love it if you would sign up using the ‘form’ in the sidebar (if you’re using a laptop or desktop) or at the bottom of the post (if you’re using a mobile device).

Breakfasts

I ate breakfasts in the hotel and each morning I had an omelette with bacon and most days spicy baked beans. I also added a few Indian treats including the different types of bread.  

Cheese omelet with baked beans and bacon breakfast at The Imperial alimentary tract Gary Lum
Cheese omelette with baked beans and bacon breakfast at The Imperial
Tuesday breakfast at The Imperial Hotel. A little more adventurous with some local bread. alimentary tract Gary Lum
Tuesday breakfast at The Imperial Hotel. A little more adventurous with some local bread.
Is it wrong to have lovely spicy baked beans with my poori along with a cheese omelet and bacon? alimentary tract Gary Lum
Is it wrong to have lovely spicy baked beans with my poori along with a cheese omelette and bacon?
The potato dumpling went well with the spicy baked beans as well as the cheesy omelet and bacon alimentary tract Gary Lum
The potato dumpling went well with the spicy baked beans as well as the cheesy omelette and bacon
Croissant and doughnut alimentary tract Gary Lum
Croissant and doughnut
TGIF my last breakfast. Aloo Bhaji on paratha meets my spicy baked beans, cheese and chilli 🌶 omelette with bacon alimentary tract Gary Lum
TGIF my last breakfast. Aloo Bhaji on paratha meets my spicy baked beans, cheese and chilli 🌶 omelette with bacon

Lunches

Each day I tried something different and yet each day there were elements that were the same, like pappadums. The main regions with distinctive flavours are the north, south and east.  

Northern Indian food alimentary tract Gary Lum
Northern Indian food
Eastern Indian curry lunch alimentary tract Gary Lum
Eastern Indian curry lunch
Southern Indian lunch Imperial Hotel alimentary tract Gary Lum
Southern Indian lunch Imperial Hotel
French chicken cassoulet and crepe Florentine with mutton masala is such a good flavour combination alimentary tract Gary Lum
French chicken cassoulet and crepe Florentine with mutton masala is such a good flavour combination
Chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce alimentary tract Gary Lum
Chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce
Friday lunch Imperial Hotel, chicken, cauliflower, lamb and paratha alimentary tract Gary Lum
Friday lunch Imperial Hotel, chicken, cauliflower, lamb and paratha

Dinners

Monday night was a buffet with a northern touch.

Northern Indian dinner at The Imperial Hotel | The big green balls were a bit funky, everything else was fantastic. alimentary tract Gary Lum
Northern Indian dinner at The Imperial Hotel | The big green balls were a bit funky, everything else was fantastic.

Tuesday night I had a Thai duck curry.

Kaeng Phed Ped Yang | Roasted duck cooked in Thai red curry garnished with pineapple and rambutan | Spice Route Restaurant alimentary tract Gary Lum
Kaeng Phed Ped Yang | Roasted duck cooked in Thai red curry garnished with pineapple and rambutan | Spice Route Restaurant

On Wednesday night, I went out with some WHO colleagues and we went to Barbecue Nation. It was a barbeque pit with hot coals placed in the middle of the table with spicy meat on metal skewers cooked as you want it.

Barbecue Nation, Delhi. Prawns, Chicken and Fish. alimentary tract Gary Lum
Barbeque Nation, Delhi. Prawns, Chicken and Fish.

Thursday night was my last night staying at the Imperial Hotel, and I ate at Daniell’s Tavern. I enjoyed Burra memsahib’s favourite pepper mutton from Coorg. It was mutton tossed in spicy marsala with lots and lots of black pepper corns. 

My mouth is so happy with Burra memsahib's favourite pepper mutton from Coorg. Mutton tossed in spicy marsala. Sorry about poor light. alimentary tract Gary Lum
My mouth is so happy with Burra memsahib’s favourite pepper mutton from Coorg. Mutton tossed in spicy marsala. Sorry about poor light.
Garlic naan alimentary tract Gary Lum
Garlic naan

Would I return?

Sure, if I need to return to work there, of course, I would. Would I go to Delhi for a holiday? I wouldn’t in winter, maybe summer. I’d probably want to explore the other regions.

My reason for not returning in winter is not so much the cold, it wasn’t. It was the very low humidity. My skin became a mess. I was forever applying moisturiser and it didn’t feel like anything would help. It was very uncomfortable.

Final thoughts on eating in Delhi

I titled this post “My alimentary tract has come alive with the smells, sights and sounds of Delhi”. Every mouthful of food was like having a party in my mouth. Some meals were spicier than others. The food from the south seemed to be hotter and more intense. The food from the east seemed to be milder. Each meal though was very nice. I didn’t go much for the desserts, I was eating so much rice, I don’t think I needed any more carbohydrates.

The good news is I didn’t feel unwell at all and there were no episodes of gastroenteritis. That said, there was an awful lot of gurgling noises from my bowels. Some nights it was almost musical.

The food is also very colourful. It was like art on a plate or in a bowl. The only meal I had that didn’t look pretty was my favourite meal, the pepper mutton. Best meal but nothing to look at.

In terms of smells, each dish had amazing aromas, and given the title of this blog post, the fragrant aromas passed completely through my alimentary tract. I suppose I shouldn’t write anything more about that.

Another surprising thing!

Apart from my iPhone, I didn’t bring a camera. You can tell the images are not as sharp. My iPhone photography suffers from motion blur, especially on aeroplanes. 

Parting words

I regularly post photographs of food to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Please feel free to connect with me on any social media platform.
I also have a podcast. It’s not food related but each show is short and it’s named Medical Fun Facts. You can find it in the iTunes podcast store as well as Stitcher. A show drops every Monday and Tuesday. It has a little cynicism, a little scepticism and occasionally some sarcasm.

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Travelling from Canberra to Delhi

Why am I going to Delhi?

I’m currently travelling to Delhi for work. Poliovirus containment is a part of what I do at work. The World Health Organization’s global effort to eradicate polio (the disease, as opposed to containing poliovirus, the microorganism that causes polio) also includes poliovirus containment. The distinction is important, it’s important to eradicate the disease and contain the ætiological agent.

Australia has been polio-free for decades and we’re well advanced in poliovirus containment.


Please do me a favour

I think I’ve managed to work out how to use e-mail lists for sending post notifications and newsletters. I’d love it if you would sign up using the ‘form’ in the sidebar (if you’re using a laptop or desktop) or at the bottom of the post (if you’re using a mobile device).


What preparation is needed?

Spending time in Delhi had me thinking about potential travel-related health problems I might encounter. In addition, if you visit the smart traveller site hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, you’ll see there are some important statements about India.

It’s important to speak with a travel doctor, even for work-related travel. That’s what I did. January and February are low-risk times in terms of mosquito-borne infections, especially if I’m mainly going to be in a building with other health professionals. It’s winter so I’ll be in long sleeves and trousers the whole time.

Eating street food isn’t on the agenda because I won’t have an opportunity. I arrived late the night before the meeting and the schedule is packed for all the days I’m in Delhi.

Eating cooked hotel food is part of my staying healthy plan. I have a colleague who is Indian and she returns to the northern parts regularly to visit family and she told me to eat deep fried food. Exactly the opposite of the nutritional advice she shares with me each Friday at the hospital.

One of the problems that India is experiencing is widespread antimicrobial resistance. So much so, that the usual antimicrobials for diseases like typhoid fever are no longer useful.

Canberra to Sydney

I flew Qantas in a Dash 8. There was a snack. It was a little container of a savoury dip and biscuits along with a small piece of apple and coconut cake. I also drank a Bundaberg ginger beer.

Border control at Sydney International Airport

Fortunately, there weren’t a lot of people trying to cross over into the secure zone. For some reason, there was an apparent randomness to queue allocation and while some people went through unhindered after the electronic assessment I was directed to speak with an Australian Border Force officer. He was very friendly and processed my paperwork very quickly.

One poor Englishman though had to say goodbye to his pocket knife. He was remonstrating with security about how other countries let him travel with it but this was to no avail to the private security contractors at Sydney International Airport. 

Dinner

Dinner at the airport was good. I had a caramelised lamb shoulder and chickpeas and then a small deconstructed pavlova.

 

Caramelised lamb shoulder with chickpeas parsley salad and garlic yogurt | Qantas First Class Lounge Delhi Gary Lum
Caramelised lamb shoulder with chickpeas parsley salad and garlic yoghurt | Qantas First Class Lounge [Click for a better view]
Pavlova with cherry nectarines and raspberry | Sydney Airport Qantas First Class Lounge Delhi Gary Lum
Pavlova with cherry nectarines and raspberry | Sydney Airport Qantas First Class Lounge [click for a better view]

Sydney to Kuala Lumpur

I flew Malaysia Airlines on MH140. The flight left on time and soon after take-off, we enjoyed some Malaysian satay, some smoked salmon and then a piece of beef. I also had a piece of cheesecake.

MH140 Malaysian Satay Delhi Gary Lum
MH140 Malaysian Satay

MH140 Smoked salmon entree Delhi Gary Lum
MH140 Smoked salmon entree [click for a better view]
MH140 Beef main course Delhi Gary Lum
MH140 Beef main course [click for a better view]
MH140 Cheesecake dessert Delhi Gary Lum
MH140 Cheesecake dessert [Click for a better view]
The flight was turbulent most of the way and it got worse over the Top End and as we approached Malaysia. I really didn’t sleep. I deliberately didn’t try to stimulate myself with my iPad or iPhone. I’d downloaded a heap of podcasts and I had a couple of books but I basically tried to keep my eyes closed.

The flight was turbulent enough that breakfast wasn’t served. The flight landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at about 3.40 am. It was dark but warm (26 °C).

Kuala Lumpur for ten hours

My next flight, MH190 didn’t leave KUL until 4 pm in the afternoon I spent a pleasant day in the airport reading work papers and walking around. Free Wi-Fi is marvellous. I’m so grateful I brought an ‘English’ power adapter as well as the Type C adaptor for India.

Kuala Lumpur to Delhi

MH190 left Kuala Lumpur on time and the flight arrive in Delhi a little early. It was a comfortable flight with a little turbulence on approach to Delhi.

Me on board MH190 Delhi Gary Lum
Me on board MH190

Again, the food started with some satay followed by a small salad and then a round of beef with vegetables. The beef was nice. Not very tender, but it had a nice flavour.

Malaysia Airlines MH190 satay Delhi Gary Lum
Malaysia Airlines MH190 satay [click for a better view]
Malaysia Airlines MH190 Grouper and vegetables Delhi Gary Lum
Malaysia Airlines MH190 Grouper and vegetables [click for a better view]

First impressions of Delhi

Getting off the aeroplane was trouble-free. I’d packed three small bags and had no check in luggage so I didn’t have to wait at a carousel hoping that my bags hadn’t got lost. Delhi airport immigration area has a specific line for diplomats and official passport holders. I got straight in and out in less than one minute. My best experience ever.

As I moved through I could see long lines of people wanting to buy rupee. I’d been told I could get by with my personal credit card so I elected not to wait in line.

WHO takes personal security very seriously so whenever a delegate lands there is someone to meet them and arrange transport to the hotel. This was no different and it worked well.

India celebrated republic day on 26 January, the same date as Australia day. As I drove past all the government buildings they were lit up beautifully in white light bulbs.

The Imperial Hotel

The meeting is at the Imperial Hotel in the middle of New Delhi. It’s an older building, built in the early 1900s in an Art Deco style. It’s very comfortable.

Room 265 The Imperial. After a long flight a bed is good. Delhi Gary Lum
Room 265 The Imperial. After a long flight a bed is good. [click for a better view]
The food in the hotel restaurants has been very nice. You’ll see examples in my social media feeds.

I’ll catch you later.

Parting words

I regularly post photographs of food to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Please feel free to connect with me on any social media platform.
I also have a podcast. It’s not food related but each show is short and it’s named Medical Fun Facts. You can find it in the iTunes podcast store as well as Stitcher. A show drops every Monday and Tuesday. It has a little cynicism, a little scepticism and occasionally some sarcasm.