A Culinary Tour through India: In the Streets or from the Comfort of Home

India is a foodie’s dream, with cuisine as diverse as the 1.2 billion people that live there. According to Nan Lyons, veteran food journalist and author of “Around the World in Eighty Meals,” winter is the best time of year to visit India.
"Around the World in Eighty Meals" by Nan Lyons
"Around the World in Eighty Meals" by Nan Lyons
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Oct. 15, 2012 - PRLog -- India is a foodie’s dream, with cuisine as diverse as the 1.2 billion people that span the 1,800+ horizontal miles of the country from east to west. According to Nan Lyons, veteran food journalist and author of Around the World in Eighty Meals,(http://redrockpress.com/delicious.html#aroundTheWorld) winter is the best time of year to visit India. The heat is abated, and the cities are more manageable when it’s not 110 degrees. But the Marigold hotel is not the only interesting place to stay, or eat.

The former spice capital of the world, India has a rich culinary history that has given birth to an exciting food culture, from amazing dishes straight from the carts on the streets to exclusive restaurants in some of the finest hotels on the planet, like Masala Kraft, Indigo, Trishna, and Khyber in Mumbai and Varq, Karim’s, Chor Bizarre, and Aqua in Delhi.

If flavors of the subcontinent interest you, you can prepare for your trip and learn all about the hottest spots to eat with Around the World in Eighty Meals, a delicious journey around the planet (with extended detours in Delhi and Mumbai) that follows the voyage of Phineas Fogg from the great Jules Verne classic, Around the World in Eighty Days.

Even if you can’t make it to India this winter, you can submerge yourself in the sights, smells, and tastes of the country with the amazing descriptions provided by Lyons. You can even make some of the recipes from world-famous eateries yourself, like Varqi Crab from the Taj Mahal Hotel’s Varq (included below).

And if Indian cuisine is not your cup of tea, you can join Nan at another stage in her journey to savor the most wondrous meals and sights of her illustrious career as a food and travel writer, including London, Paris, Rome, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, or one of the other cities she visits.

Right now, you can pick up Around the World in Eighty Meals in time for the holidays at a special 35% discount for just $19.99. For more information or pictures, or to order, contact Red Rock Press by phone at 212-362-8304, by fax at 212-362-6216, or by email at Daniel@RedRockPress.com.


Varqi Crab

This luxuriously-flavored recipe has several stages of preparation. The ingredients for each stage, as listed here, can be doubled to make four appetizers.

Phyllo Squares
• 1 sheet phyllo pastry
• 2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, clarified (see NOTE) or ghee
• ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
• ½ teaspoon carom seeds (optional)

Tandoori Shellfish Marinade
• 2 prawns or large shrimp or crayfish, shell removed and deveined, tail on
• ½ cup whole milk plain yoghurt
• ½ cup lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• ½ teaspoon garlic powder
• ½ teaspoon red chili powder
• ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
• ¼ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

Crab Filling
• 5 ounces crabmeat
• 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• ⅓ cup minced onion
• 2 ½ teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
• 1 tablespoon coconut milk
• ½ teaspoon lime juice
• 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Curry Mixture for Crab Filling
• ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
• ½ teaspoon yellow chili powder
• ¾ teaspoon curry powder
• ½ teaspoon garam masala
• ½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
• Salt to taste

• 1 chive bud or whole chive
• 1 sprig Cilantro

Make the Phyllo Squares

Preheat the oven to 255˚ F.

Combine the clarified butter or ghee, turmeric, optional carom seed in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until combined for 1 to 2 minutes. Using a pastry brush, apply the butter mixture to the phyllo pastry. Using a ruler and sharp knife, cut into 3-inch squares. Put the squares on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until crisp.

Marinate the prawns or shrimp or crayfish.

In a small to medium bowl combine the shellfish with the yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic powder, chili powder, ginger and turmeric. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

Make the crab filling.

Thaw the crabmeat if frozen. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic, onion and ginger. Sauté until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Make the curry filling and combine with the crab.

Combine all the curry mixture ingredients into a small bowl.

Add 1 teaspoon of curry mixture to the garlic, onion and ginger and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Add the coconut milk and stir until well-blended and most of the moisture has evaporated.

Add the crabmeat and lime juice and heat through. Remove from heat and reserve.

Cook the marinated prawns or shrimp or crayfish

Place small sauté pan over high heat. Add oil and sauté 3 to 5 minutes depending on size of shellfish. Remove the shellfish from the pan and reserve for assembly.


Place 1 3-inch phyllo square on a small plate. Top with 1 heaping tablespoon of crab mixture, place another phyllo square on top and another tablespoon of crab mixture on the square.

Repeat until you have three layers.

Take 1 shell fish and place it on the top phyllo layer. Decorate with chive and cilantro. Repeat for the next portion.

This recipe, graciously provided by Varq, was adapted for the home cook by Cooking by the Book in New York, NY.

NOTE: To clarify butter, place it in a medium saucepan over low heat. Allow the butter to melt and then continue cooking until the foam disappears from the top and a light brown sediment forms on the bottom of the pan. When cool, the melted butter will be a clear, golden yellow.
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