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   Some of the best food I have eaten.... (October 22, 1985)

Some of the best food I have eaten has been outside Bombay. Taking the ferry from Ernakulam, sitting among card players newspaper-readers, then getting out at the other side, Mattancherry, walking into the first restaurant, eating a prawn curry, with lots of grated coconut, cooked in mud pots, and rice. And drinking rice water, which is provided free and which quenches the thirst, serves as soup and helps digestion.

It was always told that the South is vegetarian, that it would be difficult to find a restaurant which serves meat. But the position is quite different. From Tirupati onwards through Madras, in the little dining room attached to Egmore station through Kanchipuram, Tiruchirapalli, Chidambaram, Madurai, tiruchendur, down in Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari, there is enough meat for the non vegetarian.

The waiters come with a large tray, laden with little bowls filled with meat and gravy. You ask for one, they give you. Then they come again with another tray filled with another tray, filled with little bowls of hard boiled eggs.

Bangalore is different. It is the real home of dossas and idlis. There are these tiffin rooms that you go and queue up early in the morning. They make their own ghee, fry jundreds of dossas that are both crisp and melting. The proprietor then arrives, takes you on a tour of his modern and well equipped washrooms for washing the dishes.

On the other hand, the North is not all meat. Most of the dhabas along the Grand Trunk Road serve only dal and roti. But both are freshly made by strong rustic hands and after a long drive, are most satisfying.

Agra, besides the Taj and the fort, is a good centre for food. In the old town next to the Agra Fort Station. There are Muslim restaurants which serve the most tender of lamb. And in the contonmet, there is a Kwality Restaurant (at least it was there) which is the best Kwality of them all. The tourists from Delhi, on a day's outing of Agra by the Taj Express are taken to Kwality in between visits to Fatehpur Sikri and the Taj.

And Calcutta is a gourmet's delight. The Chinese restaurants (ethnic?) there cost as little as an Udipi restaurant in Bombay and the food is more authentic.

And if you go farther North, to Darjeeling, and go to the right places, there is Tibetan restaurant, appropriately named Lhasa, which sells a large bowl of Chinese soup for a rupee.

You sit in a wooden kiosk and the menu is brought down from the wall, where it is framed and kept. And when they charge you a rupee for a large bowl of soup you know they are cheating you. But you can afford to be cheated.

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