Do you want delicious homecooked food that is also healthy? Do you also want to support a fellow English Speaking Mum? Or maybe you are looking for authentic Indian cuisine with ingredients brought all the way from the land of Ganesh?
I was lucky enough to try a meal a wee while ago and in all honesty, it was so good that I just have to blog about it! Sujithra hails from Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu state), has lived in Chile for four years and has two children. She began this venture in order to bring the people of Santiago a taste of real Indian cooking (which we all know has been a bit lacking here!).
Sujithra brings ingredients, such as lentils and spices, to Chile and prepares her food in the exact same way she would at home. She soaks, grinds in a special grinder and ferments her dishes in order to capture the elusivity of Indian cooking that all of us miss when we leave a visit to her country. The process is so elaborate that it takes Sujithra extensive planning – particularly the fermentation – as the temperature of the weather directly affects the result. She is also particularly health conscious and prefers not to use oil or artifical colours in her cooking. The Masala Dosa, for example, is a delicious and filling tortilla-type food that Sujithra prepares by soaking lentils and rice overnight before allowing the paste to ferment naturally for 8 hours. This allows for the resulting batter to be filled with nutrients and the combination of rice with lentils allows for easier digestion in the body (which is a huge component of Ayurvedic thought). In fact, when you eat one of the meals, the order in which you eat it is highly important to ensure the full benefit of the nutrients are absorbed and then digested easily.
I think what I appreciate the most about Sujithra’s venture is that this is food from Southern India. Few people are aware of the difference in cooking across India, given that most of the Indian restaurants outside of India have a Punjabi influence and serve up the same sauce/meat/rice/naan combination. For the newbies, here are a few facts:
South Indian food generally uses more rice-based items as opposed to wheat because rice flourishes in the tropical and semi-tropical south.
Due to this rice content, food tends to absorb sauces so dishes have generally less thick sauce
Dishes made from rice and lentils include idlis, dosas, and uttapams.
Coconut is often added, for example to make chutney, and is a revered staple.
Dishes contain more seafood
Spices are generally roasted and freshly ground before cooking. They tend not to use the masala mix so many of us know, which is often prepared in advance.
Dishes tend to be more spicy than northern staples!
South India is a mixture of mountains and hilly slopes, tropical beaches and calm backwaters. This region is well known for growing spices, particularly cloves, black pepper, and cardamom.
Favourite Indian restaurant in Santiago: Saffron in Vitacura
Favourite thing to do in Santiago: Visit the Cajon del Maipo
You can order the weekly menu via the South Indian Flavours Facebook page. The menu changes each week but Sujithra can also made to order. The process starts a few days ahead of the weekend (it’s long!) and orders can be picked up from Sujithra’s place in Las Condes. Individual dishes and combination plates as well as South Indian sweets can be ordered.
I love taking photos, and anyone who is friends with me on Facebook or Instagram will know that! I really enjoy looking back because, as the years pass, it can be hard to remember the million and one sights and emotions that are experienced when you travel. Here are my favorite travel shots I have taken – may they awaken the travel lust within you!
Visit Pardeshi Tadka on Avenida Holanda 067 inside the little Galeria. The 0 in the address is actually super important (learnt this the hard way!) because it means it’s on the other side of Av. Providencia, closer to Costanera Centre.
Pardeshi is not five star dining. It’s quick, cheap food served on a few tables inside a small shopping arcade – BUT if you know your Indian food and are searching for something that is authentic to what they really cook in India, then you won’t be disappointed.
There aren’t many tables and they were all full when we visited yesterday lunchtime, but we were quickly accomodated. I ordered the vegetarian lunch which came with rice, salad, drink and parathas, for 4.400 pesos. The moment it was placed in front of me my eyes watered. I could actually see the cumin seeds on the potatoes, the color was fantastic and the smell alone transported me back to my stay in India in 2009. Each bite brought back memories: on the train hurtling through the countryside, squished amongst hundreds of others eating street food in the outskirts of Mumbai, eating on the floor in rural Gujarat with family while listening to Bollywood songs. It was absolutely delicious – and cooked without a trace of packaged sauce. Luis ate a chicken dish in a red sauce that had a bit of heat; meat mains I think are around 5.400 pesos. It was so good even Emilio gobbled his up!
Service was excellent. The chef came out to speak with us and the waiter was very friendly, efficient and even spoke English when he heard me talking. There was none of this “bad customer service” that you resignedly come to expect in Santiago – quite the opposite. We even received chai tea which came in little styrofoam cups exactly the same as in India! I love chai and haven’t been able to replicate the flavour since, and so a sip of this brought out a few tears. Maybe all this sounds like an extreme reaction – I’m not Indian after all – but I spent half a year in that beautiful country and it seems like a world ago, especially now that my life has since changed so much . Nothing prepares you for a visit to India, but nothing prepares you for when you leave either. Your never quite the same once you’ve experienced having all five senses truly working. There is just no comparison with culture shock – Chile is so tame in comparison!!
This is not a sponsored post, either. I’m raving because I’m genuinely impressed. This is a must-visit for foodies!