This is Maya, who I sat next to every day for about 3 years. Or to be more precise, nearly every day I worked in the London office, we sat next to each other.
We had been invited to Paul’s wedding (another work colleague) and Maya kindly invited me to stay overnight with her as she lived much closer to the wedding venue than I did.Paul and Michelle had their reception at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Gerrards Cross and we were invited to the evening reception.Here we are with the happy groom. It was a large and spectacular reception and I really enjoyed being part of Paul’s special day, catching up with Maya and meeting some of Paul’s friends and family. I am still not quite used to the fact that I won’t be seeing them in the office on Monday!As anyone who spends much time with me knows, I am very interested in food and I love trying new things. I really enjoy Indian food. I was rather spoiled by Maya who cooked samosas and a flattened rice and potato dish for me when I arrived at hers on Friday. Today, she took me to a huge ‘Cash and Carry’ store she goes to which sells all the Indian food you would need. I was limited with what I could buy as I had to go home by train but I enjoyed looking anyway and managed a few purchases.I have never even heard of most of these vegetables.I would like to try them.I know what these are !I bought a karela.Maya has told me to slice it and steam it and either eat it as is or add to curries. Apparently it’s very bitter but good for you. Her Dad eats it to help control his diabetes and he drinks the water after the karela has been steamed too. I will let you know how I get on with it.The scale of the shop and the size of the packets on sale was incredible. This is different brands of jaggery ( a sweetener).Various savoury snacks, such as Bombay Mix and crispy bites made from lentil flour.Flours made from various pulses.This is the flaked rice Maya cooked for me on Friday.HUGE bags of spices.Lots of rice.We went to another shop, Shayona, and bought some pickles. Next stop was a temple. I have said to Maya and some of my other Indian colleagues that I really wanted to visit a temple and since I went to Colourfast I have been even more interested. So Maya took me to Bhaktivedanta Manor – Hare Krishna Temple.
I immediately noticed how many beautiful flowers were growing everywhere.This is the nursery school.This is inside the temple. The temple is within a huge manor house where many people live and work.The manor house was donated by George Harrison who became very interested in Krishna Consciousness in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as he searched for peace of mind and happiness. He was heavily influenced by visits to India in the late 1960’s.
Bhaktivedanta Manor is the largest UK centre of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness . It is a theological college that teaches the authentic Vedic scriptures and is a place of pilgrimage where all are welcome.There was a wedding in the grounds of the house; these are little baskets filled with rose petals.On the way out we wandered through the garden.Despite the grey skies and rain showers I really enjoyed being in this peaceful garden.Trickling water is a very soothing sound.
The temple is vegetarian rather than vegan and they look after a herd of cows which they milk. They place milk before the Gods in the temple and make dairy products. Hindus respect and worship cows; they do not kill them for meat but do consume the milk – I am not sure what they do with the calves that should be drinking the milk.There are signs up telling you to not bring any meat (or alcohol or drugs) to the temple and lots of information.
I was very interested in the temple and would like to learn more about the courses and retreats they hold here.
Next stop was a restaurant for lunch; Maya took me to the Everest Lounge on Peel Road, HA3 7QU. The food was Punjabi and Gujurati and I ate some things I have never had before.
This photo does not do this incredible food justice. The large round pieces are Batata Vada which are potato fritters. They are crispy on the outside and inside is spiced mashed potato and they were lovely.
The flatter pieces are Crispy Bhajiya which are slices of potato, covered in a gram flour batter and fried. I ate these dipped in to a spiced tomato and chilli sauce.The little brown balls are Manchurian vegetables and they were incredible. Made from finely chopped cauliflower, carrots, peppers and maybe other vegetables, they are served in a sauce that tastes a bit sweet and similar to the Chinese flavours of spare ribs. But vegan! I also had some vegetable rice and chana masala.After a very enjoyable trip to Harrow, it was time to head home. Thank you Paul for inviting us to share your special day and thank you Maya for your hospitality and for the fascinating day, having a little taste of your India. I really enjoyed it.Back at home I didn’t need much for dinner but with a hungry boy I needed to make something. A recipe for gram flour pancakes and vegetables popped up on my Facebook page so I had a go at making my own. I mixed together some gram flour with ground cumin, turmeric and salt.I finely chopped some coriander, a green chilli I bought earlier today, red pepper, broccoli and tomato. I only used a small amount of the vegetables above.I added water to the spiced flour mixture to make a runny batter and then added the vegetables and fried them in a tiny amount of oil.My pan is rather large which made flipping a large pancake difficult and the pancake fell apart so it doesn’t look very pretty but it tasted lovely. So did the cold beer!This was tasty and filling and I think it would make a good breakfast as it is quite similar to an omelette.I added some of the pickle I had bought earlier which went with it very well.So there we are, a little taste of India. What an interesting and enjoyable day I had.