In Rajasthan, as in so many parts of India, variety makes the meal. Thalis rule, and the large silver plate will often have several little portions of stews made from legumes, vegetables, and grains; bread; a sweet treat; and occasionally a meat dish, such as mutton or chicken.
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If you read a lot of Indian novels, you'll know that people sometimes use "veg" and "nonveg" as shorthand for "tame" and "sexy," respectively. But as we ate our way across Mumbai, through Rajasthan, and into central India, we discovered that when it came to food, the opposite was true. The vegetarian fare we ate was so much better, so much fresher, and so much more interesting than the nonvegetarian offerings. Here are some highlights from a month of eating around India: chaat, pakoras, samosas, papad, and more.
Butter chicken, photograph from roboppy on Flickr It says something about how far we've come as a food nation when you feel like you have to apologize for eating chicken makhani. Butter chicken is so ubiquitous that it's kind of become the crab rangoon of Indian food, the difference being that, at least from what I’ve read, it's actually a real Punjabi dish and not some Americanized bastardization. Though, from what I’ve learned about food origins, the copious amounts of cream and butter in this dish suggest it is an American- or European-influenced invention. But then again, who cares? What’s important is when done right, it tastes good. Guilt aside, for eating like a relative dilettante, I've been getting my...