The above photo comes from one of my favourite teaching resources – Children Just Like Me (DK books). I purchased it last year (2018) from our local bookshop, Paperchain in Canberra. It’s also available from many public/school libraries so a great resource for parents and teachers.
There’s another child from India written about in this book, Vishnu, a ten year old boy from Rajasthan (North/West India)…I’ve included some information on this region (near Jaipur) in one of my last posts, but in the future I’ll do another that might be helpful for teachers and older children/teens.
We had lots of beautiful food in and around Delhi like Mehak describes. We really enjoy cooking Indian food and have a collection of books (I’ll list a couple at the end of post along with the usual recipes).
Like Mehak, while staying in and around Delhi we often had Thali…a typical “North Indian meal that consists of several small dishes. It usually includes dhal, rice, vegetable curry and bread.”
Pappadams (as can be seen in above photo) are a great one to teach older children to cook – either in the microwave or with a light spray of oil in a small frypan. Children aren’t always keen on heavy curries but most love satays (more often from Indonesia or Malaysia) but can have a taste of India they’d probably enjoy by adding the milder spices eg. Turmeric.
Dhal is a dish of spiced lentils often served with a popular Indian flat bread (our favourite is “Roti”)…sometimes used as a “wrap” in Australia. The bread in the photo above is a different type of bread as it puffs up – but is still very light like roti…I’ll note the name of it here soon as forgot to note it down on our travels.
We love roti (a light/flat bread) and sometimes make it ourselves, but more often get a bit lazy and buy our favourite brand from the supermarket. In most Australian supermarkets there are both Asian and Indian sections as well as separate shops (particularly in our cities) selling Asian, Indian or Middle Eastern spices and foods.
Roti is made from very basic ingredients – see recipe section at end of post...also includes other recipes eg. vegetarian dishes – many Indians of Hindu religion are vegetarian, particularly in Northern India…
Here’s a light vegetarian dish we had at a fine dining restaurant in Agra…
If children show an interest in learning more about Hinduism (widely practised on the Indian Sub-Continent and parts of South East Asia), there are numerous sites available that are child/teen friendly…I often find the information and images presented almost enough for us as well. Here’s one such image…
We did visit a Hindu site/statue in Mauritius 🇲🇺 (see blog post if interested) – even though Mauritius is an island closer to Africa, many Mauritians have Indian ancestry we learned. I’m not sure if their Hinduism is similar to that practised by those in North India…a question I’ll explore another day!
Also see note/photos below on the Lotus Temple in Delhi...their website says that everyone is welcome to visit – you don’t need to be Hindu although before a visit it’s wise to check opening hours/special days etc. of course.
Our guide told us that “many families rely on motorbikes or tuk tuks for transport”. In the photo below a bicycle tuk-tuk can be seen in Old Delhi; some tourists use them as well. The feature photo shows an auto tuk tuk which are very common in all Indian and Sri Lankan cities (see last post if interested). Decades ago they were seen all over Asia…
Our guide took us around in an auto tuk-tuk to start with (see feature photo)…
I asked the driver (via guide as the driver didn’t speak English), to avoid pot holes due to my spinal surgeries not so long ago. After about 15 min our guide suggested walking. Strolling through Old Delhi was fascinating, and we loved seeing so many carefully presented fruit and vegetable stalls wherever there seemed to be a spare space…
HOUSING AND ARCHITECTURE:
As noted in the book I mentioned above, Mehak lives in an apartment building as do many of the people living in Delhi. The divide between rich and poor is evident everywhere in India – there’s extreme poverty in some places with some people living in shacks beside the road…
Many of the people who live in shacks (sometimes called “slums”) do their best to find pleasures in life (like most of us do), including the joy of tasty/healthy home cooked meals for their families.
There are also lots of street stalls selling foods in and around Delhi and other Indian towns and cities. The street stall in this photo is selling samosas – a fried pastry with either vegetables or meat, often with a little vegetable inside as well.
CLOTHING and TRADITIONAL DRESS:
The variety of clothing is more noticeable in the women’s clothing (often colourful) and sometimes indicates what cultural background or religion they might come from – although not always! I met up with a few Australian tourists who had bought colourful saris (like Mehak is wearing) which they rarely wear when back home.
Many of the young people wear modern “Western” clothing like us (tee shirts, skirts, trousers/jeans etc) and just dress in saris (like Mehak in 1st photo) for special religious festivals eg. Hindu or Muslim traditional dress, or visits to important sites such as the magnificent Taj Mahal in Agra…
INDIAN HOME LIFE:
Photo below – an Indian woman near her modest home washing clothes
Laundry is another task that most of us (except for the very rich who might have servants!) need to regularly do. It’s one of the household tasks I enjoy, particularly on a sunny/breezy day when it naturally dries so fast on our clothes line.
Even when travelling, I often take a travel line to attach over a bath or similar + travel with clothes that mostly need no ironing.
Here’s the recent photo from India I mentioned – no washing machines like most of us own in Australia…
The woman in the photo above didn’t seem to have any devices or machines – we saw her working hard like this as we walked up the street and she was still there washing when we returned a half hour later.
We loved the light coming through the trees and the colourful washing. Many of the clothes, for example the women’s saris, are made of fine cottons (cooler in summer) so they would also dry quickly.
Seeing women doing the family laundry without the help of machines had me reflecting on memories of my childhood…so a slight diversion from India…
I remember my mother washing clothes using “a copper” – which was a big metal tub many mothers in the 1950s and early 60s filled with hot water. They would then squeeze the water out using a mechanical device called “a wringer” or a “mangle” similar to this…
Instead of washing machines (like many of us have today) automatically doing a “spin dry”, the clothing needed to be pushed between 2 large cylinders (like 2 big kitchen rolling pins).
In the late 1950s I was about 4 years old and one of my first memories is of watching my mother turn the handle of “the wringer” (see handle in above image).
I found it fascinating and wanted to have a go – my mother occasionally let me try to turn it…under very careful supervision seeing I was so young! My older sisters at the time (Cheryl was 8 and Laurel 12), were shown how to do it and they sometimes helped with the laundry. In those days fathers rarely helped with much housework and I don’t remember ever seeing our Dad do a load of washing! Very occasionally he’d do some cooking particularly if we were having roast meat or a BBQ outside although BBQs didn’t become popular in Australia until the 1970s.
In the 1960s our family purchased a “modern” washing machine connected to electricity but it still had the wringer/mangle like this one…
In the early 1960s I remember my mother buying a new set up like this “washing machine
Mum used that washing machine until about 1970 when we finally talked her into buying an automatic washing machine (a bit similar to the ones used now); some people tried to save some money by purchasing “twin tubs” – something we explained to our son only recently and worth a read on the Net if you’re interested! He was very surprised as we hadn’t talked about that before!
Back to India…
We sometimes saw children from some of the very poor areas leaving their housing (some with rocks on top of a plastic roof of their lean-to shack) in very smart/clean school uniforms as can be seen in the next two photos…
We found that most of the children were so warm and friendly when we saw them on excursions at various historic sites. I spoke with one teacher (most teachers speak English) and she told me that they were “doing a very long day trip from a smaller city”.
Sadly, some of the very poorest children don’t go to school and we sometimes saw very young children begging in the streets, or trying to sell trinkets (cheap little toys) when cars and auto tuk-tuks stopped at the traffic lights. Perhaps they were orphans or their parents were ill as our guide insisted that there was free government education “for every child”.
I have lots of questions in my mind about these problems and I’ll be reading more to learn more about human rights both in India and around the world. I encourage teachers (and we’re all teachers really), children and teens to do similar.
Like many big cities, there are also areas of Delhi with streets lined with mansions where very wealthy people live. Here’s an example of one “holiday house” which is a huge restored historic fort in Northern India; the owner also has a mansion in Delhi we heard.
In India, what is sometimes called “the middle class” (in our country many now say “middle income earners”) often live in apartments like Mehak. I heard a little about “the caste system” in India which is similar but different to the historic class system in Britain…again, the little information we gained had us pondering on many questions!
Delhi is also home to some of the oldest and fascinating architecture, both very modern and many hundreds of years old for example:
THE RED FORT in OLD DELHI…known by Indians as LAL QILA
The Red Fort is constantly being cared for and restored – it was declared a World Heritage Monument in 2007…
Summary from UNESCO site:
The Red Fort Complex was built as a palace fort for a Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jahan. Named for its massive enclosing walls of red sandstone, it is adjacent to an older fort built in 1546, with which it forms the Red Fort Complex.
The private apartments consist of a row of pavilions connected by a continuous water channel, known as a “Stream of Paradise”. The planning of the palace is based on Islamic prototypes, but each pavilion reveals architectural elements reflecting a fusion of Persian, Timurid and Hindu traditions.
Summary from “Cultural India” site…https://www.culturalindia.net/indian-forts/delhi-fort.html
The Red Fort’s innovative planning and architectural style, including the garden design, strongly influenced later buildings and gardens in Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra (where the Taj Mahal is located) and further afield.
It took 8 years and 10 months to build the magnificent fort. The fort served as the royal residence of the Mughal emperors (part of a Muslim dynasty) from 1648 to 1857.
It took over the honor of royal residence from the famous Agra Fort when Shah Jahan decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. (I’ll do another post on Agra Fort in the future).
The Red Fort is on the banks of river Yamuna, the fortress-palace was designed by architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
The Red Fort derives its name from the red-sandstone walls, which make the fort almost impregnable. The fort, which is located at Old Delhi, is one of the massive and prominent structures of India and is a fine example of Mughal architecture. It is often considered as the pinnacle of Mughal creativity.
In modern times, the fort is of importance to the people of India as the Indian Prime Minister delivers his Independence Day speech from the fort, every year on August 15. In 2007, it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Red Fort Complex spreads over a very large area next to the river. An interesting walk through part of the complex takes you through the fascinating market “bazaar” – photos below. As you walk through you can imagine how the Emperor’s many wives (for kids…called polygamy and marrying one person is called monogamy) often sat in special seats above the bazaar…
THE FAMOUS TAJ MAHAL – PHOTOS BELOW
A longer day trip from Delhi (along quite a good highway) is the historic Taj Mahal.
I’ve already done a post on the Taj Mahal with a few of our favourite photos and some information about it – a fascinating place/story! Many people do the trip in just one day but if possible it’s worth at least arriving the night before, getting there early like we did before it gets crowded. We had a fabulous day! Here are a few more photos that we love…
MODERN ARCHITECTURE IN DELHI:
An example of modern architecture in Delhi is the Lotus Temple (opened 1986).
The temple is built in the shape of a floating half open lotus set amidst pools and gardens. The architectural style is called “Expressionist”.
We didn’t get to see this building (we mostly focussed on seeing the historic sites) but we hope to return to Delhi one day and see it, even for a shorter stay on a stopover to UK/Europe where we have friends living.
CONNECTIONS WITH HOME – SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Many people say that the design, and in some ways the construction, is similar to the Sydney Opera House, but of course the dominant shapes of the Opera House are reminiscent of a ship’s sails while the shape’s in this temple are clearly like a white lotus flower.
Here are a couple of our photos of Sydney Opera House (opened 1973)…one taken from the public ferry with a view under the Sydney Harbour Bridge (opened in 1932).
The following recipe is from THE INDIAN FAMILY KITCHEN (2015) by Anjali Pathak…I love it! Anjali is the granddaughter of the founders of the Patak’s brand. Here’s her website anjalipathak.com:
These are the best kebabs we’ve ever tasted! Many recipes from the Middle East also appear on Northern Indian menus – they add extra ingredients such as turmeric and ginger which we think is fabulous! There’s quite a bit of chopping but that part could be done well in advance of course…even make some extra “paste” and add it to a different meat (Anjali suggests turkey…or chicken?); however, the lamb worked very well.
Herby Lamb Kebabs (P126)
Serves 4; Prep time 15 min, plus (preferably) chilling. Cook time: 10 min
1 lb (about 450 gm) ground lamb;
4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely chopped;
1 tsp garam masala;
1 tsp ground turmeric;
1/2 tbsp fennel seeds;
1 tsp cumin seeds;
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped;
1 tbsp peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger;
1-2 fresh red chillies (v finely chopped);
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon;
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander);
3 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves;
2 tsp honey;
good pinch sea salt;
long woody rosemary sprigs for skewering – bottom leaves removed;
lemon wedges, for squeezing over.
If rosemary not available the wooden skewers from supermarket work fine of course.
Mix all the ingredients except the lemon juice, rosemary springs and lemon wedges together in a bowl.
Press the meat mixture onto the skewers/rosemary sprigs; and pop in fridge for 30 min to firm up, if you have time.
On a grill preheated to medium, or in a griddle pan over medium heat, cook the kebabs for about 10 min, turning often…squeezing over the lemon juice toward end of the cooking. Ensure meat is cooked through but not overcooked.
Serve with lemon wedges, along with some Cucumber Raita (recipe on Net) to cool down any chilli heat 🌶…we recommend checking heat of chilli before you start! The longer red chillies are generally the type we use as they’re not too hot.
We served these kebabs with a simple green salad but there’s another salad in this book which would work so well if time permits?? (Recipe below)
Sometimes we play around with ingredients in salads eg. Just try a different dressing (like this one) on a simple green salad rather than adding the bean &/or pea sprouts etc. It all depends on what we have in fridge + how our time is going…life is still busy now retired!…usually with what we choose to do rather than what we’re paid to do!…although therapies + medical appointments take up a lot more time as the body gets older! Good news is that I’ve improved a lot since spinal surgeries:)
Lentil salad with toasted cumin dressing P96
1 red onion (finely sliced); 1 tbsp white wine vinegar; 4 cups mixed bean sprouts; 4 cups spinach leaves (seems like a lot?); 1 fresh red chilli (seeds removed and finely sliced); 8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half; 2 tablespoon chopped coriander (cilantro); 1 tablespoon roughly chopped mint leaves; seeds of 1 pomegranate; 2 tbsp olive oil; 1 tsp spicy brown mustard; 1 tsp cumin seeds (toasted); 1 tsp honey; juice of 1 lemon or lime (I prefer lime if in season); S&P.
Mix red onion and white wine vinegar together in a glass bowl. Set aside while you prepare other ingredients.
Toss sprouted lentils with the spinach, chilli, tomatoes, coriander, mint and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl. Add onions and mix well.
Make the dressing by whisking remaining ingredients together. Pour over the salad, toss to combine.
OTHER VEGETARIAN RECIPES WE PLAN TO MAKE FROM THIS BOOK INCLUDE:
Balti baked squash (butternut pumpkin) with feta, tomato and mint; Corn Fritters; Caraway glazed carrots (P142); Crunchy roast cauliflower and broccoli (P145); Cumin roast potatoes (146); Mixed herb salad with honey pecan dressing; Paneer & roast beet salad; Tadka Dhal P154...Prep time just 10 min she says!; Classic Roti (P144)…
Anjali talks about her fond memories of making Roti with her mother and grandmother so I plan on doing that soon with our grandkids! I’m sure there are some short videos on the Net that might make the experience a bit more interesting too? I’ll check that out later but in the meantime here’s the simple ingredients needed for Roti…
2 cups whole-wheat flour (chapati atta) plus extra for dusting; 2 tbsp vegetable oil; salt; butter (optional)
Here’s another of our favourite chef’s books – Rick Stein: more on that over Easter I hope including a recipe for Egg Molee (photo below) – Whole Eggs in Coconut Masala P104.
Rick Stein owns a restaurant near our holiday house in Mollymook Beach; however, we only go there very occasionally in the evening as it’s very expensive; we more often go to Literary lunches at his restaurant – which are sometimes on a Wednesday and have a set menu so a bit more affordable.
They’re very popular (often great speakers and delicious food!) so worth booking well in advance. A restaurant we do go to often is Tallwood in Mollymook, especially on a Monday night as they usually have Chef’s Choice set menu…which is basically a “mystery menu” – although you can ask for all the details as soon as you sit down! The head chef has worked and travelled widely and is particularly great with Asian, Indian and Middle Eastern spices – beautiful food!…we’re going tonight!
Happy travels everyone but if not travelling, happy eating!