We were so lucky in Mumbai. In another example of just how small the Internet has made the world, years ago Logan's mother, who lives in Louisiana, met Shailesh, who lives in Mumbai, through playing internet bridge. They've been playing cards together now on and off for years, and their bridge group has even met in person a few times! So when Shailesh heard that we would be coming to Mumbai on our world tour, he very kindly insisted that we stay with him and his lovely wife Nilima.
They made our stay wonderful. It's been months since we were in a real home, and their hospitality was such a treat.
We went to an anniversary party with them, where Nilima lent me a salwaar kameez, necklace, and a bindi of my own.
They called friends of theirs to help us out with some travel minutiae that needed to be taken care of, like dealing with preparing the reams of paperwork we needed for our Chinese visa and helping with reservations and train tickets.
Shailesh called his personal tailor and got Logan an amazing price on new, tailor-made shirts AND pants, and then called a courier service to come to the house and pack up almost 25 pounds of items we'd been lugging around. The courier showed up with a box, packing material, and a scale, and tidily gathered everything and professionally packed it while we sat back and had cocktails. I could get used to this method of international shipping.
Nilima also did much of the cooking while we were there (she and Sailesh share a cook with Shailesh's brother and his family, who live in an apartment in the same building), and was extremely patient with Logan's endless questions. We were fascinated by all of the masalas and pickles and exotic (to us) vegetables she uses. Logan took a lot of notes, and I'm hoping he'll recreate some of these dishes when we get home.
Here's Nilima's twist on upma, a breakfast porridge popular in South India. She makes hers with oat flour that she toasts herself. The dish is spicy and pungent and a real wake-me-up. Oatmeal with spice and mustard seeds! Also, I love masala chai.
One day while we were out and about, Shailesh bought some fresh green chickpeas, which Nilima made into a cruncy salad with chopped onion, cilanto, lemon juice, and masala. Such texture. This is the second place we've found fresh chickpeas on our trip (the first being Mexico). Are they possible to get at home?
Nilima also pulled out the iddly (iddli) molds one day and made beautifully fluffy steamed lentil dumplings. I never liked iddly before, but they're up among my favorite foods now. Amazing what a GOOD version of a dish will do.
The family is actually Gujarati, so we had the good fortune to try many Gujarati dishes. This is Dal Dogli, a typically Gujarati sweet/spicy thick bean soup with thick, slippery wheat-flour noodles. Thank you for the invite upstairs from Shailesh's brother Rajesh and Rajesh's wife Priti!
Logan also got to try the intense saffron-flavored chewing tobacco with bits of silver leaf that Shailesh favors. He said he liked it. This face means the flavors are STRONG.
We can't thank Shailesh and Nilima enough for their hospitality. They made hectic, crowded, sweaty Mumbai into a true place of refuge for us, and we left ready to take on the rest of India!
Next up: TEA!