Taj Mahal

1 May 2014

A day in Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) and Kadai Paneer Recipe.

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In Transit to the Taj Mahal.  I am surprised I was able to get photos with how fast our driver was flying over the uneven roads…

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Above: I never thought I would see the day when it would be healthier to drink sprite than water.  Well, in India it is definitely healthier.  Our two Indian friends who take care of us whenever we are home in our little apartment, were happily serving me as much sprite as I asked for.  The people here are more gracious than any I have ever met.

Today was one of those days where you realize just how little you know about where you are.  India has the largest railway network in the world.  Millions of people board the trains each and every day to commute to work, visit their family in another part of India, or simply go for an outing.  We visited the New Delhi Railway station today and let me just say, I have never seen any place so crowded.  It was absolutely crazy, people were sleeping on the ground, running across the main hallway to catch their ticket, or trying to cut in line to get a last minute ticket to their destination.  Just this morning we learned that the Taj Mahal is closed every Friday, as Fridays are holidays here.  We were planning on sight-seeing in New Delhi today and visiting Taj Mahal on Friday as we headed to our next destination. After much debate about what we wanted to do, we decided that we were going to go to the Taj Mahal today for sunset.

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The Taj Mahal has always been in the top three “must-sees” on my bucket list.  It is one of those places that you just cannot miss out on if you ever have the chance to go.  I have wanted to see the Taj Mahal since I was a young girl, which placed India high on my travel list.  Jatan, our friend from New Delhi accompanied us on our journey, I guess the Indians love the tourist spots as well…

IMG_0135 IMG_0117 IMG_0103Above: the Taj Mahal is absolutely stunning

We are aware that Indian’s train system is large and that it is always flooded with people, yet we did not realize the extent to which that statement was true.  The train station is absolutely CRAZY with people.  We went to purchase a ticket to Agra to visit Taj Mahal yet there were no tickets available because from what we found out, you must book tickets 4 days in advance to be able to secure a spot on the Indian railways.  There are just so many people here.  16% of the world’s population lives in India, and it is very visable.  The only tickets that were available were “standing room tickets only for Indians.”  That was exactly how the people around us in the line told us over and over again.

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Even the chips are filled with spices.  The ingredient list on the back of this bag contained 9 different spices and the flavor was called “Indian Masala”

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I soon realized that riding the rails in India was not going to be like traveling through Europe.  We are going to have to book our tickets days in advance if we want to assure that we have a seat.  We were quickly swept off to the New Delhi Tourist Office where we were told we could pick up our train pass that would let us hop on the rails and begin our adventures.

Kadai Paneer Recipe

IMG_3598 Above: Kadai Paneer

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Ingredients:

Coriander seeds

Fenugreek seeds

1 cinnamon stick (3-inch piece)

2 dried red chilies

1 green cardamom pod

 

3 Tbs Oil

2 onions (chopped)

1 Tbs ginger powder (or 1 3-inch piece, fresh)

1 Tbs garlic powder (or 5 cloves, fresh)

3 tomatoes (chopped)

2 Tbs tomato Puree

1 green pepper (chopped)

salt

2 cups Paneer cubes (or 1/1/2 cup cottage cheese)

Optional: 2 Tbs heavy cream

Toast whole spices over low heat for one minute, remove from heat and grind in mortar and pestle or coffee grinder and set aside.

Add oil to pan and place over medium heat, add shopped onion and sauté until translucent.  And the garlic and ginger and sauté for about 1 minute, add chopped tomatoes.  When oil starts to separate add the tomato paste and crushed spices from above.  Add chopped green peppers, a dash of salt, and paneer (cottage cheese).  Mix well and cook for another 3 minutes.

 

Optional: Can add 2 Tsp heavy cream for thicker texture.

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