14 May 2014
Today I had a Varanasi Vegetarian Thali that was absolutely incredible. Thali is a dish that is known all throughout India where you are served a variety of different curries (usually 1 paneer, 2 vegetable, and 1 dal dish) several chapatis, rice, and some kind of Indian desert. For the price you receive a lot of food that all tastes incredible. Each dish has such a different flavor, which is a bad thing because it makes you rationalize that you need to eat it all (and they serve a lot of food in Thalis.
Recipe: Blue Lassi (Banana Coconut Chocolate Yogurt Shake)
1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1-2 Tbs sugar
½ cup chopped banana
¼ cup dried coconut flakes
¼ cup shredded dark chocolate
Mix the yogurt, and sugar together in a blender, adding water until it reaches a somewhat thing consistency. Pour into a cup and top with banana, coconut, and chocolate.
Today was one of my favorite days yet. There is just so much to learn when you are out traveling. Varanasi is the most holy city in all of India. It is the place where Indians pilgrimage during different times in their life. Varanasi sits on the end of the Ganges, the Holiest River in all of India.
There were several things we wanted to accomplish upon coming to Varanasi. We wanted to walk the ghats (different regions) along the River Ganges, swim in the Ganges river, see the evening Hindu ceremony at the main ghat, go to the Blue Lassi and get an Indian milkshake, and learn about the religious ceremony that goes on at the burning ghats. We got to see all those things and do so much more as well, one being doing yoga on the river’s end with a very well-respected yogi.
It is interesting that some of the most memorable moments come from those that are unplanned. It is the surprise of doing something unexpected that makes traveling such a joy.
We arrived to Varanasi early in the morning after a wonderful evening on the night train. This time I was a bit more restless, waking up with every train stop…maybe just because I was so excited to get in to Varanasi, the most important city in India. We arrived around 9 in the morning and headed straight out to explore the city, after we dropped our bags off at the hotel. We took an auto rickshaw to Assi Ghat, the southernmost part of the Ganges River where we walked most of the afternoon along the river’s edge observing people wash their clothes, fish, do yoga, pray to the Gods, participate in funeral processions, and so much more. The Ganges is a place where literally everything happens. It is a place where you can observe people from all walks of life and better understand why people come to this great city.
Thanks to Lonely Planet we discovered a great place called Blue Lassi to enjoy the equivalent of an “Indian Milkshake”. I was so fascinated by the creation of these great Indian treats that I stood and watched the “Lassi Chef” make each of our drinks. They are made from pure yogurt, water, sugar, and fresh fruit. They have a thinner consistency that American milkshakes and are not as sweet. The yogurt that they use to make them with is freshly made plain yogurt. The yogurt they use is the key to making the lassi such a great treat. They put some yogurt, water, and sugar in a large mortar and pestle and mix it all together. They add the fruit of choice from the customer and proceed to whip up a variety of delicious tasting milky treats that are served in traditional Varanasi clay pots. There are over 70 different varieties of lassi flavors, I ordered banana coconut chocolate and it was delicious. I even got 2 clay pots to take home with me so that I can make the original Varanasi lassi in my own home.
We also visited a music school where students and professors played a variety of Indian instruments for us and gave us a little inside look into how they make them. All of the instruments in their collection are hand made in the school and they are absolutely beautiful. I was so close to purchasing an Indian sitar, the Indian equivalent of an American Guitar.
To end our evening we ate at a great thali place that served great curries and chapatis (surprise right?) After that we returned to the riverside and watched a beautiful Hindu Ceremony and swim in the Ganges. It was incredible!