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Malabar Paratha at Udupi Palace, Berkeley; lime sodas

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Malabar Paratha at Udupi Palace, Berkeley; lime sodas

David Boyk | Mar 4, 2004 03:33 AM

There's a type of flaky and delicious bread that's native to Kerala and southwestern Tamil Nadu (for instance, Kanniyakumari, at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent), which my friend Sudeep and I became mildly obsessed with when we were traveling in that region, which is hard to find even in other parts of India, let alone the US. It turns out they have it at Udupi Palace on University, though, and it's quite a respectable version. It's bigger (maybe 13" across), chewier and heavier than I'd like, and than is typical in India, but it's still pretty good. It comes with a good, sour achar (red pickle) and a pleasant, somewhat sweet chutney, and costs $2.95.

The next delicacy of the far south of India that I need to find is uniappam (that's it's Malayalam name; in Tamil, it's called adhirassam), a vaguely bran muffin-like streetside sweet made with coconut and banana. I made it the other night, but mine came out denser and less puffy than the real ones, although they had more or less the right flavor and outer texture.

Also, Kerala is awash with lemon sodas, and they're very prevalent all over the rest of India as well, but I never see them here. They're made by squeezing one lemon (or lime - they're used interchangeably in India, and describe a citrus that isn't really either a lemon or a lime, but which is about 2 inches long, yellow and has a flavor between those two fruits) into a glass and filling the rest with most of a 300ml bottle of soda water, and then topping it off when there's room. Indians usually drink them either salted or sweetened, but I often asked for mine plain. Sometimes, Indians even use black (sulfured) salt, but that's sick if you're not used to it. Anyway, I'm not sure the right kind of lemon exists here, but if anyone's familiar with the fruit I'm talking about and knows where to get them, I'd love to know. I think I may have seen them at Mexican markets, but I haven't seen them since I've been back.

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