though I've been in India since 12/10, and eating well. I haven't really had anything chowhoundish to report. For the most part I have been staying in my grandmother's ashram and being fed by family and in people's houses.
Some impressions while here - the incredible quality of the fruit--I have never been a great lover of papaya, and some time ago there was discussion on the board on the inability to get a decent one in the us. Having had one here I heartily agree, these ripened and picked only minutes before are an incredible mixture of smokiness and sweetness.
green coconut malai (cream)-is not actually cream but rather the not quite hardened meat of the fruit you scoop out (with a paddle made from the cocunut shell)of the coconut after having drank the water out of the nut. It is slippery and full of flavor, like a coconut oyster.
Rob/VI - if you are reading along I did have a dokla that I would cross the street for (actually crossed a continent or two for) not those dense bricks we get in chicago, but light, spongy with a texture a little like a central american tamale, and a little sourness from the small indian limes squeezed on.
we did just return from a weekend trip to mysore and environs and had some pretty tasty stuff there. at the akshaya restaurant in the dasaprakash there, I had some of the tastiest sambar alongside my dhosa I have ever had. The Rava dosai were not bad and enlivened with slivers of coconut in the batter alongside the chilies and coriander. The plain and masala dosais were incredibly crisp and did not wilt with their stuffings as they often do in the US.
The other thing you notice is the piquancy of the herbs and spices. I had a simple dahi bhat (curd rice) that was alive with flavors of the mustard seed, chilies and these tiny, incredibly flaovorful curry leaves. You don't get curry leaves like that in chicago.
unfortunately, my fruit/jouice of choice-mosambi, a cross between lime and orange is out of season, but I'll make do with fresh pineapple.
have to go now, but will try to write more, maybe after we get to delhi (or after a Possible side trip to madras and environs)