Mother India-part 1

After a few weeks by the river Ganga in Rishikesh (photo above) and then a few days in Mc Leod Ganj, Dharamsala, I am back to London with renewed energy and inspiration.
My first time in India has definitely put me outside of my comfort zone many times, and it may sound contradictory but it has also given me a sense of deep peace in equal measure. 

My friend Chloe and I met at Delhi airport from where we were supposed to get picked up. As a first taste of Indian life, our driver didn't show up so we decided to organise our own taxi. What we didn't realise was that the taxi driver was soon going to take us to his office first, make us change cars, and driver, added a friend to be dropped off somewhere in New Delhi on the way, and added that the journey would take 6h instead of the 3h he had previously told us... no need to say that our anxiety levels suddenly hit the roof! 
So we started to pray that the driver would actually take us to our destination, safely. Which he did, after driving like a maniac on bumpy roads, doing strange detours "to go faster" and overtaking cars and trucks from the right, then the left, breaking about 2 cm from the car in front every 3 min... 
We drove through leafy streets in Delhi, polluted motorways, very poor villages, and lively street markets. We felt very far from home, and that was exciting. 
Our first glimpses of India had already given us food for thought. 
As many first timers in India, we went many times from wanting to go straight back home to trusting and enjoying the adventures, asking for more! 

We made it to Rishikesh at nighttime and were relieved to find our Hill top hotel rooms...
This first week was rhythmed by our daily Yoga classes taught by a wonderful Indian teacher at our hotel. Upendra's  daily 2h classes left us totally relaxed and centred (which was much needed before going into town!), his immense devotion and faith to the practice inspired everyone who came. There were no complicated postures and a slow but steady pace. Sun salutations were executed while he would chant mantras, which gave the practice a real sense of moving meditation. Classical hatha yoga in its most beautiful form. 
Upendra deeply inspired me in my teaching and practice and brought us right back to what's essential. I loved the non competitive atmosphere (which should of course always be there in all classes but isn't always unfortunately...), and the sense of deep deep relaxation at the end. We worked hard in a soft way... 

The river Ganga flows through Rishikesh and pilgrims from all parts of India come to bathe and pray in the Holly river. Aarti  ceremonies are held every evening, where light is offered to one or more deities. Mantras are chanted in praise of the deities. 
The spiritual atmosphere is palpable and rather beautiful.
Words don't always seem to manage to express my feelings and impressions so I will finish this first post about India with some photos that perhaps talk by themselves...

Cauliflower, potato and pea curry

Watercolour by Sybille Pouzet

In a month's time I will be in India, exploring Rishikesh and surroundings, doing loads of yoga, and eating a lot of curries! 
So to get used to it, I have been trying out some recipes… 
So for you this month here is another curry recipe, using seasonal ingredients as always!
Cauliflower is wonderful cooked in these indian spices and may well remind you of some Indian takeaways… perhaps a bit less greasy… 
Feel free to customise it as usual, this is a nice base and you can adapt it by removing the peas and adding asparagus instead, or any other vegetable you like! 
It is a lovely simple dish, easy to digest, and rather easy to make as well. I tend to make a big batch and keep it for a day or two… I hope you enjoy it! 

Cauliflower, potato and pea curry

Serves 6-8

3 tbsp coconut oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
2 tomatoes, diced small
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 curry leaves
1 kg potatoes, diced 
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets 
250g frozen or fresh peas.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy pan. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft. 

Add all the other spices and tomatoes and stir well. Cook for another 2 min. 

Add the potatoes, some sea salt, and just cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and continue to simmer for 10min. Add the cauliflower and cook for another 6-8min, then add the peas and cook for another 2 or 3 min or until the cauliflower and potatoes are tender.

Serve hot with some rice or salad. 

Bon appétit!