Passport to Fun - India

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You'll remember that I came up with a pretty awesome idea for G's Christmas gift this year.

If you're new here and don't know what I'm talking about, then feel free to wander on over to this post to read all about it.

I'll wait.

For our sixth "trip," we surrounded ourselves with spectacle, color and energy by visiting India.

I love a good Bollywood movie (see this post to read about my absolute favorite) and we're big fans of Indian cuisine, so this month meant a chance to enjoy some of our best-loved foods and flicks, while experimenting with a little adventure at the same time.

June:  India

Set the Stage

I added the next stamp to G's passport so he'd see where we were going, then left it out where he'd find it the next morning before he went to work:

What to Decorate With

The flag thing seems to be working out pretty well for us.  It's something fairly simple for Gv and I to do together, uses supplies we already have, and still lends an air of the locale.

This is the usual construction-paper flag, but I Googled "coloring book flag of India" to get the Ashoka Chakra that we glued onto the center.

I also grabbed a couple of colorful throw pillows, draped a scarf across them, and then gave a nod to Diwali by surrounding a plate with candles.  Gv scattered some colorful flowers around from this fun toy to add to our little front-entry arrangement.

What to Dress Like

G does actually smile for photos occasionally - honest!

My original thought was to wear a maxi skirt, brightly-colored sports bra and drape myself in a scarf, but then I realized that I only had dark colors for both my skirts and scarves, which is not what jumps to my mind when I think of India, so I changed things a bit.

Instead, I wrapped myself in a bright sheet for a makeshift sari and then used a plain sports bra as a kind of a choli.

I cobbled together a similar ensemble for Gv, using some leggings, a pillowcase for a top, and a bathing-suit cover-up for a scarf.

I attempted to create a lungi for G (a white sheet as his sarong along with a linen shirt).

I think it all worked okay, especially for just a bit of rummaging through our closets.

Don't you just love how wrinkled-up the sheet I'm wearing is?!

What to Listen to

I've got tons of Indian music music on my ipod, so the music this month was easy-peasy to put together.

My favorite albums to play are all soundtracks:

Monsoon Wedding, Bombay Dreams, Bride & Prejudice, and Bend it Like Beckham.

What to Eat

Believe it or not, I'm still recovering from my crazy cook-a-thon for our Africa trip a couple months ago.  Luckily, I cook Indian food all the time, so this month's menu wasn't too intimidating for me.

I made a couple of things I've made before (but not in years) and then a couple of things that were completely new.  It was a good balance and luckily I doubled the amounts of everything, because I knew all three of us would be wanting to gobble up more leftovers all week.

We started with some refreshing Lassi, then moved on to samosas and some homemade paneer cheese for the duration of our activities.  Our main meal was composed of Chana Masala, Naan and rice.  Dessert was Kheer, which I loved, even though I usually can't stand rice pudding.

Even if the spice of Indian food isn't something your stomach can handle, I bet you'd like several of these delicious dishes!


What You Need

2 cups yogurt (see how to make your own here)

1/2 cup cold water, milk, or whey (depending on how thick you want your drink)

2 Tablespoons honey

pinch of cardamom

What You Do

1.  This is so ridiculously easy - you just throw everything in a blender until it's all frothy, then pour it into your favorite glass.

2.  If you'd like, garnish it with a few chopped almonds and a little sprinkle of cardamom.


What You Need

puff pastry sheets, pie crusts, croissants, or pizza dough

1 diced onion

4 cloves chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ginger

1 diced sweet potato

2 cups pumpkin

1 diced carrot

1 1/2 teaspoons each of cumin, coriander and mustard seeds

3/4 teaspoon each of garam masala and turmeric

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup frozen peas

What You Do

1.  Cook the onion, garlic and ginger in a bit of oil until soft.

2.  Add in the sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot and keep this all cooking until they soften up a bit.

3.  Add in all your other spices and cook for just a minute or two.

4.  Add in the coconut milk and peas and just stir until it's all mixed really well and allow it to cool a bit.

5.  Roll out sheets of whatever dough/pastry you're choosing to use and cut them into large triangles (you'll be folding these in half, so consider how big you want your samosas to be finished and then make the triangle twice as large).  I often like to use a pan like this or these to make "pocket food" a snap.

6.  Drop a spoonful (how big your spoon is depends on how big your triangle is) of the cooked filling into the center of your dough pocket, fold over, then crimp the edges (if you aren't using one of my favorite tools, which does this all for you).

7.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until they're golden brown.

Naan (in the breadmaker!)

What You Need

1 cup warm water (but if you have it, use whey!)

3 Tablespoons milk of choice

1 egg

3 Tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

What You Do

1.  Dump everything in the given order into your bread machine and run it through the dough cycle.

2.  When the dough is done, punch it down and let it rest about 15 minutes.

3.  Tear off golf ball-sized chunks of dough and use a tortilla press (or just a rolling pin) to shape it into a circular disk.

4.  It's more authentic to grill these, but I just plopped them down in my electric skillet, five at a time (that I'd smeared a bit of coconut oil onto).  I set the temperature to 350 degrees and let them cook a couple of minutes until they puffed up a bit, then flipped them over and cooked them a couple minutes more.

Chana Masala (serve with rice)

What You Need

1 diced onion

5 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon ginger

1 Tablespoon coriander

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your spiciness threshold)

1 20-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cups water

4 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

What You Do

1.  Cook the onion, garlic and ginger in a bit of oil until soft.

2.  Add in all the spices and cook for just a minute or two.

3.  Add in the tomatoes and cook for another couple minutes.

4.  Add in the chickpeas and water, then simmer for about 20 minutes.

5.  Sprinkle with a little more coriander and serve with rice.


What You Need

2 cups coconut milk (this is so worth it)

2 cups milk of choice

2 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup dry rice

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

What You Do

1.  Bring the coconut milk, honey and milk to a boil in a pot, then add the rice and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is soft.

2.  Stir in the raisins and cardamom, let cook for just a minute or two longer, then spoon into dishes and refrigerate until cool and ready to eat.

What to Do

We started things off by playing a game of Parcheesi, followed by a round of chess (a set like this makes it so easy to teach the game to a youngster!)

Then we got a little creative by doing some henna-hand designs:

We traced each other's hands (G lucked out and had his hand traced by Gv), cut them out, then drew designs all over using brown marker as the henna.

Then we did this Holi-inspired color craft: 

I filled some small plastic cups with baking soda, then Gv and I stirred in several drops of food coloring before setting it all aside to dry out overnight.

To create our Holi-inspired artwork, we "threw" some of the colored powder onto watercolor paper, then sprayed it all down with some water to make it run.

An art project like this definitely calls for a little shower-curtain liner protection!

My masterpiece - before the spray of water

And after its shower

G's creation

We also tried dribbling some designs on paper with glue and then sprinkling the powder over it all.

Gv really got into it and heaped piles of powder on her paper - combining the watercolor idea with the glue

Trying my hand at the glue idea

Finally, we tried to learn a few Bollywood dance moves (using this video to start with) before collapsing in exhaustion on the couch!

What to Watch

Golly, this was another hard one for me to narrow down.  

Even though I've seen a ton of movies from India, I came up with a longer list than I expected to of some that I hadn't seen before, but that sound great (3 Idiots, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Devdas, Dostana, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Taal, Om Shanti Om, & Rab Na Bana Di Jodi).

Ultimately, we went with one that I love, Monsoon Wedding, because I've been wanting to share it with G for a long time.

I also knew G has been extra-tired with everything involved in wrapping up the school year, so we just watched this one show and will probably watch a bunch of the others over the span of the summer.

And if subtitles aren't your thing, you could always watch something like Slumdog Millionaire, Bride and Prejudice, or even Bend it Like Beckham to make your trip more festive!

For Gv, we went with The Jungle Book, which happens to be a favorite for all 3 of us!

Travel all over the world, without leaving your living room!  Come back each month to see where we head next.  Can you think of any other ideas to add for a trip to India?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Also, if you don't want to miss a single minute of great tips like this and all the fun around here, be sure to sign up for free updates and then look forward to having each post delivered right to your inbox.

Want more?  Check out some of our other trips:

Italy - France - Africa - Ireland - Switzerland - Canada Greece England Germany Thailand - Russia China - Jamaica Egypt - Mexico - Japan - Brazil Cuba Scotland - Australia - Scandinavia

Love this idea, but want the easy, made-for-you-and-all-you-do-is-print-it version?  Click here to get your own pack and see what inspired me to create this series!

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