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3 November 2016 / leggypeggy

A delicious breakfast in the middle of nowhere

Indian mother and son with food stall

Mum shapes potato cakes with son beside her

On the day that million of Hindus in India celebrated Diwali, the annual festival of lights, six of us piled into the Overland Expeditions India van and headed south through the state of Maharashtra to Tarkarli Beach.

Departure was around 6:15am. We had 300-plus kilometres to cover and plenty of dismally poor roads ahead. We’d get breakfast along the way.

Most of our travels have been away from India’s main highways, so our en route breakfasts and lunches have often been at roadside stalls, hole-in-the-wall eateries and government-managed rest stops.

food stall kitchen, India

Open-air kitchen at Mauli Snack Corner

But this morning, we were on very quiet back roads with not a paratha or chai in sight. This wasn’t because it was a holiday—just because there was a landscape of crops everywhere.

About 8:30am and just as we were about to dig into the communal bag of not-at-all-healthy snacks, we came upon a small food stall next to a field of sugar cane. We were 11 kilometres past one village and 35 from the next.

We ditched the snack bag as Anand pulled over to the side of the road.

There were other customers—some had arrived on bicycles and others on motorbikes—and they jumped up to offer us seats at the plastic table.

potato cake with chilli

Vada pao

group pic India

The compulsory group shot everywhere you go in India

We ordered a round of potato cakes (the only dish she was making at the time) and a round of chai.

Each cake (vada) was served in a bun (pao) with a good sprinkling of a chilli powder mixture. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but this is my kind of savoury breakfast. Oh, and I skipped the bun. I get enough bread anyway.

The potato cakes were so good that we ordered a second round, which our hostess shaped and fried in just a few minutes.

Small cups of milky chai came next, and I have to say that it was the nicest chai I’ve had on this trip. Just the right amount of spice and sugar. That’s a huge recommendation, given that I don’t normally add milk or sugar to coffee or tea.

The food stall is called Mauli Snack Corner, but I never got the name of our hostess/chef. Mauli is a common business name in India but not a woman’s name. I did learn that she opened the stall about two months ago, selling packaged and homemade snacks. It’s her enterprise, but her husband and son help. She said that business has been pretty good. It’s not surprising with such good food, and in a remote location that has good traffic.

She was quite modest about it all, but quick to say that she was especially proud that her son was doing well in his middle form English school.

All that said, I wonder how quickly she is making a living. Each vada pao (potato cake with bun) cost 10 rupees (about 20 Australian cents) and each cup of chai cost half that. So breakfast for six was a grand total of A$2.70.

food stall in India

Mauli Snack Corner in rural Maharashtra, India

65 Comments

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  1. Nisthur Anadi / Nov 3 2016 2:39 pm

    Beautiful

    Liked by 3 people

  2. eths / Nov 3 2016 2:44 pm

    Before my husband and I went to India, about eight years ago, I wasn’t very fond of Indian food. I came back to the U.S. addicted to their food. I can’t get enough of it!

    Liked by 4 people

    • TalkaholicMe / Nov 3 2016 2:56 pm

      Come back to India again..

      Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2016 9:39 pm

      I completely understand the addiction. I am too. I have always wondered why Indian food doesn’t have a higher profile in the USA. It’s every bit as good as Mexican.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. TalkaholicMe / Nov 3 2016 2:55 pm

    It’s wonderful.. Have you been to New DelhI?

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2016 12:59 am

      Yes, we’ve been to New Delhi several times. Have a dear friend there and we always like to catch up with him.

      Liked by 2 people

      • TalkaholicMe / Nov 4 2016 1:06 am

        Oh that’s cool.. I am from the same city.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2016 4:39 am

        Next time we come to India, maybe we can meet! 🙂

        Like

  4. bibseyb / Nov 3 2016 4:14 pm

    What a wonderful way to start the day. Savory breakfasts are the best. Luck girl.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2016 9:41 pm

      Sure am. We had another savoury breakfast today, but in the big city of Goa. Tasty, but not nearly as interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dorothy / Nov 3 2016 4:26 pm

    Gosh that was a very cheap breakfast for six. You are right, time she put her prices up. Especially if she has any other children who need school fees paid for. Maybe a daughter or do they not get go go to school in India?

    dorothysstories.wordpress.com

    >

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2016 9:45 pm

      I’m guessing that many of her customers are low income too, which accounts for the low prices. That said, the ingredients she uses are very economical.

      As for girls in school, we see plenty of girls of all ages walking to school as we drive along. I have a few good pics that I’ll post one of these days.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. gerard oosterman / Nov 3 2016 5:23 pm

    Potato cakes are my favourite at any time too. Can you believe that some people have corn-flakes or worse, those choco pops for breakfasts? So many poor people in India, yet always so smiling.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2016 9:47 pm

      Potato cakes are fabulous. In fact, almost any savoury breakfast beats any other option. And, yes, smiles abound in India.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Nov 3 2016 5:49 pm

    I would love to taste that potato cake!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. BoomingOn / Nov 3 2016 6:13 pm

    Bargain!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. circusgardener / Nov 3 2016 6:21 pm

    What a delightful find!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. ralietravels / Nov 3 2016 7:27 pm

    Wonderful trip!
    In another life, I worked for a government agency helping poor areas. We found one of the most powerful development tools was providing tiny loans and other assistance to help women found small businesses. It had a great multiplier effect in the village as well. That the prices were so low simply reflects that they live in a totally different world from industrially developed nations [and even parts of their own nation].

    Liked by 5 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2016 9:52 pm

      You make an excellent point. She has priced her food to make a living without gouging her diners.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. poshbirdy / Nov 3 2016 8:46 pm

    They look delicious. I love Indian breakfasts, the spicier the better!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. beetleypete / Nov 3 2016 8:47 pm

    When travelling abroad, I have often avoided roadside stalls, concerned about hygiene and fresh products. Nice to hear that you have not encountered any such issues, Peggy. That will encourage me to be more adventurous in future!
    (As to the prices, I would have been tempted to give a big tip!)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 3 2016 9:55 pm

      Oh Pete, street food can be your safest bet if it’s a dish that is cooked in front of you. Keep in ind that a street-food vendor cleans up and packs up every night, and starts over the next morning.

      I’m wary of (actually avoid) the hotels and restaurants that have buffets. Who knows how many times those dishes have been wheeled in and out of the cold room, and then left in a warmish dining hall all day.

      Oh, and our trip is all inclusive for accommodation, food, admissions and the like. Anand and Deepti usually provide a tip, so I’m sure they added a bit extra.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. derrickjknight / Nov 3 2016 10:30 pm

    Those potato cakes look really inviting. Not sure about the chai, though 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Bun Karyudo / Nov 3 2016 10:55 pm

    It was nice of the other diners to offer you a seat like that. I’ll bet eating in non-touristy places, you not only get cheaper food but often tastier food too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2016 1:03 am

      It was very nice to be offered the table, but sometimes it seems like white privilege in action. We’re quite happy to wait our turn and feel a bit embarrassed when we get favoured. And yes, we seek out non-touristy places for our meals because they almost always have tastier and cheaper food.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Bun Karyudo / Nov 4 2016 10:28 pm

        I guess it depends why the people were standing. I’ve never been anywhere near India, of course, so I don’t know much about what usually happens there. I have been to other places, though (Porto in Portugal springs to mind), where I seemed to get very friendly service in restaurants and things just because I was so clearly not a local. Perhaps that was all that was going on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2016 3:24 am

        I’ve travelled and lived in many places where white privilege occurs. You’re right, sometimes it’s a heartfult gesture towards non locals, but often it’s a harking back to British or other white rule. And sometimes it’s age. Today a teenager insisted that I go before her in the lunch line at a spice garden. She was clearly in front of me, but refused my urgings that she was first. I accepted and her mother beamed with pride. Me too.

        Like

  15. shoestringdiary / Nov 4 2016 12:38 am

    Indian food is one of our favorites (my wife and I got addicted to them during a trip to the Mid East in the ’90s), esp. their various types of bread. Good you got to enjoy food at the roadside stalls.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2016 4:43 am

      To be honest, we are enjoying good food almost everywhere we go, but I especially love street food and supporting small businesses.

      Like

  16. lorriedeck / Nov 4 2016 12:47 am

    What a great trip you’re having, I love following along, I learn so much!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2016 1:03 am

      Thanks for following along. I learn a lot too and really enjoy sharing it! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Archana / Nov 4 2016 7:24 am

    So much fun to read about your trip. I am from maharashra and vada pau is so so yummy!!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. LaVagabonde / Nov 4 2016 6:06 pm

    Wow, what a deal. Don’t you love it when that happens?

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Aquileana / Nov 4 2016 7:54 pm

    I´d definitely have one (or more) vada(s)…. sounds like a great trip!…. sending best wishes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2016 11:51 am

      It’s been a fantastic trip and still more than three weeks to go. I think I’ll have another vada (or more)! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Brenda / Nov 5 2016 5:30 am

    The unexpected treats are often the best. And I’ve never met a potato cake that I didn’t like.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2016 11:52 am

      Potato cakes are like that—irresistible. 🙂

      Like

  21. tony / Nov 5 2016 10:21 am

    The best meals in India are in open-air dhabas. Rukmini and I still talk about a meal of fresh-water prawns we had near Chilka Lake in Orissa and that was over thirty years ago. sounds like you’re having a great trip.

    Tony
    http://breadtagsagas.com/

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2016 11:54 am

      Memorable meals are like that and, yes, open-air dhabas are the way to go! We also have some great memories from Chilka Lake, but none involving fresh-water prawns.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. mopana / Nov 5 2016 9:25 pm

    I think that a breakfast is always delicious in the middle of nowhere. Because you’re free. Free to breath… to think… to dream. You’re in the middle of nowhere, not in a stressful place 🙂
    xoxo ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Nov 6 2016 2:10 am

      We’re going for a long drive tomorrow and maybe we’ll find another snack corner in the middle of nowhere. Here’s hoping. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • mopana / Nov 6 2016 8:39 am

        Hahaha! This is a beautiful life 🙂
        xo ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Curt Mekemson / Nov 7 2016 4:53 am

    Sounds like a great breakfast at an even greater price, Peggy! –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  24. voulaah / Nov 7 2016 6:32 pm

    very wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

  25. jengarynewadventures / Nov 12 2016 2:39 am

    Snack corner! I need to explore our area better. We live in Tennessee but mainly eat at home. When we grab something to eat, it usually is at places that are familiar. I know we have little places tucked in here and there, ones that speak another language and I am thankful for pictures to order from! Enjoy your travels and finding these little tasty places to eat along the way 🙂 Jen

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 13 2016 12:54 am

      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Hope you find some hidden gems (snack corners) where you are.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Thoughts in Life / Nov 21 2016 8:42 pm

    I find Indian food quite tasty. It is quite spicy but tasty. I visited India when I was younger and it was great. The best places to get food is from the Dabar on the roads as you have gone to. Lovely post I enjoyed reading

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 24 2016 4:28 pm

      We love Indian food and agree that the roadside places can be the best. Much better than the big hotels.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thoughts in Life / Nov 24 2016 4:57 pm

        Yeah exactly. Hotels take quite long as well, but roadside is just fry or fast made

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 24 2016 5:07 pm

        So true. The roadside places make fast AND delicious food.

        Like

  27. dustyrucksack / Feb 21 2017 8:21 pm

    Nice post !….hope you enjoyed the wada pav…and btw…This word-mauli is used to describe the ‘caring mother’. Therefore this word is not just translation of ‘mother’ in Marathi. For regular use, we say ‘aai’ to describe or call mother.
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 22 2017 12:35 am

      We did enjoy the wada pav. Thanks also for the information about ‘mauli’ and ‘aai’. I love language and really enjoy knowing more about the words.

      Liked by 1 person

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