Food Diaries – Ever had a Cuppa with a Spot of Camel’s Milk?


If you wish to have rich, tasty and sumptuous Indian food, you must visit a dhaba. What is a dhaba? Well, dhabas are wayside restaurants that prepare and serve hot and spicy food under the canopy of a big tree. Anyone, from a tourist to a truck driver, can enjoy a good meal served on stainless steel plates while seated at wooden tables. No one really minds the flies, stray dogs, goats and cows that hang around: the food is too delicious to be distracted by these creatures.

Our stop at a dhaba under a banyan tree near Udaipur was for a cup of tea. It was cool and inviting under the tree. A friendly elderly waiter greeted us with a toothless smile. He placed four tall steel tumblers of cold water on our table. He then rattled off a list of snacks like samosas, chats and pakoras that we could order. My daughters perked up and looked expectantly at their father.

“Just four cups of tea!” we said firmly to the old man.

The man nodded and promised four cups of masala tea with a spot of camel’s milk.

“I am not having that!” protested my younger daughter.

What a surprise awaited us when the waiter returned. He had four flimsy plastic cups of piping hot tea that were just a little larger than a thimble. We looked on in astonishment as he placed the little cups on the table and left. My husband was the first to recover. He gave a shout of laughter as he thumped the table hard. Casualty number one was his cup that toppled leaving a small pool of tea on the table. The second one to go was my younger daughter’s. Laughing at the father’s predicament, she shooed off a fly and knocked her own cup down. My elder one in her haste not to spill her tea, held her thin cup a little too tightly and squeezed the liquid out. So was I the only one who got to taste the cuppa with a spot of camel’s milk? No, not really. The first sip from the cup scalded my lips and the tongue and… there wasn’t any chai left for a second sip! Who knows how the tea really tasted?

Have you had a funny experience trying a new dish or drink? Tell us all about it!

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