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Rich, spicy treats from South Asia

HOT weather or no, South Asian food tempts the taste buds and there are plentiful Expo offerings from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. All have famous and distinctive curries (spicy and mild), snacks, kebabs, rice dishes, breads and beverages.

"People always have an appetite for curry," said Arindam Roy Chowdhury, project manager at Design C, the designer of the India Pavilion. He's confident the international Indian cuisine will conquer Chinese taste buds.

There are two restaurants inside the India Pavilion, near the entrance. Indu Curry sells take-away food and Vatika is a sit-down eatery. Both offer delicious curries and other authentic selections.

Chefs of both restaurants are veterans of hotel dinings and restaurants in India.

Visitors can enjoy genuine Indian flavor in a snack or meal for 10 yuan (US$1.50) to 100 yuan.

Chicken curry with two pieces of naan (leavened, oven-baked flatbread) costs 40 yuan at the Indu Curry take-out restaurant. Tear the naan in pieces and dip it in curry sauce.

Naan is one of the most popular South Asian breads and is also common in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

As for the curry, there are many kinds. In one of the curries at the India Pavilion, chefs use seven spices, including turmeric, cumin and red chili powder. They spend more than two hours making the curry and prepare sauces twice a day.

At Vatika, similar meals range from 40 to 100 yuan, plus various side dishes.

A famous offering is a rich Indian frozen desert, kulfi, which is made of sweetened, evaporated milk and comes in various flavors. It's quite different from ordinary ice creams and some varieties contain distinctively flavored saffron and other spices.

Visitors can take food with them to the open-air theater and enjoy Bollywood performances or sit in the pavilion courtyard and much while watching yoga. They can also take food with them and sit at tables on the second-floor open-air platform.

Vegetarians will find plenty of delicious food, including samosas, deep-fried snacks containing potatoes and vegetables. The dish costs 20 yuan for two pieces.

The hot, spicy food at Sri Lanka Pavilion is tantalizing. Rice, curry and vegetables are staples; fresh coconut milk and chili sauce is common.

One of the famous snacks is godamba, a large deep-fried dumpling, with a crisp golden-brown shell and meat or vegetables inside.

Godamba is often served with ladles of steaming curry. Fried dumplings and curry (again, different kinds) offer complex flavors.

Each godamba costs 15 yuan, and one needs at least two to satisfy hunger. They are served at both the outdoor vendor and inside the restaurant.

Other snacks are tempting. Pan rolls, pieces of fried cake, are sold at 30 yuan for two pieces. Little fish ball cutlets cost 20 yuan for five balls. Assorted snacks cost 30 yuan for a dish.

The pavilion restaurant offers a variety of curries with chicken, meat or fish. In addition to food, the beverages are delightful.

They include world-famous Ceylon tea and coconut arrack cocktail. All kinds of Ceylon teas are offered, both traditional and fruit flavored. A wooden box of Ceylon tea containing 25 tea bags costs 55 yuan.

Outside the Pakistan Pavilion is a barbecue restaurant serving halal food. The specialty is chappati (round, flat bread) often served with eggs, curry and beef. It's also recommended to try biryani, curried rice with spices, beef, chicken or vegetables. It's served with delicious lamb kebabs. Each set costs 30 to 40 yuan.


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