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A Culinary Journey in India


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136 replies to this topic

#31 Episure

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 08:27 AM

docsconz,
An excellent trip report, looks like you had a good time. :smile:
What was your impression of the food's chilli hotness ?
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#32 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 08:30 AM

docsconz,
An excellent trip report, looks like you had a good time.  :smile:
What was your impression of the food's chilli hotness ?

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For the most part I had a very good time.

Much of the food had some degree of heat, though it was never overwhelming. It may be that they toned things down for the Americans even though we asked them not to.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#33 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 08:57 AM

Later in the day we were driven to Ernaculum, the newer part of the city for some touring and shopping. Our initial stop was at a kitchen supply store that specialized in stainless steel products. I wound up buying some small steel cups that should be useful for holding mis-en-place for cooking. In retrospect, I should have bought a few other things as the prices were so inexpensive.

We were met by Paul, the husband of Nimmy of Nimmy Paul, the well known South Indian cooking teacher who was featured on Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie. Interestingly, her name, Nimmy Paul, derives from a combination of both of their names. In any case, Paul took us on a fascinating tour of Ernaculum Market, which was full of great produce. The okra, bananas, pineapples, spices, gourds, pumpkins, squashes, fish, etc. were all well displayed throughout this winding market that reminded me a little of Palermo’s Vucciria.

On the way to the market...
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Slicing a tuber into a streetside fryer

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...at the market...

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Snake Gourds

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Bitter Melons

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Okra

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...more market shots to come...

Edited by docsconz, 06 June 2008 - 08:58 AM.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#34 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 09:08 AM

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Elephant Squash

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#35 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 10:09 AM

More market photos...

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
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#36 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 10:11 AM

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#37 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 10:38 AM

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Mangosteen or "kokum"

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Banana Flowers
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#38 cakewalk

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 10:39 AM

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Goodness, I thought they were mud-covered rocks. I'm still not sure I've matched the caption to the correct photo. Do you by any chance have a picture of these cut open? (This is a great tour, BTW, thanks!)

Edit: oh, it's the stuff in back. (I was looking at the stuff in front of him!) :biggrin:

Edited by cakewalk, 06 June 2008 - 10:40 AM.


#39 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 10:48 AM

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Goodness, I thought they were mud-covered rocks. I'm still not sure I've matched the caption to the correct photo. Do you by any chance have a picture of these cut open? (This is a great tour, BTW, thanks!)

Edit: oh, it's the stuff in back. (I was looking at the stuff in front of him!) :biggrin:

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I believe that you were right the first time! I never did get to try this delicacy nor did I see the inside. :sad:
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#40 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 10:49 AM

From the market we continued to the home of Nimmy Paul for a cooking demonstration and dinner. Nimmy, an extremely gracious and charming woman, demonstrated a few Kerala dishes for us from the Christian tradition including a shrimp curry called “Chemeen Molee,” “Meen Molee” or fish in Coconut Milk, and a cabbage based stirfry called a “Thoren” all of which were later served for dinner. The shrimp, in particular was the finest thing I had eaten on the trip to that point, the first real “Wow!” moment. Dessert was a dish composed of mangoes done four ways using the first ripe mangoes of the season.

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Nimmy

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Good friends - Julie and Nimmy

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Chemeen Molee

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Mango four ways

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Paul, Nimmy and Julie
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#41 Peter Green

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 11:19 AM

Excellent work, John.

I liked the reference to bakhsheesh culture, and the burden of the bureaucrats in the Subcontinent.

I love the photos, and the foreshadowing has me looking forward to what'll be coming next.

Cheers,

Peter

#42 gingerly

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 11:21 AM

wonderful pictures and account, docsconz.

the ‘mangosteen’ used in fish curries is gamboge, locally known as kudampuli.garcinia family but not mangosteen.
kokum is another relative.

also, upthread , i believe the coriander seed going in to the caggage is hulled urad
it’s more commonly seen in the hulled , split version. adds a wonderful nutty element.
for superb vegetarian recipes from the region, you don’t need to look much further than Peppertrail's cookbook!

#43 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 11:38 AM

wonderful pictures and account, docsconz.

the ‘mangosteen’ used in fish curries is  gamboge, locally known as kudampuli.garcinia family but not mangosteen.
kokum is another relative.

also, upthread , i believe the coriander seed going in to the caggage is hulled urad
    it’s more commonly seen in the hulled , split version. adds a wonderful nutty element.
for superb vegetarian recipes from the region, you don’t need to look much further than  Peppertrail's cookbook!

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Thank you, Peter and gingerly.

Very interesting, especially about the mangosteen. The terms mangosteen, fish tamarind and kokum were used interchangeably throughout this portion of the trip. It was not seen when we traveled up north.

I'm pretty sure that what I described as coriander was just that, though I could have been mistaken. I don't recall any mention of dal at the time. Visually, urad and coriander look alike. Coriander is a product of the plantation while dal is not.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#44 Genny

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 01:24 PM

OK, this has become my official work distraction. :biggrin: We have a local restraunt that serves dosa and I just love it! Its great to see here, now I have a better way to place the Southern cuisine as opposed to the Northern cuisine.

On BBC America XM recently I heard an in-depth story about westernized markets starting to move into India. I confess, I don't recall if they were more prevelant in some parts of the country than others though. Did you see any "westernized" grocery stores or was there any discussion when you went to the market regarding such? The story said that they don't allow foreign ownership of these markets but they are springing up and feature incredibly fresh produce which is brought in at least twice a day and is just hours from being picked. Related, the photos show some seemingly large quantities of produce, all looking perfectly ripe. Did you get a sense of the turn-over and if some was much past it's prime?

I could almost smell the "foreign-ness" of the market. Just beautifully photographed and conveyed. Thank you so much for all your efforts to share!

Also, I've noticed the cooking is on single burners. Was that the regular cooktop for the home or just for demonstration purposes?

Genny

#45 docsconz

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 09:24 PM

OK, this has become my official work distraction.  :biggrin:  We have a local restraunt that serves dosa and I just love it!  Its great to see here, now I have a better way to place the Southern cuisine as opposed to the Northern cuisine. 

On BBC America XM recently I heard an in-depth story about westernized markets starting to move into India.  I confess, I don't recall if they were more prevelant in some parts of the country than others though.  Did you see any "westernized" grocery stores or was there any discussion when you went to the market regarding such?  The story said that they don't allow foreign ownership of these markets but they are springing up and feature incredibly fresh produce which is brought in at least twice a day and is just hours from being picked.  Related, the photos show some seemingly large quantities of produce, all looking perfectly ripe.  Did you get a sense of the turn-over and if some was much past it's prime?

I could almost smell the "foreign-ness" of the market.  Just beautifully photographed and conveyed.  Thank you so much for all your efforts to share!

Also, I've noticed the cooking is on single burners.  Was that the regular cooktop for the home or just for demonstration purposes?

Genny

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We didn't actually see or visit any supermarkets, although I would have liked to just out of curiosity to compare. There was discussion of them though. I believe that they are more prevalent in urban areas as one might expect.

As for the regular markets, the only one we really saw in detail was this one at Ernaculum and it was towards the end of the day. I didn't really see a lot of waste. I suspect that one way or another it gets used.

I believe the burners you have seen are primarily for demonstration purposes, although later on you will see some demos from within home kitchens.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#46 Domestic Goddess

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 09:43 AM

We had a  little time between the demonstration and lunch. I was able to sample some fresh, gelatinous coconut meat from a green coconut. It had a mild flavor to go along with its gelatinous consistency. I liked it.

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Ah Doc, it's good to see you reporting again, this time - fascinating India. And such wonderful, vibrant pictures. This one particularly made me homesick, as young tender coconut meat are my favorite (I don't like coconut water).

Please do post some more.

ETA: We Filipinos would call this type of coconut - "mala-uhog" (like snot). Other types of coconut as classified as - "mala-kanin" (like cooked rice) and "pang-gata" (for coconut milk.). Of course, the first is the very young coconut, then a slightly firmer and older one while the last are the tough aged ones.

Edited by Domestic Goddess, 07 June 2008 - 09:49 AM.

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#47 Shelby

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Posted 07 June 2008 - 10:56 AM

:laugh: "like snot"


Really enjoyed reading this today.

Do they keep all of that fish on ice, or do they just sell out quickly?

#48 Peppertrail

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 09:31 AM

I'm pretty sure that what I described as coriander was just that, though I could have been mistaken. I don't recall any mention of dal at the time. Visually, urad and coriander look alike. Coriander is a product of the plantation while dal is not.

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Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures and account of your visit to my home state, docsconz.

I have to agree with gingerly about the seasoning for the cabbage dish - it is urad not coriander. Coriander is never used in the seasoning in south Indian dishes. Instead of hulled and split urad dal here she is using hulled whole urad. The size is very similar to coriander seeds.
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#49 docsconz

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 10:13 AM

I'm pretty sure that what I described as coriander was just that, though I could have been mistaken. I don't recall any mention of dal at the time. Visually, urad and coriander look alike. Coriander is a product of the plantation while dal is not.

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Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures and account of your visit to my home state, docsconz.

I have to agree with gingerly about the seasoning for the cabbage dish - it is urad not coriander. Coriander is never used in the seasoning in south Indian dishes. Instead of hulled and split urad dal here she is using hulled whole urad. The size is very similar to coriander seeds.

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I will defer to your expertise, though I recall no mention of urad dal there. Obviously I was mistaken and likely simply missed the mention of it. Thank you for replying. :smile:

That is a lovely area in which you live!

Edited by docsconz, 09 June 2008 - 10:55 AM.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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#50 docsconz

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 12:37 PM

DAY FIVE: Thursday March 6

We would leave Cochin, Kerala and southern India today, but first we had a little free time which I took to catch up on my journal and to go to Jewtown to buy some more spices. I took a put-put (3-wheeled taxi) over there and quickly found what I was looking for.

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We left for the airport in mid-afternoon for a scheduled 5PM flight to Mumbai connecting to another flight to Delhi. The initial flight was over an hour late. We arrived just in time to get a bus directly to our connecting flight. Not only did we make it just in time, but so did our luggage! If I wasn’t impressed with Jet Airways before, I certainly was then. Besides outstanding service, the food is better than I ever had on any American airline and better than most Indian restaurants that I have ever been to.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#51 tupac17616

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 10:45 PM

Doc, you are pretty much my favorite eGullet-er, I must say. Another beautiful, beautiful thread. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

#52 docsconz

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 03:10 AM

Doc, you are pretty much my favorite eGullet-er, I must say.  Another beautiful, beautiful thread.  Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

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:blush: Thanks!

Plenty more to go, though it might take some time. :smile:
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#53 sabiha

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 04:20 PM

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Goodness, I thought they were mud-covered rocks. I'm still not sure I've matched the caption to the correct photo. Do you by any chance have a picture of these cut open? (This is a great tour, BTW, thanks!)

Edit: oh, it's the stuff in back. (I was looking at the stuff in front of him!) :biggrin:

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I believe that you were right the first time! I never did get to try this delicacy nor did I see the inside. :sad:

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It has lovely pinky/ yellowy flesh and tastes similar to potatoes. The way my grandma usually prepared it was as a dry curry, like potatoes sometimes are.

#54 docsconz

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 05:39 PM

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Elephant Squash

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Goodness, I thought they were mud-covered rocks. I'm still not sure I've matched the caption to the correct photo. Do you by any chance have a picture of these cut open? (This is a great tour, BTW, thanks!)

Edit: oh, it's the stuff in back. (I was looking at the stuff in front of him!) :biggrin:

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I believe that you were right the first time! I never did get to try this delicacy nor did I see the inside. :sad:

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It has lovely pinky/ yellowy flesh and tastes similar to potatoes. The way my grandma usually prepared it was as a dry curry, like potatoes sometimes are.

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Sounds good. Thanks for filling us in. I would love to try it sometime.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#55 tsquare

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 09:17 PM

My sweetie would like to go to India - if I could go like this (so far!) I might be willing to join him. I'm frightened to see what is coming, but assume you survived, along with your photos. Really beautiful.

Have you eaten any Indian food since you arrived home?

#56 docsconz

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 05:07 AM

My sweetie would like to go to India - if I could go like this (so far!) I might be willing to join him. I'm frightened to see what is coming, but assume you survived, along with your photos. Really beautiful.

Have you eaten any Indian food since you arrived home?

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I would say that India is absolutely worth visiting. It is a totally fascinating country from so many different angles, not the least of which is the food. The issues I had were not such that made me wish I hadn't gone. I have quite a bit to go, though, before I get to relate what happened at the end. :wink:


I have had Indian food since I have returned. My thoughts on the quality of what I had here were not as positive as they were before I went there. I am now spoiled. :biggrin: I did have Indian Alphonso mango this past weekend, which was marvelous.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#57 docsconz

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 06:56 AM

DAY SIX: Friday March 7

This was my best night’s sleep to date on the trip, though I still got up early. Breakfast at the Oberoi Delhi was something to behold. In addition to typical buffet fare, though of very high quality, one could order dishes prepared from a menu. I had Indian Masala Scrambled eggs, which contained tomatoes, mushrooms, and Indian spices. It was excellent, however, the most impressive part of the breakfast was the outstanding croissants, They were crisp, flaky and intricately layered affairs with wonderful, buttery flavor - truly world class.

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Images of the Oberoi Breakfast Buffet

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Indian Masala Scrambled Eggs. Unfortunately I did not photograph the magnificent croissants. :sad:
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#58 docsconz

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 12:30 PM

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New Delhi Traffic

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We were scheduled to visit India’s top cooking school, at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering & Nutrition - Pusa. We arrived to a lovely greeting of the traditional “tikka” forehead paint that had three components - sandalwood, vermilion and rice and a flower garland or “mala” placed over our heads to signify us as honored guests. The motto of the Indian tourism board is taken from Indian tradition of hospitality - “The guest is God.”
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The cooking program at the school covers three years. The first deals with basic techniques and theory. The second, techniques of mass production banquet catering and the third, International cooking. Other programs at the school cover all aspects of the hospitality industry. For such a prestigious school, I was surprised to find the physical plant to be in such poor condition. Nevertheless, the students learn to perform well in less than ideal conditions.

We were taken on a tour of the school, visiting various classes in session.

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Spice Grinder

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Making Papadams

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Indoor Tandoor

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Julie Sahni chats with first year students

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Pastry Instructor S. Bose

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Students observing the pastry master

More to come on this school visit...
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#59 docsconz

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:30 PM

After a tour of the facilities, we were brought to a demonstration classroom led by Chef Mamta Ghugtyal, where 8 dishes representative of the Delhi area were prepared in front of us. These included poori, stuffed paratha, various chaats such as a papdi chaat with papadam, yogurt, tamarind, potato, mint chutney and pomegranate seeds, tandoori cooked “Murg malai“ or “Butter” chicken, Pomfret Amritsai and others. We were able to taste a number of them before proceeding to lunch. They were all amazing. I particularly enjoyed the papdi chaat, the pomfret, the paratha and the chicken. We still had a full lunch to go!

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Mis-en-place

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Stirring milk to make Kesari Kheer

Murg Malai - Butter Chicken


First Tandoori Chicken must be made.

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The chicken is skinned and scored...

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then marinated in garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, ghee and yogurt with the addition of Keshmiri chili powder or not depending on a desire for red coloration

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Skewering Murg

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Potatoes are used to keep the chicken from sliding off the skewer

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Chicken cooking in the tandoor

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Basting with butter

The finished tandoori chicken was blended with a sauce that included butter, ginger, garlic paste, tomatoes, salt, green chilies, cashew paste, Keshmiri chili powder, cream and coriander.

Edited by docsconz, 11 June 2008 - 01:47 PM.

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#60 docsconz

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 01:46 PM

Papdi Chaat

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The ingredients are assembled These include crumbled papdi, potatoes, cholle - a chickpea preparation, yogurt, mint chutney, saunth - tamarind chutney, salt, red chili powder, roasted cumin powder and pomegranate seeds.

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The papdi are crumbled on the bottom of a serving plate and the cholle are placed over them

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Boiled potatoes are layered over the chickpeas and the papdi

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Yogurt that had been whisked and hung goes on next

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...followed by the tamarind and mint chutneys

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...salt, red chili powder and roasted cumin powder

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...before finishing with the pomegranate seeds

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This colorful dish was amongst the most delicious things we ate over the entire trip!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz