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Everything posted by Peppertrail

  1. 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.
  2. Gautam: Thank you for your kind endorsement of my cookbook. As you wrote I am a food writer and my specialty is vegetarian cooking of Kerala. Although I am from Kerala I am based in the Untied States and I teach Kerala vegetarian cooking in Dallas. The varied - Hindu, Christian, Jewish and Muslim - cuisines of Kerala were unknown in the food world until a few years ago. And Nimmy has played an important role in this regard. Nimmy and I met through our web sites dedicated to Kerala cuisine and I have recommended her cooking classes to several Americans visiting Kerala and they were happy about their experiences. Last November I finally met Nimmy; we were both presenters at the CIA's Worlds Of Flavor - Rise of Asia - conference. With both Kerala (as a tourist destination) and its cuisine's receiving more visibility these days I am sure Nimmy's classes are in demand and it is unfortunate that Ken had a disappointing experience. There are many good cooks in Kerala; but unfortunately only very few are capable of teaching to a western audience.
  3. Kent Wang: I usually go to the excelelnt Mexcian restaurants when I am in Austin. This was my first visit to an Indian restaurant there. In Indian cuisine meats are usually cut into smaller portions and well cooked.
  4. On a recent visit to Austin our friends treated us to an excellent dinner at Bombay Bistro. Both food and service were very good. Honestly, after several disappointing experiences at various Indian restaurants in the DFW area I was somewhat skeptical as we walked into this restaurant located in a strip-center. It only took a minute for me to change my opinion. I was impressed with the clean and uncluttered look of the place. There was no mingled aroma of spices and fried onions lingering in the air. The tables were neatly set with clean cutlery and cloth napkins. The menu featured typical Indian restaurant dishes along with several not so typical but authentic dishes. The menu contained mostly northern Indian dishes, along with a few southern Indian specials. The wine and beer list was quite long, and also contained some interesting mixed drinks under the title "magic potions". They had some interesting names - Bombay margarita, Jaipur Royale, East India Company and so on. My husband ordered a Bombay Blues- infused Bombay sapphire gin dirty martini with jalapeno stuffed olives. A martini with a hint of jalapeno heat.- a perfect combination- was his verdict. We ordered several dishes and shared. The curry dishes came with servings of rice. Kerala shrimp curry was the favorite at our table. Chicken vindaloo was quite spicy as the name vindaloo suggests; flavors of spices were well balanced and it was cooked just perfect. The tikka masala was good too, but the chicken pieces were not as tender as in the vindaloo. We also ordered Methi aloo, a mildly spiced vegetable dish made with fenugreek leaves and potatoes; a dish you don't usually see in a restaurant menu. I had tasted some excellent version of this dish at the homes of my Gujarathi friends. Bombay-Bistro's version was equally good with subtle seasoning and no excess oil. We enjoyed it with paneer kulcha and naan. We were so full, we did not order any dessert or tea or coffee. Will certainly go back there the next time we are in Austin. I certainly hope they would open a branch in the Dallas area. Menus and directions are on their website bombay-bristro.com.
  5. There are quite a few recipes for vegetarian dishes in Indian cuisine. India's culinary traditions are rich, and as varied as the land and people. Are you interested in the cuisine of any specific region in India? What are the spices you have bought? Are there any particular vegetables that you would like to cook? Please tell more about your spice purchases and favorite vegetables, and I would be happy to help.
  6. As Episure wrote, I also don't have more to add to v.gautam's excellent dissertation. I learned a lot from v.gautam' s posts. Separation of cream from milk is seldom done in South India. In the tropical heat of South India, milk is a highly perishable commodity. Fresh milk is always boiled before use. Before the days of refrigeration, the only way to use leftover milk was to ferment it daily to make yogurt. Yogurt is churned in the morning to separate butter from buttermilk. Butter is melted and cooked over medium heat to remove all of the moisture and milk solids. In Kerala this the way ghee is made at home. When the milk from grass-fed cow is used to make the yogurt, the ghee has distinct yellowish color and pleasant fragrance. I have always used home made ghee in India and in the US. Here I make it from good quality unsalted butter (in Texas I use Braum's or Land o'Lake's butter). I cook it over mdium heat until all of the moisture has evaporated and the milk solids have separated. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the milk solids.
  7. Ragi/finger millet is very nutritious and easily dgested. In Kerala, south Inida, we start feeding babies a porridge made of ragi from the 28th day onwards. Powdered ragi is mixed with milk and and a pinch of sugar and cooked into a porridge. Ragi powder is now readily available at Indian grocery stores all over the US.
  8. Pan, ghostrider, scott123, chow guy & milagai: Thanks so much for your replies. Pan, I was only quoting the definitions from Dictionary of culinary terms. Personally I prefer using "sauce" instead of "gravy". I just wanted to know the general consensus about this terminology. ghostrider, I agree "braising liquid reduction" would be too technical a term. Scott123, I agree. I also associate gravyy with something served with meats. chow guy, Italians and Indians use the term gravy similarly. Interesting. Milagai: I understand most cookbooks published in India refer to the liquid in curries as gravy; at the same time most Indian cookbooks published in the US refer to it as sauce.
  9. What would you call the liqiud in a curry dish- gravy or sauce? And why? The Prentice Hall dictionary of culinary terms defines gravy as a suace made from meat or poultry juices combined with liquid (milk, broth or wine) and thickening agent (flour or corn starch). It defines sauce as a thickened liquid or semiliquid preparation used to flavor and enhance other foods. Braising is defined as a combination cooking method in which foods are first browned in hot fat, then covered and slowly coked in a small amount of liquid over low heat. Some Indian curries are prepared using the braising method. In the preparation of many other curries meats or vegetables, especially vegetables, are cooked in water and then thickening ingredients such as cooked and pureed legumes or yogurt or coocnut milk and spice blends are added. What would be the appropriate term to describe the resulting thickened liquid in a curry - sauce, gravy or braising liquid?
  10. Batters ferment well in warm weather. If you have gas oven with pilot light, try placing the batter in the oven overnight. This method worked for me when I lived in New York. Otherwise cover the pot of batter with an old blanket.
  11. I have new one to add to the best category. joiei. thanks so much for writing about Lanny's Alta cocina Mexicana. We had a great dinner there last week. Both food and service were excellent.
  12. Best meal - Aurora. (thanks joiei, will certainly try Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana) Best meal affordable - I am still looking for it Worst meal affordable - Cantina Loredo
  13. Could someone please post the address of Jimmy's.
  14. A hopper (also called appam or appa) is crisp on the outside, yet soft and spongy in the center. It is a popular breakfast dish in Sri Lanka and Kerala, in South India. It is served with curries in India and curries and sambols in Sri Lanka. Typically in Kerala it is served with a coconut milk based curry called stew which is prepared with either chicken or potato. Egg hoppers are made of the usual hopper where an egg is poached into its center. Hoppers are made from a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk and a dash of coconut toddy. The batter of rice flour and coconut milk traditionally has toddy added for the typical flavor and, it helps the fermentation of the batter. Fermented batter makes the centers full of little holes. Toddy can be substituted with yeast. After leaving to rise, the batter is swirled in a hemispherical pan, rather like a small wok. Even without the traditional hopper-pan or appachatti, it is possible to enjoy the unique texture and flavour using a small skillet.
  15. Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks at 163 wesr 10th Street is another source for cookbooks.
  16. Hi Monica: I finally found your blong, thanks to Episure's directions. One day and seven pages later. Beautiful pictures. Look forward to reading more.
  17. Milagai: Sorry didn't see your post till now. Before Easter many religious Christians in Kerala observe a strict vegetarian diet for several days. On Easter Sunday they celebrate with a variety of meat dishes. Being a vegetarian my understanding of these recipes is very limited.
  18. Vishu represents the passing of the sun from Taurus into Aries, a solar event that marks the beginning of a new astrological year. Based on ancient astrological calendar it was considered New Year's Day in Kerala. However, our New Year's Day was changed to mid September in 825 A.D. Vishu is the celebration of hope and expectations of a new dawn. The traditional rituals followed in the festival are believed to usher in a year of prosperity. This year Vishu falls on April 14th. Many devotees worship at Guruvayoor temple on Vishu. I have a piece on this festival as a couple of recipes at this link.
  19. Serve boiled peanuts (shelled of course) along with salt, finely chopped onions, lots of fresh cilantro, green chilies, a few drops of fresh lemon juice and some cayenne powder (or paprika if you prefer mild taste) dusted on top.
  20. Our own fourm host Monica Bhide had published an article on this topic - Fiery Combination- in Chicago Tribune of January 26, 2005.
  21. Andhra Pradesh, the land of chilies and rice, was once a part of the Maurya Empire and it was an important Buddhist centre. Vegetarianism was widely prevalent during these early years. Finally, parts of Andhra Pradesh succumbed to the rule of the Nizams of Hyderabad. The first Nizam Mir Qumaruddin was a Viceroy of the Mogul court, but with the fall of the Mogul empire he became the ruler of this small independent kingdom. He recreated the opulence of Mogul lifestyle and brought armies and workers from the ancient capital. Needless to say trained chefs were part of the contingent that arrived from Delhi. They integrated the predominant flavors of south India – coconut, curry leaves and peppers – and created some unbelievably delicious dishes such as baghare baingan, dalcha and lukmi.
  22. From ingenious vegetarian offerings with a wide range of flavors to the elegant meat-centered feasts of Mogul emperors, India’s culinary traditions are rich, and as varied as her land and people. The country’s geography and climate ranges from landlocked high altitude mountains, to fertile river valleys, to arid plateaus, to verdant tropical coasts. In times past food production was totally dependent on geographic and climatic conditions, from which evolved the various peasant cuisines of India. Until the British conquest at the end of the eighteenth century, each region of India was ruled by its own royal family and each had its own provincial language, local customs, culture, and unique cuisine. The proficient palace chefs of these small independent kingdoms perfected the many elegant palace cuisines of India. The unmistakable unifying feature of Indian cooking is the endless possibilities available for flavoring - spices differentiate one dish from the other, and define and intensify tastes. For much of their history, the cuisines of southern and northern halves of India developed separately. In ancient times the hills and forests that sprawled across the center of the country made travel very difficult. The Afghan and Turkish armies from central Asia began making repeated incursions from 1000 AD and several Muslim kingdoms were established in northern India. The Mogul emperor Baber conquered India in 1526 AD and this Muslim dynasty ruled in an unbroken succession for nearly 200 years. The extravagant life styles of the Muslim emperors were heavily influenced by the Persians. North Indian food went through a profound transformation during this period. Palace cooks came from many parts of the world, each specializing in a particular delicacy. Ingredients were brought in from Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern kingdoms. Meats and breads grilled in clay ovens called tandoors and elaborate dishes – Kababs, pulavs and biriyanis - and sweets garnished with thin sheets of real gold and silver became the mainstay of Mogul banquets served at their capital Delhi. When the emperors conquered Kashmir and Rajasthan the cuisines of these regions also began to show Mogul influence. The dawn of 18th century saw the beginnings of the decline of the Mogul empire. As the rebellion against the Muslim emperors spread further the Nawabs of Awadh declared independence and ruled from Lucknow (present Uttar Pradesh). The lifestyle of the Nawabs was very similar to the lavish demeanor of the Moguls. The well trained chefs of the palace refined the Mogul cuisine further and took it to another level. They considered the presentation of food equally important as taste itself; something that was very new to India. Exotic dishes of the Nawabi cuisine include gently spiced lamb and rice pulavs, fish cooked earthenware pots kept under hot charcoal, rice baked with chicken, cream and nuts, spicy okra, and several exquisite desserts. With the migration of Indian workers to the west during 18th and 19th centuries, the hardy food of the Punjab region and the tandoori preparations of Mogul cuisine were the first to reach the western world. Even today this is the type of food that is served in most Indian restaurants abroad. A variety of Indian dishes from other parts of India is slowly but surely gaining popularity.
  23. Easternsun: This paneer recipe sounds good, but it is not a typical Kerala dish. In fact paneer is not a trditional ingredient in South India. We ferment milk to make yogurt, butter/ghee and buttermilk. Same goes for tandoori dishes. But today many restaurants all over south India also serve dishes from other parts of India. In Kerala people often prefer barboiled or converted rice. The populr basmati rice is not a converted rice. Ammini
  24. Thanks Monica. Though the Portuguese were in Kerala from 1498 to 1663 until the Dutch overthrew them, they didn't mange to popularize their breads to the rice eating population of Kerala. Of course we gladly accepted their chili peppers, pineapple and cashews; but bread is a different story.
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