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Everything posted by mongo_jones

  1. i haven't perused all the threads here but it seems like a lot of readers and posters here are interested in (relatively) more complicated indian dishes, often in things that are cooked more in restaurants or the homes of the rich (where there is time, labor and means to cook these things). as someone who grew up decidedly middle-class, unable to afford to go to 5 star restaurants or to elite clubs (except as rare treats), indian food has largely been defined for me by home-cooking. which, as all indians know, is quite a different beast from what is found in restaurants. sometimes i think people who cook every day prefer dishes that are simply prepared, and those who cook as a hobby go for the more complicated recipes. unfortunately in cookbooks and restaurants and magazine/newspaper articles in the u.s indian food is being identified more with the complicated (and rich, in all senses of the term) than with the mainstays of the average indian kitchen. some of this has to do with narratives of exoticization (often internalized by indian writers themselves) and the place of india in the western imagination, but whatever the cause it paints a very narrow picture of the indian culinary scene. the basic potato recipe i posted earlier is an example of a simple but tasty bengali home-style dish. i'd love to read and try other such recipes from other people's and regions' repertoires.
  2. i tend to agree with you skchai--when i talk about oil separation i'm not talking about reducing things to some sort of oily jam but as an indicator of when a sauce is cooked through. by the way, looking for oil separation, in the way i understand it and not the way episure describes it, is something that's been taught to me by other self-taught, non-academic (sometimes illiterate), non-pedantic cooks. i think we're talking about different degrees here.
  3. okay, here's a classic bengali recipe for potatoes cooked to be eaten with lucchis (though if like me, and most normal people, you can't cook a lucchi to save your life they go well with chapatis and parathas too--not as well with rice): ingredients: panch phoron: 1 tspn (a bengali 5 seed mixture: fennel, cumin, mustard, kalonji and one more thing usually) 5 medium rose potatoes diced 1 small onion thinly sliced cross-wise 1/2 tspn haldi 1 medium tomato chopped salt 2-3 thin green and red chillies chopped dhania water heat some oil (medium-high heat) and drop in the panch phoron. as soon as the seeds stop making like shrapnel drop in the onions--saute till the onions begin to brown and drop in the diced potatoes. saute for some time and add the haldi and stir again for a while. add the tomatoes, chillies and salt and stir till the tomatoes break down and the legendary oil separation begins to happen. add water to cover the potatoes, cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat till the potatoes are done. garnish with dhania and serve
  4. my mother's recipes all say "fry until water dries up and oil starts coming out". this is a little more descriptive than "oil separation" but in any case i only figured it out while learning how to make good pasta sauce--for some tomato sauces it is crucial to stop cooking as soon as the oil separates. my mother's recipes are all wonderfully vague--it used to cause a great deal of consternation for me in my early days as a cook but now i find that my own recipes are equally vague. i tend to make up the proportions when i write them down for others (i never measure anything when i make curries--if i drop in too much of something by mistake i just adjust other things). and timing things is vastly over-rated too--the best guide is not a clock but your nose.
  5. i should add that the short-cut method i mentioned above works really well with meat kofta curries--you form and fry the koftas first and then add them to the pureed mixture after oil separation. then add some water and the rest and simmer till done.
  6. i'm in the camp of those who consider vindaloos to be a pork specific dish. sure there's no reason why you can't make it with another meat but the sweetness of pork fat is what perfectly complements the tanginess of a good vindaloo. and my favorite vindaloos are always the dryer tangy ones with a nice after-burn not the ones designed to demonstrate the chef's or the (usually anglo) customer's machismo. in general i don't like the total substitutability principle that operates in many indian restaurants in the u.s where any kind of curry can be gotten with any kind of meat and sometimes even fish or shrimp. certain dishes go better with particular meats. what drives me up the wall even more is when waiters ask the mild, medium, spicy question for every damned dish. no, i wouldn't like my alu-palak spicy, thank you very much!
  7. this is how i usually make my keema curries: i use 1-1.5 lb ground turkey in deference to my high cholesterol first i saute some cinnamon, cardamom pods and cloves and a bay leaf or two then i add and saute chopped onions, adding ginger-garlic paste after a couple of minutes then i add 3/4 tspn haldi, 1 tspn red chilli powder, 1/2 tspn zeera powder, salt and black pepper then diced tomatoes saute all this down till oil begins to separate [as an alternate, when lazy i do the following: take all ingredients listed above after the whole garam masala and puree them together in a blender--saute the paste in the garam masala spiced oil till oil separates--this is actually my mother's (who is an excellent cook) short-cut so i don't want any grief :-) --this method yields a sauce of a very different consistency but it is really worth trying. ] regardless of which way i get to the oil separation stage i then add the keema and saute it till oil separates again--add diced potatoes, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup frozen corn, i cup water, bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer till the water evaporates and potatoes get done. then i add a tspn of powdered garam masala and return everything to a boil for a minute. garnish with lots of chopped dhania and chopped green chillies (with the seeds), and optionally also some chopped raw onion. i like eating keema with rice but much prefer it with chapatis or parathas (along with some sweet mango achar and a nice bengali style moog dal, and maybe some alu dum as well). sometimes i'll give it a twist and add some vinegar and sugar at the point after i add the tomatoes and they've decomposed. sometimes i'll add tamarind and sugar. all in all it usually comes out very nicely.
  8. well, even though none of you have been to the masala in boulder i'm going to take these almost confirmations as evidence that it may well be good--i'll probably check it out this weeken and post my impressions here.
  9. live and learn--wonder why the bangladeshi store in l.a carried it frozen when you can get it fresh in s.f. bong, you aren't by any chance from b.i.t.s pilani, are you?
  10. hi suvir, other denver/boulder residents, i haven't actually been to any denver restaurants yet--i live in boulder (been here a month). the ones i've been to in boulder--the first one's name escapes me, but it is in a strip mall on mohawk, and the taj in the basemar shopping center--ranged from the horrible to the inoffensive. perhaps i caught them on bad days but the experience has made me wary of other indian establishments here. so, i'm only going to go to places that i can cross-reference. i remember from an earlier thread that a couple of people had recommended particular restaurants in denver and that others were going to check those out--any word? i'm told there's a south indian place in boulder that is allegedly quite good. i think it is called masala. does anyone know about it? if not, i may have to take a chance and be the pioneer. what i would appreciate though is tips on good indian stores in the area--there's only one indian store in boulder and it only has one brand of basmati rice, so draw your own conclusions. i was spoiled in los angeles with access not just to a range of indian groceries in l.a and artesia but also to a couple of bangladeshi places that had every bengali fish you could imagine (flown in frozen from bangladesh). even my parents--hardcore bengalis--after initial scepticism were impressed by the quality of the ilish/hilsa i got from alladin (vermont and 1st) on their last visit, though the frozen potol (see the mystery legume/pod thread) was a different story. i don't imagine (dare not hope) there's any place in the denver metro that sells indian fish?
  11. as far as i know parwal and potol are the same thing, so even if it isn't the mystery pod in question at least we're thinking of the same thing. i personally have my doubts that it is parwal/potol since i've never heard of it being available fresh in the u.s (assuming that's where the questioner is from). the only time i've ever seen it in the u.s is frozen in bangladeshi grocery stores (and it comes out pretty horrible when you thaw it and cook it).
  12. there's an older thread on this board listing indian restaurants in various american cities. does anyone have an update on restaurants in the denver/boulder area? i am yet to find one that passes muster. i'm probably just picking the wrong ones each time. also, are there many e-gulleters in this part of the country? suvir, i was under the impression--from your website and other posts--that you are new york based; more recent posts, however, indicate that you live in denver. perhaps we should have an e-gulleters pot-luck soon.
  13. possibly the bengali potol? though i don't know about the reddish lines.
  14. shurely shome mishtake--shondesh is a completely different sweet.
  15. mongo_jones


    without downplaying the general khichrification of indian words that the brits engaged in, i'm not sure that bombay is a simple corruption of mumbai. isn't it supposed to be a contraction of bom bahia from portuguese days? having grown up all over india i don't have allegiances to particular cities (though i lived in delhi longer than any other indian city), but as a 10 year angeleno (only recently self-exiled) i'm bemused by the juxtaposition of new york and los angeles, given that (anglo) inhabitants of both cities love to hate the other. i've always thought delhi was to bombay/mumbai as l.a is to new york or san francisco--more of a sprawl than a city, with less of a definitive culture, and with more of a chip on the shoulder. the difference i guess is that los angeles' non-european restaurants blow new york away (especially the chinese and vietnamese food in the san gabriel valley and garden grove respectively, mexican and salvadorean food in east l.a, korean food in koreatown etc. etc.), whereas delhi is far more gastronomically monolingual than bombay/mumbai.
  16. no offense taken--i'm not a hyderabadi myself, just lived there for 3 years. hyderabadi friends may not be as tolerant of this revisionist history though. if i had to guess i'd say that each city probably has a number of stories that "definitively" have it originating there or near-by. i'm not convinced by the story posted: it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for something that originated near hyderabad to come back to it via madras. what is probably more likely is that similar dishes originated in different places and it is the name that has migrated and over time caused some standardization of preparation.
  17. i'd be surprised if there weren't a bunch of "balti" cookbooks over in the u.k.
  18. i have to take issue with vikram's post moving the provenance of chicken 65 from hyderabad to madras. don't say this within earshot of any proud hyderabadi. the story, as told to me in my years in hyderabad, is not that this dish was number 65 on a menu but that it was served at a truckers' dhaba near the 65th milestone outside hyderabad--spicy both in keeping with hyderabadi origins and to go with booze and diesel fumes. there's a restaurant i've been to in new jersey that makes a mean version.
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