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Everything posted by indiagirl

  1. i've read a lot of appreciation of the fuschia dunlop (land of plenty - sichuan cuisine) book on this thread. on the thai/chinese/korean thread, i've heard similar praise of the corinne trang (essentials of asain cuisine) book. i know they are probably slightly different in focus but if i had to buy one, which one would it be? any suggestions?
  2. an opinion from an addict: good ventilation i do see how smoking at the bars should be prohibited but i think restaurants with multiple rooms can easily pull off one room with good ventialtion for us smokers and populate it with smoking waitstaff, which based on my restaurant experience should not be hard to find just passing a law banning it entirely seems a bit much to me. if the law passed some kind of minimum cfm requirement then those that could - would.
  3. and yes, it is lijjat papad. they run it like a "cottage" industry and provide thousands of women who could not work because of familial or social constraints with employment, an income and therefore, in some cases, much needed independence. many years ago, there was a scandal of some kind that i vaguely recall, related to the hygiene aspects of food created in unknown surroundings and now there is more quality control associated with it. there are even some women run community centers where women can come with their kids and make papads for a few hours a day. my mother's family always made papads at him and watching the pandit (the cook, but more) rolling them out until the dough was almost translucent would keep me hypnotized for hours. i think sun dried ones taste better than factory dried ones but that may just eb nostalgia :) i think the only downside of papads from indian stores are that they are not fresh - yes, i know that is a strange notion when talking about a dried food but i 'm still sticking to it .... i sometimes get blah papads from the store here and i think it's because they have been sitting on some shelf for years .... vanessa, sometimes when papads are fried without a focus on the shape (flatness) it becomes very difficult to drain the oil since it pools in the little cavities created by the odd shapes. perhaps, that is why yours felt extra oily? rich, the longer spelling poppadum - is from the south of india, the shorter ones are from the north. rice papads are vaery popular in the south.
  4. yes, i remember my dad using an kadhai placed upside down on a gas stove until it heated up and then making rotis on the sides, as an experiment it was very successful and we made rotis (not roomali) that way for years!
  5. this is the most basic version of kadhi, different occasions and regions call for more elaborate versions - rajasthan (north western desert state, for example, makes a version with deep fried chick pea flour dumplings that are soaked in the kadhi before serving) i'm sort of winging the recipe here but it's pretty forgiving to slight variation in quantities, like most indian recipes are. you can also make it with buttermilk. 2 cups yoghurt whisked with about 4 cups water 3-4 tbsps of chickpea flour blended with a little water to make a smooth paste 1-2 inch piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped bunch of freshly cut cilantro 1/2 teaspoon, coriander and cumin powder 1 green chillies, chopped 1/4 teaspoon turmeric for the tarka: 1-2 tablespoons ghee or butter 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 5-10 curry leaves 1 green chilli chopped 1 dried red chilli a pinch of asafoetida mix the yoghurt, ginger, turmeric, green chillies, half the cilantro and coriander and cumin powder until there are no lumps from the spice powders. add salt to taste. the next two steps can be switched - i've seen them done in both ways. i'll list it in the order i do it: heat the yoghurt mixture gently until warm. when it appears to be close to a boil, add the chickpea flour paste and stir until thick enough for your taste (i like it to be as thick as heavy whipping cream or slightly thicker, maple syrup would be too thick) when the liquid is thick enough and no longer smells of the raw chickpea flour, switch to a low flame and make a tarka (as i was saying, some people add the tarka before they add the chick pea flour for thickening, but i like the flavor of the fresh, just poured, tarka.) heat the butter on low until the milk fat solids separate and a little caramelization occurs (instant ghee!). add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, and chillies (dry and fresh) and stir until aromatic. add the curry leaveas and cilantro and stir fry for half a minute or so. pour the tarka into the kadhi (thickened youghurt mixture). allow the whole liquid to come to a boil for a few minutes to blend the flavors of the youghurt base and tarka. enjoy! i wish i had a recipe for mishti dhoi. i wish. i wish. the only bengali cookbook i have says the following: "we listened with attention to an experts scientific treatise on dhoi. naren das of the k.c.das family explained how the lactobacillus bulgaria and streptococcus bacteria which have grown in yesterday's dhoi are mixed into the fresh milk that has been boiled down to half it's volume and then cooled to 40 degrees centigrade. sugar is added and the mixture is kept at a constant temerature until it sets." the last bit make it a little sketchy for home reproduction i think but i'll have to give it a try one of these days. sigh fyi - k.c.das is one of the more famous bengali sweet purveyors.
  6. maggiethecat, add one more for me. i'm trying to do my bit here! bought - the pie and pastry bible, rose levy biranbaum - this evening. twelve bucks at the local used book store. life is wonderful. :)
  7. steve, i believe i did obliquely comment on your observation regarding "culinary orthodoxy" - in fact i even agreed with it. my words were certainly not as eloquent as yours and my viewpoint not as insightful. your expression has allowed me to extend my basic just-the-facts-ma'am observation into a viable interpretation on the usage of "ethnic cuisine" to paraphrase what i said - ethnic foods are those that require ingredients which are absent in your run of the mill grocery store. if i were to attempt to take that observation to a slightly higher plane so that it could converse with your theory of culinary orthodoxy, it would get restated as follows: the culinary aspects or implications of the phrase "ethnicity" when used to describe a cuisine dominate the social ones. while the social implications are by no means absent, and can frequently be derogatory, they are secondary to the culinary ones. this would imply that ethnic foods would be ones which used ingredients and techniques that were not used/practised either by famous chefs or suburban households, further they would use ingredients that are uncommon but not necessarily rare, in a global sense. so a restaurant that served truffles would not qualify. rare but mainstream. a restaurant that used asafoetida in it's cooking would qualify, until asafoetida was commonly available at the local grocery store. and then there is chipotle. which is more commonly available than asafoetida but not quite ubiquitous, which would probably lead to yet another classification - transitioning ethnic foods. si? non?
  8. growing up, setting the yoghurt for the next morning was a nightly ritual. in fact, in the divison of labor between us siblings, one wiped down the dinner table and counter tops and the other made the yoghurt. the third, for there were three of us, filled bottles with filtered water to put in the refrigerator so that we had cold water the next morning. since filling the water bottles was obviously the easiest job and so the schedule of nightly jobs was rigourously rotated! we never used lemon/lime juice in the yoghurt, but if i had to make a semi-educated guess, i would guess that it is because bacteria grows better in a slightly acidic environment. too much of it, i suspect, may just result in "spoiling" the milk. what i use yoghurt for? i use it in many north indian curries, a yoghurt, ginger, garlic base, i think can be divine. i use it to make marinades for tofu and vegetables that i then slow cook in the oven in unglazed earthenware (and as an evolving non-vegetarian i have been thinking of using it for fish) i add it to aviyal, a south indian curry made of mixed vegetables with lots of coconut in it. i use it to make shrikhand (always the full fat kind with the skin on top). a wonderful maharashtrian (indian state) desert that consists of youghurt that is tied in a cloth to drip overnight and then mixed with sugar or honey, cardamom, nutmeg and saffron steeped in milk. i add nuts, raisins or mango pulp if i am in need of variety. i dream of using it to make mishti dhoi (simon, do you know how to make this at home?). my dad, a pilot, would bring us back handis (little O shaped unglazed earthware pots) of mishti dhoi when he was on flights to calcutta and mishti dhoi is divine. i suspect it is an aphrodisiac! and then of course, i use it for the usual stuff like raita, as a substitute for lunch on a busy day (although the bloody cafeteria only sells the fruit at the bottom kind with truly fake fruit), to make kadhi on a depressing winter night, the quickest, most comforting indian soup you can make. i'll post recipes shortly, if anyone is interested. foodman, i would love to know the stuffed zucchini and labne recipe.
  9. thanks, scottishchef. it is lovely to have hats doffed at you for something you love doing. :gracious bow: :big smile: (ps - did you like our logo?) suvir, excellent news about the hospital. take it over, dude. you will be doing a service to many patients to come! in terms of healing/comforting foods, a couple i forgot to mention in the previous post: khichadi (mixed lentils and rice, all cooked together with spices) kadhi (soup like and made of yougurt and chickpea flour) perhaps you could share with the chefs, the differenes in techniques that make life so difficult for your dad. pointing out that most often than not it is the techniques and seasonings that break a dish, not the base ingredients themselves, would go a along way, it think. over cooked green beans vs. lightly sauteed green beans with a little cumin and fresh coconut. that type of thing. not that you need very much input from the rest of us!! anyway, share the menus you plan, with us here, suvir. it will be interesting.
  10. perhaps a little secret stash of fresh ground dhania, cumin powder and black pepper and fresh cilantro to be used as garnishings on the hospital food will alleviate your father's distress, suvir. atleast until the hospital realizes the errors of their ways and lets you take over the kitchen! i belong to a group that cooks twice a month at the local ronald mcdonald house (cheap, clean accomodations for parents whose kids are in the nearby hospital) and we make it a point to serve meals which are not only warm and nourishing but flavorful and creative. http://www.projectflavor.org/ the heartfelt and sincere thanks and compliments we get are a true testimony to the healing and comforting power of food - it is so incredibly surprising to me that while medical science has progressed to a point where they can prove the obvious medical/threapeutic benefits of such abstract things as music and art, hospitals, the very centers of healing, continue to serve unspeakable food.
  11. if i could take the liberty to sum up the various definitions that i have heard on this thread, that build on what i consider the commonly used defintion of ethnic food, ethnic food would have to have the following charactersitics: it would have to be foreign , removed from the mainstream the ingredients would have to be procured from an "ethnic" (ha, could not resist that) grocery store, perhaps just another reinforcement of the "removed from the mainstream" point but i think it reinforces a specific kind of differentness. it would address, for example, the fish and chips, possibly removed from the mainstream but not considered "ethnic" cuisine with ingredients that the local grocery store does not carry C.I.L.G.S.D.N.C unpronounceable but some would consider that par for the course for "ethnic" food! about the implied price point discussion - i think at some point it was probably relevant. i do not take offense to the assumption since i suspect that the early stages of the majority of immigrants arriving on u.s. shores, were cahracterized by cheap food served in unglamourous surroundings. it is the inability of people's minds to expand and remain open, the inability of people to be able to reassess their defintions when exposed to new facts, that leaves me astounded. in light of coming across one's fiftieth upscale restaurant of a particular ethnicity, i am unable to parse people that conclude that the restaurant is not ethnic as opposed to concluding ethnic does not mean cheap and ghetto, ethnic means a specific kind of cuisine the negative sense that comes with the phrase ethnic is, i believe, the same sense that applies to the phrase immigrant. being one, i have heard it used in a personal context a million times. and living in a liberal town, it is frequently used in a positive context. even with the positives, it is the collective definition that goes with the phrase that bothers me. an uber-identity if you will that appears to define me at a granualrity i find hard to digest. yes, i am brown, yes, my food is predominantly yellow, i do not find these definitions bothersome. it is the aspect of all indians being similar and the further association that all immigrants are somehwat similar that leads to the negative wash to it all. because it is that mass grouping that i think perforce leads to defintions of cleanliness, hygiene, odor, income level , etc. i do not have a better word as a substitute, what i would wish for is a way to keep on the word because it makes sense at so many levels and merely remove the negative connotations associated with it. and then we'll figure out how to make sure no one in the world ever dies of hunger again. yeah, i know. (edited to change my incorrect acronym!)
  12. suvir, thanks so much. the Holkar book sounds wonderful. can you tell me what it is called. my uncle owns a bookstore in nagpur and perhaps he could find me a copy?
  13. yes, i like tilda a lot. very long grains, always stay separate. even when i just steam the rice. a little lacking in the slight nuttiness i remember basmati in indian having. but i was not as tuned in to ingredient quality then, so i'm not sure. tilda also takes a lot of washing. i suspect, though, that has nothing to doo with the brand but more to do with the fact that it is transported and the rice grains get crushed and possbily coated with a fine powder that would make the rice sticky if it were not washed well ... that's just my theory though i can't bring myself to conduct that experiment at the risk of deliberately wasting the rice .....
  14. traditionally, i think there was a lot of seasonality to indian food, and it came from more than just the seasonality of the fresh ingredients. i remember being told that certain spices were used less in summer because they were heat producing, like soonth (i cannot for the love of me remember the english world for this) and others were cooling, an obvious one being mint. i remember being told that jowar (all of a sudden i've forgotten all my ingredient translations, suvir, help?) was a flour that was considered good for winter. i remember my mom lamenting that mangoes, which are considered very heat producing, especially the raw ones, were only available in summer. i was alwyas heard that north indian food (all the cream) was heavier because you need more calories in cold climes. same for garlic. i've lost a lot of those memories now, especially living in this climate controlled word. i had a discussion about this with a friend recently who suspected that this notion of "heat' producing spices was an old wives tale. i don't think it is. it think that like medical sciences are now discovering the health benefits of indian spices, they will eventually discover their heat properties also. i would guess, though, that a lot of that knowledge was built into the traditional recipes for the vegetables that are still, only available seasonally. at least some of the spices that were specifically used in curries made from a winter vegetable probably have heat producing properties. a very interesting question, suvir, worthy of some research. and i wonder if other cultures have this same notion of heating and cooling foods in their traditional recipes.
  15. while i empathize with the twice-cooked macaroni situation, i totally cannot imagine consuming it ... :P no matter, coastcat, the sisterhood will maintain it's secrets.
  16. definitely chocolate. any cholcoate. lousy, bad, too sweet low quality candy bars need not refrain from applying. defintiely high calorie, vending machine cholcoate - think snickers bars for the three o'clock post lunch pre 5 o'clock i just got home from work snack. i do not touch candy bars during the "other" weeks frito lays. plain. no ruffles. hunks of cheese. chilli abnd mango pickles. lots of bread and butter. with the butter almost as thick as the bread. sick. sometimes i put honey on top. for variety. i also crave long loud screechy vent sessions. these being calorie free, as murphy's law would suggest, i am rarely able to indulge in them. the vending machine, on the other hand is a few minutes walk from my desk at work. bring on the quarters.
  17. rstarobi - if i'm not mistaken, i've used that brand before and it's been fine. don't let the sale thing put you off - i've bought the same brinad for the last three years - tilda (which also happens to be a type of basmati) - and it's been on sale the whole time!!!
  18. a kilt lifter. i love it! hahaha if i could do emoticons (which i cannot for some reason) that would be a guffaw what would the indian version be, i wonder. a dhoti destroyer a sari stripper or a lungi lifter!
  19. yeah. i'm not too crazy about it either. i've looked through it several times and have never felt particularly inspired to try something from it. :( i had such hopes for it too. i imagined the food being able to transport us into an era, you know, where we could eat like maharajahs and maharanis. which is what had inspired my quest in the first place. oh well. i guess, the maharajahs rarely cooked their own dinners anyway. :)
  20. if i recall correctly, the taj rasam was the basic tomato-lentil. from dakshin - i've tried many recipes, but i especially love the aviyal (which i think is a wonderfully comforting when one is sick, simple yet sublime) and the tomato chutney and the garlic (poondu) rasam. let me know if there is any recipe you would like me to post while you are separated from your cookbook. growing up, the foods i most remember as being incredibly comforting when i was sick are: thin tomato soup with ginger and a curry leaves and cumin tarka, lots of black pepper soji - a thinnish upama with just onions, tomatoes, semolina and cilantro. plain rice, plain cooked toor dal and ghee and ofcourse, the quintessential milk with turmeric, honey and curry leaves, which i hated (because i dislike milk) but which always made my throat feel so much better i think it is wonderful that you are making food a part of your father's healing.
  21. From Mughal Cooking - India's Courtly Cuisine, By Joyce Westrip. By far the best Mughlai cook book I have *ever* *ever* come across: "Do means twice, piaz means onion. Do piaza, with onions, twice. Do_piaza Gosht (Lamb Do-Piaza) was a favourite of the Moghul court and it's name is a play on one of the Emperor Akbar's "jewels", his courtier Mullah Dopiaza. At this distance of time, no one is quite sure how "onions, twice" should be understood. Some say the onions should weigh twice as much as the meat, others that the onion should be introduced at two stages - the first time fried, the second time raw." Probably off thread a little, but ScottishChef, have you ever served Khubani Murgh - Marinated Chicken in Apricot Sauce. To die for.
  22. suvir, i have this incredible south indian cookbook called dakshin - it's even been sanctioned by my tamilian ma-in-law. it has many rasam recipes in it - including garlic, tamarind, lentil, tomato. let me know if you are interested in a particular one and i'll post it immediately. also, here is a fun rasam story. when my sister was preggers (living in bangalore at the time) she had a huge craving for rasam - actually one particular rasam. it was what they served at the taj in bangalore. what complicated matters is that the taj served it free as a pre-dinner apetizer a la bread in italian restaurants and that the taj was too expensive for my sister and her husband to dine there regularly. as you can imagine - they had an embarassingly large number of times when they went to the taj, he ordered a coffee, she requested a dinner menu so that they served her rasam and after she'd had a cupful, they left. after a few weeks of this, they caught on and just indulged her. such sweeties!
  23. ok, yes, three posts in a row is rude but i forgot somethinng. suvir, the last time in india i was on a personal quest for cookbooks that contained recipes from royal gharanas and found one ... i believe it is by digivijay singh. i have not used it yet but would be more than happy to give you details if you are interested. let me know.
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