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Everything posted by indiagirl

  1. That's good if it's a person posting a restaurant-visit report on a message board, but I think a paid professional reviewer has a duty to do enough learning to be able to speak with at least some degree of authority -- or, at a bare minimum, competence. I don't appreciate picking up a paper like the New York Times and reading about personal discovery by the food writers. I don't give a damn about them. I want information. Yes, we are actually in agreement here. I was not clear at all. Or rather, I was too casual with my "join me on this adventure" - more clearly then, what I mean is, I want information also, but I also want the information provided in context. I want to be informed as to whether the person I am recieving this information from has acquired it from a detailed, intense study for a journalistic assignment or whether they have it from living in that country for two years. Standards of quality for ingredients are not universal, though. Look at how the Chinese prefer their pork with so much fat that it makes most Americans want to gag. The Japanese like their apples tree-ripened for so long they're nearly rotten at the core. Good point here. Thanks. I was being rather limited in my thinking - sort of like a good red pepper vs. a bad red pepper. I guess, the apples example proves that wrong too! "Sushi is just some raw fish on rice." The first time ever I saw sushi I was awed by the love and care (and therefore time and effort) it must have taken to put it together. I maintain that if one has enough cooking experience, a reasonable estimate of time and effort can be made even for unfamiliar cuisinse, independent of whether one actually likes the food or not. In your face food can't be gentle, but it can be subtle, nuanced, complex, and even delicate. Especially when it comes to cuisines that use complex spice mixtures, the flavor often appears unsubtle -- just a generally perceived "spicy" flavor -- to those without experience of the cuisine. Fat Guy, yes, I do believe I am aware of that. Witness my position in the various Mobius Strip threads. That's why I added the example and qualification to my statement, which actually read as follows:
  2. favorite condiment - it has taken me hours of soul searching to get to this: pepper - black, green, fresh peppercorns in brine, ground, crushed .....even pink having said that, i am traumatized, all those hundreds of bottles and jars of spices, sauces, dried chillies, pickles are staring at me, looking betrayed .....ah, the guilt.
  3. I do not think all knowledge that is acquired in a condensed format, sans a lifetime of experience, is superficial. About approaching a new cuisine. As other people have said, I think background and context is incredibly important to understanding a cuisine. History, weather, demographics, GNP, society, culture, politics, religion. And I am not talking about an in depth immersion - just a couple of hours of surfing on the web. To take an extreme example of cultural expectations, if you had gone to the Tibetan restaurant without any sense of Tibet's Buddhist inclinations the vegetarian aspect of the cuisine would have seemed a disadvantage to a palate that expects a different form of protein. Whereas, in context, one is more able to appreciate it for what it is. The context is just as important when writing the review. A declaration of here is what I knew, here is what I expected, here is what I got - this makes the judgement part of the information a lot more useful to a reader. Or I did some research and went to this place exppecting this kind of stuff and dd or did not get it. I have read reviews of Indian restaurants that criticized them for reasons that I did not find valid and therefore dismissed as stemming from a lack of knowledge or understanding of the cuisine. On the other hand, if the person writing the review had said - I'm an accomplished food critic but I have little or no experience in Indian cuisine and come, join me on this adventure, the article would have had a very different meaning for me. I think there are some standards that are globally applicable, though. Quality of ingredients is one. Hygiene and service are, obviously, others. Time and effort, which I think anyone who cooks regularly can judge quite fairly are others. I also think it's fair to say stuff like - Don't go here looking for subtle, gentle flavorings. This is in you face food. Especially if you've never eaten asafoetida (or kimchee) in your life! edited typos
  4. Yes it does. Yes they do. My extremely typical immigration history: Entered on a student visa. Went on a work permit after graduating, work permits are only issues for jobs relevant to your education and for a maximum of six years contiguously. If you change employers (or get laid off) you must find a new sponsor within 60 days. You pay social security during this time (my pet peeve) Applied for a Green Card about 2 years after that - took 6 years. During this period one is not allowed to change companies (or jobs within the company unless they are very similar jobs, so normally cautious companys will not promote during this period) If you try to get sponsored for a GC other than through your job i.e. as a dependent it takes longer. I can't imagine what the process would be for a cook. Especially one with no formal education. Also, shouldn't we all just move back to the "Measure of all things" thread where we belong? Instead of trapping unsuspecting visitors with our oh-so-fascinating thread title?
  5. Steve: I might as well confess, now that the secret is out - Suvir is a government chef. And I am a goverment propoganda minister. :) Back into I-give-up land.
  6. What she said. So have you decided where you are going to go?
  7. Now, we're getting somewhere. Tony, those were some excellent points you made about the development of food in restaurants vs private homes, specifically in India. If I were to sum up the criterion we have developed for identifying haute cuisine on this incredibly long and meandering thread, here is what we have: Constituents: Technique Ingredients Time and Effort Ambience Factors that led to development: Patronage Competition Have I forgotten anything? A couple of thoughts come to mind: Competition - that was a good point, Steve. I think Indian private kitchens were also subject to some competition, albeit of the purely social kind. I do not know of any documented evidence that the kitchens of the royals and privileged competed with each other, but if current society is any indication, I would guess that they did. I wonder if there is any way to compare and contrast social vs. monetary competition. Another point when it comes to haute cuisine and Indian 3/4 star restaurants. I think one area where Indian restaurant culture is seriously lacking is wine. While I have personally overcome this shortcoming and in fact have in the last two years made up for the lack of the first 20 years of my life, I do believe that the lack of wine as an intrinsic component of a well planned dinner certainly affects the chances of Indian restaurants being recognized as part of the haute cuisine mainstream. It makes me wonder - the Indian restaurants quoted in this post, how do their wine lists compare to those of French ones of the same caliber? And further, how important is wine to the recognition of a cuisine as being haute?
  8. One last thought: I am not here to proselytize or to confess. I am here to learn, and occasionally, to inform.
  9. How do you know there isin't a higher cuisine hiding in the sub continent? A lot of people in this thread have told you there is. But now we're back where we started. Chakravyu. The inexorable downward spiral. No escape. Help me. I'm trapped. I did. And you agreed that the technique for Raan may be superior. But now we're back where we started. Chakravyu. The inexorable downward spiral. No escape. Help me. I'm trapped. Please please please read my posts. I described several lamb dishes, compared and contrasted Indian techniques with French techniques, like a fricasse. I described chiravate (wheat flour). I described what real tandoori tastes like. Tony Finch described the preface of a cookbook that describes ideals you wanted to see. But now we're back where we started. Chakravyu. The inexorable downward spiral. No escape. Help me. I'm trapped. Yes. It does. I know about it. Suvir does. TonyFinch does. Pan does. The woman who wrote the cookbook that Tony Finch quoted does. It cannot be found in the West. It should be. It eventually will. We've described restaurants that have it. We've linked to threads that talk about it. But now we're back where we started. Chakravyu. The inexorable downward spiral. No escape. Help me. I'm trapped. I don't think anyone said that the cuisine is already sufficient and does not need improvement. EVERYTHING can be improved and tinkered with. EVERYTHING. What we've tried to say is that good representations on Indian cuisine ALREADY demonstrate a better, more careful, subtler spicing than you seem to be aware of. You even agreed with that. But then you said that was not sufficient. And you mentioned technique. And you were given examples of that. And you agreed that there are techniques that could be superior. But what about the spicing? Tone that down will ya. But, like I think I've said somewhere on this thread before, now we're back where we started. Chakravyu. The inexorable downward spiral. No escape. Help me. I'm trapped. So here is a valid point you've made that I would like to discuss. I completely agree that the presence of restaurants is the perfect environment in which a cuisine can evolve and develop. I believe, restaurant culture for Indian cuisine (anywhere in the world) is not at the same point in time as for French food. Witness the fact that there is no equivalent of the Michelin guide in India. But I believe Indian food has evolved over the centuries. In private kitchens and palaces and of late, in restaurants. I would love to hear eGullet opinions on : A. My rather obvious attempt at moving this discussion on to something I would like to hear discussed. B. Can haute cuisine only develop in restaurants? TonyFinch - love your posts :) Suvir - thanks for the compliments Plotnicki - am I still your favorite person? :P
  10. oh dear. thanks yvonne. i did a search on last meals before i posted this ......
  11. Apologies for the incomplete Description: What do they mean? What would you seek?
  12. More than a month ago, I came across this site while searching for something on Google: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/stat/finalmeals.htm It is the website of the Texas Department of Corrections and I stayed there, I must confess, trapped by morbid fascination and horror, for far too long. The page lists the last meal requests of prisoners on death row. Besides the obvious socio-political context of the page and the issues it raises, that site has stuck with me for a couple of reasons. The format of the page is such that you see the meal requests immediately but you have to click on a link before you see the crimes - it made me wonder what the Texas Department was trying to convey with that layout. Was it something to do with food? Or was the page just the product of an unthinking bureaucracy? Also, it made me wonder, if I had no constraints, what would I ask for as my last meal? Would I seek comfort? nostalgia? luxury? What would you? The answer seemed to me to be connected somehow to the meaning of food in my private and social life. edited Amazon to Google
  13. No, no, thank YOU, Yvonne. For reading the post (and of course, complimenting it!) :)
  14. Inspite of Nerissa's excellent company, I feel compelled to make a brief foray out of the "I give up" state. And only because I feel very misrepresented. And I certainly have never played the race card. Also, I apologize to everyone who is here to discuss spices because I think if anywhere, this post belongs in that other thread we have all participated in "The Measure of All Things". Steve, please read this with patience and an open mind. Also, with the realization that I have ZERO incentive for making you think better of Indian food. Personally, I don't give a fuck. Really. The only reason I am here, is the same reason I am on eGullet. It is a place for someone like me who loves food to hear about and learn from others about things I have not been able to experience myself. And to share and revel in common experiences. That is what I am trying to do here. Learn about French haute cuisine from you and hope that you will learn something about Indian cuisine from me. I believe the former has happened and the latter has not. Yes, there are people on this thread who are partial to Indian food. That does not make their arguments invalid or unreasoned. This is what they have collectively said about it: 1. It is complex. Sometimes because of the spices. Other times because of the cooking techniques. 2. There are "haute cuisine" versions of it available in the east. 3. It is horribly misrepresented in the west. Also, the representations are limited to very specific types of Indian cuisines. 4. For somebody who has only experienced it in the west, Steve's opinions are more or less understandable, but they are only representative of Indian food as typically found in the west. They are not representative of Indian cuisine. 5. To extrapolate about all of Indian cuisine based on having only experienced it in the West is not valid. 6. The reasons that there are more amazing French restaurants in the west than there are Indian, are historical and socio-economic. Now on to tandooris and "wet meat" as you call it. Rubbing meat with spices and cooking it with dry heat is a technique the French use. Tandoori is no different. Even as a vegetarian, I have tasted succulent Tandoori chicken (that is not neon red, btw) - it is not meant to be dry and overcooked. Wet meat - Many Indian curries are no different in concept than a fricasse. The lamb curries I mentioned rarely call for the lamb to be cooked in the sauce for any more than 10-15 minutes. And there are other techniques in Indian food. The use of flour to coat a meat, sweating vegetables, cooking meats whole in a spices broth, etc. Grouping Indian techniques as "Overcooked, dry, tandooris, wet meat" etc. is the equivalent of grouping French food as "Lots of butter and cream, fried or baked hunks of meat, slathered with thickened, fatty sauces". I believe we have, here and on other threads, tried to give you examples of Indian techniques in response to your points about it. I do not understand why they seem to make no difference to your opinion. I believe we have never reached a point where we discussed reasonably whether one technique is more complex than another and what criterion can be used to judge the complexity of a technique. Time. Effort. I would have loved to participate in such a discussion. But we appear to have begun with the conclusion that French food techniques are superior to all and that Indian food techniques are inferior. All facts then seem to get quickly slotted into those conclusions and we proceed to support or defend them. Why a well executed raan is inferior in technique to a Carre de Agneau Persille is what I want to discuss, let the chips fall where they may. Your last sentence in that post - That no matter how good the cuisine he is describing is, it is not high cuisine by the standards we use today. - is why I keep trying to retreat into "I give up" land.
  15. 9 pages of discussion about something your gut is telling you????????????? I remain in the "I give up" state. Tony - I doubt it's called Chiravate anywhere in the north. That's a name quite specific to Maharashtra.
  16. India girl I have seen that dessert being made by cooks near Lahore,an incredibly skilfull and lengthy process to come up with just the right degree of flaky softness while ensuring the whole thing holds together and doesn't disintigrate. What do you call it? I've had similar pastry concoctions stuffed with coconut and pistachio and then suffused in thick cream (malai) which had been flavoured with ginger and saffron, with toasted coconut and pistachio,cinammon and cloves sprinkled over the top. Omigod food porn. Must rush out and get some Mathai NOW! Tony - we call them chiravate. Literally meaning a 100 folds. Vat is a fold. Are you referring to Balushahi? Steve - I give up. As has been suggested, shall we try to talk about spices again. As before, I put forth the gestalt theory of spices. Greater than the sum of it's parts. Take a cream based pasta sauce. A little mace added to it completely changes the taste. I think it makes the cheese and the pasta taste different. An entirely new dish, IMHO, by the addition of a new spice. Earlier in the thread there was some mention of whether this in indeed the case - new dish vs. old dish with an added ingredient. Opinions, please?
  17. tourists, of course. this analysis from someone who has admittedly never partaken of a good indian meal? notwithstanding the fact that your question in that quote sounds unjustifiably rhetorical i will answer it, straight up. maybe a chaser biryani - a rice dish that is cooked very very slowly in an earthen oven - lamb, rice, spices, vegetables - all in an unglazed earthenware pot, sealed with dough. the porosity of the container and the dough results in a wonderful combination of steaming while still imbibing the smoky flavor of the oven. the flavors all sealed within the pot and intermingling to create a gestalt flavor or an indian desert. pastry dough rolled out repeatedly until it has a hundred layers of folds, deep fried in ghee and then quickly dipped in a lovely syrup of sugar, saffron, cardamom and cloves gravy, in the commonly understood sense - i would like to clarify was a weakness of my list, not something that i think dominates the cuisine. wilfrid, the latter day thunder god of reason, intelligence and logic, summed it all up quite well in the 1or2, 3 or4 post, no? i think you should just respond to that post, steve. i wish i could just stay away from this thread. :( :) :?
  18. Da cecco's here too. And I was extremely pleased and gratified to see it being used at a restaurant in Rome - perhaps I should have left immediately but the food was pretty good! We sometimes get bucatini(?) - fat, hollow spaghetti - made by that other ubiquitous brand with the transparent, cellophane wrapping and the dark green logo .... aah. Can't remember. I'll come back and edit when I do ... Anyone else here get suckered into paying eight euros to go to the museum of pasta in Rome?
  19. From the one cook book I can reach without taking my lap top off my lap: Tabak Maas - Cardamom flavored lamb chops Kashmiri Kamargah - Spicy Lamb Ribs in Batter Kashmiri Rojan Josh - Lamb in a Rich Sauce Jahangiri Gosht - Lamb Marinated in Ginger and Spices Shahi Rojan Josh - Lamb in a Sauce of many Spices Khubani Gosht - Apricot flavored lamb Shahi Korma - Nutty flavored braised lamb Kashmiri Moghlai Gosht - Lamb in a Ginger flavored sauce Dalcha Hyderabadi - Sweet and Sour Lamb with Lentils Do Piaza Gosht - Lamb Braised in a Rich Onion Sauce Kalia Nizam Ul Mulk - Aromatic Lamb Raja Haleem - Lamb simmered with cracked wheat Tamatar Gosht - Lamb Chops in a Spicy Tomato Sauce Shahi Raan - Marinated Leg of Lamb Palak Gosht - Lamb with Spinach and Tomato Shami Kebab - Fragrant and Spicy Mince Kababs Padishah Kofta Curry - Meatballs in a Curry Sauce The translations are pretty poor. What I see in this list: It's only one type of northern Indian cuisine If "techniques" is about the treatment of the lamb itself, yes, most of the recipes are a lamb cooked in a gravy of some kind. A couple of exceptions but yes, a "weakness" there if you could call it that. But if "techniques" includes the spices one chooses to use (which neatly brings us back on topic) - those are in different proportions for each recipe and each dish will taste very very different. There are common spices in all the dishes to be sure, but used differently. Not a big fan of Jaffrey, btw, and, if you believe your point about professionals, she is not a chef by training.
  20. I like The Villa Table and Lorenza's Pasta by Lorenza de Medici.
  21. We were corss posting there - two questions: Why does some retaurant in Paris count as an example of a demonstration of high cuisine but not one in Lahore? We all have frequent flyer miles, no? The point about why aren't there more restaurants that serve Indian high cuisine in NY is a valid one - time and society, I think will change that. And it does make a valid point about the "standing" of Indian cuisine in global culture. Yes. But it's quite a leap from there to the following conclusions you are making: Indian cuisine overspices Cusines which overspice (defined as more spices than the French because I'm a little shaky on the defintion of "over") are inferior
  22. Calm down, girl, calm down. You can do this. Okay, here goes. Steve, would I ever suggest that you go to India and eat with the plebes? No, no, I know you better than that without ever having met you. My post said, restaurant where an average Indian could spend their ENTIRE paycheck for the month i.e. HIGH cuisine. Like the fou-fous with lots of money eat. That kind. You do get it in India, you know. Really, really expensive food that comes with a big fat check. Have those in India too. Fancy techniques, I mean. Like TonyFinch said, and I mentioned in the other thread, Raan, perfectly spiced and very slow cooked for eons is a wonderful dish, all about good lamb, all about good technique. But you don't buy that. Can't help you there, your loss. Really. Sez who? Maybe it all just tastes like crap because it is. And maybe if the meat were better the spices would not be so overwhelming. How on earth can you tell if you've never eaten good Indian food? Which you obviously never have. Don't let your experiences in the past emotionally scar you in this manner! Your putting words in our collective mouths here, darling. Bring on the quotes if you want to make these claims ....er... assertions. Like I said, go to India. PLEASE. Dreadfully honesty follows: Most Indian restaurants in the US are crap. At least the ones I have eaten in. Unless I am stuck in some Indian food black hole, this will extrapolate. Most US-Indian restaurant cooks (note, I did not call them chefs) work on the least expenditure of cash and effort principle. They are also not qualified by tradition or training, merely by circumstance. I have never eaten at Diwan and so cannot comment. But just from a pure selection process - which Indians move here and why and some of the factors TonyFinch mentioned in his post should indicate that the smattering of higher quality Indian restaurants here do not represent Indian high cuisine. I'm not at all insulted. You are too passionate about food and far too sincere for me to find this insuting in any way. Baffled and dissapointed. BIG time. It breaks my heart, for someone who is obviously so incredibly passionate about food, you're just shutting all these doors without ever having looked inside.
  23. And I'm off to the India board where people love and respect spices! Steve, my suggestion, perhaps a long trip to Japan or India or some place along those lines, is in order. We can come up with a list of restuarants where the average middle class Indian could easily spend his/her entire income for the month (thus meeting the cost criterion at least locally) and then ......... and then .............
  24. Plotnicki, back to that other thread, where you belong :) Adam Balic, the reference I quoted a couple of pages ago, agrees with you about spicing - not used for preservation, that was the domain of salt, vinegar and oil. The wealthy probably ate fresher meat than we do today - apparently there were laws about this back then. The poor, most likely to be stuck with stale/bad meat, had no access to spices. PS - The gestalt spice theory, in the meanwhile, is still where I'm at. edited for clarity
  25. Hmmm, Lissome, nothing out of the ordinary on my list. Are people really stocking up?
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