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v. gautam

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  1. I believe [not 100% certain] the longish, fairlry hot peppers, but NUMEX dry red may be used too, are stemmed & deseeded. They are then deep-fried in big batches in vegetable oil until past the mahogany stage. When taken out, drained & cooled, they will still be turning color, still cooking from the residual heat so this factor needs to be taken into account to judge the final "blackening" to be achieved. Since the ribs [placenta] contain the active principle capsaicin, the fumes from frying even deseeded mild to medium hot pods are noxious. The lady did this outdoors in the summer!! She would make a huge bag, and crumble them like crushed corn flakes, to be stored in the freezer for the whole year. The flavor principle of whole dry red peppers charred near-black is not unknown in India, but is used sparingly in ones and twos, and only as an adjunct or relish, never in handsful as a principle flavor. I was intrigued to learn that northern Burma ramps up the use of charred dry peppers, but still less than what I have seen with this particular Cambodian family. The quantity increases in parts of northern Thailand that share a link with Burma. Cambodia is distant from this area, and I wonder if there is a Muslim link or some other cultural connection, or if this is a purely independent development. So far, I have been unable to extract any meaningful cultural information, because these people become very defensive and suspicious when their recipes and food secrets are probed. There is the language barrier, the unfortunate history of this region and a very characteristic Asian secretiveness [that I have found in Indian women as well] regarding recipes. Far better that recipes be lost than they be handed down to anyone, even to relatives (save direct descendants). Recipes will never be denied but neither accurately transmitted, seemingly minor but essential tips omitted.
  2. You are most welcome. The credit goes to all those who have taken the touble to create and upload these videos on the internet, and to the writers who continue to open our eyes to the complexities of South-East Asian cultures and cuisines. I cooked for a time in a Lao-Thai take-out joint and played my part in massacreing the cooking of this culture, churning junk night after night---- I guess much retribution is owed!! Coming from Bengal, a land with close cultural and religious links with Thailand and Indonesia, I have been surprised to learn that there are no less than 80 linguistic groups in Thailand and its culinary culture is equally complex. Just the areas contiguous to the two river banks in Bangkok harbor several distinct native styles, to say nothing about the multiplicity of non-indigenous cuisines. However, that was in the past. Today, with great mobility, these ancient boundaries created by the slow pace of ancient times may have been erased, and the circumstances and that gave rise to them gone for ever.
  3. Lamb ribs feature in 2 very famous preparations of Kashmiri Brahmans: 1) Kabargah; 2) Tabaq maas [maas means meat and tabak are small unglazed clay pans in which these ribs are sealed & baked. The clay bottoms of flower pots are actually quite convenient; I cannot publicly advocate their use, for food safety issues. Such shapes lend to being sealed with dough, as is the traditional practice and then placed in a hot oven, where the ribs brown within the clay. When reading traditional Indian recipes, you will notice the liberal use of ghee or clarifed butter. Indian lamb is very very lean compared to the American variety; heaven forbid we add any fat to the heavy layer already covering the breast here. The basic procedure is simmering the ribs in a small quantity of salted water + milk [ 500 ml + 100ml per 1kg meat or 2.5 lb approx] to which ground fennel and ground dried ginger root has been added, a few cloves and turmeric [optional ] for about 30 minutes until almost all the water is absorbed and the meat is almost tender. Remove meat. Cool gravy & strain, removing congealed fat. The little broth remaining can be added to the yoghurt in the next step. Or you may use it in a saffron or cumin scented pilaf. A cup of thick naural yoghurt is beaten with some aromatic unsmoked paprika, salt, a touch of fresh garam masala [ green cardamom, clove, cassia or cinnamon, shahzeera, very, very lightly roasted, and a hint of saffron if you have it], and any broth if you choose. The ribs are dipped into this batter. Now you may proceed in one of 2 ways: 1. Gently shallow fry in clarified butter until rich brown & serve hot. 2. Seal with into unglazed clay pots lightly wiped with butter and bake over coals!! I am appending the Indian recipe, that I have interpreted above for your convenience. Please note that aniseed means fennel! Asafetida is an acquired taste, and you may substitute a few cloves of garlic in its stead. http://www.koausa.org/Cookbook/44.html Yet another famous dish. Yakhni, involves the signature flavors of this community, not just the fennel & dry ginger & asafetida but also mustard oil. 1 kg breast is simmered in 1 liter water to which 15 gram [1/2 oz] fresh root ginger grated or 7 grams [1/4 oz] ginger powder , 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, salt and a pinch of asafetida [substitute garlic] has been added. Simmer until fairly tender. Remove meat. Strain broth, defat, discard all seed etc. Whisk together 500 gram [1 lb] thick natural yoghurt, 1 cup milk, 2 tsp fennel seed powder, 1 tsp powdered ginger, 1 tsp. sugar. Add strained broth and mix well. Reserve. Pound into coarse powder 1 tsp. each black pepper corns and black cardamom seeds, dehulled, keeping them in separate piles. Very gently, pound 10 green cardamom pods, & 1/2 tp. caraway seeds or preferably shahzeera [available from Indian mailorder], also keeping them separate. Have ready 1 tsp. [or to taste] ground garam masala as indcatted for the previous recipe. In a non-reactive deep dutch oven type of vessel heat several tablespoons of mustard oil to near smoking. Reduce heat. Immediately add 1 tsp. whole cumin seed +5 whole cloves +pinch asafetida [if using]. Stir so that the spices release aroma without scorching. Add the yoghurt mixture, stirring carefully to prevent curdlng. Bring to a simmer, add meat, cook partly uncovered until meat tender and gravy thicker. You may serve later afer reheating, in which case add the aromatics then. Or add aromatics now, and serve hot. This is a very mild dish eaten with steaming jasmine rice, deep fried lotus root chips and walnut-yoghurt chutney. http://www.koausa.org/Cookbook/42.html
  4. L, If I may twist the knife this cruel tomato season: please keep a lookout for a variety of tomatoes for your bowl, quiz the growers if they have been grown in deliberately droughted hoophouses [not likely, because that reduces fresh weight while increasing sugars and solids!]. In Japan, growers stamp the amount of total solids and sugars, and you pay on an exponential curve, proportionate to the biological effort required. Still, if you mix and match a variety of cherry & good paste tomatoes with some excellent large-fruited varieties, your pasta will thank you: Sungold Martino's Roma [from our very own Cortland/Ithaca, thus you may be assured it does its job in a cool climate] Indian Stripes/Cherokee Purple a)Kellogg's Breakfast(orange); b) Orange Heirloom; c) Aunt Gertrude's/Gertie's Gold [not ripe yet? unless in hoophouses??] Anna Russian & other oxhearts ( Kosovo ) Greens: small & lg-fruited: have wild tomato genes for high sugar German pinks : e.g. German Head Japanese hybrids: Momotaro & Odoriko: ask by name & hopefully growers will plant them USA hybrids: BHN 789, Mountain Magic (?? taste) Italian hybrids : Big Beef, Tomande [Open Pollinated : Large Red Pear Franchi Sementi]. French OP: St. Pierre, Chateau Rose Let us know if you have found any of these in your farmers market & how you liked them.
  5. The garlic taboo is extremely ancient, and can be traced back to its Indo-Iranian or earlier roots. That garlic taboo carries over very strongly into the Indian-Aryan culture as well [bTW, the ONLY peoples that EVER identify themselves as AryAh are the Iranian(derived from the very word) and the Vedic culture, as in " the three peoples, who place the radiance (forever) in front of them(selves): tisrAh prajAh AryAh jyotiragrAh. Interesting how such an innocent phrasing co-opted by European philologists has created a monster out of this word and out of a very precious and venerated symbol, the swastika, and the interlocking triangle, both very much an intrinsic symbolology of this culture for many thouands of years. This very much has to do with the issue of garlic, because they all are tied up together in a densely interwoven view of life and cosmology. Incidentally, the OP should consult a paper titled "The Olive in the Holy Land" Economic Botany, 1967 or 1968 and carefully scrutinize the photographs of relief carvings reproduced there. I am sure she will be quite surprised and that surprise has some bearing on the diffusion and overlap of cultures that we need to understand here when speaking of the thousands of years of history of the Near East. The garlic taboo is so strong that ALL Buddhist cultures, from Vietnam to China, retained a trace of that Indo-Iranian proscription, bearing the mark of Buddhism's relative temporal proximity to its Indo-Iranian cultural roots. In Vietnam, shallots & leeks, to say nothing of garlic are unwelcome in strict monastic diets. In orthodox Indian diets, including Jain food rules [Jainism being another religious movement that grew strong during the time of the Buddha], no garic or onion is to be found. In Tibet, I am told, due to the Indian/Buddhist biases, the anti-allium mindset holds strong in monastic diets and among laypeople who hew closely to the religious strictures. Even in those Indian Brahman communities who do eat meat or fish, e.g. the Kashmiri Pandit, the Gaud Saraswat of the west Coast or the Vaidikas of Bengal, never is garlic or onion included. Asafetida, a pungent resin fund ONLY in IRAN or Afghanistan is almost a STAPLE in the orthodox Indian vegetarian kiitchen. It is rarely if ever used in its native heath!! Xuan Zhang, the great Chinese scholar & pilgrim from T'ang China, who lived and travelled extensively in India c.640 C.E. described in detail the cooking of the great monastery universities of his day, Nalanda etc.: rich in ghee & asafetida, just as vegetarian cooking in northern India still is. This Iranian resin from a desert fennel, Ferula asafetida, is the great garlic+ onion substitute wherever the orthodox Indo-Iranian culture holds sway. Non-Aryan & Muslim cooking in the subcontinent is distinguished by their use of alliums and general absence of asafetida.
  6. Heidi, I find frozen cleaned cross-hatched squid bodies, squid tentacles [small size, ideal] from Thailand and tiny octopus, cleaned, whole, from Korean packers in my Oriental grocery. These can be mixed & matched for various purposes for a quick fix, and at $4-4.30/lb, are not a bad deal considering the mess and labor saved.
  7. Ginger needs a LOOONG growing season, like 6-8 months, to make an appreciable sized rhizome. 2 months under the light levels you have is not going to be enough. You can still take the containers out until nights get below 55F, which may be just a fortnight away in Ontario now!!! Fluence levels, the light intensity useful for plants, is about 100 micromoles of photons per square meter per second [say 1 inch from source] from ordianary fluorescent lamps mounted in a shoplight frame 2x. NEVER use Grolux. There are high intensity fluorescent lamps that give out twice this level, i.e. 200 micromoles, but cost 2x to buy 7 run. Your electric rates and appetite for experimentation will determine how much you want to invest. Whil ginger will not need a high fluence rate of 300-400 micromoles, something in the 250-300 would help generate not just a satisfactory yied but also a sisfctory level of oleoresin, the pungent flavors. BTW, the spectral quality, with more UV than the fuorescent amp ca provide, will be necessary to develop a good andfull flavor. Metal halide light sources, e.g. sodium, are relatively monochromatic, e.g. 589 nanometers, and lead to a number of physiological/developmental abnormalities. These cool fluorescent lamps need no special precautions to run in a household. That is NOT the case for metal halide lamps, which can be fire hazards, and have ballasts and certain safety features built into them. The cool fluorescent lamps also have heavy duty ballasts built into them in a shop-light system, and those are never as heavy duty as that neeeded for the metal halide types. There are electrodeless lamps as well, but these are highly specialized and not easily available for household use. We all have heard about the $10 home-grown tomato, which has some truth to it. Don't let this prevent this from enjoying your project, but just become better informed about the biology & needs of the plant you are trying to cultivate. [it also does not thrive in low-humidity, lower temperature environment].
  8. Knew I had forgotten something, things did not scan, : after aware wa: shirare keri (?) But here is a melon-specific one that reflects what one expressed upthread; please complete the poem .....!! Uri hameba Kodomo omohoyu Kuri hameba Mashite omowayu Izuko yori Kitarishi monoso .. .. .. .. .. ..
  9. H-san, The watermelon is beautiful and absolutely perfect, like all you undertake, including your kids!! Sweetness comes from the memories associated with growing it. I am certain that your children will treasure the time they spent with their father, growing and eating this and other produce, just as you treasure such memories you share with your own parents. You too will remember these times with as you age, remembering all the happiness and the loss, [and maybe compose waka!!]. Thus this melon is the sweetest on the earth. I have read waka only in translation, and can only surmise how exquisite they must be in the original. They often speak of perfection qualified by some slight flaw, the moon seen through wisps of cloud, your watermelon slightly less than perfectly sweet. So here is one for you, not quite a waka, but do not read it when you are feeling sad: [i may have forgotten important bits in the decades since I tried to study such things, so please forgive the mistakes!!] This one is for the golden rice fields of your home in the months to come. kokoro naki minimono aware wa shigi tatsu sawa no aki no yu_gure
  10. Rona, Re: Basil, here is my take on it. The issue is NEVER the temperature, 10C is 50-55F, good enough. The problems become LIGHT, fluence levels to be exact, and disease issues, brown rots on stems. A 2-row ordinary tube light gives around 100 micromoles/sq.meters/second of photosynthetically useful light. This may be ok IF you grow the basil, GENOVESE style, i.e. in a flat, to a height of 6 inches, sown densely, and snipped at that height. That way you are growing in seedling flats pressed 2 inches away from the tubelight. Radiation decreases by the square of the distance away from source. I would also suggest some of the very small leaved basil varieties that are equally flavorful as the broadleaved ones. Less self-shading. I can find out the cultivar names for you, and I have some growing right now. Never buy Grolux, but higher fluence level tubelights are available that put out 200 micromoles. They cost more to buy & to run. So think about total costs & the value of your basil to you. In America, we joke about the $10 home grown tomato!! Bottom line: seedling flat, 2-3 inches of potting MIX similar to PROMIX INDOOR, i.e spaghnum peat, NEVER COCONUT FIBER, coarse perlite, coarse vermiculite, etc. Sow a small flat then when seedlings out, sow another, snip the first when they are 6-8 inches. Best flavor that way too. Seeds are $17-18/lb, will last decades!! Stokes, and ask me more. OK, now about Tomatoes: When does frost come where you will be living, CAN or Japan? If Canada, where? If Japan, then when is first frost date? Canada is a probable NO outdoors. In Japan, cherry tomato is a maybe. The indoor cherry tomatoes [dwarfs] are not all that fantastic tasting, but they can be grown easily & fruited under light. The question is, arre they worth the bother? Anyway, Red Robin is one of the better ones, and Pixie Hybrid II from Burpee. Coming back to the outdoor tomatoes: from germination, depending upon sunlight & adequate degree days [appropriate warmth, remember you are entering a cycle of cooling nights], 60 days will see the first ripe fruit from SUNGOLD, a very good tomato. The problem is, had you been down south in the warmer part of Japan e.g. Okinawa, then you could have enjoyed the long harvest promised by the indeterminate growth habit of this variety. Otherwise, you may pick a few ripe fruit and then have the plant cut down by frost. Colder weather also spoils the flavor of these excellent tomatoes & ripening is retarded when night temperatures fall below 55F. You may, of course, erect shelters and other cloche-like devices to extend the growing season by a month or even 6 weeks, but the issues are expense, expertise, hassle, etc. If you can get your students to undertake all of these things as a valuable learning project without cost to you, I should be glad to take them step by step through what needs to be done to extend the season outdoors.
  11. I agree wholeheartedly with Beebs. And now for some more tea blasphemy on hot or cold days, involving Lipton, or at least CTC [Cut Torn Curled] of the Red Label Brooke Bond or other type. Just like Beebs mentioned, get a simple stand-in-the cup infuser [starbucks sells a nifty gold-plated one if money is burning a hole in your pockets, or Bodum etc. do a fine job for less]. Use a mix a CTC and orthodox [whole leaf] for quick release of liquor & flavor. You now may add a bit of dry mint or a sprig of fresh, and winter or summer, this is a refreshing drink. You may brew the tea weak in summer, with more mint. What circle of hell does this condemn me to? If you want to go a tiny bit further, as some have mentioned upthread, there are the little teapots with a removable infuser [e.g. http://www.forlifedesign.com/new.html, buy at a clearance if possible!!] c.180 ml, quite nice indeed. Very neat and hassle free, and good for guests too. Electric kettles or kettles on the hob allow you to guess intuitively when the water is about to come to a boil. Wisps of steam begin to drift out the spout more and more insistently in a certain rhythm: well, that is 195F-200F, great for many leaf teas!! Why thermometers? Just as you gauge frying oil temperature by observing the shimmer and patterning appear within it, so too here, via implicit clues that become instinct.
  12. Franchi Sementi of Italy, the suppliers of Seeds of Italy, produce supremely excellent seed, offered in very generous quantity in their standard packet that is about US$2.95 [unlike far too many US & UK companies that are extortionate, especially as they purchase their seed wholesale from a handful of the same overseas companies, and market them with pretentious hype]. Their tomato and chard varieties, in addition to the herbs etc. mentioned upthread, are fantastic, and I have grown them for nearly a decade. Upper Canada Seeds, http://www.uppercanadaseeds.ca/, is a small company in Ontario with many unusual heirloom tomatoes NOT found in either the Sandhill or Victory catalogs. I have ordered from them and found their prices, service and products excellent. Particularly noteworthy was a French pink heirloom "Chateau Rose", adjudged the best tasting in 2008 among more than 20 heirlooms grown. Their prices are postpaid to the continental USA for 10 packets+.
  13. I am 100% with Ms. Meadow! Expensive Parmesans $16/lb & above are completely wasted as cooking cheeses where a Pecorino Sardo works very well, e.g. a left over/dried-out end simmered in a spaghetti sauce, in meat balls, stuffings for larger polpettone etc. Even grated over pasta, its more assertive taste makes a little go a long way, good for those watching their calorie count! On pizza, grated over fresh mozzarella, it survives high temperature with less loss of flavor than Parmesan. Anyway, the more than 30-50% price difference excites the cheapskate in me, who reserves excellent Parmesan only for special fresh/shaved use. However, I would definitely go for the craggy uneven chunks prised on demand out of the huge imported wheels of Pecorino, be it romano or sardo, and view the more industrialized, smooth, plastic wrapped wedges with less favor. These seem to substitute salt for flavor.
  14. Uncle Ben, your post reminds me of the time I ate at the home of a talented cook in the USA, setting out a particular delicacy difficult to find and prepare, of fresh banana flower buds. We were stunned to find out that she that concocted that item out of frozen artichoke hearts: amazing. Then she took the conceit further, and had made a well-loved Bengali "chutney" originally cooked with fresh fruits of the season with canned fruit cocktail. It was delicious, leaving everyone either sputtering or speechless at this transmogrification of a most traditional convention! So as you say, authenticity lies in the person of the cook. I do not know if the quote attributed to Confucius is accurate, but is certainly relevant to to this discussion of authenticity: "truth is whatever is enacted by a righteous person." Likewise, authentic is whatever is skilfully & thoughtfully prepared by an able cook who is inseparable from his/her own birthright and tradition.
  15. Sandhill Preservation Center : http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/ My favorite place, hands down. A mom & pop operation of stupendous [truly] quality and worth by Glenn Drowns, the Cucurbits Curator of the Seed Savers Exchange. His Tomato & Sweet Potao collections are the best, bar none, and very true to type. A whole range of cucurbits, obviously, including a special watermelon bred by him. The prices are ridiculously low & postage paid for purchases above $10. He has conservation breeds of poultry as well. I have been purchasing from him for at least 8 years now and have yet to be disappointed. That is something I cannot say for another company mentioned upthread that enjoys a big reputation and from whom I have also purchased through a buying club for a similar length of time. I shall not anymore! Mind, Glenn Drowns does it all by hand and does not ship seeds between August and December 31 when he is harvesting etc. So people need to be quite patient and order early. I love to support people of this sort who do it as a labor of love. He has a sterling reputation in the heirloom tomato fraternity and is one of the 2 places to which Dr. Carolyn Male entrusted many of her discoveries for multiplication and sales. Roses Unlimited is another fantastic mailorder place where you get more than your money's worth. Roses Old & New on own roots. http://www.rosesunlimitedownroot.com/ Great sale on now!!
  16. Jo-mel, Sorry for the late reply! Coming to this thread after a long time! Since you asked about the ribs, I shall have to defer to Uncle Ben's sound advice and good taste. As you will have read, my experience has been in a Thao-Lai place: sadly, no delicious Chinese ribs; papaya salad took its place I guess! There, the Lao owner insisted on authenticity and had a bucket of Pla dek or fermented fish slurry, instead of fish sauce, to create the true Lao taste. Did people ever get a surprise when they requested the Lao som tam!!! You could see the would-be sophisticates in a university town try their best not to heave on their dates seated right opposite them! It made the excellent curry puffs sell very, very well, to clear the palate immediately after, several plates worth in fact!! Re woks: please go to GALA SOURCE a restaurant supply company on the internet and familiarize yourself with the many types of woks, their metals and finishes, and where they are manufactured [China, Taiwan, Japan]. Armed with this information, you will be better able to make a choice. If steaming is your favorite activity, you might be better served either getting a Stainless Steel wok, a Joyce Chen non-stick wok or a dedicated large metal steamer that can have many uses.
  17. Re: Roses, for dried petals, the Rose of Provins, Rosa gallica officinale, is supposed to retain its fragrance when dried better than most [and is thus valued in potpourris]. You may be able to purchase the dried petals of this type by name, because certainly in France, this is no stranger. Rose oils of the Euroasiatic roses are rich in geraniols(!!) that are more soluble in alcohol than in water: a 50:50 water: alcohol mix will bring out more of the fragrance from fresh petals. You could add a few drops of this tincture to your infusion, with dry rose petals added for their charm and psychological benefits. http://www.hobbsfarmgreenery.com/onlinecatalog.html This specialist in scented "geraniums" may already have been listed upthread. "True Rose" & "Rober's Lemon Rose' are just 2 of the many to be found, including slow-growing, dimunitive types just right for small apartments. At $5/ea. they are a source of endless delight.
  18. David & Holly, You are welcome. Since you both are quite the adventurers where food is concerned, I am sure this thread would enjoy your thoughts on a visit to Silvertips, i.e. the tea experience there, especially the associated tea foods, baked goods, & service. Does the whole ensemble & place come together harmoniously? That is asking a lot from the owner, but psychologically one goes in to a tea shop expecting that very thing, a pleasant interlude. I remember my visit to the place I wrote about, in northern Connecticut. It was a busy social center for the area, and the tea et al. were not necessarily topnotch [to my taste] but the owners were so utterly charming, gracious and personable, that the afternoon stands out in my memory after more than 2 decades. So the total experience was excellent [on a glorious fall afternoon], and met the goal of a tea house in the finest sense of the term. Having spoken to Ms. Mueller over the telephone, I have great hopes that you might have a similar experience, which is a major reason for my egging people on. So a crystal clear day, when fall has us in its thrall....
  19. Nothing can compare with the retail experience, for most food lovers, be it purchasing cookware, jams or tea. There is an entire sensory universe, or series of universes, not excluding that of barely suppressed anticipation which makes this personal contact incomparable. Mailorder is, to me, much like one of those black and white East European highbrow movies of the Iron Curtain days, an intense, portentous, nerve-wracking experience. Anticipation there certainly is, but fraught this time with anxiety, that robs one of the delight of the retail experiece. So you are quite right about your misgivings. However, one possible middle path could be to start with relative bargains: go with the cheapest offerings, and see how they taste to you. Build up a taste vocabulary and memory, the foundation of a pyramid, as it were. This need not be too punitive, because many decent teas are to be had for $11-12 per 8 oz, which you could split with a friend [create a tea-buying club of 2, not very difficult!! Tea of the month, subscription, $5 each per month or every 2-3 months?] Sharing the costs with another friend allows one to sample a wider variety with a proportionately smaller risk of gettting stuck with something one does not like. One can graduate to the $60/kg material in 100 gram lots with no problems with this system. Here we are talking 1st Flush High Altitude Darjeeling Tips, and good Oolongs. Incidentally, the name Silver Tips refers to a grade made famous by buyers like the Shah of Iran and similar tycoons, who in the valuation of those days, often used to pay around $1444/kg for the Silver tips; especially the Makaibari one holds some sort of record as being the most expensive auctioned somewhere [i don't like to keep track of extravagant people!!]
  20. How are the watermelons doing? Are they ripe yet? !!
  21. What would "Hot & fast" mean for you? 450-500F inside oven skewered, time 20 min for fatty strips, or under the broiler for fewer minutes? How much fat do you prefer? Thanks.
  22. Holy crap, bata bing. That never, ever occurred to me! ← Chris, Sorry to be such a jerk! However, I get really worried when I see sweeping generalizations becoming adopted as canonical for Indian cooking as a whole, and people [Americans] who have NOT been exposed to a wide variety of techniques and flavors then believing they have mastered xyz and teaching others these things with aplomb. Not a criticism but a caution, because: cooking ground onion paste AND cooking fried ground onions fried to different degreesand by different methods, DO NOT PRODUCE THE SAME RESULTS< AT ALL. Take a dish lke FISH, not shrimp, Patia, a signature Parsi prepartion. It takes cooking ground onions, onions ground to a paste on a stone grinder, in sufficient oil. In some other dishes in Bengal, this same thing is taken a step further to browning. It is NOT the same as Coimbatore-style browned onions, fairly coarsely chopped, fairly quickly "browned", still glistening and plump. This is very common in a range of dishes that belong to a family of [onions being shallow fried or whole-roasted on flame/embers] + masala/coconut being roasted and/or shallow-fried, then ground. A rough & dirty shorthand for the generic family would be the gashi-style of wet masala. Frying and grinding onions are also used in North Indian braises, but there are degrees of frying, ways ofslicing, and there is what is called a 3-part extraction that I have explained at some length to a few who are interested here and elsewhere. It is best demonstrated. However, it is best studied in conjnction with meat-cutting and a wide variety of other things, whose masters reside in India; in Delhi, for example. How onions are comminuted, how quickly they are cooked etc. have totally to do with the end flavor of the dish. So this "cook onion and grind" is a good method to create ONLY a certain range of flavors and absolutely ineffective for accomplishing others!! Just so long as this does not become another bit or misinformation cluttering the already impressive array to do with "Indian cooking" lore that has accumulated in the English media, and is taken as truth by dint of frequent repetition, the cause of Indian cookng will be benefited.
  23. There is a beautiful rendition of a kidney chrysanthemum in one of the two following, probably in the first: Great Garnishes (Wei-Chuan's cookbook) (Paperback) by Su-Huei Huang (Author), Wei-Chuan Publishing Chinese Snacks (Wei quan shi pu) (Paperback) by Su-Huei Huang (Author), Wei-Chuan Publishing (Author) Both are available used for about $6/each. The first one is worth getting for many interesting things besides the kidney, which you need to see step-by-step to accomplish.
  24. Great reporting Chris. Apropos your remark on North Indian cooking and frou-frou, I am not sure that most here have been properly introduced to any clear idea of WHAT DOES comprise North Indian cookery, or its many sub-genres. But just focusing on even just one stream of Mughlai cooking, which you may be thinking of when you write about garam masalas, you may not have had the opportunity to have worked with a true expert, as you now are doing. Sadly, I have scanned the USA for true experts on this branch of meat cookery, braises to be precise, and have come up empty-handed. There must be several hidden in the Pakistani community and a few who run Hyderabadi [Deccan] restaurants e.g. in Georgia, but NONE among those who are known to be popular cooking teachers/authors. From the basic understanding of meat, to the classical codes of that cuisine, the knowledge, the experience and the whole background that requires a lifetime of devotion to a single art is just plain missing. You do not learn exceptional French cuisine from Look & Cook; likewise, here. The very, very basics of meat cookery in liquid is either simply not understood nor taught properly here. So how could you ever really know what good or classical N. Indian braises, e.g. korma, or even a chicken curry, would taste like, or is supposed to taste like? Even for South Indian, were you to visit a Udupi/Bunt household, for example, your flavor palette would undergo a drastic change, but you knew that! There are some very major talents waiting to be discovered and I would urge you to get Ammini Ramachandran, at Peppertrail.com to come to RI and cook her version. Your conception of "Indian" food will never be the same again, even the North -South dichotomy. India is a subcontinent as large geographically as Western Europe minus Russia, a fact not immediately apparent on a Mercator projection map. She has many more ethnic groups, languages and cuisines than does Europe!! So there is much to discover and enjoy.
  25. Re: Claypot Bean thread with shrimp recipe, here is one http://www.elook.org/recipes/asian/12331.html quite similar to the one by Kasma, it would seem. The difference would be lining the pot with either caul fat, or bacon as a substitute. http://www.elook.org/recipes/asian/12366.html is another interesting variation on the same theme.
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