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v. gautam

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  1. Was it your first time at Dosa King? If so, . How can you live in Bangkok and not have eaten at Dosa King? That's terrible! I suppose your second visit so soon after the first makes up (somewhat) for the transgression... The first time we went to DK, we also did a follow-up visit just a few days later. It was that good! (I can just hear the "purists" saying, "Why would you eat Indian food when visiting Thailand?" but they've never eaten at Dosa King, so they couldn't possibly understand!) ← A belated reply! And an opinionated one too! When going to a Dosa place, one might want to separate the Northern & Southern cuisines. I am sure the former hae plenty of competent representatives elsewhere in BKK; at the least, keep your meal focused on the Tamil cuisine for that evening. When you go to a pizza joint, you do not necessarily need to enjoy an opener of French onion soup:whether or not that is well-executed becomes moot You will have noticed an array of fritters called bondas, bajji & vada: it would be fun to explore sparingly of these, since they all are deep fried; alu bonda : mashed potato encased in a chick pea batter bajjis [ similar to N. Indian pakoras] batter-coated veggies: onions, etc. vada: multiplicity of styles , some donut shaped , others flat, varied mixtures of legumes & rice. Will come with sambar [the lentil soup] & white coconut chutney. One way to eat the donut shaped urad dal [black gram vada ] is to break off pieces, drop them into the sambar and into your mouth folowe by chutney. An even messier way but better is to coordinate the vada + sambar + chutney in the same bowl or spoon before eating.* [There is another variant where the vada is delivered sopping in rasam, caled RASAVADE. Rasam is made from the rich supernatant that rises upon boilng the Cajanus cajan split legume known as toor dal. It is a thin broth that is like clear soup but variously flavored [singly] with lemon, ginger, black pepper, garlic, etc. It is generally eaten with rice, yoghurt and flame roasted papad as the third, final course of meal. Rasam can be very spicy because it is meant to be mixedwith several other things.] {The HUGE MISTAKE made in consuming INDIAN dishes by most Westerners that I hve observed is this: Indian grvies, veg. meats whtever are meant as ACCOMPANIMENTS ONLY to a BREAD OR RICE, they compris not more than 20% of a mouth ful, the other 80% being that bread or rice. PAPAD is not a bread, ever!! These dishes are meat to enhance the flavor of the starch, that has been made to sound like a curse word in the English language and modern Western sensibilities, for the most part. That word now.carries so much undeniable psychological baggage that it needs to be replaced. No wonder everything goes out of balance when people add a couple of spoons of rice into a mass of gravy & meat and feel overpowered by the spices & richness; DUH!! That is not how things are meant to be eaten. Likewise, the sambar & 2 chutneys are to be sopped up in conjunction with the main, in the proportions suggested}. *The same applies for the Chennai idli, the plain white idli. Its texture and many nuances make this a very highly sought after delicacy; easy to execute but extremely difficult to master. There are places in Chennai & Bangalore that specialze in nothing more than idli-sambar [Rathna Cafe, Chennai] or idli-vada-green chutney [brahmin Cafe, Bangalore] whose execution remain unmatched. The test for a Dosa King must be : Plain: look for ridge & furrow; see here for detail http://pleasuremountain.wordpress.com/2007/11/22/banzai-uma/ or Masala: means a fiilling of potato & onion was added right before folding. You break of a piece with your fingers wrap it around some filling, dip into chutneys followed by sambar. Paper Butter dosa, plain or masala: these are the thin, crisp style Ghee roast dosa Rava dosa: a semolina + whole wheat flour dosa made LACY on a salt water sprinkled gridl as opposed to conditioned griddles for the others. Uttapam: slightly soured dosa batter [like sourdough] on an open-face griddled “pancake” to which you can ask for onion, tomato, green pepper, ginger etc. to be added. Uppuma : semolina or idlis roasted and cooked with a few peas/veg. or nothing else in a particular fluffy (emolina)/roasted ( idli)way Here is there menu online: I am just marking some of the more clssic South Indian dishes which you shoul try & for which you should be visiting here. It is missing COMPLETELY missing the point to feast on N. Indian standards like going to a Sichuan specialist and then compose your meal of Cantonese standards. Better that you come away dissatisfied but having learnt the true flavor palette of AUTHENTIC TAMIL BRAHMIN, rather than RESTAURANT INDIAN. PAPAD* Lentil wafers known as pappadum a great appetizer. PAPAD MASALA* Fried pappadum garnished with chopped onion, chilleies, coriander and tomatoes. ROASTED PAPAD MASALA* Roasted pappadum garnished with chopped onion, chilleies, coriander and tomatoes. FRENCH FRIES* Deep fried golden crispy potato chips. SAMOSA* Crispy snack with potato and vegetable filling (served 2 pcs.). ONION PAKORA* Deep fried onion rings dipped in gram flour batter. VEGETABLE PAKORA* Deep fried vegetable pieces dipped in gram flour batter. PANEER PAKORA Deep fried cottage cheese coated with gram flour and Indian spices. BREAD PAKORA* Deep fried bread pieces coated with gram flour and Indian spices. MASALA VADA* Deep fried bengal gram patties with spices (served 2 pcs.). BATATA VADA* Mashed potato balls with spices dipped in gram flour and deep fried (served 2 pcs.). SIZZLERS TANDOORI STARTERS ON SIZZLERS PANEER TIKKA The chef speciality. Cottage cheese with Indian spices cooked in clay oven. PANEER HARYALI TIKKA A speciality. Cottage cheese with spinach and Indian spices cooked in clay oven. PANEER SHASHLIK BBQ cottage cheese chunks skewered with onion and tomato. PANEER SEEKH KEBAB Mashed cottage cheese & spices skewered and BBQ in clay oven. BHARWA SHIMLA MIRCH Whole green capsicum stuffed with vegetables cokked on grey charcoal. TANDOORI GOBHI* Cauliflower marinated with spices and cooked in clay oven (Tandoor). TANDOORI AALOO Stuffed potato grilled on a skewer in clay oven (Tandoor). APPETIZERS LIP SMACKING ORIGINAL INDIAN APPETIZERS PANI PURI* Puffed crispy puris served with boiled chick peas, potato chunks and minted spicy water. TIKKI CHAAT Potato patties with curd, chick peas, spices, sweet and sour chutney. PAPDI CHAAT Thin crispy puris with curd, sweet and sour chutney, boiled potato and toppings. AALOO CHAAT* Boiled potato chunks with Indian spices, sweet and sour chutney. FRUIT CHAAT* Mixed fresh fruit chunks with Indian spices. CHANNA YAM* Spicy and sour chick peas preparation. DAHI VADA NORTH INDIAN STYLE Lentil doughnut dipped in yoghurt with sweet and sour taste. DAHI VADA SOUTH INDIAN STYLE Lentil doughnut dipped in salty yoghurt with green chilly and ginger. TOMATO SOUP Freshly pureed tomato soup with cream. DAL SOUP* Yellow lentil soup flavoured with Indian spices. SALAD FRESH Fresh garden salad. PLAIN DOSA (WITHOUT FILLING)* Served with sambar and chutney. BUTTER DOSA Served with sambar and chutney topped with butter. PAPER DOSA* Thin and crispy rolled like a paper served with sambar and chutney. PAPER MASALA DOSA* Paper dosa served with onion and potato filling alongwith sambar and chutney. REGULAR MASALA DOSA* Served with onion and potato filling alongwith sambar and chutney. DOSA MIX VEGETABLE FILLING* Served with mix vegetable filling alongwith sambar and chutney. DOSA PANEER FILLING (COTTAGE CHEESE) Served with cottage cheese filling alongwith sambar and chutney. DOSA GREEN MOONG* Dosa of whole green moong batter with topping of minced onion and spices. SET DOSA - A SET OF TWO* Slightly thick and soft dosa served alongwith sambar and chutney. CHILLI DOSA* Stuffed with capsicum/bell pepper, cottage cheese, onion & spices. UTTHAPAM - ONION & TOMATO* Thicker soft dosa with onion and tomato topping. UTTHAPAM - MIX VEGETABLE* Thicker soft dosa with mix vegetable topping. RAVA DOSA - PLAIN* Mixture of semolina and rice flour with onion & chilli served with sambar and chutney. RAVA DOSA MASALA* Mixture of semolina and rice flour with onion & potato filling, sambar and chutney. MANGALORE MASALA DOSA* Spicy dosa served with onion and potato filling alongwith sambar and chutney. MANGLORE PLAIN DOSA* Spicy dosa served alongwith sambar & chutney. PIZZA DOSA Chef's speciality a fusion of east & west. PANEER TIKKA DOSA Fusion of north & south indian cuisine served with sambar and chutney. IDLI SAMBAR* Soft steemed rice and black gram cake served with sambar and chutney. VADA SAMBAR* Deep fried black gram dumplings served with sambar and chutney. UPMA* Semolina preparation with green peas and onion. TANDOORI ROTI* Wheat flour bread prepared in traditional clay oven. PRANTHA PLAIN Layered bread baked with butter. AALOO PRANTHA Layered bread baked with butter, filled with spicy potatoes. GOBHI KA PRANTHA Layered bread baked with butter, filled with spicy cauliflower. PUDINA PRANTHA Layered bread baked with butter and fresh mint leaves. BHARVAN KULCHA (PANEER/AALOO/MASALA/GOBHI) Stuffed kulcha with selection of cottage cheese/potato/mix spices/cauliflower. TANDOORI ROTI MAKHNI Wheat flour bread prepared in traditional clay oven and buttered. MISSI ROTI* Fresh bread made out of wheat flour and mixed with lentil. NAAN PLAIN* Indian bread of very fine flour prepared in clay oven. AALOO NAAN* Indian bread of very fine flour prepared in clay oven stuffed with spicy potatoes. NAAN MAKHNI Three layers of naan bread prepared with butter, baked in clay oven. GARLIC NAAN Crisp naan bread filled with buttered garlic, baked in clay oven. MASAALA NAAN* Bread filled with spices baked in clay oven. PANEER NAAN Naan bread stuffed with cottage cheese & spices baked in clay oven. SHAHI KASHMIRI NAAN Naan bread stuffed with cottage cheese, cashew nuts, raisins & spices. LACHHA PRANTHA Multi layered crispy bread topped with butter. VEGETABLE PULAO* Basmati rice fried with mix vegetables and indian spices. MATTAR PULAO* Basmati rice fried with green peas and indian spices. JEERA RICE* Rice steamed with cumin. LEMON RICE* Rice cooked with lemon juice and spices, served with sambar and pappadam. SAFFON RICE* Steamed saffron rice. CURD RICE Rice with yoghurt, served with pappadam and pickle. STEAM RICE* Fragrant steamed rice. SAMBAR RICE* Sambar and steam rice served with pappadam and pickle. PURI BHAJI NORTH/SOUTH INDIAN STYLE* Puffed puris served with potato preparation. CHOLE BHATURE* Chickpeas curry served with maida puris & mini salad. PAV BHAJI* Mixed vegetable curry served with toasted buns. BRIYANI GRAVY* Basmati rice cooked with mixed vegetables and servedw/ tomato gravy. Please carefully note that none of these items save sambar, actually appear in the main meal of the day which is an early lunch. These fried foods are part of TIFFIN, consumed in late afternoon with coffee. At night, only a very light meal is taken. The main meals are very low in fat, and these types of foods are not everyday indulgences. Rice with sambar, which is dal mixed with a vegetable, another lghtly cooked green vegetable, yoghurt & rice with pickles and maybe rasam/papad is the daily main meal. Breakfast can be yoghurt/rice or idli/yoghurt/chutney powder, always with filter coffee, the progenitor of the numerous Southeast Asian filter coffee devices. By 1616, English writers had noted coffee to be a long established custom in South India, including your famous latte with froth. So please be sure to ask for filter kaapi by name, even if not on the menu. There are Indian names for coffee as well, but this one is easier to pronounce!! Filter coffee along with these rich fried foods essentially are the equivalent of a high tea. That isthe understanding you must bring with you when you order these items at Dosa King. These assertive flavors clash with North Indian ones, so please leave the latter for another visit. You may order some garden salad and a fruit platter to cleanse your palate while you are eating. Cucumbers are good, too.
  2. You could try nudging your eggplants with a tiny dose of high analysis phosphate & potassium fertilizer, minus nitrogen. Since you have some college students to heed your call, and they have access to chemistry labs, potassium dihydrogen phosphate and potassium monohydrogen phosphate are two common buffer salts easily found in labs and cheap enough that tiny amounts nipped for a small experiment for Sensei -san is morally perfectly ok. These are not silver salts [expensive] nor explosives nor toxic!! One has a ph of 2, the second 9, in solution, so the 2 together make up a neutral buffer. Extremely good for eggplants & peppers!! Or, any hydroponic fertilizer shop will have these but at the exorbitant prices of everything in Japan. Since this is only an experiment, it is not worth buying such. So give your plants the equivalent of a stiff gin & tonic each, and see what they do. The rain has done two things: starved the roots of oxygen & slowed their extension growth. Since only the newer parts of the roots are the more effective gleaners of minerals , older root hairs have exhausted the easily available P & K fractions near them. The K also may have moved with the water farther away. With the decreased aerobic environment, any mycorrhizae plus specialized root chemistry to extract bound P also is at its lowest ebb. Thus, these 2 elements most essential for flower development are found limiting by the eggplants: Not because your soil lacks them, but because conditions are impeding access. If you cut furrows on either side of your eggplants, and mound up ridges as we do in rainy Bengal during the monsoons to drain off the excess rainwater, you may notice some improvement. Of course, then you need somewhere to lead that water to, another problem in a suburban setting. Nitrogen may or may not be limiting, but given your applications of compost, probably not. In any case, applying inorganic N now may invite many types of problems. Plants take up a wider variety of organic N compounds including small amino acids, as we are discovering, and UTILIZE many of them for N nutrition, unlike what was previously believed.
  3. KQ, Wonderful that your experiment turned out a success. Keep dogging the Brucemeister's Thai & Viet foodblogs: his pics will compel you to cook anyway, and soon you will be a maven, at least a brown belt from all that fish sauce and tamarind paste. As to the break-up, you have correctly diagnosed the issue, about working the paste more. How, is described by Bruce in his own dinner post, in the recipe link he provides and the suggestion one made in the long shrimp psot upthread of Chinese chefs who throw shrimp and other delicate seafood back into the basin with measured vehemence a number of times set by their experience until they get to just that particular balance of sticky +AERATED. This will make the fritters puff up provided the oil temps are appropriate, and do not drop [we are talking deep fry]. Shallow fry is more convenient for the home cook. Note that the puffing has a downside in that the fritters need to be served and eaten immediately. They collapse and become poofy and greasy when left any length of time; not good for graceful entertainment because guests feel embarrassed when the hostess/host is cooking & they must eat. Therefore, a clever stratagem needs to be devised, when such occasions arise. As Bruce remarks, a crisp crust is not necessarily achievable, without making the fritter greasy. Our society has become extremely "crispy" conscious and may reject great food that does not meet this criterion, which is a pity. This may need to be explained to potential guests: such & such is the norm of this dish, do not judge it according to xyz expectations. Another suggestion made by Bruce, replacing salt with fish sauce, could be especially valuable with a bland frozen fish like cod or haddock. Instead of the tartar sauce sustaining a close relative of Bruce, or in addition to, one might offer a mild Sriracha sauce or the sweet chili sauce that comes from Thailand. It is easy enough to make one's own dip by cooking down some white sugar, water & white vinegar until one has the right syrupy consistency and one's preferred level of sweet & sour. Then, you may add chili flakes or not to your liking, crushed roasted peanuts out of a can (or not), and you have an interesting dipping sauce. You could even add some chopped fresh pineapple, the less ripe the better, or a tiny bit of minced semi-ripe fresh mango to this base. Play with it and you have fresh dipping sauces of a dozen types: raspberries too, why not? kiwi? rhubarb!! De-seeded green thai chili pepper. Combination of mango +green chili, etc. I have very odd tastes but i like this dish a lot because it is low in fat: spring rolls steamed or microwaved instead of fried. One makes a filling with soaked and drained fine cellophane noodles snipped to size grated carrots, zucchini, chard, napa cabbage, bamboo shoot, soaked shredded shiitake or fresh, ditto cloud/wood ear mushroom [mu erh] for crunchiness [whatever you like, this is a grab bag recipe], some squished up soft tofu (if you have some around), fish sauce, scallions, black pepper, dash soy, pinch sugar, sesame oil. Make up a big mess in a big steel bowl, the more veggies, the more noodles to absorb water. Let be while you defost 9inch SPRING ROLL skins. Fill & roll. Arrange on a 10 inch dinner plate. Microwave with a paper towel cover until just done. Enjoy with a dip, Sriracha. There are a lot of veggies here, not much fat. Good if you like cooked spring roll skins, disgusting if you do not!
  4. This is the first year I am experimenting with some "traditional Kyoto vegetables": Kamo-nasu & Kyoto Kujo Negi + Ko-nasu [1-bite eggplant] (not Kyoto?).We had another Shimonita Negi but did not get around to planting it this year. Since I share a garden plot with a friend in a strictly organic community garden, and this year has been too rainy for row covers, we have been battling the usual infestation of flea beetles with indifferent success. I am extremely curious to see the famous Kamonasu at long last but will have to settle for 1 or 2 fruit, it seems. Apparently, for many years, the true strain was forbidden to be removed from the Kyoto area, so I do not know what type has been sold by the nursery. Plus, I have ODORIKO & SUNGOLD tomatoes, both from Japan. In the past, MOMOTARO has done very well; Odoriko is supposed to ripen a few days later, a big issue in our cool climate. Since it has been raining almost every day, the growt has been lush. It will be difficult to predict the flavor of the tomatoes, since none has flowered yet. P.S. Since snails, both terrestrial & aquatic, have been utilized by farming communities over the world as food, I wonder if there is any evidence of slugs having been adopted for food by such communities? Or has the absence of a shell led slug(species) to evolve factors that make them unpalatable? Banana slugs are sold in Washington state in cans & bottles for food, but more as a tourist gag, one is told. I would be grateful if anyone can point me in the right directions. Thanks.
  5. Glad that you are happy; always very nice when classroom theory actually serves someone with a real problem. Now, the nex step is to keep an eye out for spidermites that thrive in low humidity. Just be aware and wipe them off with a Q-tip and a VERY very dilute Ivory soap solution [to not injure the plant]. The gnats by themsleves are pretty neutral, they just feed & multiply on the peat moss & other organic matter in the planting mix and do nothing to the plant. The thing to be very careful with manure is much of it comes from feedlot steers or dairy cows that are fed enriched diets with added salts. The end product, combine dwith your high pH soil, and mineral rich water, may have too many salts accumulating. Two things may slowly start to happen. One is a yellowing, especially in the areas between the veins. That is called chlorosis, the inability of the plant to manufacture new photosynthetic pigments like chlorophyll because it cannot pull out the right types & amounts of iron & magnesium molecules from the soil. There are enough of these, just that they remain unavailable to the roots. We use chelates, translated as "claws" a chemical form of vinegar or acetic acid with a cage-like structure carrying iron or magnesium molecules in their center that is placed in that very alkaline soil. The roots suck in those tiny little vinegary cages and break them down, accessing the metals they have been carrying. Another method is to sprinkle pure SULFUR, which makes the soil acid, or use Azalea/Rhododendron fertilizer, created to acidify soils, i.e. just Ammonium Sulfate will suffice. You need not worry about these just yet. Just be aware, so that if things ever start showing up, you do not panic. We have excellent Cooperative Extension Services everywhere! God Bless America!! They have Master Gardener Programs, where a Master Gardener is on hand to advise community members how to take care of their unhappy plants. Experts are present as back-up, all the way to super-specialists such as the one I wrote you about. Nowhere else are scientists of such competence available with a mere phone call to every member of our great country, every single person, citizen or not. Sorry to write all this, but i am so proud of the US ag research community who get so little credit for keeping the global economy [you read that right] humming!! Please keep a close eye on the seedlings. As Helen-san has cautioned, various fungi can attack stems/leaves: they are the soft-rotters, attacking a specific portion of the cell walls, causing brown lesions we call damping off and other things: Pythium & Phytopthora, but the names do not matter, just being aware that these crop up very fast by the time our eyes can see them. There are effective chemicals by BAYER and others, that are absorbed through the roots. No time to go "organic", because many organic prophylactics are remarkably toxic without proportionate effectiveness, and that whole philosophy, when blindly pursued as IDEALOGY, appalls me.
  6. Packaged spice mixes vary by ethnic types of food, and of course, personal preference. Brands tend to to best in the regional types of foods from the regions they come, e.g. MDH brand does Punjabi style garam masala well + chickpea/chole masala. It is a company with North Indian/Delhi/Punjab roots and does the dishes from that area the best. Do not expect it to do dishes from the South, e.g. Sambar, or west, Pav bhaji masala, as well or well. Also note that its Garam masala is PUNJABI style, which is a very different creature from the many garam masalas needed for mughlai or other cooking. Similarly, MANGAL does the foods of Mumbai/Bombay, especially the Parsi dhansak reasonably well. This is a spice powder package. PARAMPARA is alleged to do the dishes of GOA & Malabar [on the west coast of India] well. Its packaged & pre-cooked spices/onion etc. are extremely convenient, but leave me not entirely satisfied. Others are very happy. All you add is coconut milk, either frozen, fresh, or from a can. KITCHENS OF INDIA is selling a retort pack of curry sauce of various types. Their North Indian formulations that I have taste, paneer & spinach etc. are reasonably good for this type of product. There are bottled curry sauces in several brands: MOST of these are made with the BRITISH CURRY HOUSE taste in mind, which is a genre on its own, e.g. chicken korma. You can experiment according to your taste. My choices: Biryani: 1. LAZIZA [ Pakistan] http://www.lazizafoods.com/spices.html other spice mixes from this brand excellent, qorma etc. Avoid those that have dyes in them. This company was penalized in UK some years ago for using Sudan 3, a dye employed needlessly to color meats red in many Asian foods. This practice now has stopped. The fault lay NOT with the company but the consumer, for wanting absurd hues in their food. BRIGHT VERMILION CHICKEN: WHY?? 2nd choice: NATIONAL brand, Pakistan. I avoid Shan, Pakistan; others like it!! YMMV. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=118728 Parsi Dhansak: MANGAL brand, India. Sambar Powder: 777 brand; same for RASAM POWDER. Mysore Sambar, with cinnamon: MTR brand Punjabi Garam Masala: MDH brand Chaat Masala: MDH or Laxmi brands Chole or Chana [chickpea] spice: MDH, Laxmi Tamarind concentrate, warm brown paste in GLASS [ NOT plastic] jar: Laxmi brand Asafetida: LG brand Coconut oil for cooking Kerala veg. dishes: PARACHUTE [blue bottle]. Deep Foods and its other brands, Udipi etc. very good for frozen cooked foods, sweets, snacks. Roopak brand spices are supposed to be good, never tried them. These are the more common brands available in the trade. Let me know if you need any clarifications or how to use them. Especially, simplify the biryani instructions and you will get a supremely better dish. gautam.
  7. Generalizations are ALWAYS misleading, if not downright disingenuous and mischievous. They also could partake of profound ignorance or deliberate falsification. Harsh words? I am sick of the US culture, foodways or whatever always beeing seen as naive, flawed and inferior to the imagined superiority of European or peasant foodways. Without going into personalities, let me emphasize the sheer ignorance of those who have not studied the history of peasant economies, agriculture, food and nutrition in Europe and the world, particularly Italy. "Abundancë" was never a term to be used in any context with the Italian serfs. An animal-like existence, sandwiched between wars and rapine, living off whatever grains like millets, chestnuts etc. and surrendering all their grain to their overlords was the rule. Even right down to the modern period, we have historical recorded accounts of woment recounting when over Christmas a family had but a single egg. In France, families tore salad greens with their teeth into a common bowl. The poverty of peasantry was hideous. What utter nonsense then, to claim, the development of ANY peasant cuisine. Whatever did develop did so FAR REMOVED FROM THE TRUE PEASANT. Those who had had the luxury of food were of another class of yeomen, landowners, etc. Peasants ate to survive and rarely saw meat, let alone hams. The Irish peasantry ate 6 lbs of potatoes and some milk or buttermilk, day in and day out. Wheat was not a part of their diet, nor butter nor anything else. Minimalist survival diets: France, England, Greece, Italy, the list is endless. I have a friend working as a Peace Corp volunteer in Moldova today. I doubt many know the sheer desperation present in rural areas there, or in Russia or Ukraine for centuries. There is little to make that food palatable, ever, in the kitchens of New York. I have lived that life myself when food is rice of horrific quality & salt, and equally bad moldy wheat & sorghum chapaties and salt. If lucky, then some potatoes with black pepper. Year after year. What aid or relief grain goes to these countries is branded "for cattle feed only". There is much corruption on both sides on food aid with the officials actuall involved and political parties skimming off huge dividends. Why do we have repeated peasant wars in France? Why do we have certain crusades like the Second, to defuse simmering peasant uprising, when the Church had become a multinational conglomerate controlling the wool business & thus sheep movement policies throughout Europe [to the detriment of farmers]? The abundance of America, be it North or South, was a profound gift of Providence. That someone can make a living writing about food, and gull innocents to their POV is entirely due to the greatness of this country and its bounty. This dewy-eyed fallacious nonsense makes me so angry. I can give a year by year account of the US agricultural and social history from 1837 onward, correlating that with the history of the US currency & economics, e.g. 1867, then the rise of the JP Morgans & the currency speculations, what effects these had on our farmers and ordinary people etc. WHY we are so locked into innate fears of food issues, abbondanza, the continuing influx of immigrants all of whom prostrate to this country and its peace, order and ABUNDANCE. All of this supercilious nonsense, based on some imaginary European stndard of excellence makes me sick. WHY is EVOO better than cottonseed oil? Because someone told you it is, because then you learnt to acquire a taste for its unique flavor. A few years ago, bluefin tuna belly was thrown to the dogs in the Carolinas; today it is a king's ransom. Even in Japan, fatty tuna was deprecated in the past. Only in the modern century has it become the rage. How can a fish be dogfood one generation, ambrosia the next? What changed? Why has not Inuit foodways caught on? Not snobbish enough? Not cut super fine with super expensive knives? So what defines excellence? Opinionated tastemakers? Prosciutto? Our COUNTRY HAMS ARE PROSCIUTTO par excellence. We merely chooe to eat them OUR style, NOT the EUROPEAN way. So does that make us foolish or inferior? You decide. Anyone is also welcome to buy an 18month old Kentucky Ham and slice it thin and see what happens. I feel that foodwriters enjoy making people feel deprived, creating needs where none existed before. If the public is so shallow & gullible as not to know its own mind, well.... Why do we not thank our country and become more aware of the many traditions that have birthed its foodways and learn to appreciate our history, our own contributions to humanity for a change? American foodways, modern or traditional, very definitely rely on seasonal and local abundance to ensure economic survival of a huge percentage of rural Aerica to this day, even those not engaged in any agro-industrial activities. Much of America lives very poor. If Thorne would care to join me, I could educate him on many things he chooses not to understand about the food situation in our country. 23% of our children are below the poverty line in most states, 50% in the region where I live. 50% of the adults in the surroundng counties are below the poverty line. They and their parents HAVE to depend on what is ABUNDANT in markets and nature [deer, fish]. The political economy of our agriculture dictates what is and what is NOT; but these foods are not necessarily conducive to good nutrition. Recently, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, in partnership with local non-profits, is trying to sign up underserved, low-income families into local CSA with area organic farmers. Called HEALTHY FOOD FOR ALL, this program ensures all-you-can eat fresh vegetables that ordinarily cost too much [compared to mayo, potatoes ,white, bread, chicken and salami, made abundant & affordable by our political economy] for $30/month per family. We have non-existent funding after a very successful program last year and 2009. Demand is huge. I have spent my life working with cropping systems research in 3 major universities. I would love to have someone like Thorne devote some serious time writing about the serious problems we are facing, instead of nattering away about clam chowder. Such wonderful God-given gifts should not be wasted on the utter trivialities he and many other food writers dedicate themselves to. It would be so wonderful if these talents were harnessed to serve America, e.g. helping find donors for the above program. But as you and I well know, when unconditional altruism is mentioned, everyone disappears like the morning dew.
  8. You have re-discovered the ur-Pad Thai sauce/flavor!! Fantastic good taste on your part!
  9. Lisa, I wonder if your seedlings are in full sun? If they are, light shade cloth, or better, yet, a place where they only get sun for a few hours in the morning with afternoon shade, might be helpful. Citrus evolved as understorey trees in semi-tropical, moist sub-montane areas. They then spread to various parts of the world, where certain lemon/orange types etc. may have become selected for hotter, drier climates. Yuzu, from Japan, probably lacks those adaptations. You can also write to : gwright@ag.arizona.edu He is the Citrus Specialist at the Arizona Citrus Center. Dr. Glenn C. Wright, Associate Research Scientist and Editor University of Arizona Yuma Mesa Agriculture Center 2186 W. County 15th Street Somerton, AZ 85350 Phone: (928) 726-0458
  10. Pan, Actually JAMBU is a direct loan word from Sanskrit which itself loaned it from earlier indigenous languages. It means fruits of the GENUS Syzygium [or gold] and India is JAMBUDVIPA, the Rose Apple Land, very sacred in Buddhist cosmology. That jambu is variously transliterated in older horticultural literature for Bahasa [skt. BhASA] Malaysia [ Skt. Malaya =balmy] chomphu etc. So guava being a very late comer by 3 thousand years at minimum, contacts between Bengal, Indonesia etc predating the dawn of agriculture, guava shoul be termed Potruguese jambu. Its referent should be the jambu. Jambu, a native fruit, with a borrowed name long predating the arrival of guava seems queer referred to or indicated by the latecomer guava!
  11. Bruce, Thanks very much for bringing attention to this recipe. Since Ms. Nguyen sometimes contributes her precious time and gifts here, I would love to learn her honored mother's longer oven-finished version. One reason is to maintain a link with the past, to preserve a small fragment of cultural history. The second is that sometimes having an oven-cooked dish is a blessing in a busy household or when guests are due. One may concentrate on a soup and a stir-fry veg on the stove, secure in the knowledge that the main dish is beautifully finishing itself off without any fuss. Entirely by accident, needing to cook chicken red curry for a huge number of students, I ''invented" an oven-finish method using a turkey roaster that pleased their non-discrimating tastes well enough and was not bad taken on its own merits, not necessarily Dave Thompson's! Therefore, am very keen on learning more about similar techniques used with S.E. Asian cooking. I do hope Ms. Ngyen might pop in one day with that version, and any more "long versions" that she had to change for her book. We woud love to try both and compare. Thanks.
  12. Caul Fat in Shrimp, Fish etc.: Imagine making hamburgers with 95% lean eye of round, cooked WELL DONE----- what do you have? A tougher hockey-puckish end result with no internal lubrication. Thus, the common suggestion to employ 80% lean beef. Likewise, here very low-fat white fish like halibut, haddock, carp, pollock etc. are being minced very fine, which encourages the rubber ball effect of clumping tightly/closely together, then being shaped INTO FLAT-tish shapes [enough of a hockey puck, as far as cooking chemistry goes] and being deep fried, i.e. cooked well done, till the proteins and what not have changed their coiled shapes from their earlier conformations and entered into other shapes with respect to their neighbors with a vengeance [caused by heat]. The little bits of green add some breathing room and texture to prevent this uniform mass from becoming rubbery. BUT, if you have eaten Chinese dim sum, their har gau filling or shrimp "paste" in its many its many incarnations has a little internal cushioning added in the form of pork fat just like hamburger beef has internal cushion in the form of natural fat. The Cantonese are the supreme lords of manipulating shrimp texture. Note I did not merely say masters! But to be brief, they do add fat to the comminuted shrimp. Caul fat has excellent flavor and dissolves invisibly into the tissues it is placed. Notice the other word I used. Not minced or chopped, as an inevitable fate. The master chefs after preliminary treatment of fresh shrimp like salt-whipping, or sugar+ salt soaking, then take these by the handful and throw them repeatedly against a basin, breaking them down this way. That creates yet another texture, quite apart from chopping. Subsequent movements with following steps preserve and enhance this state. Just fresh, only salt whipped, only sugar/salt soaked [for crunchiness], chopped or smashed: these are just a few ways to regulate the texture. Other steps follow in lock-step, playing off the first: Then regulating the percentage fat & the type of fat in the mix will greatly control the end product. How much of the moisturizing veggie to add, be it water chestnut [fresh], bamboo shoot, or green beans [in your Thai version]. Binders: Whole egg in Thai, egg white in Cantonese, how much & HOW to add, influence the final. Spicing and peppers: white or black, fish sauce, types of salt or wine, all subtly or frankly ffect the texture, chewiness of the protein. Encasing:in a)caul+ dry root starch or b)just starch dusting or c)nothing at all, plus oil temperature makes a diference in the deep frying. Very hot oil not necessarily good. Sometimes frying temperatures that remain 350-360F without dropping better for SOME coatings & some stuff. You experiment & find your satisfying levels on your own stove and cooking vessel. Don't let a few early sub-par results discourage you. Repeating something many times is how all those street food sellers and chefs got their skills down pat! You need not get caul or any fat at all. This was merely overkill & not a healthy suggestion. Do without first and see you will get a perfectly acceptable product. Here is a rough guide to some types ofshrimp that are useful for these dishes where they re to be minced up anyway. NO NEED to pay top $$, try to find the BROKEN grade from resto supplier if possible. Failing that, find the smallest size/lb. Same with pollock. You may find large lots of skinless fillets. Or catfish, US FARM RAISED, please on this ONE species!! White Shrimp, farm raised, P&D TAIL OFF, 5lb box frozen, [shelled, tailed, deveined] 61/70 = quite large, check base price should be no higher than $5/lb per 5lb box. 71/90 = lower than above 91/110= ditto 111/130= lowest BROKENS : see what bargains you can wrangle, what is available, clearance, price by country of origin etc. X-large Large Medium Small= lowest prices, logically, but do check for other sales, clearance etc. X-small= lowest prices, see above. Here is an example of a supplier; others abound, in Chicago you are in luck. Probe the resto scene & suppliers. Cash & carry places offer good deals . Cut that frozen 5 lb block into pieces & put them into freezer bags, and there you go. Not so diffcult with shrimp, cutting frozen blocks. Distributed by Empress Interntational Ltd.; www.empfish.com asiangold@empfish.com You are in luck also in the fish dept., being in Chicago: 1301 18th Street, Spirit Lake, Iowa 51360, USA 800-831-5174 Toll Free USA 712-336-1750 712-336-4681 fax stollerfisheries@mchsi.com "If it can be done to a freshwater fish Stoller Fisheries can do it for you." As a primary processor Stoller Fisheries is capable of mincing (mechanically deboning) up to 60,000 pounds of under utilized species of fresh water fish daily. These fish include the common carp, buffalo fish, fresh water sheep head (drum), fresh water sucker (also known as the fresh water mullet) and many other species. The company can also mechanically debone salmon and ocean species.Please direct your inquiry to either Tom Opheim or Larry Stoller. PLATE-FROZEN FISH BLOCKS http://www.sfishinc.com/fishp1.htm
  13. I think you put your finger on the right place when you used the phrase "flavor overpowered by spice." My understanding is that Tod mun is an informal snack, eaten with drinks and such. Preserving any delicate flavor of the fish does not stand high in the list of priorities here, (my uncharitable suspicion) at least not quite in the way you have in mind. Sometimes texture is important in South-east Asia together with a particular spicing and mouth feel. For example, meat balls need to have a certain bounciness rather than tenderness, and so on. I would suspect that originally various types of river catfishes, including very large ones, were employed for these fritters. We still have them in the Indian -SE Asian region, species like Pangasius. You can use whatever fish is on sale near you, including US farm raised catfish, tilapia, buffalo fish, Great lakes white fish, and many fresh water species including deboned carp mince [http://www.sfishinc.com/fishp1.htm for deboned mince] as also the white marine species mentioned upthread. Two cleavers, a single cleaver or heavy chef's knife create a perfectly usable mince on a solid cuting board with a bit of elbow grease & folding over the mince on itself. Chop in a bit of caul fat if you can, or bit of fresh belly fat simmered for a very short time & cooled. Tamis not necessary: mince may become too rubbery. Regarding yard-long beans, they are essentially variants of cowpeas. However, within them you find pigmented variants like the RED NOODLE vs. the Green. The taste is much the same. Young, before the seed have swollen to protrude visible, is best. Otherwise, they get stringy and chewy. Their inclusion is to add crisp, tender balance to a mix that otherwise might become too dense & rubbery. [in China, OFFICIAL ping pong balls are made of carp (dace) mince!!!!] So break and chew on a bean before buying so that you can verify that it is up to its intended role.
  14. http://www.khiewchanta.com/archives/fried-...d-mun-gung.html I urge you to search out CAUL FAT from your meat department: they will special order it for you. You can even wrap the mince in caul and roll it in arrowrrot or corn starch, dust it off and fry. This one is without any curry paste for a change. maybe not what you are looking for. If you tell us exactly what you are finding to be unsatisfactory with your present recipes, that would indicate where to point you to? Other wise the net is full of tod man pla [fish] recipes, all similar: red curry paste in judicious portion, a tiny bit of finely sliced thai lime leaf [fresh/frozen] finely chopped fresh yard long bean [the better alternative to fresh green beans, which use if nothing else is available], a light han with seasoning, various fish groung in processor, e.g. tilapia, halibut, skinless haddock, pollock etc. http://importfood.com/recipes/todmanpla.html http://www.google.com/search?q=Tod+man+rec...ex=&startPage=1 If not happy, you may go here : http://www.thailandqa.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=41 and post your questions to a whole community of Thai food experts!!!
  15. Achras sapota, sapote, sapota, sapodilla, chico, chikoo: very well liked in the tropics, Phil. India [buzillion varieties swooned over, people e.g. me even enchanted by various tree forms; so miss our tree], Latin America. Sorry for double post. Not sure how it happened or how to remove. But regarding the chili-salt idea above, crush Thai-type green chili with coarse sea salt in mortar until dry paste or crumble; i.e. crush the chilies first, then crush in the huge edition of coarse salt crystals. Freshly (harvested) peanuts roasted in their shells in hot sand, eaten while still very warm; and this chili salt redolent of fresh pepper: one of life's simpler yet sublime pleasures, missing from more advanced societies.
  16. 5 o'clock = Annona cherimola, cherimoya?? or likely the more tropical Sugar Apple, A. squamosa 2 o' clock = white & pink cactus fruit, pitahaya roja y blanca, dragon fruit, Hylocereus undatus 1 o' çlock = ? 11 o' clock= Averrhoa carambola, star fruit 9 o'clock = Syzygium malaccense, Malay rose-apple, chomphu merah Banana, Papaya? pineapple? certainly jackfruit, a citrus like sweet lime, white wedges of coconut? other things I cannot make out or identify. In the US, Star Apple has become the common name for Chrysophyllum cainito L., a fruit from the SAPOTA family, from which chewing gum is made. Like the sapota, its flesh too is dark brown. Syzygium samarangense is another tropical "jambu" also introduced into the Philippines, sometimes called the Java apple, with a rosy skin and white flesh. Is this Rona's star apple? But you say looks like a passion fruit, i.e. gnarly brown, and is white & pinkish inside? Cannot recall any fitting that description.
  17. Kristin, Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures. Your son sipping from a glass of fruit drink was priceless. be sure to preserve that one, and frame it to be handed to him on his wedding day in full public view!! That would be something!!
  18. Oxtails add body & depth without clouding: please do not use American style oxtails that are from younger, very fat animals, very expensive too. Asian stores carry tail from OLD, dairy CUTTER grade animals, much thinner, cheaper too!! More easily/effectively cleansed in the preliminary blanching. Oxtail has meat, bone and some tissue between vertebrae that provides gelling for just enough body to the broth. So it is a complete package, no need to buy meat & bones separately. You also should eat the left over or make it into a hash. Tissue that are in constant motion and stress [e.g. having to support the mass while moving], like calf muscle, shin meat, neck, tail, etc. seem to accumulate the flavor and other components necessary for a good broth. Toasting spices, in the Indian context, is when you want to do several different things in near-waterless meat braises that are SEETHED in fat, or for adding as a flavor enhancer at the very end. Those applications are not indicated here in water extraction. Toasting imparts a certain flavor but also drives out aromatic oils to the atmosphere! You can create a little toasted powder, that we call garam masala powder, cassia, green cardmon whole, and cloves [sparingly] and hold this. You may experiment for one bowl by sprinkling in 1 small saucepan of broth a pinch of this garam masala to see if it wakes up the flavors before serving. That is what is done in India. Whole spices during braises or water cooking, plus perk up with toasted powdered spices at finish. Just try, but only one experimental bowl of your many bowls!! And go up in the heating saucepan by pinches. Light toasting to deeper toasting, as you choose, adds another variable like coffee roasts! Ginger is a personal taste. Very long cooking makes ginger taste steamy. The point here is not to generate steam, even when cooking long. You decide what to include. Dutch ovens, enamelled cast iron 5 qt, can be had new for around USD 35-40 at Target, Chinese manufacture. They are good enough for 95% of everything you need to make, including complex biryanis! Or lamb pilafs. Fill them 2/3 or more, and that will easily be 5-6 lbs of oxtail, and you will have enough broth for 15-20 big bowls of pho. plus you can add you gan-na tendon here as well so you can enjoy that with your pho, or your tongue, too, tripe nicely blanched, librillo tripe + honeycomb tripe. Put them all in and you are good to go. This type of cookware is very affordable and 8 quart Club aluminum dutch oven lined with non-stick also affordable. Thunder/Tarhong is a brand to look out for, for decent prices. Don't get fooled by big European names. Leave those to people with more money than sense. If you are not very freaked out by bits of protein swimming in your pho broth, a stainless steel PRESSURE COOKER, 6 or 8 quart is great. Load her up as per safety directions with blanched oxtail, any shin bone & meat, ear, tripe, tongue, tendon, spices. Bring her up to pressure gently and let her rock gently without any loud escape of steam for the appointed time or less because you are going to cool until the pressure drops by itself. You will have one fantastic broth, still very hot. Skim with strainer and then paper towel. Get your cutting board out, and slice all the goodies, slice your raw steak, fix your greenies & noodles and you are good to go. That same fine mesh skimmer will fish out the whole spices and some of the coagulated protein. Eat the protein with rice. Us Asians never throw food away. After all we eat clotted blood [protein] with relish, so what's wrong with that other protein? I find cosmetically clear broths and all weird in this instance when so much gunk gets dumped into the pho while eating [jungles, chile sauce, 5 billion types of meat, you name it, what can you see of the broth anyway??? Happy experiments. Don't freak out the family!!
  19. All the essential oils are terpenes YYYYYYY structures, di to sesquiterpenes. Evaporation, extraction with steam is one way they are extracted, say from rose petals! So you are releasing everything to the atmosphere by simmering uncovered. The other poster also has a point that some fractions are fat soluble, or at least soluble in non-polar solvents like alcohol, and removing the fat removes some flavor. That is why the Vietnamese blanch the bones first, to remove a slight amount of superficial grease and protein scum. Then get shank type meat, move down toward the ankles, and also some oxtail from Chinese grocers who sell tail from cows over 30 months: older, leaner, more flavorful for soup meat. Having blanched and washed, put in spices. Please do not buy the spices in the little pho packets sitting in Oriental groceries! Rather, go to Indian groceries where there is the chance for higher turnover but choose your shop carefully. If you are in Silicon Valley or in places with high So. Asian populations, you have a better chance of fresher spices, but not necessarily: the packers can be unscrupulous. Penzey's etc. may be better, but the Indian grocers still offer a pretty fair deal in my opinion. I am just anxious that others not feel cheated! You won't be, I buy my spices there!! Do a trial run, being a scientist and be prepared for failure. Load up your dutch oven with the high dosage of spice I indicated, raw onion, a smaller shot of raw ginger AND DID YOU NOTICE the ALCOHOL EXTRACT + ALCOHOL INPUT of TAKADÏ's Hon. Mother?!!! That Alcohol IS SEHR GUT!! It pulls out more flavors from the spices. Please very gently pound the black & green cardamoms to open them up and very lightly bruise their seeds. Please leave their husks on. We generally put a dough seal on the lid to seal it tighty and let the oven do the cooking. Stick it in, set it to 225-250F (or lower) and forget it for some hours. If you have a separate portable electric oven for turkey cooking and can seal it with dough, there are temperature controllers that can regulate current + temperature precisely and fit between wall socket and appliance. You can set it to 180- 190F and forget about it for 9-10 hours. Switch off and let cool. Skim fat with strainer. You will have clear wine like stock. Even that may not be necessary. Low settings may be obtained, e.g. 180F in large oval crockpots. Sometimes these are on clearance sales at Walmart, $34, esp. those with indwelling temperature probes! The edges of the glass lid easily can be sealed with a dough ring, there is a nice ledge. Pressure does NOT build up because of the slow cooking, no head of steam.
  20. Just from my Indian experience, here is what I think, not necessarily correct: you have 9 lb/ 4.5 kg meaty stuff: 8 cloves 8 cardamoms etc. 30 min per 2 lb in slow cooker or slow oven ALL UNTOASTED 3-4 cloves, because these are not often fresh, small piece cassia bark 1 inch or more, green or black cardamom 3 green or black 1-2, peppercorns as you wish, star anise, i would cook cook low and slow 6-8 hours with the spices in cover on, very low in oven You can even dum by sealing with dough ring a dutch oven. Broth will be clear and very fragrant. We do not make pho but similar broth with lamb or goat trotters or marrow bones and shanks. Shank bones of beef then and oxtails. Pho is a classic yakhni with a garam masala!! Nothing more! Roasted onion is for color and slight taste. You may consider adding some raw sliced onion and ginger with meat for deeper taste.
  21. A little too late, and something that you may already have found, but others may like:
  22. v. gautam

    DIY Chai

    Iced Tea for the South, like Rhubarb Pie or rhubarb anything for the Yankees, is merely an excuse for consuming insane quantities of sugar while pretending not to! It is merely lemonade tinged brown, one of those delightful American affectations like pink lemonade. Whyever for? And Sun Tea?!!! Give me the Flower Children who brew such and be done with it! If you add southern "biscuits'' to that [something that dismays Indians terribly when they go seeking their beloved Britannia Marie or digestives] I think tea leaves offer posiibilities for more exciting fantasies than fig leaves. I dare not speculate about the rhubarb, whether stalks or leaves! Unlike you, YP, I have not, not too much time on my hands but too perfervid an imagination brought about by arteries hardened (and brain starved of blood) by decades milk boiled with tea fannings.
  23. John, Vienna has the advantage of making its products available almost nationwide, or at least the northern tier, via Sysco. So does Boar's Head & Hebrew National, albeit through other distributor chains. The point is that ordianry people with ordinary purses can find them without too much of a strain on the budget caused by increasing postage costs. Even your favorite Admiration makes itself abundantly available, and very reasonably priced, although in large sizes, at many institutional food suppliers. Best & Sabretts [Marathon?] seem less serviced by distributors and keener to service smaller orders [10 lbs or less] via mail. Would this be a correct assumption on my part? As with Usingers and Nolecheks, the reasonable unit cost essentially doubles [or even more] and begins to approach the $10/lb level, even for upstate NY, because they will only ship 2nd day express. That makes these brands an unaffordable luxury for many. Too much to spend on hot dogs. I am not sure you will agree. However, by making their product available to smaller regional distributors who are happy to handle smaller amounts for specialized outlets & needs, e.g. Regional Access of Trumansburg, NY, that services a huge swathe from NJ to VT, they could make themselves more accessible to a significant niche market. Even Admiration could employ this mode, with smaller sizes or single gallons for home use, marketing these alongside the dogs. Best has a lot of good pastrami etc. that will attract interest as well.
  24. v. gautam

    DIY Chai

    More news on the milk + tea combination! Adding milk to tea negates health benefits: Study http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-c...fits--study--02 ..Charite Hospital at the University of Berlin in Mitte found that adding milk to the tea eliminates the protective effect against cardiovascular disease, Health News reported... ..black tea significantly improved blood flow as compared to drinking water but adding milk blunted the effect of the tea. .. The findings could explain why in countries such as Britain, where tea is regularly consumed with milk, have not shown a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke from drinking tea....." BTW, Swami Vivekananda [1861-1902] applauded the drinking of tea in its green or black forms as the Chinese did, calling it immensely therapeutic, labelling the milk + tea concoction as "mahavisha", great poison!!
  25. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of LANDRACES + CULTIVARS + F1 hybrids of Capsicum annuum, C. baccatum and perhaps several other other species that have erect [as opposed to pendulant or downward facing] fruit. These are found in ALL regions that grow chiles. To claim X is NOT Y merely because X is heaven facing is not quite relevant because thousands of types ARE heaven facing. No region has any monopoly over erect fruiting types. X may be an erect type or landrace with particular qualities, taste etc. selected for in region X, or brought out fully only in terroir X, therefore different from Y. That might be a more meaningful statement. Thai chilies, be they chee faa, or khee nuu, or their many variants, will vary dramatically with soil & climate. The same chili grown in Thailand or Bengal tastes very different from one grown in a pot or garden in a more temperate climate: heatwise it may be almost the same, but the full flavor bouquet developed under the tropical sun and particular soils is often absent in the fresh chili. Same with cilantro!!
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