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Raj Banerjee

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Everything posted by Raj Banerjee

  1. No Claudia Roden's Book of Middle Eastern Food?
  2. Many thanks, will have another look! Sorry I didnt get a chance to check this again yesterday. Cheers...yummy toast here I come! Raj
  3. Hey, I remember having this stuff on perfect, slightly sweet, toasted bread while in Singapore and Malaysia, and was wondering if anyone out there knew if/where this could be purchased in London? I certainly don't recall seeing it Loon Fung or any of the Chinatown groceries, but I might be wrong... Any help would be most gratefully appreciated! Many thanks Raj
  4. Sadly, I would have to concur with everything that Bertie said, particularly about the service. Although I must admit, we werent treated at all rudely, but the inefficiencies and icompetencies were certainly evident on the Sunday lunchtime we visited (party of 8, sat by the river in the corner, slightly squashed table). There were waiters making lots of noise, waiters being instructed noisily, waiters being berated noisily, waiters dropping cutlery noisily...the roast duck was brought out, breasts served, confit withheld, as usual, until asked for... I agree, its just such a nice place to go for lunch, it seems criminal that with a set-up as established as this, they can't be bothered or inclined to get the kitchen and staff back up to scratch. Its certainly 1 star cooking (at best) with no starred service in a 2-3 star room (when things aren't being dropped on the floor...). This is my 5th or 6th visit, and until I hear that things are back on track, I am afraid my visits to Bray are going to be to Heston's places... Raj
  5. Greetings, To add my tuppence to the general discussion, whilst I agree with most of what has been said regarding pairing Indian food with wine...the honest answer has to be that, in general, wine simply doesnt work with Indian food. Neither does beer, not from the point of view of matching tastes. The synergy between wine and food is complex and multi-faceted. Ppl far smarter than me can get into discussions ranging from "if it grows together, it grows together" to comparing GC-MS profiles of different wines and therefore what foods they are likely to pair with on a chemical-matching level. However, whilst some wines may "hit" with Indian food, I have to reiterate that overall, pairing one with the other is unlikely to enhance ones enjoyment of either. Same goes for beer. Traditionally, in my household and where my family is from in India, only water is taken with meals, and that too usually after the meal is finished, so as not to occupy space that could be filled with food! Hope your party went/goes well! Raj
  6. Hello I think that photos are not necessarily a pre-requisite for a great cookbook, but it does very much depend on the nature or theme of the book. Some of my favourite books have no pictures (Richard Olney, Elizabeth David) and some only very few pictures (Nose to Tail Eating). But then again, as I said, it depends. Restaurant cookbooks, where plating is inherent to successfully recreating the dish, definitely "sell" themselves on the pornographic and instructional/aspirational qualities of the food photography. Then again there are other books where the food photography is just to demonstrate what some of the finished products might look like, but have very detailed photographs of important preparatory steps eg Yan Kit So, and The Cook's Book, for examples and Martha Stewart's Baking Bible. And lets not forget about line drawings, such as those to be found in Julia Child, Barbara Tropp and Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie and Shizuo Tsuji. Certainly, the overall "worth" of the book is not solely determined by food photography, and its rare that lack of photography has dissuaded me from purchasing a book, so long as the recipes were good and the sort of thing I wanted to cook, its ended up in my kitchen. Oh, forgot to mention books where sometimes its more about the mood/feeling created by photos but with good/interesting recipes, such as White Heat, and those with not so great recipes but really nice shiny photos (sorry, but Donna Hay et al fall into this category for me! No offence!) Regards Raj
  7. Typical Indian (if there is such a thing!) breakfasts aren't usually of the sweet variety either, tho an Indian sweet may well be taken after the savoury, and whether you're vegetarian or not, breakfast tends to be a vegetarian meal. However, in terms of the other ingredients taken at breakfast time, they don't differ very much from meals at other times of the day. In Kolkata, typical breakfasts are things like hing-er kachori and aloor dom - fried flat doughbreads flavoured with asafoetida with potato curry thats flavoured with yoghurt. But equally you may have aloo paratha (another type of flat Indian bread, this time stuffed with spicy mashed potatoes). In Indian hotels, idli, vadai, sambar dahl, dosa and the like seem to be in all the breakfast buffets etc, and in South Indian style cafes throughout India, ppl do seem to enjoy this sort of food at breakfast time. A common theme here seems to be leftovers at breakfast, and this is certainly true in my household in India but not so much in London. Whilst some people on this thread have expressed suprise at spicy/rich foods for breakfast, I can assure you that an equal number would be suprised by fried breakfast meats, particularly at the thought of salt or smoke preserved meats at any time of day! Me, I eat either what I'm in the mood for, what I have time to make, or whats available. I love the posh American idea of a bountiful breakfast table filled with baked goods, pancakes, waffles, and any number of egg and potato preparations, and I also love the Englishness of the full monty, the continental ease of croissants, breads, cheese and cold cuts and fruit and yoghurt, and the asian breakfasts of whoever is doing whatever well at the nearest hawker stalls early in the morning! Cheers, Raj
  8. Thanks for your input, Chihiro...so her books do demonstrate (roughly) what gets cooked in an average household...thanks for that, might give it another look! Cheers, Raj
  9. Add another vote in favour of Shizuo Tsuji's, and even tho this thread seems to be done with, I thought I would also try asking if anyone has any thoughts/opinions etc to do with Harumi Kurihara. I know that her first book one an international cookbook award (Harumi's Japanese Cooking) and her second book (obviously I am referring to her English language books) focusses more on Japanese Home Cooking. In England she is apparently referred to as Japan's Delia Smith. Whilst I am a Delia Smith fan, I wouldnt necessarily buy or use her recipe books! I love Tsuji and Washoku by Andoh, but would like to know more about what gets cooked in Japanese homes on a daily basis. Thanks, if this thread is dead, I won't take it personally! Raj
  10. I am inclined to disagree. Chinese food in london is generally dismal. Hakkasan is excellent, no doubt, but it is hardly authentic dim sum, and I do not consider such a trendy restaurant to be a great place to get dim-sum generally. I'm from Vancouver in Canada, and we have an enormous ex-pat HK community. The food there is widely considered to be as good as HK because many of the top chefs moved there from HK prior to the handover. London chinese/dim sum isn't nearly as good as Vancouver, and Vancouver isn't as good as the best in HK. That being said, for good cheap diner-style chinese food, I really like Cafe TPT in Chinatown~~ ← Subjectivism and personal opinion are strange things,arent they? For every HK Chinese student that loves London dim sum and chinese food for reminding them of home, theres surely another that craves the "real" thing back home. However, one thing my Chinese student friends are universally agreed upon is that dim sum and chinese food in London is vastly superior, in general to that found in New York. I havent eaten dim sum extensively in NYC, but from the snapshot I got, I was inclined to agree, hugely. I havent eaten dim sum in Vancouver, so I couldnt compare London to Vancouver, and lets not forget that theres always a certain degree of tailoring taste to the local market. However, whilst the dim sum at Hakkasan is certainly very trendy, that trendiness I would argue extends mainly to the meats used in the preparation, and not the style of the dish being prepared. A la carte main courses are another matter. Champagne and butter are not natively Chinese cooking ingredients, as far as I am aware! But the dim sum at Royal China, Phoenix Palace, Joy King Lau and Princess Garden (unbelievable this place, a modern posh and expensive Chinese opposite Truc Vert down the road from Selfridges - but the dim sum menu is the 'normal' dim sum price and the food is brilliant, even compared to Royal China). In fact, some HK Chinese friends love going to Four Seasons in Bayswater for the crispy duck/roast duck cos the quality of the duck here is generally better than that to be found in HK apparently. Anyways, with regards to recommendations in London as a student, you mentioned a crepe place, I dont know if anyone has mentioned it already, but across the park from Marble Arch by South Kensington tube station you will find the Creperie. Excellent crepes as far I'm concerned, with a range of sweet and savoury fillings. If your friend explores nearby Bute Street, you can find loads of French delis/bookshops and whatnot, and Oddoni's which is a nice Italian ice cream place. Very good. I also love Busaba, theres a branch next to Selfridges actually, next to the Gap. Food halls...Selfridges/Harrods are good, but the small places like Ottoemezzo in Kensington, or Mia Riga, or the PieMan Shop and Truc Vert etc will be a nice alternative to the department store route. Thanks Raj PS for Michelin starred places, Tom Aikens is prob worth a go. Something different to Le Gavroche and to Gordo. Italian in London wont be the same as Italian in NYC, particularly Locanda Locatelli, which I love, but if ur used to the Il Mulino type of Italian in NYC, this is gonna feel almost French in comparison.
  11. Simple Indian by Atul Kochar fantastic book since it teaches the subtleties of indian spices rather than the heavy handed approach found in a lot of indian cookbooks. the recipes span a lot of indian regions, whilst not being in any way watered down for western palates. khazana of indian recipes by sanjeev kapoor as mentioned, he is an indian tv chef. the dishes are all properly indian tasting, but definitely spiced to an indian palate. if u like indian style chinese food, his chinese cookbook is also fantastic! happy cooking raj
  12. Thank you all so very much for your timely and astute recommendations. Organisation is in the process, I am away in Holland for a couple of days now. It seems like an almost thankless task, but I have put forward my suggestions and we'll see what happens! Thanks again folks, much appreciated. Raj
  13. Thanks for the responses thus far. I should clarify a couple of details for you; It is £60 per head for food, and a seperate budget for wine/alcohol, which will be roughly £60-80 per head. I probably should mention that this is a corporate event, and the main partner is very fussy and is more accustomed to michelin-starred food and service. I know that when organising a dinner for so many people you're bound to make a couple of them unhappy with your choice. The main problem I have found so far calling up restaurants, and it is a most understandable problem, is accommodating 3 dish choices per course. All seem to want just one dish per course, but this along with the room being private are the only criteria I am unwilling to negotiate on. Is finding a place in time for next friday a pipe dream?
  14. I need to book a private dining room for up to 40 people in London (preferably somewhere in the West End/Mayfair area). The food has to be good, of course, but more than that I need to have a menu with at least (as a minimum) 3 dishes per course for 3 courses. The room has to be completely private, the service and wine list have to be decent at the least. Price per person could be anything up to £60. Anyone got any ideas or recommendations????
  15. The Calcutta Cookbook by Minakshi Das Gupta I love this book, altho I may be biased cos I am Bengali, but this book explains the cuisine's relationship to the people that made it/eat it so well, whilst including the recipes to go along with them. The recipes are good, and the book is perfect reading for when I miss Calcutta. I didnt grow up in Calcutta, so even from that point of view, this book helps me understand my own food culture if you like. Also love Simple French Food by Richard Olney, and Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Tsuji and Thai Food by David Thompson and HFW Meat Cookbook. In fact, any well written recipe book could be considered literature if the recipes are written imbued with the author's personality. Raj
  16. I ordered the book from amazon uk last Friday and it got delivered here today. It is, as Dan says, beautiful. And massive. Really nice...production? Is that the right word? Anyhow, owing to being on placement at a surgery in North Yorks (beautiful up here, good eating pubs as well, Black Bull in Moulton was fantastic) at present (but still finding the time to shop online obviously) I have not yet had the chance to cook anything from it. I have however read through bits and pieces, and it reads really well. Seems like Locatelli and publishers put a lot of effort into this one. I enjoyed Tony & Giorgio, both for the banter and the recipes. Seems like this one will have lots of nice insights as well as some solid recipes. Havent yet come across anything too restaurant-y. Dan, photos are exactly as you describe them, and look great. I like the fact that the book opens with the series of photos that it does, seems like a purposeful introduction to set the mood, and it did exactly that. As a result, I am now only 1/5th of the way through my case report. Lazy afternoon in the garden reading on possibly one of the last pleasant days of the year... Cheers Raj
  17. Kikuchi in an alleyway round the back of Tottenham Court Road station is very good. Not fancy like Defune etc but still serious and high quality. Its on the road you walk down to get to Hakkasan, but instead of turning right to get onto Hanway Place, if u continue straight along for a few more shops, you'll see it on ur right. Cheers Raj Ps havent been there in a while tho.
  18. i like the way they look - i am also relatively young and dare i say it, trendy. however, my one reservation with them would be a comment made upthread about matching them in with ur table linen, crockery and glassware. the design is different enough (only cos of the rubbery Global-style pimples) to set a design precedent over the rest of your tableware. If thats all thought out, then I guess these would be more than adequate for the job of getting food into the mouth. PS I am guessing that the 2nd spoon is a soup spoon, and therefore its size and shape are perfect. Raj
  19. i can chime in about Kolkata's Chinese restaurants...I visit Kolkata every year as its where my family is from, tho I was born and raised in London, England. In terms of high end Indian Chinese (its still ok to turn up in shorts tho!), you can't go wrong with Mainland China (Mainland China, 13A, Gurusaday Road, Kolkata-700019 Ph: 2287 2006 - 09), one of Kolkata's most popular restaurants. Booking is recommended. Food is of excellent quality. Make sure you try the darsaan dessert (you will find this on IC menus all over Kolkata, but its best here). Otherwise, Red Hot Chili Pepper is also very good. You will find that multi cuisine restaurants are a big trend in Kolkata these days, so many restos will have a chinese section to their menus - restaurants will serve Chinese, North Indian, Bengali and Continental Cuisine, since Calcuttan gourmands like the idea of choosing from different cuisines when they go out rather than settling on a cuisine beforehand. The Chinese food at the Bengal Club (if you know someone who's a member) is also excellent. Tangra Kaizen on Landsdown Road is also good. Then theres Jimmy's Kitchen (Jimmy's Kitchen, 7/1 A J C Bose Road, Kolkata - 700017, Phone: 2247 7139). This is one of Kolkata's oldest Chinese restaurants. The other option is of course Tangra, Kolkata's Chinatown. This is slightly on the outskirts of Kolkata, on the road to the airport. Its near where all the tanneries are, therefore the smell on the way there may be off putting. Finding a particular resto to recommend is difficult, as there are many small places. Its best if you ask someone who ventures out here regularly what the best place to go at the moment is. Tangra is much more village like and less urban than central Kolkata. OK, thats enough. If you have any more questions about Kolkata or Kolkata Chinese, feel free to ask. In terms of Chinese Indian food, something I eat every year, it is very different from UK and USA Chinese food. Its generally spicier, and garlic, ginger and chillies are far more prevalent. Sounds obvious, but true, and the fusion is not as obvious as one would think. It is truly delicious and to an Indian at least, very enjoyable. I find Chinese food here bland when I come back, but then start to appreciate the cleaner flavours after a while. Ideally, I would like the option of both on my doorstep! Cheers, Raj PS Incidentally, while ur friends over there, she can pick up an Indian Chinese cookbook by either Sanjeev Kapoor, India's most high profile TV chef, or Nita Mehta, India's Delia Smith. A good bookshop would be Crosswords, 8 Elgin Road (dont know phone number). Incidentally, books are much cheaper in India, so I tend to stock up. Oxfords is another good book store, on Park Street, and then theres a whole road full of bookshops in the slightly out of the way College Street (near, you guessed it, Calcutta University).
  20. I think egg dishes - scrambles and omelettes are considered "tests" for cooks cos they test a range of skills in one cheap and quick dish. Theres the obvious hand skills in achieving texture/appearance, timing skills in not over or under cooking, heat managing skills, then the even more obvious ones of seasoning and garnishes ie cream, herbs, how much butter/oil is used etc. And lastly basic presentation skills. So that would be a great skill test. But in terms of where the cook is in terms of their "cooking" as a separate identity from their skill, but rather as an expression of their "style" or culinary and artistic ethos, perhaps something more substantial like a roast chicken would be a better "test"? Basically, theres more than one type of skill to test, altho I've simplified them into 2 obvious aspects, theres a lot more to it probably... My tuppence worth, cheers Raj
  21. Waaza Thanks for your recipes and notes! Very interesting. I havent read them thru thoroughly yet, as I have an exam tomorrow. But as for J&K being in turmoil, I was in Jammu December last year, and it was ok. My newphew is in fact with the Indian Army. We were supposed to go on to Srinagar and Golmarg, where, owing to the snow, wintersports were abundant, but because of delays in getting flights out of Delhi (winter fog, what a waste of 3 days) we ended up just going up to Vaishno Devi (stunning) and spending a couple of days in Jammu. Unfortunately it didnt cross my mind to bring back chillies! Although, from a supply point of view, I can imagine things being a different matter. Cheers Raj
  22. I am intrigued by your "special way" but will wait patiently til tomorrow! Ta Raj
  23. Hi, I'm new to this thread and have just read through it all, and throughly enjoyed it. I am so happy to see Indian food being tried out. I thought I might chime in, if thats ok? Grub - for an Indian meal, the way I was taught by Mum (Mum is from Calcutta, I am born in London), that you always start the meal with lentils + rice (or Indian breads...we have rice for lunch, and breads for dinner). This is because, as Hindus, one could argue that meat-eating is somewhat forboden. It depends on what school of Hinduism you follow (this discussion is a separate thread I'm sure, or maybe even not for eGullet!), but in any case, starting the meal with a veg is important, the way I understand it. If anyone started the meal with meat, Mum would accuse them of being a rakshas, which is a demon type figure! Then you move on from lentils (dahl) to another veg - subzi. This could be anything, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, aubergines...whatever. You may even have 2 veg, with perhaps paneer making up the second one. In Bengali cooking, garlic and onions are not much used in veg cooking, to keep them more "pure veg", and again prevent the meal from becoming too rich or "hot" (in a ying yang sense, rather than chili hot sense). Then you would move onto meat or fish. If you were having meat and fish, fish would be first, then meat. In Bengali tradition, the meal would be finished with a sweet chutney, and then sweet homemade yoghurt. With the exclusion of the chutney and yoghurt, this is how every dinner in our home in London goes. We usually have a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce and onions to eat alongside everything, with some lime wedges. Raitas and pickles have their place, but in a Bengali meal, they are used more to accompany certain dishes rather than condiments that go alongside anything and everything. Raitas would be made to go alongside biryanis, kebabs and the like. Pickles would be eaten more with breads and simply cooked veg than with rice. So, I am in agreement with waaza (I am assuming your name is from the Kashmiri waazawan - the meal of 36 dishes? love it!) about the composition and balance of an Indian meal. Oh, and as for "spiced" rices (pulaos etc), my Dad always prefers them to plain white rice, but I much prefer plain white rice with curries etc. Thanks, hope this is useful. Oh, and heres the quick way we make Tandoori Chicken at home (altho we dont have a tandoor, so it goes in the oven, altho you could spatchcock and grill for a better flavour - I dont like having to spatchcock a chicken, but maybe I'm lazy!): Chicken pieces should be slashed, marinated for 20mins in lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, pinch turmeric and chili powder (no paprika, the smoky taste is undesirable). Mix the dry with the wet and coat chicken and leave to one side. Then mix yoghurt (pref not low fat, cos it protects and moistens the chicken, low fat is generally too thin) with garam masala, ground cinnamon (small pinch) coriander and cumin and chili powders, salt and some oil. Mix this together, rub over the chicken, and leave overnight or an hour...whatever time u have, in the fridge. If you have any to hand, Kasoori methi is also great if added at this stage. It is available, dried, in Indian food stores, and can be used in many Mughlai style curries as well. I think methi is fenugreek? Anyone clarify? Whilst you're at the Indian store, if you can find Kashmiri red chilies, either dried or ground into powder, that will really give you a better taste than regular chili powder. And I would never substitute paprika for chili powder, they taste very different to me and are in no way substitutable. Altho you may prefer the taste of paprika, in which case, go with it. Take the chicken out of the fridge, allow to come to room temp, and roast in the oven as you normally would...10mins at 220C (to get the browning) and then at 180C til cooked. I like to use legs and thighs on the bone for this, but its up to you what you use. Oh, and though it may have been mentioned, chicken is always used without the skin in Indian cooking...I dont know if this is cos of hygiene (skin being considered "unclean") or to allow marinades into the meat. Probably both. Western cookery prefers to preserve the flavour of the chicken meat, whereas Indian cooking tries to impart its own flavours to the meat (hence the first marinade with the salt and lemon juice...to get water out of the chicken meat, mix with the marinade [chili ginger garlic], and then re-enter the meat). Thanks again, happy cooking! Raj edited for punctuation
  24. I was wondering, since so much mention has been made of red meat, has anyone mentioned Steak Tartare? With requisite raw egg yolk and cornichons and onions? Also preferably Charolais beef. Certainly one of my faves...not sure if it classifies as "manly"? I will await judgement! Raj PS beer too, of course
  25. In the Chinese places in London's Chinatown, if I order a plate of gai laan or choi sum etc, you can generally see the guy make it in the window where the ducks/char sui etc hangs (at least in the couple of places I go to you can)...they take the bundle of veg, place it in a stock to cook, then plate it either with garlic fried with salt (as per hzrt8w's instructions) and a little of the stock to moisten it, or with oyster sauce, depending on how you've ordered. I dont think its stir fried since its arranged as a bundle on the plates, with only the leaves/stem of the gai laan separated and not 'oily' tasting or looking, like it would be from a wok - no wok "hey" (sp?). At home, rather than boiling up stock etc, I tend to speed the process up (and lose a little flavour, I'm sure) by just steaming the veg for a couple of mins and then adding either garlic or oyster sauce. For greens, it tastes ok by me, but I am not sure this is perhaps how its done in the Chinese home. Is steaming greens an unsuitable way to cook them? Raj
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