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Everything posted by anzu

  1. I've no idea if this preparation of a curry base is commonly done in restaurants, but I can talk (more or less) about what some of the worse Indian restaurants in the UK allegedly do. Years back,I skimmed through a book on (UK) Indian restaurant cooking. I think it was The Curry Secret by Kris Dhillon, though if more than one book has been written on the subject it could well have been a different book. It was interesting in a horrifying sort of way. At the time I had recently moved to the UK from India, and had been mystified/disgusted by the food served in Indian restaurants in the town I was living - I really couldn't understand quite what they had been doing to make the food so bad (particularly because the restaurants included some places that actually smelt pretty good if you walked past them earlier in the day while onions and spices were being fried). This book went a long way in explaining how this really unpleasant food had been produced. I certainly didn't read the book carefully, or at length, and it was about a decade ago, so some details may be wrong. But from what I do recall, the method for most 'slow-cooked meats' was more or less as follows: Boil meat (or poultry, or whatever else) in water flavored with turmeric. When meat is done, discard water, shred meat and set aside for when dish is ordered. Make a very large batch of generic 'curry sauce' by frying onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and a few spices (no meat added at this point). When a specific dish is ordered, add more of certain ingredients to the sauce for that dish - e.g. sprinkle in large amounts of Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek), or add extra cream, etc. then add plain shredded meat, re-heat and serve. This explained not just the bland tastelessness of most dishes served, but the strangeness of the many menu items: for example many places had (or still have?) one whole section of the menu devoted to foods strongly flavored with dried fenugreek - though a popular enough spice in Indian it is not crumbled at random over virtually any dish in the manner offered by these restaurants. Another menu section in one place that sticks particularly in my mind was a choice of 'South Indian' chicken, pork, lamb, or beef in a cream sauce with pineapple and flambeed brandy (no, I did not eat in that restaurant, I simply read its menu in the window, shuddered and moved on.) Clearly, this type of flavoring is simply a ploy of using strong-tasting or distinctive ingredients to make one generic sauce taste different. It is also clearly different from the spice/onion base mentioned in C. Punjabi as in that case certain key ingredients are being prepared in bulk and then combined and cooked together with the meats. (Of course, preparing a large batch of a few basic ingredients that are commmonly included is not necessarily a bad thing. Independently of cookbooks and simply for her own convenience my (Indian) mother-in-law has for years made a base by frying a large batch of onions, ginger, garlic, tomato, cumin, coriander and turmeric, which she then freezes in smaller portions and uses as a short-cut in her vegetable dishes. It works for her. Almost all her food is cooked in one particular regional style, and there is not usually a huge variation in the type of spicing she uses, so making up a large batch in advance makes sense for the way she cooks. )
  2. anzu

    Cooking for Diabetics

    Expanding on what Suzy has said, I would not try too many substitutions. Many of them taste fairly foul. On top of this, some artificial sweeteners can have a laxative effect, particularly on the sensitive. With type 1 there is usually a certain freedom of diet: you can take an amount of insulin to correspond with the amount of carbs being consumed. This means that the most helpful thing you can do is inform your guest about the foods you are serving before the meal starts. That way, the guest can decide accordingly how much insulin is required for the meal (and, if more comfortable that way, ask to have smaller or larger portions of part of the meal). The worst thing you can do is to not inform the guest about the entire menu, or to have food which has carbohydrate 'suprises'. In the first case, I've had a well-meaning relative serve 'sugar-free' muffins after a meal, when I had been told beforehand there would be no dessert. As Suzy has said, 'sugar-free' does not mean carb free, so this meant having to take yet another injection of insulin or else hurt the person's feelings. I really wished I'd been told beforehand what the full menu contained, it would have spared me considerable stress. In the second case, I know someone who ate a dessert at someone's place thinking it contained sugar, and who had given themselves insulin accordingly. She discovered only afterwards that it had actually been reduced sugar and reduced carb, by which time her blood sugar was already falling to dangerously low levels. The intention had been good, but the failure to inform her was really not a good thing. In your case, if serving a sugar-free sorbet, do let your guest know in advance that it's sugar-free!
  3. Interestingly, I was invited to a German colleague's place for Christmas dinner, and the topic of cutting potatoes with a fork was brought up (not by me in response to this quiz). Only two people present had even heard of this, and one of those two had come across it only in the last week. The one who had known of it longer claimed it was about 100 years out of date, and only a died-in-the-wool pedant would observe it. He's a university professor - not sure if that makes him more or less likely to observe culinary niceties . Neither knew the reason for using a fork rather than a knife. Jambalyle, I don't think you are meant to switch hands, but are meant to keep the fork in the left hand, and use it for cutting through the potato nonetheless (?)
  4. Pan, have you ever tried making kuih?? They look like they shouldn't be so hard, but they are devious little things. I can cook most foods without disaster, but kuih are the one thing I manage to mess up spectacularly time and time again... (taste was fine, but the looks...oh, dear) Any book by Sri Owen would be good. Maybe don't experiment with the kuih, though, given that you are committed to taking the results for others to eat.
  5. anzu


    Here's a link to a tomato chutney recipe by Madhur Jaffrey that is easy to make, keeps for months, tastes good, and has ingredients easily available in Japan. I've made this one often, and would heartily recommend it.
  6. anzu


    Dear piazzola, These theories are not based on mere observations about apparent modern-day similarities, nor on Thor Heyerdal's theories. The theories about the pre-Colombian movement of peoples and foodstufs are based on linguistic analysis of shared vocabulary, by mitochondrial (DNA) testing showing common genetic heritage, and by carbon dating analysis of food and animal remains (egg shells are one example. Poultry originating from Peru or Chili - I forget which - laid eggs which were distinctly different from other poultry, and the shells from these poultry were discovered to be present through the Pacific BEFORE the Columbian era). To me, and to most historians, this would indicate the transport of South American foodstuffs before Spaniards and Portuguese arrived, and is not far-fetched at all. Expanding on what I said earlier, many conventional (Western/European) histories have tended to approach their subject from a bias in which all trade, all progress, all introduction of ideas or products or foods, etc. are treated solely from the European perspective. Non-Europeans have been historically presented as 'not really doing anything' but instead just sitting around in unchanging societies until the advent of the Europeans. This concept is very far from the truth. Delving into the actual history of things such as trade is far more complex than this (and much more exciting and fun as well). So it is not surprising that you might feel that the Spaniards played a key role in introducing certain foods, because that is the way a lot of history is presented. Of course, the Spaniards DID play a key role in this area, but there were many many other things happening as well that did not involve Europeans. These still tend to be less well documented. As far as the dating of the introduction of sweet potatoes and potatoes into China and Japan is concerned: this is not *that* long ago. The English, Dutch, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese all kept detailed records at that time. A large number of those records still exist either in the originals or in re-prints. I personally have read re-prints of accounts from those times written by all those mentioned except by the Spanish. So if a Japanese encyclopedia is telling me that potatoes and sweet potatoes came to Japan by particular routes which did not involve the direct involvement of Spaniards or Portuguese at the Japanese and Chinese ends, I would tend to believe that they would be writing this based on plenty of documentary evidence. And to return to the original point, there is no evidence that I have yet come across to suggest that the introduction of korokke to Japan has a Brazilian connection or even a Portuguese connection of any type whatsoever. By contrast, a look at the history of potato cultivation in Europe, and a look at the points where and when croquettes became popular (a look at a Wikipedia entry on croquettes here) instead prompts a series of new questions, such as: when did the Portuguese bolinho become popular? Were they perhaps French influenced? If they were as recent as the early 20th century, it was definitely an era in which new foods, trends, music, fashion etc., were being spread extremely rapidly from one country to another. Were perhaps both Portuguese and Japanese bolinhos/korokke French influenced? At the moment, the only reference materials I have concern Japan, so I can't answer those questions. The answers, however, would be interesting to learn.
  7. anzu


    piazzola, the question I'm addressing is not "where do potatoes and sweet potatoes originate" but "when and via what people and what places did they arrive in Japan". As you can see from my post above, foods which were spread by the Spanish did not necessarily arrive in Japan via direct import from Europeans, some of them became widespread in cultivation through South-east Asia, and arrived in Japan by those means. Looking at the history of cultivation of South American plants in Europe is not always relevant to the history of those plants in Asia and Southeast Asia. Various foods were spread in sometimes quite unexpected ways from South America - and not always via Europeans. One uncle of mine was a professor of Pacific studies (I believe he is now retired) and was doing fascinating research on the way in which South American poultry were introduced throughout the Pacific region in pre-Columbian times. I don't remember the details, but he found foods and foodstuffs were following paths which are often not recognized in the more mainstream history books (which can tend to ignore non-European influences). Similarly, Polynesians were apparently cultivating sweet potatoes and making long ocean journeys in pre-Columbian times. Given this knowledge, and knowing that the effects of Polynesian migration were extremely far-reaching (the genetic material of Taiwanese aboriginals shows a relationship with Polynesia, for example, and some words of Japanese have clear Polynesian origins), I had actually expected sweet potatoes to have reached Japan far earlier than they did.
  8. anzu


    Early Portuguese influences on Japanese food, yes. Tempura in particular. But Portuguese influence in the form of korokke/bolinhos or something similar influencing Japanese food at that early stage, very very unlikely. Japanese national seclusion policies were enforced between 1635 - 1639. After that date, the Dutch were allowed for trading purposes to remain on Deshima (island) in Nagasaki, and the Chinese were allowed to remain in a special compound (the Tojin yashiki) within Nagasaki. Organized contact did nonetheless take place between the Japanese and both groups. Prostitution, which was strictly controlled, remained one route by which new foods and preparation techniques reached the wider Japanese population - chanpon in Nagasaki was one such dish. Prostitutes sometimes spent several days or weeks at a time within the foreign compounds, and allegedly learnt to cook foreign dishes as a way of passing time, then brought these back out into the wider population. After 1639, other foreigners were not allowed in Japan, so both the English and Portuguese who had been present up till then were forced to leave. Moving on to fried potato balls: it was apparently only at the end of the 1600s that potatoes began to gain any kind of acceptance in Portugal and its colonies. They were first used as animal feed and fed to slaves, and it was not until the end of the 1700s that potatoes began to be widely used in Portuguese cooking. Given that these dates about the acceptance of the potato into Portuguese cuisine post-date the Portuguese presence in Japan, I don't see how there could be any earlier direct Portuguese influence with this particular food. By the way, I just looked up 'jagaimo' (potato) and 'satsumaimo' (sweet potato) in Kojien (for those without Japanese background, this is a Japanese encylopedia). Then supplemented this with a little more research again. I found the information in the encylopedia entries to be somewhat different from what I had expected: Potatoes (jagaimo): introduced into Japan during the Keicho reign (1596-1611) from Jakarta. The Japanese name 'jaga' is a contraction of Jakarta plus the word for potatoes (and similar tubers). Sweet potatoes (satsumaimo): introduced into Japan in the first half of the 1600s. They had been grown in Southern China (Fujian province) where they had been brought by traders and/or pirates. From there, they were introduced to the Ryukyu Islands (i.e. Okinawa) and from there to Kyushu. Incidentally, a few years back I read quite a lot of books on daily life in pre-Meiji Japan for my reasearch. I don't remember which books exactly contained the food references, but in the Tokugawa era sweet potatoes were indeed widely eaten in rural areas. The vast majority of the population was extremely poor, and the most common method of food preparation among the largest segment of Japan's population was to put everything that could be eaten into one pot and boil it together. This included sweet potatoes. I don't recall potatoes being mentioned. Things which are considered 'typically Japanese' today such as rice (farmers grew rice, but had to give up the rice crop to feudal lords, and themselves ate millet, barley, and other 'lesser' grains), pickles, fish, etc. were impossible dreams for all but the most privileged. Frying food in oil was an unobtainable luxury for almost all. Therefore I'm not sure who was actually making tempura throughout the Tokugawa era, or how wide-spread it actually was...
  9. anzu


    Korokke were introduced into Japan in the early 1900s or possibly slightly earlier, and not from Brazil but from Europe. There is a Wikipedia entry on korokke here which references a 1917 Japanese hit song called "The korokke song". The Japanese name itself gives a clue to their origin: it is taken from the French word croquette. Of present-day food in Europe, though, I think the Dutch kroket is most similar in taste and texture to the Japanese korokke. Piazzola, do you know more about the origin of Bolinhos? I.e. I've read that they have Portuguese origins but it was in Brazil that they took off in a big way. Were the Portuguese bolinhos perhaps influenced by the French croquettes (or the other way around)? It is surely not unlikely that both Brazilian and Japanese bolinhos/croquettes/korokke have common origins... Incidentally, although a few were present, there were not many Portuguese among the foreign residents in Japan in the early 1900s, the largest number of foreign residents at that time were Chinese (over half of all foreign residents), followed by the English. If I remember correctly, the third largest group was French although the total number of French residents was still quite small (though I could easily be remembering it wrongly that the French were the third-largest group, it's been a while since I read this stuff). Anyway, the likelihood is high that croquettes were either introduced directly by the French, or indirectly via the English. If interested in Japanese emigration to and from Brazil: the 1917 reference to korokke predates large scale Japanese emigration to Brazil - that occurred on its largest scale in the late 1920s and the 1930s (article here if you are interested). Brazilian-Japanese return emigration to Japan began around the 1980s. At that point korokke had long been established in Japan. In fact, I am not aware of any Brazilian or Brazilian-Japanese influence on mainstream Japanese food. If anyone is aware of such a thing, I would of course be happy to learn of it. Edited to add even more boring scholarly details.
  10. Cycling? You can still do it as a family, and has advantage over walking of being able to travel further afield. I used to seek out the less-trafficked roads for cycling on while in Kansai, and sometimes there are walking/cycling paths along river beds as well. I got lost constantly, but really got to know my neighbourhood! With walking, I'm quite sure you've already thought of the Kanto equivalent of this, but nonetheless: in Kansai we bought one of those books with 52 walking routes in the local region - one for each weekend of the year - and walked quite a few of them. Took us to places we had never even dreamed were present locally, such as well hidden lakes up in the mountains and so on. A bit of train travel was usually required at both ends, but nothing too excessive. It really did make the walking a lot more fun. Edited because my grammar is lousy.
  11. If loquats are ever available where you live, the taste and texture is very similar to medlars. I grew up with loquats, then couldn't get them for years. Then I moved to Germany, and found that Turkish grocery stores sell medlars. I fell upon them with cries of joy, and was at first convinced that they were actually loquats. Admittedly it had been a long time since I had loquats, so my memory may be deceiving me, but to me the two taste similar.
  12. Goodness, where to start the list for what's only available at Advent and Christmas in Germany? Incidentally, sale of special foods starts a lot earlier than in the US: about four months before Christmas. Gluhwein, of course, and it's variants including the non-alcoholic version for children Stollen, whether the original, or with poppy seed, marzipan, etc. honey cakes (usually quite dry, and spiced) dry spicy cookies such as Printen, Springerle, and Speculatius dry aniseed cookies whose name I forget (shaped and glazed like Pfeffernusse, but white) less dry cookies such as cinnamon stars (Zimtsterne), Pfeffernusse and filled spice cookies (e.g Magenbrot) a gazillion variants of marzipan another gazillion variants of Lebkuchen (Dominosteine being one example) roast chestnuts 'Christmas chocolate' flavored with coriander and cinnamon (reduced to half price immediately after Christmas is over, whereupon I buy as much as possible) whole nuts in their shells, walnuts being a particular favorite goose (though this first makes it's appearance for St. Martins Day) Then there are the regional specialties as well. In the city I lived in earlier they made cinnamon waffles (the thin kind of waffles, like Dutch stroopwaffeln). They smelt wonderful as you walked past the stalls making them, but had so much cinnamon in them that even I - who loves cinnamon - couldn't eat them plain. Crushed into ice cream they were good though, or as part of the filling for baked apples.
  13. Quite a few people here have stated that there should be physical education in schools: Do American schools not actually have physical education classes in school?
  14. The word 'sikh' in the Sikh religion is not related to the seekh of seekh kebab. Sikh (short i sound, as in 'pin') is derived from Sanskrit, and means 'pupil' or 'acquirer of knowledge' Seekh (long i sound, as in 'meet') is derived from Persian. Seekh means rod, skewer, spit, or bar. I believe this is derived fom the root verb 'sukhtan', which means to burn, or to roast. As far as seekh kebabs being unique to South Asia is concerned: if referring to kebabs only by this name, then maybe this is true (?). However, the roasting of meat on skewers is of course far more widespread. Spicing and names of course vary, but they range from at least Xinjiang (NW China), across to Turkey, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, etc. Not of course to forget the sate of SE Asia... Anzu (now longing to eat sate, shaslik, Xinjiang skewered meats flavored with cumin...)
  15. Did it look like this, except (in your case) shorter? If so, it's karela, the Indian form of bitter melon. Both Indian and Thai bitter melons can also be much shorter than in this photo, making the whole vegetable more or less kiwi fruit shaped. Never seen them sold floating in water, though, and cannot imagine any good reason for it. If it karela, there is probably a thread already on them somewhere in this forum. If not, I can give some recipes or provide some links.
  16. Not a forgotten vegetable at all in Germany. Every grocery store sells them. Note to self: find out the typical German ways of preparing them.
  17. The reference to Alsace reminded that the same type of dried pear bread is also made there. Do you read French? Recipes, including ones using rye flour can be found if you search for 'berawecke' or various spelling permutations thereof. On the subject of Alsatian dishes, I'm also sure that I read a recipe for a version of Backoefe (again various spelling permutations) where the meat was cooked with potatoes and dried pears. Unfortunately, it was in a library book in a city I don't live in any longer, so a bit hard to follow up on... Hopefully it is not simply a figment of my fevered imagination, but the taste combination does sound possible. Thanks for the info. on how you transport things back. The frozen bottle of water, etc. in partcular sounds useful. And as someone who has brought back embarassingly vast amounts of Spanish pork cracklings from trips to Spain, transporting bread cubes for dumpling-making sounds perfectly reasonable to me! I'm presuming that they are sold ready-cut for dumpling-preparation purposes, as they are in southern Germany? When travelling there a little earlier this year I was also eyeing them speculatively - they're not sold that way in the North - but common sense finally prevailed, as each item bought meant the exclusion of some other potential item, and I still had quite a few days of travel before me.
  18. My first thought would be Kletzenbrot/Birnenbrot/Hutzelbrot/ Birnbrot (the name varies from region to region. The names I've given cover the Austrian, Swiss and Black Forest region names). This is a yeasted bread with dried pears that is specific to this time of the year. There is one recipe here for Hutzelbrot, others are with a rye sourdough, are meant to keep for quite a long time, and frankly sound more appealing to me than this version. I'm pretty sure I have one such recipe one somewhere here at home, copied from a book about traditional festive foods of the German-speaking world, but unfortunately don't have the time right now to search it out or translate from the German. If really interested, I could look it up, but it probably won't happen within the next week. Question to you Adam: how do you manage the specifics of transporting foods back home when you travel somewhere? Like you, I bring back all sorts of local goodies when I travel, but am always limited by possible perishability of goods as well as lack of space (even though I tend to travel with near-empty luggage going out, and it is full of food products when returning). In a different thread you had various meat products (forgotten now what they were) that you had brought back from a trip. How would you have gone about packaging them for travel?
  19. According to this site and quite a few others, bagels originated in Poland, and travelled from there further into Eastern Europe. From that site: You can read more at this site about bagels, which includes the following:
  20. If you're making an anatomical reference here, then it's only significant for English speakers, and doesn't have such connotations in German (that I ever heard of, there are plenty of other words for it though). Dickmanns is, I think, a brand name. (Dickmann exists as a surname). Changing the subject to UE's question about the chocolate coating firming up. I am far far from being an expert with chocolate, but I looked at some recipes in German just now. They suggest melting 'kuverture' (= couverture?). I have no clue what's available in the US (if this is where you are from), but according to some German web sites it is essentially chocolate with a slightly higher than usual amount of sugar, and about 30% extra palm fat added. It is simply melted, and becomes crisp and shiny when it sets. Some of the recipe sites suggested melting regular chocolate while adding in 30% extra palm fat.
  21. A slightly different recipe here(scroll down) with a meringue filling (egg white and sugar). Also, a more PC name of tete de choco. Behemoth, I'm also trying to think of the German name for the marshmallow and chocolate creations, and coming up blank.
  22. Nobody has mentioned quail eggs yet (unless they have a separate thread?). My closest grocery store in Japan used to stock plenty of these, and seeing as I have just recently found a new (and affordable ) supply of them, I was wondering about how they would fit best into Japanese cuisine. So far, I'm thinking of boiled separately, peeled, then added into oden or into miso shiru. Other ideas?
  23. I am also without a dishwasher, and I HATE washing dishes, so this is what I do. Spices: my spices are all stored in screwtop jars. Before heating the oil, unscrew the lid, measure the spice into the lid, then have it sitting ready in front of the appropriate jar ready to be added at the right time. If several whole different whole spices are to be added at the same time to the oil, these might be measured into one single lid. If adding spices in sequence, have them lined up in the order they need to be added. Clean-up is simply a matter of putting the lids back on the jars and putting them back on the shelf. Vegetables: chopped and placed on one large plate - or two at most - in clearly delineated piles if they have to go in at different times. Also I use a very large chopping board (it's so horrible cooking in other peoples' homes when they have teensy little chopping boards!), which means that piles of chopped ginger, garlic, etc. can usually be pushed to the corners ready for adding to the pan when needed while the center of the board still leaves enough space for further preparation. Liquids: this is where things are less efficient. If honey, vinegar, etc. have to be measured out in advance, then small bowls (I use both Indian katoris and Chinese rice and soup bowls - the ubiquitious blue and white ones - as I already own and use these and would hate to spend money and cupboard space on even more items) are pretty much indispensable. Again, though, I read through the recipe first and seen how many items go into the dish at one time and can be stored in a single bowl ready to be added. And (confession time) an awful lot of my spices are not measured out but are added by grabbing it as a large, medium, or small pinch and throwing that into the pot (i.e. that looks to me like a teaspoon's worth...). If your oil is already smoking, you should still have the jars of the lids off in advance, though. And have jars big enough to get your fingers into...
  24. I'm probably lowering the tone of the discussion by moving it down from the meta-level, but I have a practical question here: I've never come across Jello salad (whether green or of any other color) with cottage cheese, and I have a hard time imagining it. So my question is the following one: the cottage cheese is mixed homogeneously into the Jello, or there are lumps of cottage cheese within the Jello? (Just trying to get a better image here of what it actually is)
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