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Suvir Saran

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  1. Amma

    Pan, again, thanks.
  2. Amma

    Pan, many thanks from Anju Sharma, Hemant, Dev Sharma, Bikky and our staff and certainly myself. Your words are so very kind and generous. It makes working seem worthwhile and poetic. I am glad your meal this time was at par with your last visit. Even more wonderful is the fact you came again. If I lived downtown, I would not often make a trek to the UES for a meal. You really do encourage us to keep up our work. And I wanted you to know customers such as yourself, make our day seem easy and wonderful. I was sad to have missed the chance to meet Katie. I had my father, who is finally getting a little better, visiting me from India, and his presence had me distracted and away from the restaurant. Looking forward to another chance to meet with you again Pan. Hope your parents are well. It was a pleasure to have met them, and through them found an understanding of India and its culture in a non-Indian that is most fascinating. Please give them my best.
  3. Indian Food Brands

    Vikram, maybe you can expound more on your Hummus in the Middle East and Africa forum? Please... coming from you, it would make for a great new way of entertaining this dish that has found a comfortable place in new American cookery.
  4. Indian Food Brands

    Mongo and Vikram, you have covered it all and very well. And exactly as Vikram points out, there are those masalas which cannot really be replicated very well at least by the home chef that I have met.... Bottle Masala is never the same as I used to get from friends in Bombay. rks seems to be perhaps equiring about a commercial opportunity... and in that case, again, it depends on what market you are aiming your restaurant for, what menu you are working with and what dishes you are looking for using these products in. Bedekar was a favorite for me everytime I found myself very late into the night (early in the morning) in Colaba Causeway near the BEST station. There was a vendor that would sell vada pao and my friend Sam and I would take them to our room at the YMCA and slather some of the extra pao we had bought with the Bedekar mango pickle and feel we had tasted ambrosia. Do I still have the same reaction to Bedekar? At times... and it is then the same guttural feeling of ambrosia and then at others, it is not what I want. I say this to share that in the end, all of this would depend on what you are using the product for, with and for whom. Also when and where. There are many good products out there... At Amma, we prepare most of our own pickles, chutneys and murabbas but have still had to keep some Panchranga (sp?) Achaar for those that have gotten so used to this pickle, that no home-made pickle (ambrosial to very many) could ever replace that from their diet. And then, we have those that accidentaly ask for Panchranga and then see me or a server carrying pickles that are home-made to another table and then complain why a fine restaurant would bother carrying such trash. Hard to please all. But again, it is all about - with what it is paired, how it is used and presented, when you are using which brand, and where it shall be most perfectly paired. The other day I was given a taste of Khatta Meetha Gobi Shalgam Ka Achaar (made with jaggery) and I remembered my Nani and was crying inside about how these achaars would soon die out as we lose more and more Nani's from that old school. This version was very similar to hers... certainly not exactly the same, but so very good and close to it and it would be hard for me to be objective and call this version any less wonderful than what I remembered hers to be. My friends were amazed to see me smile as I enjoyed it like a child would enjoy their favorite brand of candy. Later, they showed me the tin from which it had been removed and presented inside a glass jar. It was a Panchranga version of the same old Punjabi recipe. It was superb. I would never feel ashamed to use this version and I would enjoy it many times more... Would I use it at my restaurant? Nope. For I make pickles like that, which can be easily replicated in the American world without losing much if any of their Indian flavors. So, while I would buy certain pickles for my own home, I would not buy them for the restaurant. For the restaurant, I would invest in the extra hour of work one day, and pickle these veggies myself and share with our diners, a version of the pickle that leaves them enjoying/savoring flavors that are part of our restaurants repertoire and cannot be similarly enjoyed at other such establishments. But then there is the Bedekar pickle that I may serve at my restaurant, when I want to share with my customers the same enjoyment that I have lived in Bombay. That call is made by me for I have realized that while my home efforts can produce a more than decent result, it is not the same as the magical Bedekar pickle I can find easily at a store. The list is long... and there are more acceptable products out there than the ones I would not use. Vikram and Mongo have both touched on the key element being the procurement of products that have larger sales. That guarantees fresher products on your restaurants tables. Like Monica, I too have no shame in using products from our stores. I was pleased and felt lucky to have been encourage to lose any fear when I first landed here and saw the books written by the legendary Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni and the many other pioneering Indian chefs in the US, who came into this country in a time unlike today, when there were far lesser options. These women and men, made the most of what they had, and did so most creatively. They paved the way for Raji Jallepalli Riess, Maya, Neelam Batra, Geethika Khanna, Madhu Gadia, Floyd Cardoz, Raghavan Iyer, Monica Bhide, Simi Advani, Hemant Mathur, myself and a long list of chefs that have found it an easier entry into the world of Indian cooking in America. Products are out there only for they are used. If they were as bad as some make them out to be, they would not be used by as many and for as long as they have been. There are certainly some that are really not fit to exist, but those are way fewer in number. Like all things in life, choosing products is a very subjectiv endeavor. There will be as many opinions as the number of people you ask from.
  5. Suvir will clarify this if he ever gets round to checking this forum again , but I'm guessing its the Hardwar/Benaras pandit tradition. So its quite likely that Suvir's family can trace its roots back to the 15th century through this connection, Vikram i didn't mean to imply that i was sceptical of suvir's genealogical claim--i was actually impressed. suvir, by the way, is still reading this forum--he dropped me a note last night on this very subject. now, if we can only get him to post again. amma must be keeping him very busy. now, what he should do is set up a computer in their lobby area that's always connected to egullet and ask his guests to post their impressions/reviews as they leave. Thanks for being so easily impressed. After reading from Anil, my family seems to have not had very good records at all. But that is not what matters... Anil has so much passion, that in his own life, it seems he has filled others with great riches that come from his lineage and his own curiosity. Mongo, you too have enriched eGullet and its boards with your unique and special perspective. That is what makes the world so wonderful. Amma and many other things keep me very busy. Actually, I often get very little sleep for there is so very much for me to do in one day, and not enough hours to cover them in. eGullet while a great passion of mine, has had to take a back seat. What keeps me happy in that back seat, is the fact that all of you that post in this forum, hardly need my words to keep this forum alive, poignant and relevant. It is fascinating for me to come and find treasures here that keep me wanting to delve into food.... and there are many here that leave me with a lasting impression. I would be wrong in only sharing praises. eGullet like any other entity, has it pros and cons. They balance out in the same way all entities end up finding a balance. I let the cons sift into the airI do not chase after and the pros are that I enjoy and savor as I go back into my eGullet absence I may not be here, but I am here. Friends from eGullet keep me informed through email and are kind enough to bring what they feel absolutely essential for me to read to my attention. My cooking, my cooking classes, my teaching about food and hospitality, my travels in search of new culinary inspirations, my dining outside of Amma, my life with family and friends and my two dogs and my private life keep me plenty busy. And that is what keeps me behind on eGullet but certainly not lacking in interest or intrigue. As for reviews/impressions by customers of the restaurant, I would hardly want that.... I enjoy hearing the customer feedback and most often, it is the most sincere and most lack lustre of feedbacks that leaves me inspired. The people that give me such feedback, are not always into leaving impressions in public settings. There are those that are very kind and leave me impressions on eGullet, and to them Hemant and I owe are most hearfelt thanks and gratitude. But similarly, we also owe plenty to the nameless and silent many that leave us inspired and working towards higher goals. Mongo, you seem fascinating, maybe you can tell the board more about your own family. Maybe we can all learn more about India through that... when you have the time, and if you have the desire to share such information, please do.. and I hope I can be alerted to that post. Certainly a person as passionate about food as you, must have some wonderful family stories to share and some amazing family legends to reflect on and thus enrich the rest of us. Vikram, I enjoy your posts and always crave for more. Thanks for your very generous and well researched posts. You make the world of Indian food and food in general so much more. The pandit tradition is certainly amazing, and also there is the Kayastha tradition of documenting family additions and losses at Dussehra. If a family has maintained the record, one is saved the trip to the pandit. And the more amazing discoveries you can make are the members of the family that could write in Persian or Arabic. Many of these were mostly written in these languages, and only if the elder male figure did not write Persian or Arabic, would the document be added to in Hindi. It is a most fascinating study into ones heritage. And yes titles that were bestowed onto many Indians have also complicated and further enriched our familial heritage. So many of us have names that would mean nothing by themselves, but as one goes into our past, one is united by a larger community that often opens doors into a culture that quickly become a world that is so familiar and yet totally unknown.
  6. Basic Garam Masala

    Basic Garam Masala 2 cinnamon sticks 4 bay leaves 1-1/2 oz cumin seeds 1-1/2 oz coriander seeds 3/4 oz green or black cardamom seeds 3/4 oz black peppercorns 1/2 oz cloves 1/2 oz mace Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces. Add the bay leaves. Heat a heavy frying pan and after 2 minutes put in the whole spices. Dry roast over a medium flame till color darkens, stirring or shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning. Place the contents on a cold platter to cool, then grind and blend with mace powder. Store in an airtight container Keywords: Indian ( RG890 )
  7. Basic Garam Masala

    Basic Garam Masala 2 cinnamon sticks 4 bay leaves 1-1/2 oz cumin seeds 1-1/2 oz coriander seeds 3/4 oz green or black cardamom seeds 3/4 oz black peppercorns 1/2 oz cloves 1/2 oz mace Break the cinnamon sticks into pieces. Add the bay leaves. Heat a heavy frying pan and after 2 minutes put in the whole spices. Dry roast over a medium flame till color darkens, stirring or shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning. Place the contents on a cold platter to cool, then grind and blend with mace powder. Store in an airtight container Keywords: Indian ( RG890 )
  8. Matar Paneer ( Indian Cheese )

    Matar Paneer ( Indian Cheese ) 10 c whole milk 1/2 c buttermilk / yogurt (more maybe needed, so keep some extra In a large heavy bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Stir often to ensure that the milk is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. When milk starts to boil, lower heat and add the buttermilk and stir until the milk starts to separate into curds. Remove from heat as soon as this happens. You can even add a few ice cubes to the curd-whey mix. The heat will make the protein tougher. Hence the need to expose the cheese to as little heat as possible. If the curds are not forming, add a little more buttermilk and cook for a couple of minutes more. And do the above as soon as the curds form. Pour the curds-whey mix into a collander lined with several layers of cheese cloth or even a layer of muslin, draining onto a dish that will collect the whey. Collect the sides of the cheesecloth or muslin and tie them up together and twist gently to help drain the whey from the curds. Place the bundled curds on a tray and press this bundle with a heavy pan/container or obejct. Make sure this heavy weight covers the bundle fully. To make cheese for dessert recipes or for koftas or even a bhujia, weight it down for no more than a half hour. For recipes where cheese cubes are used, weight the bundle down for an hour or more. This will make the cheese form a firm mass that can be cut into neat cubes. Note: I use buttermilk as it makes for cheese that has very little sour flavor. People use lemon or vinegar, these curdle the milk quickly but leave a strong aftertaste. This aftertaste is not nice when making desserts with cheese. Try and use the cheese the same day as you make it. The more time it is kept the dryer it becomes and the harder it will be. When making soft cheese for desserts. Weight it down for a shorter time as I write above. You can leave more moisture in, if you know you will not use it till the next day. The cheese will get dryer in refrigeration. For the firm cheese, you can make the firm cube and store it overnight in chilled water. But you cannot put the cheese in water until a firm cake, with all the whey drained is formed. So, first make your cheese cube, and if you are not using it the same day, immerse it in a container of water, seal with a cover and cut only when ready to use into smaller cubes. Keywords: Side, Indian ( RG886 )
  9. Matar Paneer ( Indian Cheese )

    Matar Paneer ( Indian Cheese ) 10 c whole milk 1/2 c buttermilk / yogurt (more maybe needed, so keep some extra In a large heavy bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Stir often to ensure that the milk is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. When milk starts to boil, lower heat and add the buttermilk and stir until the milk starts to separate into curds. Remove from heat as soon as this happens. You can even add a few ice cubes to the curd-whey mix. The heat will make the protein tougher. Hence the need to expose the cheese to as little heat as possible. If the curds are not forming, add a little more buttermilk and cook for a couple of minutes more. And do the above as soon as the curds form. Pour the curds-whey mix into a collander lined with several layers of cheese cloth or even a layer of muslin, draining onto a dish that will collect the whey. Collect the sides of the cheesecloth or muslin and tie them up together and twist gently to help drain the whey from the curds. Place the bundled curds on a tray and press this bundle with a heavy pan/container or obejct. Make sure this heavy weight covers the bundle fully. To make cheese for dessert recipes or for koftas or even a bhujia, weight it down for no more than a half hour. For recipes where cheese cubes are used, weight the bundle down for an hour or more. This will make the cheese form a firm mass that can be cut into neat cubes. Note: I use buttermilk as it makes for cheese that has very little sour flavor. People use lemon or vinegar, these curdle the milk quickly but leave a strong aftertaste. This aftertaste is not nice when making desserts with cheese. Try and use the cheese the same day as you make it. The more time it is kept the dryer it becomes and the harder it will be. When making soft cheese for desserts. Weight it down for a shorter time as I write above. You can leave more moisture in, if you know you will not use it till the next day. The cheese will get dryer in refrigeration. For the firm cheese, you can make the firm cube and store it overnight in chilled water. But you cannot put the cheese in water until a firm cake, with all the whey drained is formed. So, first make your cheese cube, and if you are not using it the same day, immerse it in a container of water, seal with a cover and cut only when ready to use into smaller cubes. Keywords: Side, Indian ( RG886 )
  10. Per Se

    Stephen Durfee teaches at CIA Greystone Campus in Napa Valley, CA.
  11. Amma

    Mongo, our butter chicken is the staple you find in most Indian restaurants. We happen to use Farm Raised Chicken... if that makes a difference.. and we are very careful about not overcooking the chicken. But for the rest of it, there is nothing too surprising about this one dish. It is served without drama... without any gratuitous extras.... as is most of the food. The only difference between our butter chicken and what may be served in another restaurant, could be the type of chicken being used. The sauce is pretty basic. Recently a seasoned and well traveled guest commented that she was amazed at the lack of un-necessary cilantro in many of the dishes... I smiled. For in the many homes in India where I ate, in many of the restaurants that I remember fondly, it was never necessary to garnish each dish with cilantro. Hemant and I are very particular about not having too much fuss on the plate. We have the dishes we are showcasing on the plate. And that is all. They make the plate look pretty. No garnishes really. The different dishes in each plate, are garnishes to Hemant and I. And it saves us plenty of time to enjoy the preparation of these dishes and not have to worry about using knife skills or mandolins carefully to get garnishes prepared. The afternoon being reported on by Michael and Suzanne was a rather interesting one. It seems as if the entire food community had decided to lunch at Amma that one afternoon. We had a couple of Indian men who work nearby, that had come in for the first time that day... I loved their comments the most... They went back very happy, found the food distinctive, authentic and light and clean. Everything Hemant and I would like to hear. They requested pickles, we sent out a tasting of some of the many we make, they said the pickles took them back to visits with family and relatives as kids. They were amazed that we use our own pickles and murabbas (chutneys/preserves) and are not buying the familiar market brands. Again, we were delighted to have this little detail get noticed by another set of Indian diners. Then there were the party of 4 Indian diners. All vegetarian. They had been a little nervous not seeing pages of vegetarian options, but in the end, the lady and her mother both took my email to get recipes. Our menu is limited, but we try and serve only dishes we can try and make in ways we have enjoyed them through travels in India and using the set of skills we have each learned through the years and the ingredients that are newly available in the US and lend themselves perfectly to Indian cuisine Michael, I was delighted to see you at Amma. Thanks for coming in. I was worried we may never have you grace our restaurant with your presence. It was nice meeting dumpling and Suzanne again. And Marlene, I wish I knew this was your first Indian meal, I would have paid even greater attention to what was served you. Maybe, next visit, you will give us another chance. Michael, it was great meeting your parents. They knew so much about India through their Malaysian experience and travels through India and years of cooking the cuisine. It was exciting to speak with them. The biryaani that you were served with your lamb chop, was a jackfruit, cauliflower onion biryaani. The pieces of seasoned flesh that you call lamb, were in fact jackfruit. It is very meaty in texture... yet all vegetarian. This is one of our most popular rice dishes. People are amazed at the meaty taste and texture of the fruit. And while I am on eGullet, I should thank everyone for being so very generous and kind to us all at Amma. It is a pleasure to have you all come into Amma and to have you share your experiences online. Thanks for making the time to do that.
  12. Game and Indian Food

    How rude I was.. in answering your post, I forgot to welcome you to eGullet and its Indian forum. You shall enjoy it as you spend time around here. Monica Bhide is working hard to keep the forum active and alive, she has much to offer through her cookbooks and her eGCI classes. Stay tuned for announcments around the site about them. You may be happy you came here. Perhaps in another thread, you can educate us about Indian restaurants in France. Where they are... what kind of food they serve... what kind of customer are they serving and all of that. It would be a great treat for the rest of us.
  13. Game and Indian Food

    What game did they cook? At our restaurant Amma, we cook wild boar and venison. Also rabbit, teetar and bater (partridge and doves) as specials. In parts of India these are certainly game... not sure what you grew up eating. If you can speak of what meats you ate, perhaps we can give you ideas.
  14. classic Indian cookbooks

    Sandra, my mother, and those of many people I have come to know from Delhi, living in the US, whose parents are my parents generation, have grown up either cooking from her books, or like my mother, also having taken private lessons with Mrs. Balbir Singh. My mother had her books. But they never were opened. She had diary after diary of recipes from her classes with Mrs. Singh. These were recipes to Indian dishes she had learned, and also to flans, souffles, casseroles, mousses, parfaits, cakes, shortbread cookies, puddings and classic creme brulee. She was a very important player in the world of my mothers generation from Delhi at the least. And it is funny how I could be meeting a friend I have made in the last ten years, have nothing in common with them, but when I meet the mother, and if she is close to my mothers age, we then have Mrs. Balbir Singh stories to trade. We have chatted before in this forum about her recipes and books. I remember you telling us then that you had used her book in your Indian cookery. Happy New Year to you and yours Sandra.
  15. You are very correct. For my father, when he was trying to work on his blood sugar, through diet, it was not about losing weight, but to avoid having to take pills for blood sugar. He did that successfully for a long time. It was through a regiment that was in equal part about diet and daily exercise. His were the days of no popular diet plans, but still having to worry about having a plan. He did very well, until that one moment when he gave up on exercise and diet, and then had to start taking pills and later insulin. You are smart to give your attention to diet. I shall look at the link you share. Thanks for posting it.
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