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Suvir Saran

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Everything posted by Suvir Saran

  1. How wonderfully said. We need to hear these words more often in a world so easily using God to incite hate and other bad habits.
  2. You have raised many poignant points. Most all Hindus, have not based their diets on any official religion or any rules based in a book. This group I call Hindus includes the religious and those that are only Hindu by birth but may never enter a temple or offer prayers in a temple. And those Hindus that like me are well versed and respectful or Hindu and Islamic traditions and have been raised as Hindus who are deeply secular and accepting of the rich traditions of all religions being equally respect worthy, and important, even if only to those of any one religion. To Hindus like the secular ones whom I know mostly, religion does not need any endorsement from a group, club, personality or book, it is important because it means something to someone we know. That personal choice is one we must respect and guard as people that live in a world that has already seen much too much communal trouble in the centuries past. We have been trained to live and let live. And to encourage diversity and not hinder it as if finds bleak but some opportunities to survive in a world largely (unfortunately) still occupied by many that are devout and singular in their belief. We have no one book or rule as Hindus that we must observe or believe. Ours is a religion that has survived millennia only as some say because it has no baggage that comes with politics and organization based on the beliefs of others merely mortal as us. Ours are text that change form as they were shared by us in times different from each other. Thus, we Hindus take every text as being one of importance and a limited role in the plethora of texts we can research and read, either as religious believers or as those wanting to understand the history of a people from a region. The combined beauty of these texts is mostly found in the variety and diversity that one understands even within the experiences of people borne from those of the same land and geographic region. Our texts, all of them, are only stories for us to understand, fathom and embrace as being part of what has been lived before us. Do we have to live like those we read of in those stories today? Nope. All we are expected to do is to learn from the mistakes and challenges of these people, and take from their experiences what can help us in our lives today. Our are different and non-organized tales for the most part. Ours are realities mostly based on what we have heard as being generational. And these diets change as easily as the many languages and physical make-up of the Indian people. And that is why vegetarianism should not be only associated with the dictat that comes from orthodox or even deeply organized religion. We have ancient and deeply religious traditions that are not based on laws and rules, but solely on what one chooses to belief and what has been tradition for millennia. To hundreds of millions of Hindus, even the religious types (both fanatic and the non fanatic amongst them) vegetarianism does not involve the endorsement of any official decree, ruling or text. It is simply understood to be what it is. It is not about any choice, religious or personal, it simply is a way of life. Now, those that want to fight us Hindus, can reduce our very secular varied dietary needs into one about religion, but they do so only to divide a world that hardly needs any more such tactics. And that war could be very interesting... cause whilst we could have a fight between Hindus and Non-Hindus, the battle that is planted around diet, will become one that will also be fought within the many Hindu factions and sub-sects. It would consume much too much time and division.
  3. This is so interesting to me, Suvir. Thank you. I was brought up to believe that proselytizing, while not exactly sinful, was about the rudest thing one could possible do, the most extraordinary breech of courtesy. I still believe this, and I also believe that it indicates a stunning lack of respect for the person to whom one is proselytizing, the assumption that you know better than he what his life lacks -- and, indeed, that your life is inherently better (closer to God, more authentic, happier) than his. At the same time, I do have some friends who are Southern Baptists, and I understand that for them, proselytizing is a form of sacrament. It's the way they serve God, just as I think I serve God by honoring others' religious beliefs, at least to the extent of not telling them that mine is better. It's a very difficult conundrum. And that is why one can never say what religion or custom is more deserving of protection than another. It takes all kinds to enrich this world. They each have their wonderful aspects I am sure... and one can simply imagine that as being true, and we could live without finding need to hate, judge or fight. Again, you have shared a great post.
  4. Oooof, I do. Years ago, I was touring with a troup of South African vegetarians. We all shared a house. And one day Chico the Cockney Drummer put a packet of pork chops in the refrigerator, and one of the veggies went round the bend, hollering about how meat fumes were contaminating her broccoli. FWIW, I don't think the woman's having brought the damn babyfood into the restaurant was such a crime -- as others here have pointed out, she probably just grabbed the nearest jar, without checking to see whether its contents were in accord with her lunch plans. And -- and again, this is purely MO, I think the server should have said "I'm sorry, we can't prepare anything with meat or chicken in it," rather than inventing a clumsy lie about a broken microwave. But all that said, I still think that people who go to a vegetarian restaurant have the right to assume that the kitchen will, indeed, be meat-free, and that includes the microwave. I may think the "meat fumes contaminating the broccoli" contingent is a little nuts, but they still have a right to expect that meat fumes will not, in fact, contaminate the green leafy vegetables. Thanks for a very sensitive and caring post. Like you, I am on the same wavelength about the situation with the baby food. And I too believe that meat of any kind should not be contaminating the space of a vegetarian. My own father, who now has two kids that have eaten meat and whose homes are not purely vegetarian, would never allow any meat, not even baby food for my nephew into the homes he lives in.. be they my now deceased grandmas or that of my parents.... my sister, whose kid grew up in Texas, did eat meat based foods.. but she felt he missed nothing at all by not eating meat in those many months he woudl spend time in my parents or grandparents homes. For her it was a way of having the babies palate grow and mature.... yes care was taken to ensure the baby got every nutrition as was necessary. And that is the key. For my parents my nephew was a joy, and for my sister, my parents gave her kid a new exposure. Both parties were at the end joyous.
  5. Suvir Saran


    How could I forget the pomfret.... I remember my friends eating whole fried pomfret... served with lemon and that same chutney you speak of...and for me I liked their crisp sliced red onions and lemon and the chutney... tasty. Glad to know Golconda is motly a thing of the past. It was terrible everyone said.. but the only option.
  6. Suvir Saran


    Country liquor is not quite my tipple, but I think one of the best places to drink in Bombay is Gokul's behind the Taj opposite the HUGELY overrated Bade Miyan (the food at Gokul's is much better). Its a big, busy, quite easy going place, the booze is cheap and its also one of the few places women can go to drink without problems (in the ground floor a/c room). And if you want a contrast, the other excellent place to drink in Bombay is just a few streets away at Indigo! Vikram Gokul, wow... brings back so many fond memories of my time in Bombay. I was taken to it by Ashok Rao Kavi first, and then it became a place I went to many days a week. They made very good Saag Aloo and also Chanas... That is what Ashok would order for vegetarian me.. and the naan with butter was always so very fresh and nicely cooked. Is it still serving good food? The food was nothing to rave about, but for us out of towners, living in Bombay without family and in homes with very spare if any kitchen at all, Gokul gave a promise that seemed strong and pleasant. Friends I would go with would drink Golconda red wine. We would sit in the room that was air-conditioned and tucked behind the front dining space. Is that still there?
  7. Ajowain - Carom Seeds Amchoor - mango powder (souring agent) Dahi - yogurt Vadas - dumplings/fritters/can be donut shaped as well, usually deep fried Mot Kee Daal - A particular legume by the name of Mot (do not know its English name. Sorry! ) Rajasthan - Name of state in India. Marwari - People from a region of India called Marwar, not to be mistaken with Mewar. Dahi Vadas - dumplings made with lentils/beans or a mix and immersed in spiced yogurt Bengali - From the state of Bengal Khatai - Souring agent (Khatta meaning sour) Panch Phoron - Bengali Five Spice Mix I have made this glossary for it was brought to my attention by a caring, interested and curious fellow member that in my post I had used many a native word without any indication of what they meant. My apologies to all our members. And it is my hope that I can be better about translating as I write..... As and when you need translations, please feel free to post on the thread itself, I am sure one of the Indian members of the forum can quickly give you translations. If you need any further information about Indian names, you can always visit my sites spice section for a limited glossary. There are other sites we have online that also provide glossaries. Maybe that can be another thread... and on that thread we can have links to sites with good glossaries pertaining to food of the Indian sub-continent.
  8. There are two preparations that come to mind when speak of Mangodi. You can either make them fresh, as they were in Panditjis kitchen. My mom and sister make them this way in the US too. It is a talent one must have... they should never be bigger than the smallest non-champagne grapes you can find. Not an easy thing to achieve unless the texture of the ground Mung Dal (mung beans) is perfect. You can also make this using pre-made Mung Dal Badis (dumplings) from Indian stores. The end result is close, but hardly the same. I only enjoy this dish in India. It is more of a UP dish. Less of a Rajasthani one. The Baniyas of UP will make it as well as the others. The curry is called Jhol Ka Masala (runny gravy) and it addictive. I could not think of this really being similar in any way to the Mot Kee Dal (dal is hindi for legumes, Mot is one particular kind of lentil, I do not know its English name. Sorry. ) dumplings that V Gautam may have had in Marwari Kitchens. I hope he can tell us more about what he ate... Many families in UP, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh (3 different states of India) do prepare Mung Dal Kee Kadhi (Mung bean dumplings in a spicy sour yogurt based sauce),but it is not a dish eaten too often. Mung Dal Kee Vadi (dumplings) are not easy to digest, and Karhi can be difficult too, this dish is prepared for special occasions or some weekends in a year. Mostly eaten at lunch with rice.
  9. Welcome to eGullet vgautam. Glad that you found eGullet. Looking forward to posts from you telling us about your Bangla experiences. I am afraid my Marwari friends made Okra differently. Using ajowain and amchoor but no Dahi (yogurt). Maybe someone else here would be able to share the recipe you seek. Please tell us more about these dahi vadas you speak of.... Where did you have them? How were they served? It seems that they really could be another kind of vada... and only served alongside dahi sometimes... I have eaten stuffed stuff made with mot kee daal... in Rajasthan... in Marwari homes.. but they were not dahi vadas... hence my confusion. What did the vadas taste like? What was the filling like? Crusty on the outside? Dry on the inside? Dense? I had Bengali neighbors in Delhi who made the most amazing stuffed Okra. Would you have a recipe for stuffed Okra Bengali style? They made it with some kind of khatai, I was told it was amchoor.. maybe it was something different.. ground mustard seeds and all other panch phoron ingredients and some red chili too. It was then stir fried until crispy... They left by the time I was 12 or so... I wish I had taken the recipe.... I only have the flavor and memories .... no recipe from them. We lost touch with the family.. they had moved to the Middle East. I always wonder if life will bring them back to our world... it has happened with some others.... I await that day... But in the meantime.. I would still love the recipe for that Bengali stuffed okra.... anyone? V Gautam?
  10. Would your wife share a recipe or two for Kimchi that goes with Indian food? Do you make it at home or buy store made Kimchi?
  11. I really am not sure what traditional recipes there are that use scallops.. certainly they must exist... Vikram or Episure and Prasad could better answer that... I can only say that they lend themselves brilliantly to Indian cuisine. From many diverse regions no less. They also make the table look brilliantly chic. Hemant Mathur, Peter Beck, Prasad (yes our own eGulleteer Prasad2), the late Raji Jallepalli Riess, myself and many other chefs have cooked with them and given them some notoriety and presence in the world of Indian cuisine in the US. You can use them with most any sauces you like. Think also of pairing them with sauces based on herbs and greens. They work amazingly well together. Think of grilling them on a stove not tandoor.. they are easy to cook and they look amazing. You can steam them wrapped in banana leaves... and they cook amazingly fast. They look great nestled in crispy veggies, taters or just atop a spicy sauce.
  12. Mongo thanks for posting your pointers after cooking the recipe. How kind you are. One must tinker with recipes I believe. Nothing wrong with it at all. Cookbook writers and recipe writers ought never to worry about that. If one were not having home chefs or professionals tinker with a chefs recipe, most chefs would worry that the recipe provided left little if any impression. I am thrilled to see you have made it twice.. and that you have added to it your own nuances. Amazing! Panditji would be thrilled that oceans and lands away, someone has prepared his version of simple Kaddu... and has thanked him in doing so. I shall remember to let him know.
  13. Vikram, for my birthday last year, a friend of mine gifted me one of these stone grinders (sil batta). How amazing they are. Nothing works as well as them for texture. I do not use it often at home.. but when I do... I am taken back into memory lane and good tastes from childhood in India.
  14. Thanks. I'll keep a bag of asafeida in my back pocket when dining out. It may or may not help. We cook with it. It is added during cooking. Not after. There are mothers that rub a new born babies belly with asafetida water to give them comfort from gas. So maybe, it could work if you use it in ways similar to how an Indian mother would apply it to an infant. You forgot one thing. Keep a bottle of perfume in your front pocket and spray very frequently. Did you know that Asafoetida is also known as Devil's Dung? Seriously, check here: http://www-ang.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/ Yes, how could I forget. I am always so impressed by Gernot Katzers site. It has all the information one needs. At least related to names and origin etc and many a historical note. Thanks for the link.
  15. Suvir Saran


    Vikram, I think Tisriyo are cockle. But still far better than the cockles that everyone was going crazy about in Singapore. I did not have the pleasure of ARK introducing me to them though. You are luckier than I. Vikram, some Chinese restaurants are serving Oysters with sauces and even cheese. They are quite good. What kind of Masala are these places using with Oysters? Would you be kind enough to share more details? Thanks!
  16. Chef Mathur in NYC cooks them in the Tandoor. Mr. & Mrs. Fat Guy have been two of his Shrimp fancying clients. The list of tandoori shrimp fans is long and stellar. It always does the trick. Episure has suggested a great recipe. Prasad, do take pictures if you prepare that recipe. Thanks.
  17. Suvir Saran


    What a fantastic idea! people keep creating all kinds of wierd concoctions for mussels but this one sound just wonderful. Did they serve pieces of idlis ( like the italians serve bread) to soak up the rasam/mussel juices? Sorry, no Idlis. But soup spoons and the customers loved drinking any left over rassam after they had enjoyed the mussels.
  18. Thanks. I'll keep a bag of asafeida in my back pocket when dining out. It may or may not help. We cook with it. It is added during cooking. Not after. There are mothers that rub a new born babies belly with asafetida water to give them comfort from gas. So maybe, it could work if you use it in ways similar to how an Indian mother would apply it to an infant.
  19. We in India use asafetida. And it is funny to note how so many Indians would eat beans made by one that does not use this ingredient and will be able to tell beacause of the aforementioned gas issues. My editor at Clarkson Potter was the one who first mentioned Beano to me. I have never used it, but am told it does help many.
  20. Suvir, there were so many lovely pieces from your post I could have chosen, but I will confine myself to this one. Thank you for the eloquent and thought-provoking piece. Again, I owe each of you just as many thanks and appreciation for your own posts. My thoughts stem from those shared by each of you. They are part of what you create by leaving here words to reflect upon. I was driving around NYC today with a couple that was vegetarian, and unlike me they are very Strict Vegetarians. They had only one thing to say to me after I shared with them the details about the incident and the debate here. The wife said, when she meets Americans and speaks to them about her secular but strict vegetarian beliefs, Jews and Christian friends of theirs in American have no way of understanding her belief in vegetarian diet for it has no religious founding. She says she invariably has to include religion, tell the person chastising her for her individual belief system, and say she is a Kosher Observing Indian and then she is granted space to believe what she does. She said in the last 33 years in NY, she has found some respect from non-Indians by having to do this. Has she found very many restaurants where she can eat safely without fear of being cheated on her beliefs? No. Most restaurants she has realized, after trick questioning of wait staff and chefs, have agreed later that meat broths or such were added to her specifically asked for vegetarian food. It has taught her to mostly eat in restaurants run by immigrants from countries that have had people from parts of the world where vegetarianism can thrive without coded rules of its existence. She ended by saying that she hopes someday, her neighbors and fellow citizens of the US can understand life in a more intricate and evolved manner and grant her similar respect and freedoms as that given to those with religiously understood and thus protected dietary predilections. It will happen. I am sure we will learn with time how life is not just about fads we take away from foreign lands and people, but also about affording those very foreign lands and cultures some of our time and thought. If we can take stuff from others, we also ought to understand them better and treat them and their causes with the very minimum dignity and privilege we even afford our pets, who belong to another form of life. It is that what we are hoping to teach so many other nations and lands in our mission today or bringing our way of life and liberty to other lands and people. Acceptance in its most basic level is not really all that difficult, but it becomes second nature only after we have really discovered it and enjoyed beauty that comes from true acceptance of what is foreign. It takes time, effort and great strength to accept that which breaks all our comfortable and safe assumptions about life. It is not easy to see what we have been trained to understand as normal suddenly not seeming all that normal. Normal is only what we make things out to be. What is normal to one can be quite abnormal and scary to another. I told her about eGullet, and how whilst I was certainly a minority in this forum, in this discussion to, but that still, things are changing and people are really more accepting today than they were when she and her husband and his father first moved to the US. I believe in times to come, we shall find more acceptance for secular dietary beliefs and in time vegetarian will again go to mean simply what vegetarian has meant for the longest of time, "One who does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, or slaughter by-products such as gelatine or animal fats. "
  21. Suvir Saran


    At Pondicherry in NYC, we served mussel masala which were made in a rassam broth. It was a huge hit and customers Indian and non would come back craving them.
  22. Not sure how serene my demeanor really is or how global my outlook. You are one that thinks so, certainly even on this thread, there are others that would not think similarly. Proves exactly what I had said in one of my posts. We have many faces to all situations and none is any more appropriate than another. I thank you for encouraging me to babble on... you are too kind.
  23. i can't help but think this comment was designed to get a rise out of people. And it did.
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