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Vikram

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  1. Some more suggestions from this thread: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=100249
  2. Vikram

    Madeira in London

    Maybe I should have posted this in the UK section, but I'm hoping someone here can help. I'm thinking of writing an article on the wines exported to India by the East India Company in the 18th and 19th centuries and madeira formed pretty much the bulk of it. This isn't an academic piece - someone has done that, a very informative essay with lots of figures - more a feature, and I'd like to try madeira for it since I never have. A friend is coming from London (I live in Bombay) in a few days and could conceivably be persuaded to buy a couple of bottles if given exact address of wine seller and
  3. That could also have been picked up from the Middle Eastern market. Remember a major influence on chefs in both India and Pakistan these days is the experience they get while working in Dubai and the rest of the Gulf. Many chefs go there to make some money and then come back to open restaurants back home or take up senior positions in the big hotels. I'm guessing that more Pakistani chefs go to the gulf, while Indian ones tend to go to the cruise liners, but its certainly one way that Middle-Eastern - and you can probably equate that with professional Lebanese restaurant cooking in this contex
  4. Pakistani friends joke that Pakistani cuisine is North Indian food with the vegetables left out. There was an amusing piece in the Times of India a few days back describing how Pakistanis who have come to Delhi for the cricket series are dealing with Indian food. Its the abundance of vegetarian stuff that was most interesting for them, with reported comments like "if its green is that saag?" and "paneer is that white stuff, no?" Vikram
  5. Russell Market is one of the nicest produce markets to browse in. You must do one meal at Koshy's, a large old Bangalore restaurant that is the city's unofficial crossroads. Everyone comes to Koshy's, its one of the few really open places in the country, and the food is good too. Try the Kerala fish curry or just ask Oomen, the owner, what's good that day. But your best bet is really just trusting yourself in Episure's hands. I've been cheap restaurant crawling with him in Bombay and its a food experience like no other. I still regret his decision to leave for Bangalore. Vikram
  6. Sometime back I'd referred to Nilanjana Roy's upcoming anthology of food writing from Indian literature. I'm happy to announce its out now - 'A Matter of Taste: the Penguin Book of Indian Writing on Food' (and with a lovely Kalighat print of a cat with a prawn in its mouth as the cover pic). I'm still reading it so no major comments on it, but these are hardly likely to be unfavourable! Nilanjana has focussed on the literary aspect so most of the well known modern Indian writers like Rushdie are featured. (Tantalizingly, it looks like his new book, out next year I think, will have even more o
  7. I was just speaking to chef Ananda Solomon at the Taj President here in Bombay, where they serve some upvas items like saboodhana khichidi at their Konkan Cafe restaurant. He brought out some aspects of upvas food which I didn't know about like the fact that in the strictest sense the restrictions on the ingredients used extended even to how those ingredients were grown. So the special plants used for upvas food were sometimes grown in separate plots of land, often close to the village temple. And one couldn't use just any fertilizer or manure to grow them, particularly since these might incl
  8. I think Kandos was Sri Lankan, not Indian. I remember eating them too - not bad, slightly superior mouth quality to the Indian chocolates, though not on par with chocs from Europe. Vikram
  9. I thought we'd had a specific topic on this on the forum, but doing a search I can't seem to find one although the subject does crop up in threads like this one: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=22596&hl=upvas I've been interested in the subject for some time now, mainly because of the odd ingredients that seem to crop up in upvas khana, the fasting foods which aren't the contradiction they seem. While there are extreme fasts in the Indian tradition when neither food nor water is taken (nirjala vrat), the more common sort is where certain types of food are abstained from. The
  10. I don't know how curry plants respond to the cold, but otherwise I'd recommend them as really easy to grow and also the most helpful in cooking terms, since one often needs just a few curry leaves and that's when I find I'm either out of them or the ones in my fridge have all withered away. An aunt of mine who has really green fingers has dispatched curry plant seedlings across the world - just a few twigs bundled up into newspaper and shoved into suitcases and despite this terrible way of traveling, they've often sprung up again in their destinations. My own curry plants come from her and ar
  11. Its nice that everyone seems to like Indian chocolates so much, but I can't help wondering if nostalgia rather than taste is playing the major role here. I like Indian chocolates and god knows I've eaten my fair share of them - in my far off days in advertising I used to work on the Cadbury's account and 5 Star (their version of Mars) in particular and despite eating tons of them at that time - it was actually required in meetings - I still enjoy them. But I would never suggest they are particularly good chocolates by international standards and I'm not talking the finest Belgian and Parisian
  12. I've occasionally seen siya-jeera translated as aniseed, but that's not correct, is it? Perhaps this might be a good time to try and agree on definitive translations for aniseed, fennel seed and caraway, all three of which get varying translations in Indian cookbooks. If we want to be really ambitious we could also tackle kalonji and radhuni? Vikram
  13. This reminds me of an anecdote my mother tells about how after she (Malayali, hates cooking and has insisted on having a cook all her life) married my Gujarati father. They were doing the rounds of his relatives and at one aunt's house my mother, at a loss for any other conversation to make, asked the aunt politely, "So do you cook?" My mother says there was pin drop silence, and then my father hastily changed the subject. Afterwards he yelled at her, "You NEVER ask a Gujarati woman if she can cook. What you should say is, 'so what is your speciality?'!" Rushina are your brothers really going
  14. A chimta - those tongs made from a long thin flat strip of metal. Unless you have palms of leather, they're invaluable for tossing chappatis, and I find myself using them for all sorts of other things. Like I have been burdened with a most annoying oven which the top and botton heating elements cannot be separately adjusted, so I basically have the choice of an underdone base and perfect crust or perfect base and burned crust. The answer I've found is an elaborate routine using covers of crumpled foil that keep having to be put on and take off and the chimta is hugely helpful here. Vikram
  15. I made a kadhi the other day, using the recipe in the Camellia Punjabi book. As a child I didn't like kadhi much, so I've never cooked it in the past, but this recipe looked good, there was okra in it, which I love, and I had tons of yoghurt in the fridge which needed using up, so I made it. The vagar was quite distinctive - lots of cloves fried in ghee with methi seeds (fenugreek) and cumin and then, off the fire, a pinch of asafeotida and some fresh curry leaves. The moment I poured it on the kadhi I got this huge fragrant smell which was EXACTLY the smell I remember from my Guajrati aunt's
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