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Vikram

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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. The neatest smoked food trick I've seen in Indian food is smoked buttermilk or lassi. Rajdhani, the Gujju thali place near Crawford market does this as an extra to the main thali - you have to ask for masala chhas. Its quite a production. They bring a brass tray with a few smoking coals on it, then in front of you add some ghee on the coals and then a few spices, I forget which. Then as the ghee is spluttering and the spices start smoking, they quickly put a stainless steel tumbler over the coals to trap the smoke. Then after a minute or less they take the tumbler out and VERY quickly before
  2. Suvir, hope you're reading this thread, here's another Maharashtrian style of cooking oysters. I freely admit I haven't tried this, but I would trust the source even though it happens to be the back of the calendar in my cubicle! Its not just any calendar though, but the English version of Kalnirnay, the calendar-cum-almanac-cum-monthly magazine (the content printed on the reverse of the page for that month) which is counted as India's largest selling publication with a print run, across its 27 editions, of 10 million copies. If you're not already familiar with it, a Kalnirnay calendar is an
  3. Vikram

    $6 bhelpuri

    Since we're talking about Indian street food abroad can people comment on an observation I'd made sometime back, partly from Indian restaurants in London and partly from looking at menus of Indian restaurants on the Net, that the ones most likely to serve streetfood are those with 'Bombay' in their names? In an article I wrote on Bombay street food sometime back, I suggested that just as 'Madras' now means a hot curry in the international lexicon of Indian food, 'Bombay' now signifies light snacky food. Here's a link to the article if anyone's interested: http://www.outlooktraveller.com/asps
  4. I've done a quick check to confirm that the South African forum is a little used one, so I'm going to risk saying this. I love SA, beautiful place, wonderful people and, get this, amazing ingredients - just check the sort of seafood you get around the Cape, and the quality of the fruits and veg (well, the fruit and veg that isn't being standardised into perfect looking and tasteless specimens for the benefit of supermarket chains in Europe), and great meat. And what do they do with these ingredients. Well to use SAtalk, ag, shame man, you don't want to know. OK, that's not fair. I did eat in
  5. Beans on toast I can understand, even if I don't like it much. What I really don't get is that Australian favourite spaghetti on toast. Some years back when the Australian cricket team was touring India one of their stars, Shane Warne, brought along a big supply of canned spaghetti rather than have to eat anything local (presumably other than the bread). As some small revenge, he later ballooned up hugely and had to go on crash weight loss programmes! That being said I confess that I can get carb on carb combos sometimes. Never had a chip butty, but it sounds sort of good in an over the top w
  6. Vikram

    SUVIR SARAN

    I must admit, Suvir was starting to give me a complex. He moderated this forum, gave recipes endlessly (and recipes he had personally tried himself), was writing a book and was starting up a restaurant as well! Just thinking of all that made me exhausted. Well now it seems he's human after all, but its a pity he has to prove it this way. But, as he says, he'll still be posting and that's great. All the best, Suvir, vikram
  7. Suvir, our friend Ashok Row Kavi has just given me the recipe. He says its the usual 3:2:1 masala that he's taught you, namely 3 portions of grated coconut (say half a coconut) to 2 hot dried chillies to 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste. Mix with a little water in a blender till its toothpaste texture (only ARK seems to use this particularly description!). Simmer for a bit and then add a pinch of asafoetida. Add drumsticks if you have them and 2-3 quartered potatoes (I've never had either in the restaurant versions) and simmer 15 minutes or so. Throw in shelled oysters and add salt to taste. Rig
  8. Isn't it possible to get frozen alu ka parathas? I'd assume they would freeze quite well. A friend of mine in NYC says she gets excellent flaky Kerala parottas frozen which is what she leaves at home for husband to eat every time she travels. BTW, an alu ka paratha thread would be a good place to note my astonishment, some years back, when I finally made it to Parathe wale ke gully in old Delhi. Apart from the range of stuffed parathas - forget potato and radish, it was the papad stuffed ones (made with crumbled fried papad) that got me - what surprised me was their form. I was used to the s
  9. Vikram

    $6 bhelpuri

    Well at one time that's what the coffee shops in 5 star hotels were doing. Maybe not popcorn, but nachos and I remember as a kid one of the ultimate treats was the ultra long frankfurters at Samarkand, now the Palms at the Oberoi Towers. BTW Vir Sanghvi, who writes hands down the best food column in India, under the pseudonym Grand Fromage in the Hindustan Times, had an excellent piece last Sunday on the growth of hotel coffee shops in India. Here's a link: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/674_388...07,00310006.htm I like how he captures the way in which such coffee shops had an influence f
  10. One considerably less pleasant aspect to this not tasting custom is that the food that the person cooking the food wasn't allowed to eat that sort of food. This was mostly when the cooking was being done by a widowed woman who in many orthodox Hindu communities was not allowed to eat a whole bunch of stuff. One truly unpleasant hypothesis from some sociologists is that this, in combination with the many compulsory religious fasts, was meant to reduce the widow to a state of near starvation, the better to hasten her death. Chitrita Banerji's excellent book 'The Hour of the Goddess: Memories o
  11. No, doesn't count, Le Creuset is selling beautiful ones at Vama. At Rs5,000 each they may not exactly be paisa vasool, but you do get them here. The second item sounds so bizarre that it probably counts, but being an adamant urbanist I certainly don't envisage needing one. I agree with you on Thai ingredients, Ananda Solomon war mourning to me how the Kaffir lime trees he's tried growing here just never taste the same. There are stores selling kitchen systems like Poggenpohl, but no kitchen equipment stores yet. Large department stores like Lifestyle and Westside do have a good range of equ
  12. This thread is mainly directed at eGulletteers in India, or who come here frequently! If you such, you'll certainly now how there was a time, and not a very distant time either, when being a foodfreak was a difficult thing. In those NOT nostalgically remembered days before liberalisation, getting many ingredients for non-Indian cooking was very difficult. So friends and relatives coming from abroad would be presented with loooooong lists of items to be purchased, and when they came we would circle round their suitcases like vultures hoping to see what they had got us. In the unlikely event t
  13. An interesting thread, with lots to think about. I'm not sure I've understood Rachel's post entirely, so forgive me is this goes a bit off track, but it made me think of an exchange I had on another list on the subject of Indian ways of cooking turkey. I posted some a recipe from Bombay's East Indian community (a local Christian community which decided to call themselves East Indians after the East India company to distinguish themselves from Goan Catholics. The small logical oddity of being East Indians in Western India seems to have been overlooked) which an Australian friend of mine, of An
  14. Vikram

    CHEERS

    Yes please, I stay just round the corner from Khar Danda village so a nearby drinking place would be a welcome alternative to Olive! One fish that I particularly associate with drinking joints, BTW, is mudadashi or ladyfish, the small ones fried whole for eating as you drink. Vikram
  15. I've also just been given a bagfull by a friend who's came from Istanbul and knew my liking for odd ingredients. If you come up with any ideas for using it, let me know, Vikram
  16. Vikram

    arrack

    Many thanks all, now I have some prospects of getting through these bottles. The rum cake suggestion was particularly promising. Just curious, why does this cloudiness happen? Vikram
  17. Vikram

    CHEERS

    Gokul's has changed a bit from those days! Its now a more sedate and general place, really large, it seems to have grown all sorts of nooks and corners. So yes, the a/c room at the back is still there, as the more 'refined' drinking area, but there are rooms in front and above as well. The food is not outstanding, but good and honest. As you remember, the naans and tandoori rotis come fresh and hot, and with excellent mint chutney on the side. They'll fry up a pomfret or slices of surmai or rawas very nicely for you - all excellent to eat while drinking. Golconda wine is, thankfully, mostly a
  18. What I want to know is why we can't have Cachaca? I adore caiprinhas (they're alcoholic nimbu pani, after all), but they are really not the same if you don't have cachaca. Vodka doesn't have that exciting raw edge and white rum is too syrupy. I have to implore all friends coming from abroad to pick up bottles for me and luckily, in New York, at least, access seems to be becoming easier. But the question is, why not cachaca in India? Its just sugar cane spirit, after all, and god knows we have vast amounts of sugar cane, vast waving fields of it that go to prop up those mysteriously saccharine
  19. Vikram

    CHEERS

    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
  20. Vikram

    CHEERS

    I think Episure is right. The custom of saying cheers in India has been taken from the West, so the word has too. I can certainly remember it cropping up in Hindi movie drinking scenes. A friend of mine is trying to popularise the world 'tulleeho' and from this impulse has come a website and a company that deals with drinking in India. Its quite a nice site and can be accessed at www.tulleeho.com Vikram
  21. I spent a substantial part of my recent trip home to Madras doing just this! I love kimchi, and Korean food in general (much better suited to Indian palates than Chinese food) and somewhat improbably Madras is a good place to get it, thanks to the presence of a gigantic Hyundai factory and other Korean businesses. There are several restaurants in Madras catering mostly to Koreans - and the rare locals like me who might stray in -so the quality is good. In fact I'd go out on a limb and say that one meal I ate at a restaurant called Arirang was the best Korean food I've eaten which in my experi
  22. Vikram

    arrack

    If your friend ever gets to Goa, remind him to pick up a bottle of Goan white port! The red port is OK, in a sort of cough syrup way, but the white defies description. I don't think I'd put the arrack in that category, as I said, I quite like it, in small doses. Its not dissimilar to sambuca, just slightly more raw tasting. Any cocktails that use sambuca? A friend from Istanbul tells me that she had a really good drink there made from arrack, almond syrup, bitter lemon syrup and club soda. Might be worth trying, Vikram
  23. Vikram

    arrack

    This sounds great, but Batavian I guess means it comes from Indonesia, in which case its more likely to be like the arrak of South India, a cheap, ultra strong spirit. The arrack I'm talking about is the Middle Eastern kind, very strongly flavoured with anise, so if I use the proportions in your recipe, the anise would drown out all other tastes. Looks like I'm going to have these bottles for life! Vikram
  24. Sometimes the best of restaurants can't match mothers on this, which is why the smart chefs co-opt them. If you go to the President Hotel in Bombay where Chef Ananda Solomon presides over one of the few five star hotels with really excellent food, in the middle of the kitchen for his Konkan Cafe restaurant you'll see this old Konkani granny, dressed up in whites like the rest of his staff, and grinding away the masalas. Chef Solomon told me that he first met this lady when he was cooking in Goa and was simply never able to duplicate her skill with masala pastes. So when he got round to starti
  25. Interesting thread on souring agents. Indian dishes are most often associated with spiciness, but in fact I think its the souring agents that can be the really distinctive factors. Certainly I think communities tend to have their own souring agents which they cling to as points of distinction. So, for example, on the West coast an in particular in Goa, fairly similar ingredients and styles of cooking are distinguished by the souring agent of kokam, which would be used by Hindus, and vinegar, which would be used by Christians. And different types of vinegar, as Suvir notes, are used by differe
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