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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. Thanks for the birthday greetings. And yes, you do get cockles - the really small thin shelled ones which are called tisriyo here in Bombay would fit that description I think. Suvir, you must have eaten them with our common friend ARK - would you agree these fit the bill as cockles. Whatever they are, they are utterly delicious. Despite my ancestral allegiance to mussels I have to say living in Bombay is winning me over to tisriyo as superior. They don't have the rubberiness that mussels can get and if they are much smaller, just tiny scraps of flesh in their shells, they are so flavoursome t
  2. I was in Madras on my birthday and my sister, who shares my food obsessions, knew the perfect present: she took me in the morning to a neighbourhood called Annanagar to the one shop run by a fisherman's co-operative where one can buy mussels. There isn't much call for them in Madras, which is why they're only available in this one place. People in Madras are disappointly conservative when it comes to the fish they eat. A Bombay fish market is a wonderful sight with the range of fish and all the Koli ladies dressed to the nines and loaded with all their gold necklaces as they slice through hug
  3. A friend from the catering industry, in a fit of post monsoon cleaning, has just gifted me four bottles of Israeli arrack. I quite like it occasionally - that's why I became the recipient of this gift - but four bottles looks like its going to last my lifetime. Can anyone suggest uses for it? Its such powerfully flavoured stuff I find it hard to imagine how one could create a cocktail with it, Vikram
  4. Chillies are bad enough, wait till you try and combine wine with South Indian dishes made with coconut milk or flavoured with coconut oil. I defy anyone to find a wine pairing that goes well with coconut. There's a certain gentleman who claims to be the father of the Indian wine industry who is prone to going on about how wine was made in India from ancient times, how famous these ancient vintages were, etc. etc. all of which is duly recycled by journalists as facts, but I am rather dubious. The problem is the word wine is used very freely by Indian writers to mean any alcoholic beverage whe
  5. Yes, at the ITC Grand Maratha Hotel which means you're getting street food at five star prices which sort of dampens one's enthusiasm, however good it is. Maroush is quite good, but most people seem to go there for the belly dancers more than the food. The Lebanese place I like is Lebanese Point in the middle of all the chaos of that main commercial street in Andheri Lokhandwala. Its run by guys from Dubai and its all good, honest, authentically tangy stuff, Vikram
  6. Hi Howler, back from Madras (on which more later) just as this frankie discussion gets going. Reading it I was struck by a sudden, immediate urge to have a Frankie, so went out of office to the Waikiki stand near Sterling cinema only to find it closed and looking like it had been that way for ages. I walk past that road often, but somehow hadn't noticed that. If it really is closed - and I'll check again - it would fit my observation that Frankie's are going out of fashion in Bombay. There was a stall near where I stay in Khar which again has gone out of business and I can think of others. It
  7. Shamelessly pushing my own work again, here's a piece I wrote in the Times of India to show the extent to which this wine matching nonsense can get to. The piece was written just after the Indian Finance Minister presented his annual Budget in Parliament: This piece prompted some irate reactions from some people, one of whom wrote a response in a local paper so heavily laden in irony one could almost hear the clunk in every word. One extract is worth quoting because, while he was intending to be supremely satirical, he actually gives quite a good round up of the traditional drinks that could
  8. There is a very simple answer to this question of how to match wine and Indian cuisine and it is: don't bother. I know I'm going to get flak for this, and I hate to pick a quarrel with Raju's expertise but I've tired this many times, with many different wines, and it really doesn't work. I mean you can drink wine with Indian food and you won't drop dead and it can even be a reasonably pleasant glug. But you get nothing extra from the combination and that I always thought was the purpose of food-beverage combining. I also do not want to be rude to the many restaurateurs on this list, but I m
  9. Nobody has mentioned using star anise as a flavouring but I've started doing it, following one of the recipes in Monica Bharadwaj's 'The Indian Kitchen' book. For those who haven't seen it, the book goes ingredient by ingredient, and gives a few recipes for each one, and the kheema recipe is under the entry for star anise. I think it works very well, in fact I'm going to make it my basic kheema recipe. I've tried other versions, including a very good, but time consuming one involving green masala (coriander and mint leaves made into a paste) and another one with coconut milk which is deliciou
  10. Duck vindaloo is a traditional East Indian Christmas dish (I've already gone on about East Indians on one of the threads on this list, so lets not do it again, just lets say I'm referring to highly specific East Indian community in Bombay). They used to get the ducks some weeks before Christmas to fatten before cooking them up. I tried doing this last year. No, not fattening them up, I think my flatmate at that time would have had distinct objections to a couple of ducks wandering through the flat. But I managed to get a couple of ducks after a considerably complex process involving the mothe
  11. Interesting thread. Particularly because of how it highlights the way vindaloo has become associated with extreme spiciness outside India, when that's not quite how I think of vindaloo over here. For me, a vindaloo is spicy certainly, but not extraordinarily so - and I don't have a cast iron palate. I'd count some South Indian, particularly Andhra, dishes as dynamite and probably some dishes from the Northeastern states or Bhutan, like the one that's basically stewed chillies. But vindaloo, I'd say, is more tangy, from the vinegar of course, than spicy. I checked with my source of all inform
  12. Seeds tasting like peanuts is a new one to me... maybe yes perhaps like boiled peanuts when you suck them out of the pods. I hope you've realised, BTW, that the whole pod can't be ingested. When you cook them they become soft enough to split and then you scrape (or chew) the pulpy interior, and the seeds, away from the fibrous pod and eat those. A particularly frugal aunt of mine was known for cooking the leaves from the big drumstick tree in her backyard, and we always joked about it as an example of her frugality - most people just cooked the pods, she cooked the leaves as well. But the jo
  13. Vikram

    Pitta pater

    This has nothing to do with lamb filled flatbreads, but just to add that I've been reading Appetite and love it to bits. Its the sort of cookbook I've been looking for, for ages - not recipes so much as an approach to food. Any others like it? Vikram
  14. Vikram

    Club food

    Its a nice book, particularly in the way she weaves family history with Raj recipes. Pat Chapman of the Curry Club has done something similar with Taste of the Raj. The most definitive book on Raj cooking though is probably David Burton's The Raj At Table.
  15. Vikram

    Club food

    Starting a new thread from Howler's suggestion. Club food is a great subject and, with no modesty again, here's an (unedited version) of article I'd written on the subject for the Times of India sometime back. (eGullet guardians, please forgive my not posting a link, since the Times archives aren't available online). The article is Bombay specific, so perhaps people could post examples of Club food from other parts of the country, or elsewhere from the Raj, or in fact just anywhere. (What's the food like in the London clubs that the Raj clubs were inspired by?) The clubs I've described are Ra
  16. Its really sad. Problems with their workforce I think. I still buy the bombil pickle sometimes, but everything else is best avoided. I'm not sure since its just a little past Martin's, and I never walk past Martin's! I think its a Dominos outlet now - and that's possibly an improvement on its food... Will ask a Parsi Colony friend to check about Dadar. Britannia's continues, although sometime back Romin Kohinoor, the guy who runs it, made my blood run by saying that he was sick of running the place and wanted to turn it into... oh horrors... a business centre. (Though this would arguably be
  17. Yes, Blue Diamond is now one of the Taj's business hotels so it comes under Chef Solomon. Here, with zero modesty, is a short profile I wrote on Chef Solomon, as part of a larger article: Ananda Solomon Ananda Solomon is corporate chef for Taj’s business hotels division, but is best known as the executive chef of the Taj President, where he overlooks two of the chain’s best restaurants, Thai Pavilion and the Konkan Cafe. When Ananda Solomon stands, tall and absolutely straight, you get a hint of what he might have been if he hadn’t become a chef. “My father was in the airforce so that was my
  18. OF COURSE!!!! There are some elderly Parsi friends I cultivate almost exclusively for their Ripon Club membership (hopefully they aren't on eGullet). I love the place, all the antique furniture, the library where the most recent volumes are by that young Mr.Kipling, and the general aura of incipient decay, everything just held together by the excellence of the dhansak. Without the dhansak the place is nothing, so it had better be good - and it is. I would, in fact, put it as the best dhansak in Bombay, but it is a bit difficult to recommend since you can't just walk in and order it (why not?
  19. Indigo is decidedly not nonsense. I don't know why I left Rahul Akerkar out of that earlier list of celebrity chefs - he certainly more than deserves to be on it, but I don't think its his style to do it. Indigo is outstanding - in my opinion, one of the very best restaurants in India. Admittedly if you are visiting infrequently from abroad, I wouldn't recommend you go there - why pass on the chance to eat all the Parsi, Gujarati or Konkani food you won't get anywhere else, in favour of Western style food which you'll get abroad? But if you do go there, I don't think you'll be that disappoint
  20. The Oberoi? Top chefs? In which universe? The Oberoi group has many excellent things going for it, but food is never going to be one of them. I mean, its not bad, but its never particularly outstanding either - the group has never shown interest in really focusing on food in any of its restaurants. With the Taj too, the food quality is mixed. The curious fact about the group is that the food in its business class hotels is usually much more interesting than in its luxury hotels. In Bombay, for example, the Taj President has always been known for its outstanding food while the Taj itself has,
  21. Sanjeev Kapoor is a rather tiresome joke now. His show is competent, without being particularly interesting - the best one could say is that it fills the requirements of a TV viewing niche that isn't particularly developed yet in India. It was, at least initially, unpretentious, which is more than can be said of some of the other experiments tried out - one with Aly Khan as the anchor comes to mind. Success has gone to Kapoor's head however and how. He has opened some restaurants, including one in Bombay called Blue Cilantro that hands down is the ugliest new eating place in this city, and th
  22. Does anyone know of cookbooks that cover the cooking of the Indian diaspora? I'm researching some stories on Indian cookbooks, and I thought this would be an interesting angle. The few such cookbooks I've seen are fascinating - familiar Indian recipes, but with differences in ingredients and influences that reflect the histories of these communities. I guess many of these cookbooks are conscious attempts to commemorate these communities, so they all filled with anecdotes and nostalgia that make them really interesting, and often moving, reading. I know the classic South African Indian 'bible'
  23. Mrs.K.M.Matthew's book, 'Recipes from the Spice Coast' is the best standard collection of Malayali recipes. (There are more community specific books, like Ummi Abdullah's book on Moplah cooking). It has recently been reissued in a beautifully produced version which I think is quite widely available both in India and abroad. For anyone wanting to try Malayali cooking, this is a good starting point. (Sadly, Mrs.Matthew died about a month back). Yes, I've got them with me, all the three volumes, everything from making sambhar to how to conduct a marriage (in Volume 3, the most entertaining one)
  24. Food in Kerala (Malayali food please, not Keralan) depends both on area - South versus North Kerala, backwaters versus the hills - and community: Moplah (Muslim), Syriani (Christian) and different Hindu communities. Many things are common like the use of coconuts, fish and rice, but other things can be quite different - obviously something like beef which is a big feature of Syriani food would not be eaten (openly at least) by Hindus - but I also find less known differences. For example, the Thiyya community from North Kerala that my mother comes from, is totally obsessive about shellfish lik
  25. Yessssss!!!!! Madras rules.... on 65 at least. And don't take it badly, everyone from Hyderabad. I said, on a post some weeks back, that Hyderabad decisively trumps Madras when it comes to food, so don't deny the city its few specialities. Anyway, I think the basic style of cooking it is fairly common with South Indian meat dishes, so it could have evolved independently with minor differences - as Episure notes, the Andhra version would be significantly spicier. Also, just as a side check, I'm asking a friend from Hyderabad, who's also lived in Madras for ages, to make an investigation and a
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