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Vikram

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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. Solkadhi, made from kokam and coconut milk, is the perfect drink to complement most Konkani food, especially when its served ice-cold. Its creamy-sourness should make it go with most other types of Indian food, except where the coconut milk in it would clash too much - like really rich Mughlai maybe. The colour of the drink, a sort of pinky-violet can be a bit startling, but it does stand out. It can be drunk before, after or during the meal, and even functions as an impromptu curry, used to moisten leftover grains of rice. Monica mentioned on another thread that you can get kokam abroad qui
  2. Chicken 65 is supposed to be not from Hyderabad, but Madras. And from one place in particualr - Buhari's Hotel on Mount Road (Anna Salai) where this sort of spicy dry fried chicken is number 65 on the menu. It was apparently spread from there to a large extent by truck drivers who found it the ideal sort of spicy finger food to eat while drinking. When I was growing up it wasn't much known outside Madras, but these days I find it really has spread so perhaps the Buhari's-truck driver story isn't entirely an urban legend. I don't think it falls into the distinguished canon of Chinese-Indian fo
  3. I'm afraid I've got bad news. The Thackers you are referring to is almost certainly Thacker Bhojanalay (which loosely was translated as Thacker Club) whicy was on Dadiseth Agiary Road. To get there you had to go down Chira Bazaar, which was straight on from Metro Cinema, not taking the usual left to the Princess Street flyover. At some point you'd see Dadiseth Agiary Road on your right and you went down almost to the other end and there would be Thacker Bhojanalay on your right. It was one of those places where you had to pay first downstairs and you were given a token. True to the tradition o
  4. Sorry, I've got a recipe for sambhar with drumsicks from Samaithu Par (Cook & See), the classic Tamil cookbook with me, but its a bit long since Meenakshi Ammal gives all the details, and I'm a bit busy at the moment. I'll type it out and send it a little later, OK? I haven't heard of Sangati and the books I've got don't list it, but then a lot of very local dishes and terms are often not described. Where exactly is your family from? That could help pinpoint it, or I could ask Praveen Anand of Dakshin, who's the real authority on South Indian food. Could you mean Sandige, which is from K
  5. Tender coconuts, if you can get your hands on them, can be the source for good, light summer desserts I think. The sweet milky flesh is wonderful chilled and combines well with quite a few other things, I think. My grandmother makes a wonderful cold souffle from it. She only topped that once when we were driving back home to Madras from Pondicherry and picked up a whole bunch of nungu palm fruits - what's called targola in Bombay. For those who don't know it, this is the fruit of a palm variety with short, spiky leaves that seems to grow where nothing else can. The small round fruit has to b
  6. Well I guess its partly because Gujaratis are a well off community so they have the money to go out and eat, and they're also a well travelled community, because so many of them go abroad for work, or have gone to visit relatives in the vast Gujju diaspora that stretches from East Africa to New Jersey. A more intangible factor I think is that I think Gujjus are quite an outgoing community, like the Punjabis, ready to party and have fun. Or sometimes I think its more that Gujjus are inclined to excess in everything they do. When they have fun, its like Navratri when everyone goes nuts. When th
  7. Well the vendors are new, many are gone... and the area has been cleansed. Maybe Vikram, can share more with us about the changes that happened. Don't know what further could have happened. As you note, Chowpatty (pedantic paranthesis: by which I guess you mean Girgaum Chowpatty at the foot of Malabar Hill. 'Chowpatty' is also used for other beaches like the strip at Dadar) has been cleaned up a bit. There's a park for senior citizens, the hawkers have been herded together in one corner and the massage boys chased away, all of which may or may not be an improvement depending on your viewpoint
  8. I wonder if the recipe here could have used kokam, a dried berry that's used on the Konkan (Western Indian) coast as a souring agent. Kokam does give a lurid pink-purple hue to things, unless mixed with other strongly coloured ingredients, so that could have resulted in the colour you mention. Its true that I don't immediately associate kokam with patia or Parsi cooking in general, but there's no reason why not. Parsis are very much a part of the Konkan (mostly in the Bombay area, or north to Gujarat) and they would have access to the ingredient. They are also great synthesisers and users of
  9. Vikram

    Busybee

    Suvir, do I detect an attack on incipient luvviedom on your part? Which can be defined as a condition where friendship and an excessive desire to say only nice things, clouds a more objective judgment? Before I say anything more I should state that despite being a journalist in Bombay, I didn't know Busyee, don't know his widow, have never had anything to with Afternoon, the paper he started, or Upper Crust, the food magazine, he and his wife started. Like most other Bombayites, I enjoyed Busybee's columns a lot and felt really sad when he died. As a journalist I appreciated his consummate a
  10. I don't have a recipe, but if you come to Bombay, Shalimar serves a very good one. Its not the most inspiring of restaurants, being chaotic and crowded with tables in every corner and all spaces filled up with squalling kids, but the raan is excellent. Only complaint is that they give you no means of extracting the marrow. One has to do all sorts of contortions with sucking and deployment of bone shards to get at it. Vikram
  11. Don't some places uses papaya as a tenderizer? I was told that this was the secret behind the decent steaks served up at The Only Place, Bangalore's famous steak joint (once upon a time). Apparently Haroun, the owner, was taught the technique and how to cook steaks by Peace Corps volunteers. Thanks for the suggestions on cooking buff. You're right, Francois Maison is excellent and I used to buy from them when I stayed in that area. Maybe its worth making the trek out there from Bandra. Vikram
  12. I think the key with Caiprinhas is the halved limes being mashed inside the glass so that some of the bitter oil comes from the skin. Its that bitterness that makes a Caiprinha, not just the lime juice. I don't think white rum is a good substitute for cachaca. Its too sweet and smooth, where what is exciting about cachaca is the raw, wild edge in the spirit. A cachaca made with white rum just tastes too sweet and syrupy to me. I'd rather go with vodka for a tamer drink which I've seen called a caipiroshka, but is also, I think, the same as a lemon drop. Wish it was easier to get cachaca thou
  13. Monica's article on India's white revolution makes me think about another little commented on aspect of it: much of the milk that goes into it comes from water buffalos as well as cows (I don't know the proportions, but I could try finding out). I think that has a definite impact on many Indian dairy products, but I don't know enough about the subject to comment on exactly how - can anyone explain? The even less noted aspect though is that a lot of water buffalos (I'm going to drop the 'water' from now on) must mean a lot of buffalo meat. But you will never find buffalo meat being sold as suc
  14. The pungent kind of course. Try it, for example, in 'tel muri' which is a popular Calcutta snack. Just mix puffed rice with finely chopped onion and a few split roasted chickpeas (or you could substitute peanuts, I guess), some chopped coriander leaves and green chillies, salt and a little raw mustard oil as seasoning, and eat it quickly before it goes soft. The oil really serves as the flavouring here, Vikram
  15. Pork is very much a part of Goan cooking, even if it doesn't show up much in the hotels and resorts which are where most visitors must be eating. Pork sorpotel is one of the key Goan dishes, suckling pig is roasted for feasts and choriz or Goa sausages are wonderful - sour, spicy, total heaven. Pork also crops up in other parts of India, even if its not much acknowledged because of its doubly unclean - Muslim and Hindu - status. In South India for example its eaten by certain lower caste communities, cooked in the spicy South Indian style. Its not commonly served in the South Indian non-veget
  16. You haven't eaten recently in Bombay then! These days I find cheese - usually unfortunately of the most basic processed kind (Amul) - sprinkled on pretty much everything. What's happened is that the substantial vegetarian population has suddenly started demanding new taste sensations, but still wants it vegetarian and cheese comes in usefully here. So you have cheese stuffed dosas, and cheese on pav bhaji and cheese on chat and cheese on bhel puri and just a couple of days back I found my local vada-pav joint where I sneak to when I want to indulge in carbohydrate overloading has started offe
  17. Quite close to Trishna, in one of the lanes just off Pherozeshah Mehta Road (if you're at the Stock Exchange, go to Horniman Circle and go straight and its on that road). Apoorva is one of several Mangalorean places like Mahesh Lunch Home and Bharat Lunch Home (which has a fancier first floor restaurant called Excellensea). All of them are quite good, but I think Apoorva is the best value - really good food, at the cheapest rates of all these places. Trishna probably _is_ the best of them all, but has now become so expensive and so focussed on a foreign clientele, that I find it too annoying t
  18. The recipe was cajoled out of Ashok himself, along with a few others like a really good one for tisriyo (small clams) which I can post if people are interested. (Suvir, just spoke to Ashok and he says hi to you, and he told me about the fish he made when he last saw you in New York). Monica, do you get banana leaves where you stay? I just read an article on the NYT site about Hawaiian food which talks about locating a banana leaf supplier in NY, and that made me think of my second favourite way of eating pomfret, which is patra ni macchi, the Parsi style, where its wrapped with green chutney
  19. Try this. Its from my friend Ashok Row Kavi, journalist, AIDS worker, provocateur, pioneering Indian gay activist and the best fish cook I know. Everytime the government's AIDS policy gets him down, he threatens to throw in the towel, give it all up and go to Florida to run a seafood restaurants (why Florida, I don't know). In the meantime, he runs a 24 hour helpline for people who want emergency fish advice. This recipe is written in his own inimitable style. Its is, BTW, is from a collection of recipes I'd compiled which can be accessed, in case anyone is interested, at this link: http://ww
  20. Vikram

    Favorite condiment

    One Indian condiment that's not as widely known as it should be is Surati Jiralu, a spice mixture from Gujarat on the west coast. It combines salt, cumin, black salt, chilli, turmeric, dry ginger and asafoetida, all in powder form. Its a bright yellow powder and despite the chilli, not hot at all, but with a wonderful salty-savoury taste. One can eat it sprinkled on tomatoes or other raw veggies, on bread or khakras (crisp flatbread), but it is the best, repeat, THE BEST, thing to eat sprinkled on plain fresh yoghurt, Vikram
  21. What about the other way round? What have been the influences of the war on Vietnamese cooking? For example, isn't the use of condensed milk in Vietnamese coffee - which I totally love - a result of the war? Vikram
  22. Good question, since I just spent much of last evening rearranging my spices! I don't like the traditional Indian seven spice dabba (box), a fact that lead to some contention between my mother and I when she was visiting a few weeks back. She wanted to know how I could function without one and wanted to buy me one. I said, no way. One reason I think a traditional dabba doesn't work for me is that they are designed for traditional families who cook mostly only one type of food, so would generally use just 6-7 types of spices depending on that region. But I cook across regions, so I need a wide
  23. Raw mustard seed oil has such a strong taste and smell that it tends to be disliked by communities not used to it - and adored by those who are. In India its one of the essential ingredients in Bengali cooking, used more as a flavouring than a cooking medium. Its also why many people from other communities claim not to like Bengali food, much to their loss, in my opinion. In some Indian traditions mustard oil has a connotation of being earthy and sensual - not in an altogether positive sense. the word used is tamasik, which in ayurveda means inclined to sensual, violent, somewhat wild tendenc
  24. The subject of nimmish, the milk froth sweet, in a recent thread, made me think about the importance of earthenware in general for Indian milk sweets. Its all too common these days to find sweets that are traditionally served in those throwaway earthenware cups, like Bengali mishti dhoi (sweet curd) or Muslim phirni (rice pudding), being served in plastic tubs. Apart from aesthetics, it seems to me that the stuff in plastic never tastes the same and I wonder if the earthenware could be considered to be part of the cooking process. Does the earthenware leach away some of the water content in
  25. This is nimmish which you're right is usually associated with UP, but you get similar products in other parts of India too. It could have spread from UP though, given the way that 'bhaiyas' from UP work as milkmen in many other parts of India. The door to door milk trade in Bombay is still run by UP bhaiyas, who also sell other milk porducts like kulfi (though as my earlier post noted, they aren't a patch on the Punjabis when it comes to paneer). Whatever its origins, its still claimed as a specialty by different communities. I've heard of it in Hyderabad while here in Bombay, the Parsis clai
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