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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. This is so true. The neighbourhood in Bombay where I live, Khar, was one of the areas where refugees from Partition settled so there is a substantial Punjabi presence. And in consequence, the quality of what's on offer in the local dairies is amazing. In particular there's one place, generally acknowledged to be the best, where the paneer is simply incredible. Instead of the tasteless mass of white protein one gets in most places, this is creamy and very slightly salty - its as good or better than any feta cheese I've ever eaten.
  2. Please let me apologise if my post offended you - I certainly did NOT mean it as a personal attack in anyway. I guess my writing style, which is probably linked to my professional food writing style, does tend to the slightly acerbic and perhaps that carried onto this post, but I really don't see how that translates into 'vitriolic'. (And yes, I do think you're being a bit too sensitive). I agree that my post was unrelated to your query and perhaps 'unnecessary', but then isn't that part of the interest of forums like this, that discussions can lead in unexpected directions? The question of
  3. An Indian friend of mine from New York who was passing through Bombay last night told me that its quite easy to get frozen uncooked parottas, the divinely flaky Kerala version of parathas, in Indian shops in NY. She said that all you need to do is put them on a hot griddle, flip after a point and you'll have wonderful, although hugely calorific, parottas. Just before leaving for India she had made a big batch of beef curry and got a stack of parottas and left them for her husband to work his way through until she returned. Has anyone on this list tried this? Vikram
  4. Please, please, I don't want to be rude, but 'East Indian' - in the sense that I think you are using - is a completely crap term. I know its used in the US to distinguish Indian dishes from West Indian dishes, but I think on egullet.com at least one could be entitled not to see it. As the original, I think Indian dishes should just be called 'Indian', with 'West Indian' for dishes from the West Indies. Ideally of course you should clarify it further and say North Indian, if you're talking about the generic Indian food mostly eaten in the US, or South Indian or East Indian if that happens to b
  5. Adding to this thread after a weekend conversation with Praveen Anand, executive chef of Dakshin, the ITC Welcomngroups's South Indian speciality restaurant that started in Madras and now has branches in other cities in India. Chef Praveen was in Bombay in connection with the festival of Madaliar cooking that's being held this week at the Dakshin in the ITC Grand Maratha. I tend to avoid food festivals, since I find them rather artificial occasions and no real test of a restaurant's capabilities, but I made an exception here since Chef Praveen is a really nice guy and one of the most knowledg
  6. Its interesting to note how these old war recipes can become relevant again under different circumstances. I've got friends who are strict Jains, a sect for which not just meat is forbidden, but anything that can remotely be said to be 'alive' or the consumption of which could result in killing animals. So no root vegetables since digging them can kill worms and other creatures in the soil. No eating food kept overnight, since by then bacteria could make it too alive. Even yoghurt can only be eaten on the same day that its made. And obviously eggs are way too full of potential life to be eate
  7. This list of fish commonly used on the Konkan coast might be of use. I compiled it because I was taking friends from abroad to the many small Konkani restaurants in Bombay where you get a great range of fish, much more than just the pomfret-surmai-rawas you get in the bigger places. But the problem is that the menus in these places are only in Marathi so you're faced with all these names you don't know and find hard to describe to foreign friends. Also now that I've started going to the wonderful Mahim fish market I needed some guide to dealing with the amazing range of fish you get there. So
  8. Vikram

    Banana Pudding

    Straying in from the India discussion forums, I'm half Malayali, from the southern Indian state of Kerala where bananas are important. Banana chips, often fresh fried off the roadside, are a common snack, fried bananas a teatime treat and the fresh ones area savoured in their different types and sizes: small sweet finger bananas, fat little bananas said to taste of cardamom, big ones that are green yet ripe inside, others that look all yellow and mottled and overripe when in fact that's when they are at their best, and above all, the really extraordinary looking red bananas with their heavily
  9. Looking for Goan recipes online and found this site, which seems significantly better than the others: http://www.goacom.com/cuisine/recipes/ Haven't tried the recipes myself, but what seems good is that it doesn't have the obvious recipes like vindaloo and sorpotel, but the lesser known ones that you only eat in Goan homes. Like apa de camaroes, a totally dreamy prawn 'pie' made with a prawn balchao (pickle) filling and a crust of rice dough raised with toddy. The spiciness of the balchao counterpoints the starchiness of the crust beautifully. Its quite a time consuming dish to make, since
  10. Goshtabha has absolutely nothing to do with Goa, unless its served in some of the substandard resorts that clutter up the place. Bebinca is very Goan though and is a dessert that must qualify it for some sort of cholesterol loading contest. Its made of flour, sugar, coconut milk and tons of egg yolks, floavoured with nutmeg and made into a batter that is cooked with ghee in a pan on a slow flame, or baked in an oven. The way its done, you put in some batter, cook it, then put in another layer and cook, then another and so on until you end up with this layered cake, rubbery textured and ultra
  11. Don't know, its just the standard red-yellow coloured pumpkin one gets here, usually fairly large so its sold to you in slices. I'd guess that any fairly firm fleshed squash or pumpkin could do. Sai bhaji is pretty much an empty-out-your-vegetable-bin sort of dish so most things can go in. I warn you, it does not look appetising, but the taste is good, Vikram
  12. Interesting question. I think it depends on how you are defining herbs. What's the dividing line between a spice and a herb? Is it that herbs come from leaves and shoots rather than berries or bark or roots? But there are lots of leaves and shoots used in Indian cooking, many of them not well known, not just abroad, but not even in India outside their regional areas. Tamil cooking, for example, has a whole range of 'keerais' or leaves like mullukeerai, araikeerai and kuppukeerai which, according to Achaya, are members of the amaranth family - he refers to them as amaranth pot herbs. Bengali c
  13. She's not bad. She did one very good thing by combining her own reviews with a Zagat style approach of throwing her column open to readers and starting a phone line for them to call in too with their opinions, suggestions and requests. These really did throw up some gems, particularly from the more distant suburbs. She tends to be a bit gushy for my taste, but doesn't mind handing out the brickbats when needed. Karen was also good, but has largely stopped restaurant reviewing and has moved to Pune where she runs a successful food business and cooking school. Maryam Reshi is the other good rev
  14. Don't. Its completely outdated (Gul Anand died about three years back and it was outdated even then). But there's no dearth of guides for most of the bigger cities at least. In Bombay the local newspapers, Mid-Day and The Times of India (I work for a sister publication), have come out with fairly extensive guides. Rashmi Uday Singh who's done the Mid-Day one and now writes for the Times, is pretty much the doyenne of this in Bombay. In Delhi The Times and The Hindustan Times have recently come out with guides, and there's another, very nice and more discrusive one called Flavours of Delhi prod
  15. Hoping these old threads are still being read. I have a theory that in each region of India there is one totally food obsessed city. This doesn't quite mean the same as the type of city detailed by Suvir where you can get to eat a very wide range of good Indian cooking. That city exists and, even if you make allowance for the fact thjat I'm not entirely objective on this, its Bombay. Nowhere else are you going to get such a wide range of styles of eating simply because no other city in India has been created like Bombay, the city to which immigrants from all other parts of the country have co
  16. Reading through some of the past threads on this board. I think the correct vinegar to use for Goan dishes is toddy vinegar, which is made from fermented toddy which is tapped from palm trees. Its a dark and tangy product and really the only vinegar I use for Indian dishes since the alternative is the totally chemical tasting synthetic stuff. I use it in particular for Syrian Christian style beef which is one of my fallback recipes. Don't know what sort of vinegar Syrian Christians use in Kerala, but its probably something similar. My Goan friends tell me that an alternative in their dishes
  17. Yes live in Bombay, but grew up both here and in Madras and studied in Calcutta, so lucky enough to get exposure to lots of good and different cooking (I'm half Gujarati and half Malayali which helps a bit more). You should have been in Bombay this summer since for the first time in years it didn't rain earlier on and spoil the Alphonso crop. The market was full of the most amazing mangoes at affordable rates - well, relatively affordable, since it was still around Rs400/- for two dozen, but really good ones. I still think Alphonsos are too good to be made into aamras, or eaten any other way
  18. Most of these breads are fairly readily available in Bombay which is the other reason why I don't make them myself (apart from the fact, as I said earlier, that they aren't that easy to make). Many of the griddle breads really depend on someone making them almost directly in front of you, so I don't see them as being easy to make at home without a fulltime cook in the kitchen or in a regular bakery. Of the ones I've listed, thalipith I eat all the time, especially with the besan ka pitla - chickpea flour curry - at Swati Snacks, the best place in Bombay for traditional vegetarian dishes of th
  19. No, as Suvir says, most Indian fasts (barring some of the extreme Jain fasts) are based on the principle of giving up a few things, which has lead to a great deal of ingenuity with the ingredients one can use. Looking at more than just fasts, one could almost argue that one of the most interesting features of Indian cooking is the way the many religious taboos have spurred creativity in the choice and use of ingredients. (Perhaps in the same way as Jewish cooking?) So Jain food could easily sound like the most bleak and austere cuisine: no meats obviously, but also no root vegetables (might
  20. I've been reading this thread and the earlier Indian bread threads highlighted and was rather disappointed to find that its got such a strong North Indian focus. I suppose that's inevitable since most people posting here seem to be from outside India and Indian food outside India does tend to be dominated by North Indian food. Whatever the reason it needs correcting, not just because there are many breads from other parts of the country, but also because they are so delicious. Many of the breads, particularly those from Western India are really delicious and healthy multigrain breads, while f
  21. Vikram

    Dinner! 2003

    This is intriguing. Do you roast the chickpea flour when you use it in batter, like in vegetable bhajis?
  22. Vikram

    Dinner! 2003

    Its just started raining in Bombay (though maybe not full monsoon yet) and the veggies in the market are looking fresh and cheerful. There were these big bunches of spring onions with long, bright green shoots on top. This is always tempts me into cooking them with chickpea flour, a standard Gujarati technique that can be used with all sorts of leafy veggies, or green peppers, but I like it best with spring onions. I roasted some chickpea flour till it smelled 'cooked', sieved it with turmeric, coriander-cumin powder and red chilli powder, and then added a little oil to make it into very fine
  23. My first post on eGullet and I'm happy its on something I can strongly defend. When I started cooking (I live in Bombay) I went through a spell of being as authentic as possible, but quickly came to the conclusion that (a) life was too short and (b) it didn't make that much difference if the garlic was ground fresh or from a packet and © in fact not infrequently the latter was even better or estimable in its own right (Dabur's Hommade pastes are particularly good, and no, I'm not paid anything by the company). I'd hazard a guess that Indian cooking tends to be more forgiving of this sort of t
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