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Vikram

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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. Um... should we maybe be talking about Indo-Italian cuisine? No, not trying to make any political point, just glad the election is over and I can get back to reading this forum! I wonder though, could chicken tikka pizza be counted as an example of Indo-Italian cooking, or is that Anglo-Indo-Italian? Or what dish could we do in honour of the occasion? Anything, except of course with a saffron sauce! Vikram
  2. Could we move this thread from bad Indian food odours, to good ones - which are the Indian food aromas we totally trip on? Alphonsos go without saying of course, but here, off the top of my head, are three more: 1) Roasting coriander seed - completely unexpected burnt orange smell, I adore it, does anyone make a scent with it? 2) Frying chillies - the essence of a warm, savoury smell. I was frying some reshampattis and Madras chillies for Kerala beef yesterday, and the smell made the whole house feel good. 3) Goa sausages - a penetrating, vinegary, meaty smell. I often cook them quickly in t
  3. Does anyone have any idea what exactly the US government objects to with Indian mangoes? As people have pointed out, they import mangoes from other countries and other foodstuffs from India, so what is it with mangoes? Is it the particular use of some kind of pesticide or something? If the reason was known, perhaps some growers could find ways of growing Alphonsos in an acceptable way. There a major mango festival starting in Bombay tomorrow, more reports from there (squirm Mongo squirm!). But if anyone can shed light on this US embargo I could put questions to the growers there, Vikram
  4. Do a search on this forum and you'll see there have been several references for duck with Indian food. There are mentions of duck samosa, tandoori duck and of course duck vindaloo. Here's a post I'd written some time back about a rather disastrous duck experience of mine: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...30entry371548 I haven't heard of Malayalis eating duck much, but East Indians certainly do. Apart from the vindaloo recipe like the one I refer to here, there are several others like a duck baffat. Could PM you the recipe if you like, Vikram
  5. Sorry about that double post, I hit the Add Reply button mid-message by accident. A couple of other points: Paneer is wonderful and it has all sorts of different textures, there's a thread just on this subject somewhere. And potatoes are wonderful too, who would dispute that except insane Atkinsoids. But there's more to life than them and you wouldn't guess that in the average Punjabi household and certainly not in the average Punjabi restaurant. I'm not saying Punjabis don'y cook other veggies, but they don't respect and do justice to them the way Gujjus do - in their hearts they're lustin
  6. First, Gujju thali places in Bombay. My favourite one at the moment is Friends, Union Joshi Club, popularly called FUJC (and that name sounds a little less odd when you realise its a literal translation of Joshi Mitra Mandal). Its a simple, but excellent place (and also very well priced). You have to go down the Kalbadevi Road and if you're coming from the Crawford Market side it'll be on the right hand side, on the first floor of a building. After that Rajdhani near Crawford Market and, er, that's about it. Chetna is too heavy (though admittedly delicious), Samrat, Panchavati Gaur and Golden
  7. First, Gujju thali places in Bombay. My favourite one at the moment is Friends, Union Joshi Club, popularly called FUJC (and that name sounds a little less odd when you realise its a literal translation of Joshi Mitra Mandal). Its a simple, but excellent place (and also very well priced). You have to go down the Kalbadevi Road and if you're coming from the Crawford Market side it'll be on the right hand side, on the first floor of a building. After that Rajdhani near Crawford Market and, er, that's about it. Chetna is too heavy (though admittedly delicious), Samrat, Panchavati Gaur and Golden
  8. No, nothing to do with the restaurant. In fact its by the wife of the publisher, who runs a Madras based distribution and publishing business, Affiliated East-West. But it might have been reprinted by someone else - the version on Amazon doesn't look like the original which came out years back. Vikram
  9. Brooke Bond and Lipton are one company now, so the brands should be too - I think they're packaged as Brooke Bond Lipton Red, Green and Yellow labels. (Of course, what labels and blends they use in India may not be the same as the ones for export). I think Yellow is the most premium, then Green and Red is the most basic of all, with a high proportion of tea dust. That being said, these are all fairly mass market blends, so don't expect anything outstanding. For chai (in the Indian, streetcorner chai seller sense) however Red label is THE brand. It is a BIG mistake to use a delicately flavoure
  10. Comments (most enthusiastic agreements): This is so true, and we've been discussing this on another thread - the brown/yellow/green glop nature that makes photographing (north) Indian food difficult. But I am just tasting (mentally, alas) Gujju dishes I've eaten in the past, and Sanghvi is so right, the textures are always an important element. Like the slightly slippery pasta quality of dhal dhokli, or the the soggy lightness of kanji-vadas, or above all, oondhiyoo, which is basically all about sealing a bunch of veggies with contrasting flavours and textures in a pot and then cooking it whi
  11. Vir Sanghvi has written a really interesting article in the Hindustan Times on Gujarati food which underlines why I think he's probably the best regular food writer in India. I really like this one because I'm half Gujarati myself and have shared Sanghvi's mixed feelings about Gujarati food. I have eating the most amazing Gujarati food, both in homes and in some of the excellent thali places in Mumbai. It can be so good, and Gujaratis really obssess about their food so much (as opposed to, say, Maharashtrians who never seem to particular like eating all that much) and they have the money to r
  12. Somewhere I have a Vietnamese cookbook written by a Vietnamese woman who was living in Madras (I think she was married to the director of the Alliance Francaise). There are several Vietnamese families living in Pondicherry - years back I remember eating good, basic, Vietnamese soups and dumplings in a tiny, spotless restaurant that also double up as a laundry - and I think she took their help in finding out how to make authentic recipes using standard Indian ingredients. Now that I think about it there's probably a minor category of cookbooks written by people from a particular culture, but b
  13. from Vijay Prashad's The Karma of Brown Folk: Not the earliest Indian restaurant, but perhaps the earliest Indian tea-shop? There doesn't seem to be anything else about restaurants in Prashad's book (though he may know something about it, I'll try and get in touch with him). From his general description of early Indian migrants to the US, bhelpuri's hypothesis seems likely, that the first Indian restaurants were found on the west coast. The other alternatives could be in or near Boston, which had a connection with India due to the ice trade (there's an interesting book on this called "The Fro
  14. I've just seen some excellent photography of Indian food in an interesting cookbook called 'Hiltl. Virtuoso Vegetarian' that a colleague got back from a trip to Switzerland. The book is a collection of recipes from the Hiltl restaurant in Zurich which has recently celebrated its centenary as the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Switzerland. Its founder, Ambrosius Hiltl, was converted to the virtues of a vegetarian diet when it cured him of the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and he started the restaurant which his family has continued. Not surprisingly the restaurant was popular with Indian vi
  15. Amb halad is what its called up here in the Bombay area, but in the south I've eaten it as manga-inji, which is a literal translation of mango-ginger (or the other way round). Its quite nice, a good alternative for those who don't or can't eat oily pickled. Years back when I was laid up with a really bad attack of jaundice and was going out of my mind on a diet of bland khichri and thayirsadam, manga-inji was one of the few things I could use to add more taste to it, Vikram
  16. The chai thread is probably not the right place to mention this, but I've recently started making sensational coffee in the thick, Turkish style, using palm jaggery. This is a dark, complex tasting product and it goes perfectly with strong coffee, Vikram
  17. It was actually Karen Anand who gave me the brown glop, yellow glop, green glop quote. I've seen tons of Indian food photography, from lots of really terrible ones, some OK shots and a very very few good examples. The ones I liked best - and admittedly this might reflect a personal taste for minimalistic presentation - are the ones that, as bhelpuri says, focus on the ingredients, though I can do without the exotic India effect of traditional textiles in the background. The books I've really liked here have tended to be British ones. Das Sreedharan's book on Malayali cooking has a beautiful,
  18. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! This is no way to treat the perfect Alphonso. (And with something like a Banganapalli I don't think its possible, they're too large and firm). What you're describing is the best way to eat the juicy and fibrous mangoes like the Pyries which are used for aam-rass (mango purée), and its presumably the origin of the idea that you should only eat mangoes in a bath. But it would be terrible to treat an Alphonso like that. Its flesh is quite different - firm, and not that fibrous, so it really is best eaten scooped from the sides sliced off the stone, and then of course you r
  19. Monica have you tried making these murabbas? And how would you classify them? They're normally spoken of as Indian versions of jams, which technically I guess they are, since they use sugar to preserve fruits. But they are also spiced, so they approach pickle territory and in some cases at least they seem to be of more medicinal use than as a confectionary. Achaya corroborates that by describing them as springing from the Unani system of medicine and that the term itself is Arab for 'preserved and domesticated'. I admit I have a particular reason for being interested in this, since I'm resea
  20. Crawford Market is the best, especially for international foodstuffs, but I've also been discovering the delights of the Dadar and Santacruz/Parle (E) markets. Dadar has lots of small shops with really interesting masalas, pickles, preserves, papads and sweets - all the lesser known Maharashtrian and Konkani ones. Its a bit of a problem, since the most interesting shops are Marathi speaking only and I don't, so I'm never quite sure what I'm buying. Recent purchases have including excellent Kolhapuri and Goda masala, fresh Alphonso jam, pineapple murabba, ragi papads and a couple of other thing
  21. For that Mongo I am going to start a whole thread devoted just to mangos! And post pictures too! Vikram
  22. Its an amazing book - and such a rare viewpoint. I don't want to get into an orientalisation debate, but I read so many books on Egypt almost invariably written from the Western viewpoint and while many were deeply appreciative and insightful of Egypt and Egyptians, none of them managed that connection with ordinary Egyptians that Ghosh did in that book. I read it on the journey to Cairo and looking down from the plane I could see the sea and deserts that Abraham ben Yiju had travelled centuries earlier, and I was sold on Egypt well before I landed there, Vikram
  23. Mongo, apologies, but I'm curious, is it really that hard to get good mangoes outside India? I had a young Brit houseguest a few days back and I thought I'd give him a treat with those alphonsos, and I added on a bunch of the red bananas that are increasingly available in Bombay. He was mildy interested by the red bananas, but quite blasé about the mangos - "you can get quite good mangos in England these days," he told me. (Ironically the one thing that did impress him was the big papaya I just picked up as a cheap filler!) Judging by the number of boxes piling up for export that I saw in Craw
  24. As a slight diversion from these smelly issues, even if Indian food can leave overpowering smells, perhaps it could be forgiven because the country has also produced another overpowering aroma that no one could object to. I went to Crawford Market in my lunch break and the sheds on the side were full of guys unpacking the crates of Alphonso mangoes that had come fresh from the Konkan. The smell inside, at noon on a hot Bombay summer's day was almost intoxicating - a huge hot sweet aroma of mangoes and the hay they were packed in. I was trying to resist buying alphonsoes on grounds of general p
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