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Vikram

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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. Kaju Katlis, which are simply cashew marzipan, are made so bad so often, and stored till they are dry and tasteless, that I would have agreed with Episure if sometime back I hadn't eaten a fresh one and it was BRILLIANT! It was at a tiny shop really deep inside Bhuleshwar where my sister insisted I buy pedas to send home to Madras. The pedas were OK, but the freshly made kaju katlis - they were rolling out the paste for more when I went in - are amazing. BTW, Episure, I found some peppered roasted cashewnuts in Crawford Market today. Not bad. Vikram
  2. Around six years back I lived in Cairo for a month and I certainly don't remember any Indian restaurant around. True, I wasn't exactly looking for them, but since Egyptian food in general is not particularly inspiring, after a point I was looking for any other type of restaurant and if there was an Indian one I didn't find it, beyond perhaps a fast food operation (a chain, I think) called Chicken Tikka that dished up erstaz tandoori chicken. Paradoxically, Cairo is one place where you're likely to find quite a lot of people who know about Indian food and probably cook it at home. As Bhelpuri
  3. Achaya gives sorghum for jowar and for bajra he gives its Latin name pennisetum americanum. Ragi, the third in this group of less commonly used grains he describes as finger millet. He also has another entry for millets that describes several other less commonly used types. Some months back this subject came up on this forum and someone posted a link to an excellent FAO document that went into the subject in even more depth, check it out, Vikram
  4. Many thanks sleepy_dragon, very interesting grouping, seems to make a lot of sense. Reminds me of my mother's way of cooking. She makes no pretence of the fact that she hates cooking - at least of the daily, dhal-roti kind - and has always insisted on having a cook. But on the occasional times when he's on leave and she has to whip up something, its often something using these vaguely similar groupings of spices and the results are always excellent. Vikram
  5. Yes, Eno's is an old Brit antacid remedy that was widely marketed and available from any chemist, so more likely to be at hand than baking powder. Vikram
  6. A friend who was recently diagnosed with diabetes reports wonders from switching to a non-wheat, non-rice diet. She's only eating grains like jowar and bajra and the lucky thing of being in Bombay is that you can get very tasty options with both. Try the jowar khichidi at Swati, or the puffed jowar that's sold in some health food shops (makes a good snack). She's even eating the multigrain bread from Yazdani which is wonderful, in fact that's become my staple bread. Vikram
  7. Sorry Mongo, the presence of the sea is vital, especially the stormy monsoon sea when its battering Bombay. Its something about how the salt in the spray complements the salt on the bhutta. I'm not particularly fond of bhutta, but I definitely eat it then. Rushina, I've heard the pau bhaji story too and its plausible enough, but I doubt if we're going to find out for sure. The street foods book doesn't have that sort of info though. Vikram
  8. Rushina, not sure I understand your query. Is this a group that's going to SA and wants to know what veg food options are available? Or is it one of those kitchen-tours where they take along their own chef and you're looking for suggestions for menus he could make? Or suggestions for the hotels, restaurants they might be visiting? I don't need to tell you that Indian veg options of some kind will be available in most large SAn cities, though its not always that easy to access them - you might need to ask someone there to do some scouting around in the Indian areas for restaurants or caterers.
  9. Perhaps instead of listing what we like about cookbooks, we should list what we definitely do not. Like I said that the italics in the Sanjeev Kapoor book were a definite turn-off, and I would add that too many pictures of the author are also not desirable. Two more pet peeves: - books that are just a random collection of recipes. You know what's happened, someone is a good cook, his or her family says you must print these, some publisher lets them do it as vanity or because their arm is being twisted and before you know if here's another addition to a long list of books that should go straigh
  10. Responding randomly to observations on this thread: This sounds like the sort of cooking I would love to do, but as of now I am still depressingly likely to go by the book (male tendencies, what to do). But as an example of why Ms.Rushdie's approach makes so much sense, I really like her idea of grouping the spices like this. Recipe books tend to make you think its all laid down in stone, but of course its not and that's why variations happen and food becomes interesting. If its not too much trouble Sleepy_dragon (if you're the one who posted that, sorry can't read down the thread far enoug
  11. I'm with Mongo, I prefer the vague instructions because more than anything else they convey that sense of authority about which I wrote in my earlier post - the feeling that the person really knows this recipe and that hopefully some of that authority will pass on to you. Of course, it shouldn't be totally vague, but one or two imprecise instructions won't kill a recipe. I am tempted to say... OK, I'm saying it, my guess is that Episure doesn't like this vagueness because his style of cooking is so instictively male, he wants it all nice and precise and scientific because for him the interest
  12. Yes, quite a nice book, I recommended it recently in another thread here. There are some nice touches, like the cover folds out to show the different types of containers that are traditionally used for Indian street foods - the ones made with leaves or earthen pots. Well worth buying. Vikram
  13. Til-papad. Its my favourite type of chikki sweet and even better than the version made with white sesame seeds is the one made with black sesame. It looks sensational - wafer thin, jet black sheets and has a wonderful, complex taste and is also supposed to be very healthy for you. Also, please note for those on the non-dairy thread, absolutely no dairy in it, just sesame seeds, caramel and some chopped pistachios maybe. Its a wonderfully elegant sweet and something I think should definitely be used in different contexts - as a base for other desserts maybe, or broken into fragments on top of i
  14. I think starting with good yoghurt is key. When I moved to my new house I started by using some yoghurt from a neighbouring dairy which has amazing yoghurt and paneer and the result is much better than I was making before. I think another trick is to actually use very little of the started - I just smear a very little amount on the sides of the pan and then leave it to set all night. Vikram
  15. Anil Kishore Sinha's "Anthropology of Sweetmeats" tries to do a classification of Indian sweets, in fact it does multiple classifications based on different criteria and at the end of it, it all seems almost as confused as when it started. But here briefly are the parameters he looks at: - According to colour of sweetmeats (just giving a couple of the examples he lists in each case) - White (rossogulla), Red (gulab jamin, raskadam, belgrami), Black (kala jamun), Green (barfis), Yellow (bundi laddu), Brown (balushahi), Saffron (kesar peda), mixed colour (those lurid tiranga or tricolor barfis
  16. There are lots of Indian sweets that don't use milk, particularly in South India. I'd go so far as to say that Malayali sweets that use milk like pal-payasam are almost the exception (though many others do use a little ghee at some point). There is a really long list of sweets that aren't much known outside Kerala, not least because there isn't a community of sweetmeat makers to make and disseminate them. They come in all forms - custard like, porridge like, cake like and, my favourites, a whole range of small biscuit like things. The best known of these are probably achappams or rose cookies
  17. sorry, the link: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mp/2003...41400590300.htm
  18. There were several festivals in the last couple of weeks. Last Wednesday was Vishu (Malayali new year) and also, I think, Baisakhi (Punjabi new year). The big part of Vishu at my Malayali grandmother's house was the special lunch she'd cook that would end with five types of payasams (custard or porridge like sweets): pal-payasam (sweet milk and rice), wheat payasam, pradamam, which is made with dhall, jackfruit payasam and one other which I'm forgetting. This year my grandmother tells me she scaled back a bit, and only made the pal-payasam, but hers is so good that the lack of the others woul
  19. Finally. After a whole bunch of people who seemed intent on going to that awful city in the north, someone with the sense to come to Bombay. As Bhelpuri says you're going to have a blast and I'm sure you can count on the resident eGulleters like Rushin and me to help you, though Episure's defection to Bangalore has left a huge gay in the ranks of the food obsessed in this city. Bhelpuri is also right in saying that this isn't, in some ways, an easy city to live in. Its got many things going for it - people get things done, there's a live and let live attitude, crime is low and so on, but it c
  20. Good news on this topic - a friend at Penguin India tells me that an anthology of writings on Indian food is in the works and, even better, the person working on it is another friend, Nilanjana Roy (who was one of the semi-finalists in the Outlook competition about which SKChai has posted on the forum sometime back). Nilanjana is an excellent writer, one of the best read people I know and an avid cook and lover of food, so this should really be a book to look forward to. Vikram
  21. Vikram

    Idlis

    I have just been reading Achaya's entry on iddlies in his Historical dictionary of Indian food book and its very interesting. He suggests a southeast Asian origin for iddlies. First he gives several ancient references to iddlies in Sanskrit and Kannada literature, where it appears under the term iddalige or iddaraki. But then he goes on to say: One other interesting point with iddlies is the difference that the vessel in which the batter is steamed can make. The mixture can be spread between banana leaves or as a compromise the banana leaf is used to line the iddli moulds (particularly for bu
  22. Vikram

    Idlis

    I like my iddlies large and flat and barely set - when its only just made the transition from batter to iddli. At that point, if they're made right, they have the perfect soft, slightly granular texture. I'm going to add here that I have a view on iddlies that nearly all my Tamil friends disagree with violently and that is that the perfect iddlies are almost never made at home, but in restaurants. My friends tell me vehemantly about the wonderful iddlies their grandmothers make and they are very good indeed, and for that matter my grandmother makes nice light iddlies herself. Yet I never feel
  23. Ambai's story is called 'A Kitchen in the Corner of the House' ('Veetin Mulaiyil Oru Samayalarai', which is also the title of her first collection of stories). I've been rereading it and its excellent - get your hands on it (in her collection of stories in translation, 'A Purple Sea'). Its all about how kitchens and the preparation of food instill in women their position in the social hierarchy and also with relation to each other. Here's an extract that shows this in the context of that perennial Indian family battle between mothers in law and daughters in law. Bari-Jiji is the former, Jiji
  24. Moving the Swati Snacks thread here since we were really straining the tea thread. Here's the article I wrote on the place after interviewing Asha Jhaveri, its very reticent owner. It was one of those rather frustrating interviews where you'd ask a long question and she would just reply 'yes' or 'no' - not from unfriendliness, that's just the way she is. One thing I didn't mention in the article is why she's able to run the restaurant the way she does - she's apparently from a fairly well off Palanpuri Jain (meaning diamond trading) family, so its not like this is the main source of income. S
  25. Swati is simply outstanding. I've interviewed Asha Jhaveri and written on her at length, but can't remember if I've already posted this or not on eGullet. I could post you the piece if you like. If someone has little time in Bombay and just wants to do one or two meals, I tell them to go to Swati. Its one of the few restaurants where I feel there is someone really interested in food behind it. A lot of what Asha Jhaveri does is really interesting and different - she's doing fusion in a way that puts to shame the bastardised way its done by everyone else. She's fusing across Indian traditions
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