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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 notes Oberoi's have a really big operation in Egypt - three hotels at least (including the Mena House), a couple of restaurants in Cairo and party barges on the Nile. And a lot of Indians are sent there for training, so its very likely that you'll find them cooking Indian food for themselves in some corner of the Oberoi kitchens. Mongini's, the Bombay cake and pastry chain, also have a Cairo connection - one of the brothers settled down there and opened a couple of pastry shops. It was really startling coming across such a Bombay name in the middle of Heliopolis. Also, lots of Egyptians have worked alongside Indians in the Gulf and sharing the plight of being poor migrant workers in the rich petrostates, they often really bond with the Indians. Cairo is the only place where I found cabdrivers with a smattering of Malayalam, and at Felfela, one of the few decent Cairene restaurants, a chef took my order for shawarma sandwich, asking me if I wante ghosht (lamb) or murgi (chicken). And there's also the whole khichiri-kushari thing to prove how Indian foods can be recreated in Egypt very easily (I think this has come up on eGullet, but if anyone wants more info, John Thorne has a pretty good essay on this subject). All this doesn't answer Rushina's question, but some inquiring around the Oberoi's kitchen should provide a solution, Vikram
  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. It is my impression - quite possibly inaccurate, since when I was in SA I didn't exactly go around looking for Indians to spend time with! - that many SA Indians are now non-vegetarian, but then again I have distant Gujju relatives there who are strictly vegetarian still. The plus side about vegetarian in SA is that the quality of the fruit and veg can be outstanding, especially in the Cape area. One could happily subsist on just the wonderful fruits and breads and pastries. Those vast malls that most SAns retreat into for their leisure activities also would generally have some places with decent veg options - I remember many Greek/Italian style cafes where you could certainly get excellent salads, veg pizzas and quiches and so on. There are also excellent and stylish places like the Primi Piatti chain and local delis like Melissas in Cape Town or a place in Melville in Jo'burg called the Service Station, I think, where there were lots of very good ready to eat options with plenty of choice for vegetarians. On Long Street in Cape Town there's a small, cafe called Lola's which is vegetarian - not outstanding food, but a really cool and funky place. In Cape Town there is also a restaurant called Periamma's run by a very cool Indian woman who cooks a set menu every evening including lots of good veg basics, and presumably she could do more is warned in advance. And if they're willing to spend, then the really top end restaurants will all be able to provide good veg options. Despite all this, the truth is it can get quite bleak for vegetarians. While the bf was living there, he went through a phase when he turned mostly veg simply in reaction to all the meat he was getting on a daily basis. At which point he was faced with one veg staple - butternut squash which he found being served up every lunch and every dinner, and if they could have found a way to give it for breakfast they would have. After a point he simply could not face butternut squash again! Vikram
  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 straight to the pulper. I think we're going through a particularly bad phase of this here in India at the moment. - OK, my big peeve, the one irrefutable way of proving that a book is a stinker is when it has a section on.... fruit and vegetable carving. I'm sorry, fruit and vegetable carving have no place in cooking and while I am willing to tolerate it as a display in a Thai restaurant (preferable to the side and out of sight), you know that any Indian book that has it has been written by someone you could rather not know. The one I'll list is Jyoti Nikunj Parekh's book called something like 'The wonderland of vegetarian cooking', yes I know the indication is there from the title and if any further proof was needed its there on the flyleaf which says the author is also an expert on bonsais... I can't pass this book without shuddering. Vikram
  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 enough) could you post a rough indication of her grouping? Yes, but there's a thin line between infectious and undescriminating, and my problem with Jiggs has increasingly been his inability to consider anything he is dealing with less than outstanding, amazing and the best in the world. Where I started viewing this with some cynicism is when I realised how these enthusiasms were invariably related to whichever product he was professionally promoting at the moment - somewhere along the way the slide from food enthusiast to food public relations guy had started to happen and something was definitely lost. This really is good, and I know this has been said on eGullet many times, but what a brilliant series that was. I have been collecting it odd volumes at a time from the Bombay footpath and just bought Scandinavia last Saturday and was delightedly reading it most of Sunday. Of course, parts have dated - the pictures and layout above all, but its still very good. That same footpath expedition yielded up a hardcover copy of Mrs.Balbir Singh's cookbook which is also looking very promising. I think this might help in 'selling' the recipe to the reader. As I said earlier, there are so many cookbooks and recipes and only so little time. So what makes a recipe stand out if you're not specifically looking for it? Possibly its the ingredients -if they are something you already have or particularly like. But next it could be things like the contextual stuff that make it interesting for someone to decide to try it out. This is SO true. There is a kind of vapid PRspeak way of giving context which is much worse than no context at all, and increasingly many books are doing this - they're presumably been told by their publishers that readers want a bit more than the recipe, so they add it in, but they don't know how to write (and their editors don't know how to rewrite) and the results are most dreadful. If you're writing a book perhaps the best thing you could do is just do a lot of reading of the books that do it right. And really, you have to start with Elizabeth David. Anyone who wonders about her status has just never read her. French Provincial Cooking has been my bedside reading ever since I picked up an old hardback copy in New & Secondhand for a song, and its not because I'm planning on turning out elaborate charcuterie, but just for that quiet, but matchless authority. Many of those recipes aren't that detailed, but god, do you feel you could do each and every one - and that each and every one is worth doing! She gives a fair amount of context, but doesn't load each recipe with it. Its given where its appropriate and while she describes the country and the visits she makes and where she got the information from, its always clear that the recipes are the ultimate reason for doing all this. Vikram
  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 in the cooking is the recipe and his passion is to perfect it (and you better believe he perfects them - read the recipe for raan he sent ages back). Whereas most of the women who actually had to do the cooking were more interested in just bunging something out to put on the table! Vikram
  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. Vikram

    Chikki

    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 ice cream or something like this. Its the Indian equivalent of a tuile! Vikram
  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 we'd see around Republic and Independence Days). - According to milk - distinguishing beween sweets made with cow and buffalo milk - According to contents - plain (rossogulla), stuffed (kheer kadam), sandwiched (cream chop), cream covered (manohara), made from vegetables (morabbas) - According to syrup (meaning the form the syrup takes) - sweetmeats in syrup (rossogulla), sweetmeats soaked in syrup but not presented in it (jalebis), dry (meaning the syrup crystalises outside the sweet, as with shakarpala), syrup in the core (belgrami). - According to sweetening agent - sugar, dry fruits, jaggery, artificial sweeteners. - According to shape - round, disk, triangle, on a paper dish, small pieces, square, egg shaped, parallelogram, moulded, barrel shaped, amorphous - According to size - this is a bit weird. He talks of rossogollas that are upto 200 gms, which sound more like a gimmick than anything that would be fun to eat. - According to basic ingredient of sweetmeat - this is on the lines of what SKChai suggests, though he doesn't mention besan, but he does mention bhang! Vikram
  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, which are lovely to look at and not hard to make, but you do need a special mould which is used to dip into the batter and put it in the hot oil. I googled for a pic of the mould, but can't find one - its like a flower shaped design made from metal which is attached to a long handle. You dip it in the batter, put it in the oil and the achappam crisps up and floats loose. They look really nice and I've often thought they would be the ideal cheap extra to serve along with a restaurant's bill at the end. My favourite though is something called pottiyappam in my family, though I think a more common name is 'diamond cuts'. This is a stiff, very slightly salty batter with lots of sesame and black cumin seeds that is rolled out, cut into diamond shapes and deep fried and then quickly dunked into sugar syrup and left to dry hard. The contrast between the salty, sweet and nutty sesame flavours is awesome - and makes them frighteningly easy to eat all at one go! These are the two I'm really familiar with, but there are many others described in recipe books which seem vaguely familiar. Mrs. Mathew's book lists unniappams, which are sort of banana dumplings, which I've had and are OK. Jackfruit elayappam is steamed in leaves and sounds great, though jackfruit is a taste I am never entirely sure whether I like or not. Vatteappam I've never had and it sounds interesting - a coconut flavoured cake raised with yeast. Ethekka appams or banana fritters were a favourite teatime snack for my grandfather. Ummi Abdulla's book on Malayali Muslim cooking lists lots of sweets made without milk and I am kicking myself I never took her up on an offer to eat at her place when she was living in Madras (she's now retired to Calicut). There's thariyappam (semolina pancakes), kalathappam (rice cakes), pinnanathappam (made with egg whites), kadalakkapam (made with chickpeas), and many more. In general they all revolve around coconuts, bananas and eggs. One sweet she doesn't list, but which I did have at home was puran poli in the south Indian version, which is like a thick paratha filled with besan (chickpea flour) paste. I didn't much like this, so didn't investigate them and it was only years later I realised there were very different and vastly better types of puran poli. There's the Parsi type which is thick and cake like and filled with dried fruits as well. There's the Gujarati type, small and rich and laden with ghee. Best of all is the Maharashtrian kind which is like a large, very delicate and dry chapatti filled with crumbly dry sweet besan. They are apparently very difficult to make which is why many housewives don't make them themselves, but get them from ladies organisations which specialise in making them. The reason they are so dry is because they are meant to be soaked in a cup of milk and then eaten. At the end, you're left with a residue of milk soaked sweet besan at the bottom of the cup, which is eaten by itself. Bliss!!!! Though by now I realise we're very far from the milkless desserts query this started off with. I think if someone really wants to do milkless Indian desserts their best bet might be to try these Malayali recipes. Vikram
  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 would hardly have been felt. Meanwhile, according to this story below, the desire for pal-payasam in Kerala is sto strong that people are now demanding it outside the usual festival times. This has lead to the setting up of a delightful sounding concept - payasam parlours, where you go and eat payasam like other would eat ice cream. If for nothing else, check the link for the huge MAGNIFICENT urli or pan that the man is using to make the payasam. Purists like my grandmother insist that only the thick and heavy urli is the right dish for making most Malayali sweets. Vikram
  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 can't be denied that the extreme crowding of this mega city into a narrow peninsula of land does make things tough. Traffic, for example, can really be insane, so all your decisions about where to live are dependent on how far your husband is willing to commute to work or your kids to school. The latter is probably even more important than the former - I know families who settle for living closer to the school, even if it means the parents have to commute forever to work. No real point giving random advice on this here - your husband's office will probably be giving him specialised help on this. I'd disagree with Bhelpuri though on living in South Bombay - though as someone who till as recently as a year back was a South Bombayite to the core I can understand where he's coming from. But having finally made the shift to the suburbs, to Bandra, I can't imagine why anyone would live anywhere else! The suburbs are now the really happening places, as people and companies slowly start abandoning South Bombay. (The American school has also shifted to this area, I think). As regards food styling, you should definitely be able to pick up work. This is a discipline that's been growing by fits and starts and there is still a dearth of really good food stylists - but lots of demand for their work. It should be quite easy to do a round of the major ad photographers, ad agencies, magazines that write on food and get some opportunities. (PM me closer to your time of arrival, and I'll send you some contacts of this kind). The problem I think you'll face is in actually doing the job. Styling, to the limited extent I've been involved with it, seems to require a pretty good knowledge of local ingredients and products, what's available, where to get it, how to get props (since that often becomes part of the stylist's job as well), etc. and this might be hard to learn at first. But its not an unsurmountable problem, and there are probably ways of getting round this. Any more info you need, just get in touch with me directly, best Vikram
  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 butter iddlies, I think). But apparently its in Karnataka that people really make a big thing of iddlies steamed in different types of leaves. A small Jaico published book I have called 'South Indian Tiffin' by Vijaya Hiremath lists several kinds, all with what sound like Kannada names. These include iddlies made in containers jack fruit leaves (kotte), a kind of stiff palm leaves (moode), teak leaves (hoye kadabu). Achaya, who has the rather endearing trait of never missing an opportunity to laud Kannada cooking (its endearing because absolutely no one apart from Achaya seems to share this feeling), calles these leaf moulded iddli type preparations as tharagu-kadabu and has quite a bit to say on kadabu in general. Episure do you suppose these different types of kadabu are available in Bangalore? Vikram
  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 they are quite perfect and the reason I think is that you can only get perfection when iddlies are made in large quantities - there's something about the mass of batter that needs to ferment, or perhaps its that with restaurants they can discard the first few iddlies that are less than perfect or perhaps its just the result of working at the speed and with the experience you get in large restaurants, but that's what I think leads to perfection (are there other dishes best made in quantities like this?) The only people who are even better than restaurants are wedding caterers. I am not a particular fan of semolina iddlies or Kancheevaram iddlies (the extra large ones, with a lot of other stuff added in), I feel the extra stuff distracts from the essence of the iddli which is all about texture, and being the perfect medium for the sambhar or curry and the taste of the iddli itself is an unnecessary distraction. One doesn't often realise it, so closely are iddlies linked with vegetarian Tamil Brahman cooking, but they are much used in the other non-veg Tamil tradition, like Chettinad cooking, and they perform brilliantly to sop up the fiery meat gravies. I remember one tiny place in Madras that was known mostly for being open late to cater to the late night, post-nightclub crowd. It didn't do any cooking - the Chettinad curries it dished up were brought in from outside and kept warm in chafing dishes. But it was served with the most wonderful big iddlies and it was total bliss late at night. The other type of iddlies I like are the small ones called panniyaram, though that's a slightly confusing term. Old books refer to panniyaram as a light fritter that was a Tanjore speciality, but at some point it was also applied to small iddlies made in a special pan which had several little moulds for them (or perhaps that's how the Chettiars always referred to them): http://www.kishorehomeappliances.com/nonstick.asp These are also rather annoyingly called cocktail iddlies and I really have eaten them at cocktail parties served with chutney as 'coconut dipping sauce'. I do not recommend this. But panniyarams are somehow rather endearing and the pan has even more to recommend it. I was recently told by a Bombay designer who's also a very good cook that she has taken to using a non-stick panniyaram pan big time to make low fat versions of fritter type dishes that would otherwise require deep frying. Instead of the tons of oil, you just lightly brush the panniyaram moulds and drop the same batter into them and they come out perfect and with much less oil. She gave me dahi-wada and falafal made this way and I have to say they tasted pretty good, crisp enough, but not drowned in tons of oil. Vikram
  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 the latter, and Amba is the family deity. What's interesting is that this shows how women were bound by the traditional customs (regarding widows in this case) and how sometimes they could use those same traditions to get around the bounds:
  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. Shortly after I wrote the article though, she finally did give in to the pressure and has just opened a restaurant in Ahmedabad. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the quality doesn't fall now. Vikram
  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 - that thalipith doesn't normally team up with the besan pitla, but how simply fantastic it is - and the results are outstanding. As you saw with the ragada pattice, she is also looking at ways to make food in a healthy way, hence her interest in whole grains like the (outstanding!) jowar khichidi served with kokam osaman that you had. And she's reviving dishes that were common in houses, but either no one makes them any more because they are too fiddly (the panki, rice crepes steamed in banana leaves) or too specific to a particular community. That ripe guava curry you ate, which simply blew my mind when I ate it, is an example. Its an old Gujju Jain dish - my Jain friends groan when I describe it, "I can't believe it, you were eating jamphal-nu-shak, what's so special about that?" And I'm like, "well excuse me, I've known you for so long, and how come I never ate it at your place?" I recently took a fairly well known American chef, Michael Nischan there and he was just raving about it. He said he's been in India quite often and thought he was getting a hang of Indian food, but these were taste sensations he had never come across. Vikram
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