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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. The title essay in Sara Suleri's 'Meatless Days' is just brilliant, probably the most outstanding bit of food writing inspired by the subcontinent. Chitrita Banerji is very good as well, the essays in 'The Hour of the Goddess' are required reading. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on the other hand is the opposite of required reading, as are most of the writers unfortunately inspired by her. Shoba Narayanan's book was good, but she sort of irritated me a bit, a bit too smug. The Bulbul Sharma book I mention in my piece, The Anger of Aubergines, seems to have been written in response to this trend
  2. Just a passing query, what is so troublesome about water buffalos? They are the most placid creatures on earth. There are some totally untranslateable jokes in India about the placidity of these creatures which provide a huge chunk of the milk here. Vikram
  3. Indian restaurants abroad (and alas here too now) seem to feel the need to make up with colours what they lack in quality. In general Indian food isn't the most photogenic of cuisines - an Indian cookbook writer and occasional food stylist I know once described it as "its all brown glop and yellow glop and green glop" - so the restaurants decide they had better make it technicolor to add some interest. In any case, we're supposed to be known for our love of strong colours - there's that Diana Vreeland remark about pink being the navy blue of India. This is probably more applicable to certain
  4. But this was exactly my point in the Crab thread, perhaps expressed somewhat extremely. I don't think its impossible to have a good Indian crab dish - there are innumerable excellent crab curries, and in particular I'm remembering a sublime crab rasam at Raintree, the Chettinad restaurant at the Connemara in Madras, where the fieriness of the rasam was balanced by the intense crab taste. But what works are small crabs and not the big ones. The delight of the big ones is being able to wallow in lots of wonderful, delicately flavoured crabmeat and that I think is done no service by most Indian c
  5. Damn the time difference (and also my infrequently observed deadlines). I'm catching up with this thread way to late to add to the story (assuming anything can be added to Mongo's outline which is more complete than most Bollywood films by the time they start shooting). I can only make a couple of points: a) the only possible city they are going to is Bombay. This is not my Bombaycentrism here, but a simple statement of fact - there are no other cities in Bollywood (duh, why do you think is called that). Bombay is the one and only, the ur-city, much like all those Hindi pulp fiction novels are
  6. The mother of one of my colleagues was part of the team that put the book together and she had a whole bunch of copies at home and I begged one off her. PM me your address and I'll try and get another copy and mail it to you, Vikram
  7. Sorry, forgot to answer this. Yes, I've read it and was rather disappointed. I'm a big fan of Hopkirk's - his central Asian books are real page turners particularly The Great Game and Foreign Devils On The Silk Road, but I was really hoping for a lot from the Kim book, and perhaps that's why I felt he didn't quite deliver.
  8. Lotus is in general the (much) better bookshop, but Danai probably has a better collection of cookbooks. Not very sure what I could recommend though. Indian publishers are churning out cookbooks by the kitchenload (Tarla Dalal is almost scary in her industrial approach to cookbook writing, closely followed by Nota Mehta and Sanjeev Kapoor), but frankly very few of these are interesting. They're mostly just collections of recipes (often the same recipes!) with no attempt at talking about their antecedents or the ingredients involved or anything like that. In fact I'd go out on a limb and say t
  9. I have no idea where this © has come from! I thought I was typing a 3. I'd hate any discussions like these to be copyrighted!
  10. My basic tea at home is a Nilgiri tea, grown by the A.V.Thomas group on their Sutton plantations. It was mostly for export and my father knows someone in the AVT offices, so he got it for me, and still does, in large canfuls. Its now being sold on the market here, at least in south India and I strongly recommend it. Its got a good, strong flavour, but with none of the harsh tannin back taste that rules out most blends like the BrookeBond Lipton ones for those like me who prefer their tea black. I'm also very fond of Kashmiri tea though, which is green and brewed with almonds and spices. Lots
  11. That may have been the experience in Moscow, but in general it has not been the experience in India. That _is_ how KFC opened in India - lots of hype, premium location in Bangalore, quite high prices and lots of stuff from the KFC people about how finally you could get this great bit of America right here in Bangalore. And they got creamed. First of all they became the natural target for every anti-American demonstration in the city and at least twice I think the place was ransacked. Even worse, as Simon says, lots of people came once and quickly decided that the food was crap and if they rea
  12. Mongo adroitly heading off imminent explosion from me! But Pan's reply is interesting and points to how, just as people outside India are little aware of the differences withing Indian cooking, Indians are not aware of the differences within the Indian diaspora. That's why Madhur Jaffrey's recent book on the diasporic Indian cooking was so important and why more on this is needed. For no reason other than perhaps its lunchtime here in Bombay, I'm thinking of a wonderful Indian sauce I had in Cape Town. It came readymade and was described as a coriander something sauce and you got the coriande
  13. I've written on and also posted it on this forum. Here's the link: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...=0entry411950 Vikram
  14. Vikram


    Maybe this forum is witnessing rajmasynchronicity (or else we all like it a lot) since a couple of days back I was also cooking rajma, made safely in the pressure cooker and cooked with shalgam (turnips) and LOTS of ginger - the rajma gogji recipe from the Kashmir section of Madhur Jaffrey's Taste of India book. Its one of my favourite recipes which I make as often as there are turnips in the market - they often disappear in the summer, so this was by way of being a farewell to shalgams recipe for this summer. Its a good recipe for those who want to cut the fat since it has none of the cream a
  15. This question of food and Bollywood films - no, wait, time out: all Mongo's points about the term Bollywood are excellent and true, but I'm still using it because: (a) its convenient (b) the terms for the other Indian cinema industries like Tollywood (Bengali, from Tollygunge), Mollywood (Tamil, from Madras) are tedious beyong belief, © the term Bollywood now has a certain sense independent of the actual Bollywood film industry referring to films involving certain typical elements like music, dance, escapist story lines and, of course, the desi community in some sense or Mongo will pounce o
  16. You both should be ashamed. You've forgotten that in "My Best Friend's Wedding" Julia Roberts character is... a restaurant reviewer! And there's an early scene in the film that actually shows her in action doing this. (Lets leave out the fact that she made probably the least plausible restaurant reviewer - and that was the least plausible restaurant reviewing scene ever!) Vikram
  17. Its not? How do you survive? And how will you get your aunt to make genuine Bengali food without mustard oil? I know mustard oil is sold for massage purposes - surely it won't kill you if you use that. (This is, of course, a neat reversal of the olive oil situation in India where for years you could only buy it from chemists for use in massage). Vikram
  18. 'Oh Calcutta', the Bengali restaurant in Bombay, makes a Jhinge-Posto that has a searing mustard flavour. Don't know how authentic this is, but its divine. And since its vegetarian its also the reason - along with their mochhar ghanto or stir fried banan flower - why they changed their name from the original 'Only Fish'. Vikram
  19. This is to make an observation just for the sake of making an observation, but its ingredient related, so it should be OK for eGullet. One of the subthemes of the Parsee meal was the use of vinegar, but since I wouldn't expect Cyrus Todiwalla to be anything less than authentic, the vinegar he used for the other dishes probably wouldn't be the same as the one for the vindaloo - quite correctly Goan palm vinegar, since this really isn't really a Parsi dish. For Parsi food only one type of vinegar will do - Kolah's sugarcane vinegar from Navsari. I'm researching an article on vinegars in India an
  20. Ideally not at all. At least, not the two veggies you've mentioned. I think one has to be realistic about Indian cooking, in that it takes a pretty strongly flavoured veggie to be able to hold its own with the spices. If the flavours are delicate like with leeks, most Indian cooking methods are best avoided. Asparagus I don't know - maybe someone could come up with something, but I've never eaten any Indian style of cooking asparagus that allows that taste to come through. This doesn't just apply to veggies. That delicate flavour of crabmeat, for example, is killed by most Indian recipes. Wha
  21. Coming to this interesting discussion a bit late, I'm not sure which points to reply to first. At random, on Iranis vs. Parsis, there is definitely a difference. Parsis refers to Zoroastrians who came to Indian centuries ago and who have deep roots in Indian culture. Iranis were immigrants to India from Iran/Persia who came in the late 19th/early 20th century attracted by the textile lead boom of the Bombay region. Many of the Indian industrialists were Parsis who gave employment to the Iranis, often as their personal servants. Many of these Iranis were poor Zoroastrians so presumably the Par
  22. You don't need a better guide than Episure, but its such a relief to find someone looking for food recommendations for an Indian city other than that awful place up north, that I can't resist throwing in a few recommendations. I have to say that many of my best Bangalore food memories are old and probably vanished by now, but these were still around when I last visited a year back: 1) Koshy's - this is and has been for years the central Bangalore meeting place - at least, for real Bangaloreans, and not recent immigrants drawn by Silicon Plateau of whatever they are calling it buzz. Koshy's is
  23. Bad cooking = Mughlai food Ok, let me rephrase that a bit more charitably. Bad cooking = Mughlai food the way it is cooked most of the time. I think there are few types of cooking so easily cooked badly. The use of masalas, cream, cashew paste, dried fruits and nuts, etc are all an invitation to cooks to overdose on them and cover up the taste of the basic food being cooked. The result can be unspeakably vile. Vikram
  24. "sometimes" aggressive? Huh! I think the film is available, I've certainly seen it in some much adored bootleg videos. (Beware of asking for it in video shops though - its title invariably leads the guy to think you're asking for a porn film). Unlike Pan I think this is pretty much the only good thing La Roy has ever done. In particular, reading her hysterical, paranoid, America-hating and self-aggrandising essays, its only the memory of this genuinely funny and zeitgeist capturing film that persuades me to give her any credit. While I'm tempted to dismiss this whole thread as a pointless e
  25. Suvir hummus has a found a place in Indian cooking too these days, or in view of Mongo's ongoing dispute (I am firmly on his side, of course) on regional versus national monikers, I should say Gujju cooking. All my fellow Gujjus (well I'm half) have discovered its not just veg, but also made from the channa dhal (chickpeas) they adore (a friend's husband once did a calculation of the besan being consumed in Gujarat and it was an amazing figure and none too promising for the average health of the Gujju community). I would certainly be too diffident to discuss it on the Middle East forum, all I
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