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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. One thing you do not want to do is get in touch with... OK, lets leaved them unnamed, but lets just say they are a company who produces some of that undrinkable wine that Anil refers to. You are almost guaranteed on getting a lot of bullshit on the Great Wine Traditions of India and to listen to them it is just a matter of time before Baramati regains its rightful place up there with Bordeaux. Lots of highly dubious guff about drinking practices of Mughal emperors, the British in India and so on. Entirely avoidable as are most of their products. To be really honest Monica I don't think there
  2. The Sai Baba anecdote is fascinating and it sounds like we're on the right track. I've written on fasting foods in the past on these forums, and they do often still include foodstuffs that have fallen out of common usage - water chestnut flour, for example. So this kandamul could very likely be what I ate. I don't think its a root though, it seemed too big, but then suran is a root and it can be huge. I don't think I've eaten a raw sweet potato so I can't say if it tastes like the kandhamul did. As I said, it was crisp and sweetish, a bit like a water chestnut but with the mealiness replaced b
  3. Way to go Mongo! I agree entirely, readymade spices blends and pastes very much have a role in the Indian kitchen (you will also find Monica agreeing with you on this, she's written an excellent feature for this on egullet which you can find in the archives). Of course, everyone will find their own balance between authenticity and effort, and perhaps there is that little extra that comes from doing it from scratch. I sometimes think that the real secret behind the food of certain legendary caterers and restaurants lies in just that - they do their own blending because on the scale of their co
  4. The best recommendation for eating in New Delhi is to save your money and buy a ticket to Bombay, Vikram (who has been dying to say that!)
  5. I had a very good meal at a place called the Five Flies, just off Long Street. We went for lunch, so it wasn't a problem getting a table, its a nice place, great food and friendly, yet professional service. If you're driving through Kalk Bay DEFINITELY stop at this bakery/deli called Olympia. Totally historic cinnamon twists and great bread and pastry in general. Back in Cape Town Melissa's gourmet deli on one of those roads leading up the mountain is very well known and pretty good. Vikram
  6. Not such a change - isn't that the same process by which they ended up with a British Indian 'vindaloo' that is way hotter than anything Goa has ever seen? The difference being that emadashi, as I understand it, is ONLY chillies. No chicken, no mushrooms, just treat the chillies as veggies and curry them. Although Andhra food is really hot, gunpowder oddly enough isn't always that hot itself. Its more savoury-crunchy with the most distinct flavour I remember being of the coarsely ground peanuts. On the other hand, there's a typicaly garlic-methi (fenugreek) powder you get here in Bombay th
  7. I think Madhur Jaffrey's solution to this is to use the same quantity of dessicated coconut as fresh, but to remember to soak it in hot water and ADD the water as well. This might seem obvious, but I didn't do it when I tried making a thoran from Das Sreedharan's Kerala cookbook and the result was way too powdery and dry. Sreedharan's book failed to mention this tip which adds to my suspicion of using cookbooks by restaurateurs for home cooking, Vikram
  8. Suvir will clarify this if he ever gets round to checking this forum again , but I'm guessing its the Hardwar/Benaras pandit tradition. Many north Indian families followed, and still do, the tradition of having a pandit in Hardwar or Benaras who kept the records of births and deaths in their family literally stretching back for centuries. Everytime someone in the family was born or died you had to travel there for religious rituals, or at least send money for the pandit to do them, and in doing so the records were updated. I forget if the archives were actually written or were entirely memor
  9. Yes, later on in the book she does give a recipe for Almond Macaroons (Badaam Makroom) with the specific instruction that this be made along with the Eeda Pak. Mongo is pulling my leg bague25 for one occasion when an unsuspecting Canadian (I think) lady posted a query asking about East Indian (meaning desis, as opposed to West Indians) recipes. It caught me in a cranky mood and I proceeded to tick her off for using a term that actually had a specific meaning in Indian - the term we both understand as applying to the East Indian community of the Bombay region. I still feel quite strongly abo
  10. I haven't eaten Bhutanese food, but its reputed to be total dynamite mainly because their national dish of emadashi consists of curried chillies. Yes, that's right, not chillies in a curry, but chillies are the curry. And pretty hot chillies like this. Years ago my mother and aunt were in Bhutan for a while and my mother says meal times were remarkable since at all the tables in their hotel people would be sitting around crying into their emadashi! As Mongo notes, in India Andhra food is usually seen as the hottest, followed by Chettinad food, and I'd agree with him on Andhra. Real chettiar f
  11. Yes, though they're calling themselves Vakils, Feffer & Simons now. Price Rs295/-
  12. Dr.Katy Dalal has come out with Jamva Chaloji - 2, a sequel to 'Jamva Chaloji' ("Lets Feast") the excellent book of basic Parsi recipes she compiled quite a few years ago. The first book, published by Vakils in Bombay, is in its third printing and along with the Penguin book on Parsi cooking, it could be seen as the standard reference book to Parsi daily cooking. So this book is very welcome and all the more so because in it Dr.Dalal has decided to focus on all the rarer recipes, the ones cooked for obscure festivals or by Parsis in the villages of the Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts they used
  13. There's a street snack that's sold in Bombay that's always intruiged me, not that common, but you can find it fairly regularly at Chowpatty or near Fountain and a few other places. What's remarkable about it is the way it looks - a large cylinder of what looks like ivory wood, with a thin reddish tan layer outside. If you want to eat it the guy selling it will carefully slice a thin section from the cylinder, remove the tan park and give it to you. It tastes sweet and crunchy, a bit difficult to swallow since its a bit fibrous, but quite nice. One guy I asked told me its called kandhamul, but
  14. This Pinky woman is hilarious. I'm putting her remark on finger eating to prevent flatulence as one of the nuttiest comments on Indian food ever. Indian food is flatulent because much of the protein comes from pulses and no amount of finger action is going to reduce that. We might as well acknowledge that flatulence has an established and even honoured part in Indian food, as this extract from a piece of papads written by a friend of mine in the Times of India indicates: That other anecdote Pinki gives about the Shah saying eating with forks is like making love through an interpreter is so
  15. Possibly his background is in the hospitality industry where its much more common to encounter boneless chicken, not least because there are minions to do the deboning for you. Mrs.Mathew - yes, of the Spice Coast book - was firmly in the home cooking mould, so she'd keep the bones. Not that Mrs.M doesn't have her own quirks. For example, she commonly uses 'dessertspoon' as a measure in addition to tablespoon and teaspoon. At one point I thought she meant coffeespoon, for a really small measure, but then a friend of mine who's married into that family and has plenty of experience of their use
  16. There are some organic food companies in India who supply honey from the forests collected by tribals, the type I'm thinking of comes from the Western Ghat forests off India's West coast, but there are other varieties from other parts of the country. Its minimally processed and wonderful - its got a raw, distinctive taste that makes commercial honeys taste like plain sugar syrup. On a slightly different note I was in the main flower market in Dadar in Central Bombay yesterday. This sounds fancy, but its not - its a fairly cramped and not too clean place tucked into one of the busiest spots in
  17. My mother is Malayali and anytime I've eaten chicken at any of our Malayali relatives houses its always been with bones in. I'm pretty sure the recipes in Mrs.Mathew's book would require chicken on the bone. The concept of 'boneless' is something I associate with North Indian restaurants and butter chicken in particular. Vikram
  18. I don't have much personal experience of paneer/channa making, but my sense is that its a much misunderstood process. Recipes routinely tell you there's nothing more to it than splitting milk with lime juice or something else, but the differences in results can be huge and no one talks about why. Lots of commercial paneer is just tasteless textured blocks like grainy tofu, or its slightly sour compacted curds. But Punjabis and Sindhis, and in my experience only Punjabis and Sindhis have the ability to make a light, creamy, faintly salted version that is, in my opinion, almost on par with some
  19. Not sure where general questions on ingredients should go, so am posting this here. I needed to buy a new bottle of olive oil and as usual while I was checking out what was available in the shops I was wondering whether to be happy that we're no longer in the days you could only buy it in dubious looking tins from a pharmacist (this is India, but I'm sure was true of many other places as well) or to start moaning about the price now that the real stuff is plentifully available, and hence indispensible, but god does it blow a hole in the wallet. And I'm not talking fancy brands at all, just st
  20. In a sort of philosophic sense I think what's needed is some sense of assurance that the recipe is worth doing. There are many cookbooks, many recipes, only that much time... I don't think this really needs reams of ecstatic prose before it or fancy pictures. Just clear presentation and a sense of assurance work well - Tarla Dalal has it, though most of her recipes couldn't be more matter of fact. Sticking just to Indian cookbooks, I'd say Karen Anand and Monisha Bharadwaj both have. For some reason I feel less convinced about Sanjeev Kapoor. His basic books are good, but of late I think the
  21. Nice to see so many other stroopwafel fans! And thanks for reminding me about this trick. It was the perfect solution to a wet day in Amsterdam, with the cold wind blowing down the canals. One suitably spiked coffee, one stroopwafel - and maybe that cake-like apple pie they make to follow - BLISS! You get them everywhere, they're not a particularly fancy item and they keep well so you can buy them in any grocery. If you want them really fresh then I think the place I saw them being made on the street was the Albert Cuyp market, which is quite a nice place to wander around. Amsterdam is a pr
  22. Maybe I should be posting this in the Pastry forum, but anyway, here's my request: does anyone have a recipe for good, basic, minimum effort toffees? Not because I want to make them for myself, but because I need them for toffee vodka. Someone gave me a small bottle last New Year's (it was part of a New Year's hamper of goodies made and sent out by a top Bombay restaurant) and I loved it. And I found a recipe on the Net that said simply, take vodka, put toffees in, shake it it all melts and drink. The recipe suggested putting it through two dishwasher cycles, but my dishwasher is a lady call
  23. A kind friend coming back from the Netherlands has got me a couple of packets of stroopwaffels, and I've just realised again how totally delicious they are. Its that combination of crisp and sticky, sweet, but not deadeningly so and that amazing back of the throat richness. Stroopwaffels are diabolically deceptive - the richness doesn't hit you all at once, so you think you can eat more, and before you realise it you've finished the pack and are feeling distinctly queasy. I admit there may be other things AS addictive, but I doubt there are many that are MORE. What I'd like to know is how ha
  24. I was reading an article on the LA Times about these two kitchen historians who are experimenting with preparing British food really authentically, down to wearing period style clothing when cooking it. This is throwing up interesting insights into the cooking of the food in areas like the difference that original utensils made, particularly when it came to the metal used: This reminds me of something you often hear with traditional Indian cooks, about how important it is to use certain types of metal utensils only. For example, my grandmother insists that certain types of Malayali dishes ca
  25. Some expert advice needed. I've just returned (to India) from LA where I went quietly mad in Grand Central Market buying anchos, serranos and all those other types of chillies, so different from Indian chillies and which we never see here. And at one of the stands I saw these bowls of brown sauce which I was told was freshly made sauce for mole poblano (or is the sauce called mole poblano, and is so what's the whole dish that's made with it using chicken called?). Naturally I bought some and it survived the return journey reasonably well. It tastes great - sweet and spicy and a bitter-rich ch
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