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Vikram

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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. Episure, while you're investigating rare ingredients in Bangapore can you check if anyone is still making Coorgi bamboo shoot pickle? Niligiri's used to sell it and it was GREAT, but I have seen it in years, Vikram
  2. I'm assuming some minimum knowledge of Bombay, otherwise you'll have to ask for some directions! Ananatashram - From Churchgate drive down Marine Lines till you're about to come to Charni Road station (coming the other way, drive via Opera House). Take the right (coming from Churchgate) at Charni Road station bridge onto the road that leads to Central Plaza cinema hall. There's a pay and park here you better use since up ahead parking will be impossible. Walk to Central Plaza, cross the road and turn right. One of the lanes on the left will be for Khotachiwadi. Just go down that and (beyond a
  3. Sorry, didn't read your post carefully enough so thought you and your lucky class was actually going to Cairo. But even if you can't you should definitely try making some of the dishes. Kushari should be simple, if you can take all the carbs - its basically rice and noodles and lentils cooked together and served with lots of fried onions and a spicy tomato sauce. The best desserts in my opinion were the varities of baklava, which would be hard to get, but there were simpler semolina puddings or even Om-Ali shouldn't be hard to make and I'm sure you'll find recipes online. Or why not get your h
  4. Indigo is eclectic, but I think Rahul Akerkar's cooking is grounded in a classic, meaning French tradition and if he wants he can pull off French dishes very well. No place is perfect, but I think Indigo has maintained its standards much higher and longer than any other fine dining (horrible phrase, but haute cuisine sounds too pretentious) place I know, and that includes the five star places. I have had to spend plenty there at times, but I have never regretted it. Olive in Bandra is OK, but more Mediterranean than French. Five, a small place in Khar started by a breakaway bunch from Indigo
  5. I lived in Cairo for three weeks some years back and don't have particularly uplifting memories of Egyptian food. It wasn't that it was that bad, it just wasn't particularly interesting - as Zora said it was like Lebanese, but without the zing. My Indian tastes didn't mind the carb loading, but what was hard to take was the blandness. Many of the things Egyptians went on about as great specialties often seemed to be rather overrated - grilled pigeons, for example, or Om-Ali, a milk pudding. Kushari was interesting, as a mutation of the Indian lentils and rice dish called khichri (which the Br
  6. Sorry to sound so rude about Strand, its just a long standing peeve of mine. And you're right that other places have their drawbacks too - the New & Secondhand people really do have a rather baffling attitude to selling their books. But you can find the cookbooks quite easily since they are in and under the main counter in the shop - just check to the left hand side. I think there were a few Time-Life books left. If you're ever in Bangalore ask Mr.Murthy at Select Books, just off Brigade road, for them. Fort Book Depot has an office that's impossible to find in the depths of Bazaargate,
  7. The Taj is running a great chefs of the world series where every quarter they're bringing down top chefs from around the world to interact with their own chefs and cook special meals which will include cooking demos along with the meals. They're promising heavyweights - Jean-George Vongerichten in September and Hemant Oberoi, the exec chef confessed that he's also aiming for Alain Ducasse next year. Starting the series though is a chef I hadn't heard of - Michel Nischan who started and ran the Heartbeat restaurant in NYC and whose big thing is healthy food. I went for a demo for the media yes
  8. Vikram

    Rasam

    One of the best rasams I've had is rasam with crab served as a Chettiar speciality at Raintree in Madras. These were small crabs, really too fiddly to eat by themselves, but in the rasam they infused a wonderful taste to the liquid. Beyong that I'm not overfond of rasam which always seems to me like sambhar that hasn't quite made it. But I do like mulligatawny soup in all its virulent yellow, creamy and throat catchingly spiciness, as best served in those old clubs that haven't given up on the Raj dishes. Vikram
  9. Oddly enough I was talking about Garwhali food with a friend the other day and she mentioned the same thing. Some similarities could be explained simply because of having the same ingredients - besan and yoghurt are common across the country so I can see a kadhi like dish coming up, with local variants, in different places. This patra/aduvadi/patyud similarity does suggest links of a different kind and her theory was this it was the Brahmins. Historically there were two reasons for travel within India - trade and religion, the latter being mostly pilgrimmages, but weren't there several cases
  10. This conversation is making me ill. The owner of Strand is an unctuous old humbug, who goes on and on about how he only cares for books, doesn't believe in making a profit, doesn't care for honours, doesn't bother with competition, while in the other breath bitching non-stop about other bookshops and doing his damndest to make sure he gets every bit of credit he can get his hands on. Which is fine, I guess, more power to him and I wouldn't care if (a) his prices really were that good and (b) he had the books. He doesn't have either really because please understand, Strand is a remaindered boo
  11. As far as I know the Raspberry drink still exists, produced in small quantities by the Dukes factory (now owned by Pepsi) almost entirely for the Parsi wedding market. If you've been to one of them you'll know that the eating is the main event (bride, what bride, we came here for the sass-ni-machi), for which you have to queue up for 'sittings' - to at least, or the family isn't popular. And when you sit down at the long tables, covered by long rolls of cheap paper to save on tablecloth washing costs, before the food arrives you'll get a guy who offers you any of four drinks, all made by Duke
  12. This lack of vanilla beans is really weird and annoying because now they are being grown in India. There are all these articles about how farmers in Kerala are finding them a useful cash crop because they can grow the orchids that produce the beans on existing coffee or rubber trees or something like that. My sister tells me she's seen them being sold on the roadside in Wynaad, dirt cheap since no one there knows what to do with them locally. Presumably they think this interest is general, since I cannot find them at all in Bombay - where is all the vanilla vanishing to? Archie comics are th
  13. The best Bengali book on food - and a strong contender as the best one on any kind of Indian food - is Chitrita Banerji's "Life & Food in Bengal". Its a really excellent book that paints a picture of the whole context in which Bengali food is eaten, the influence of seasons, social customs and history. Its done in two parts - there's a central section which follows Bengali food season by season, which is an excellent way to write on Indian food given the continued importance, thank god, of seasonality in our cooking. And sandwiching this section are two fictional accounts of a girl growing
  14. Am I the only person in the world who finds Biriani a somewhat overrated dish? Of course, I realise that this is partly because its so badly prepared so often. Its such a standard big occasion dish - I shudder to think how many birthday parties and impromptu drinking sessions I went through in my youth where the only food item was usually a big pot of entirely indifferent biriani - that every restaurant will make a version and make it badly. Further antagonism was probably bred at innumerable press lunches and media dinners which, as a journalist, I have been fated to attend. There is a part
  15. I don't know about spice mixture, it seems to me that Goa sausages use mainly a fairly hot chilli powder and lots of vinegar (a fairly robust vinegar, in Goa it would be toddy vinegar, but any strong and not too chemical tasting one should do). Between the chilli powder and vinegar, most other tastes are pretty much blown away, Vikram
  16. If you're in Bombay bottle masala is quite easy to get. Its sold in packets in lots of places - Bandra obviously (try Jude's at Pali Naka), but any decent butcher should have it. Farm Products in Colaba does. Its also possible to get the original packaging beer bottle version in shops in Bandra. There's also a guy called Vivian who can be called on at any time of the day or night in case there's a bottle masala emergency. Have his number somewhere, message me directly if you want it, Vikram PS: And triphal is NOT Sichuan peppers as far as I'm aware
  17. Bottle masala is great stuff, it gives a flavour that is savoury without being too spicy or too bland. All East Indian families (I have already delivered a diatribe on this forum on what the East Indian community in Bombay is, as opposed to the general East Indian term slapped on all Indians abroad) claim to have their own special recipe for them, but in fact most of the recipes I've seen are more or less on the lines of the one listed by bague25. What I like is the way they are still made. In winters in Bombay these groups of hefty women workers come to East Indian houses (and also other comm
  18. Goan sausage is one of the easiest to cook dishes because it doesn't need any seasonings or even fat to fry it in - it all comes included. I keep them as stand-bys - if you buy good quality ones, they store well and don't need refrigeration - for times when someone drops by unexpectedly. All you need to do then is cut open a sausage from its packet (they are so oily they are uusally sold sealed in plastic) and then the sausage meat from its casing. Put it in a pressure cooker with tomatoes, potatoes and onions, all whole or halved at most. Then pressure cook for half an hour and that's it -
  19. Lifting this into a separate thread since jaggery deserves one of its own. I love jaggery, its like the much more interesting, bad-boy cousin of sugar. Even with the ordinary stuff and not the spiced version I described, you still get that raw, slightly wild minerally tang that contrasts with the basic sweetness. Unfortunately, jaggery seems to be little talked about or known outside India (are their equivelents in other sugar producing countries?). One of the disappointments of Sidney Mintz' otherwise classic book Sweetness & Power, is that he's so focussed on the role that sugar has pla
  20. This is a good one and you can get it a bit more widely than that. Try, for example, the Mangalorean specialty shops in places like Santa Cruz. Apart from the books they have interesting ingredients you don't get elsewhere. I once bought some fascinating spiced jaggery from there - the spices included pepper so you if you put a crumb of it on your tongue and let it melt, you'd get this sweet-hot sensation - the exciting rawness of jaggery with the bite of pepper. Vikram
  21. There's a book called 'Flavours of Delhi' by a journalist named Charmaine O'Brien that's a pleasant enough introduction to eating in the city. Not everything may be up to date, but it'll give you broad guidelines to eating there. Personally, of course, I don't know why anyone goes to that awful city up north. Come and eat in Bombay instead! Vikram
  22. There are quite a few communities that cook game in India. The Rajputs are, of course, most famous for it and Episure will probably be able to oblige with a recipe for Jungli Maas (for the non-Hindi speakers, jungle meat) or other shikari (hunter) recipes. Apart from them Coorgi pandi curry is an excellent dish usually made with pork but which, in its most ideal form, should be from wild boar (unfortunately I've never eaten the wild boar form, but I've friends who go into ecstasies at the memory). The other community worth checking out for game is the Chettiars. They, and the other non-Brahm
  23. Since you got saffron along with the cardamom, why not combine the two to make a Maharashtrian keshar-elaich syrup, saffron-cardamom syrup like the ones sold in Bombay. Don't have a recipe since I buy it from Maharashtrian areas like Dadar, but I guess its simply a matter of making a syrup and letting plenty of saffron and cardamom infuse. The syrup is a reddish-gold colour and has a wonderfully cooling taste. I use it to make my own version of kahwa, Kashmiri green tea. Just boil water with several cloves and, if you like, some cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods, but the cloves are what matte
  24. Back on the forum after a bit of a break. I was in Madras for family reasons and rapidly got bored with accessing the Net over my mother's ancient dial up connection, but didn't have the time to go out and look for more high speed ones. I did find the time to go out and eat in a few places, not enough to to do an in depth analysis on eating out in Madras maybe, but I'm happy to report that its still possible to get good Korean food there despite the much lamented closing of Arirang. (Going to Madras to eat Korean food might seem bizarre, but I love it and you get it in few other places in Ind
  25. I'd go for Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipes work, she gives the basics, she writes well on more general aspects of Indian food and she's used to writing for audiences not in India. 'A Taste of India' is her book on Indian regional food and I'd got for that since Indian regional cooking often gets overlooked - most people assume Indian cooking starts and ends with the really very narrow (and not particularly authentic) slice of it that they get in Indian restaurants abroad. Jaffrey's 'Introduction to Indian Cooking' might be the better book for beginners though its more narrowly focussed on the ty
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