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Vikram

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Everything posted by Vikram

  1. Aren't you making a mistake here - or more correctly, the mistake is in the way others are using the 'fresh dates' term itself? What you describe does sound like fresh dates - the straight from the tree, bright red or yellow, really fresh fruit which, as you note, are pretty to look at, but way too astringent for my taste. What the others seem to be referring to are what I've seen described as 'soft dates' - dried and processed to some extent, but not the dead hard and chewy fruits we're most familiar with. 'Soft dates' are sensational - plump, soft and amazingly sweet. I haven't eaten the m
  2. Hallelujah! I loved your two books, read them lingeringly, limiting myself to as essay a day like really good pieces of chocolate (OK, so occasionally I binged and read five at a time), and I even conducted a long drawn out campaign to get my office - I write for a financial newspaper - to subscribe to Vogue, arguing that it was next to impossible to report accurately on international business trends without regular reference to Vogue. I got unexpected support from an editor who, I think, was more interested in the lingerie models, but I wasn't complaining. And the magazines arrived and it tur
  3. After starting this topic, I read the book that more than any other date, answers my question. Madhur Jaffrey's The Ultimate Curry Bible (its got a different American title, Kebabs & Curries, or something like that) takes up this very issue of the cooking of the desi diaspora and deals it with in her usual style. Its an excellent book - lots of fascinating material, both culinary and cultural, and some really interesting recipes which, coming from her, you know they're reliable. I've already made some like the kheema with orange juice which the bf, never the easiest of audiences, has been
  4. Why do I always end up promoting my old pieces on eGullet. But so many of the subjects are close to my heart so its not surprising I've written on them before. This piece came in the Times of India a year or so back, before the Times stopped this excellent "In Search Of The Perfect..." column which many writers contributed to. BTW, can anyone confirm the bit about condensed milk being the secret ingredient in Kyani's Shrewsbury biscuits? I'm too lazy to go to Pune and try and coax the truth out of some probably cranky old Irani guy, Vikram
  5. Vikram

    Ramzaan

    Many apologies to all, especially Episure. After patiently taking me through the back lanes of Bohri Mohalla and introducing me to his favourite barahandiwallahs, the least he could have accepted was for me to have matched his speed in putting up the text to match his pictures. I can only plead extended chaos at work, though in reality its probably just my journalistic instinct to avoid deadlines kicking in. When I don't have any need to post on eGullet I am happy to write reams; the moment I have to, it becomes another assignment to be avoided! Anyway, I'm not even going to try estimating ho
  6. I agree, I've been beating the drum for drinking Belgian beer with Indian food, for longer than I can remember. Hoegaarden seems to be the easiest to find though not, alas, here in India, Vikram
  7. I've got it, just bought it last week (and at a discount too, three cheers for Strand Book Stall). Its pretty good - all that you might expect of a Madhur Jaffrey production and with the benefit of being focussed on Indian food (am I the only one who felt she was getting increasingly flaky, the more she ranged into southeast asian and world vegetarian food?). Its a nice solid looking book, good notes on food in different parts of the diaspora, all clearly based on personal experience and the recipes are well written and, most important of all, make you want to run out and start cooking at onc
  8. I think he'd find Khau-gullis easier to deal with that certain Indian wines... jjread, for your sake, I hope you haven't been conned here by certain unmentionable Indian winemakers to give your professional opinion on their products.... Vikram
  9. What are you planning Episure-dada? Take his wine and dump him in a khau-galli off Mohammed Ali Road for casting aspersions on eating out in Bombay? Vikram
  10. There's an excellent piece on the evolution of eating out habits in Bombay in 'Consuming Modernity' a collection of essays on Indian popular culture edited by Arjun Appadurai and Carol Breckenridge. I can't remember who the author is and some evil person has stolen my copy so I can't supply the information at once, but if you cant get your hands on the book, I can look around for the information. As I remember it the piece deals largely with Irani restaurants, as the original cosmopolitan eating places in Bombay, but I think there's some info on other places as well. I remember seeing a map o
  11. I was about to send off an explosive reply to this when it occurred to me that I've actually written something similar on this list at some point. I think what I was saying is that relative to certain other cities like Hyderabad in the south, Calcutta in the east, Lucknow in the north and Ahmedabad in the west, Bombay is not as insanely food obsessed, since who has the time here. But that's not to say you can't eat very well here - in fact, you can probably eat a greater variety and better in Bombay than anywhere else in India. Partly because of that lack of time, the restaurant culture is ve
  12. Vikram

    Ramzaan

    For those who want to get a flavour of Ramzaan in India I have - of course! - an article which I did along with a colleague last year. (I should note that Episure is probably going to pour complete scorn on the eating places I've listed, but that's why he's taking me on an iftaar jaunt soon). The one really interesting point in this article is the interview I did with Ummi Abdulla, the doyenne of Moplah (Kerala Muslim) cooking, who cast some light on the lesser known south Indian Ramzaan traditions. Can others on these forums supplement this with other memories, descriptions, recipes of Ramza
  13. Vikram

    Ramzaan

    The gods really have it in for those of us trying to follow diets. No sooner are we recovering from Diwali's flood of sweets, then Ramzaan (Ramadan, outside India) starts today. And as anyone who's seen it - or read Sara Suleri's wonderful description of it in Meatless Days - for most people the day long fasting just seems like a way of whetting the appetite for the night feasting to come. I'm not a Muslim and I don't keep the roza, the day fast, but that certainly doesn't stop me going after sunset to Mohammed Ali Road, Mumbai's main Muslim area, to enjoy the chaos and crowds in the night, th
  14. A nice enough article I guess, and certainly as a long time proponent for South Indian food I'm happy to see it. Nevertheless, being irredeemably contrary, I have some bones to pick with it. Like did he have to go to Cochin and stay at Brunton's Boatyard (one of those places that certainly looks very imposing, out there on the waterfront, but is rather less so up close. Especially when the Malabar House Hotel, which is truly something, is close by) AND eat there? Like there's no better place in Cochin? Like the Grand in Ernakulam, which is by almost universal consensus the best place to eat f
  15. Suvir's highlighted a lot of interesting old threads which I've been going through (the fact that I've a deadline probably explains why I'm so happy to spend my time doing this!). I feel embarassed at the way I keep posting old articles of mine, but the Ayurveda thread reminded me of a couple of articles I'd investigated and written on the subject recently. Its an interesting subject and possible quite healthy. My only problem is - sorry Suvir - when people start going on about Ancient Indian Traditions of Spirituality and how ayurveda fits in, I always get a strong craving for steak tartare
  16. I recently went to a big function at the Oberoi in Bombay which had an interesting buffet dinner. The people organising the function had decreed the buffet was to be vegetarian only, and in a somewhat desperate attempt to add some interest here the Oberoi chefs had come up with the idea of having one dish from every state in India in the buffet. I thought the idea was amusing, especially given how desperate they got when they came to those perenially overlooked Northeastern states (patriotically inclined desis can stop right now and do a test by seeing if they can name them all). Since these
  17. Reading this thread on Indians and pickling reminds me of this story I wrote recently which is somewhat rude on the subject.... I hope a certain San Francisco based writer isn't on eGullet, but honestly has anyone READ her work?! Have people read Monsoon Diary? Any comments? Vikram
  18. With no modesty or regard for eGullet storage concerns, an article I'd written on this subject sometime back. It might provide some fodder for discussion. The Appadurai essay I refer to is well worth reading, if you can get your hands on it: ends
  19. Rasachandrika is excellent for all the Saraswat dishes. Its now exactly 60 years since the Saraswat Mahila Samaj (Saraswat Women's Association) in Mumbai first came out with it, and it is still a standard presence in every Saraswat kitchen, however stained and tattered with use it may be. I'd put it up there with Samaithu Par as one of the bases for Indian cookbook writing. What are the other such books that people would nominate in other regional Indian categories? I'm lifting this out of the Konkani cuisine thread since it might make for a good new topic. Which were the first Indian cookboo
  20. Rasachandrika is excellent for all the Saraswat dishes. Its now exactly 60 years since the Saraswat Mahila Samaj (Saraswat Women's Association) in Mumbai first came out with it, and it is still a standard presence in every Saraswat kitchen, however stained and tattered with use it may be. I'd put it up there with Samaithu Par as one of the bases for Indian cookbook writing. What are the other such books that people would nominate in other regional Indian categories? Vikram
  21. As always, I'm a fervent advocate of south Indian breads. Its not just because they are lesser known compared to the north Indian ones, as because some of them are really outstandingly delicious. So apart from the dosas, iddlies, appams that most people are familiar with, why not go for flaky Kerala parottas, or ultra-delicate pathiri, or spongy starfish shaped ney-patal, or light steamed neer dosas, or thick and hearty adais, or thick tasty puri-like Konkani vades, or healthy mung-dal pancakes (pudla), or hard crisp thalipith which a food writer friend from the Asian Wall Street Journal dubb
  22. I am sort of sceptical of this whole idea of "contemporary Indian cuisine" as a new and - the underlying premise - improved form of Indian food because it seems to me to be applying a conceptual framework that isn't really applicable to Indian food. That conceptual framework seems to take its definition mainly from French food, which evolved a grand and highly codified tradition, practiced by specialists (though in reality many may have taken their inspiration from peasant food), against which a tradition of lighter and more modern contempory food was able to define itself. But other forms o
  23. There's a garlic-methi (fenugreek) version of this which is my standard solution to boring food. Its dry and keeps very well, so I always have a jar in office and have even travelled with it, to use when things are getting too bland. Don't have a recipe for it though, since its so readily available here in Bombay, Vikram
  24. I don't usually drink beer, but wheat beers (does witbier translate as white beer or wheat beer?) like Hoegaarden, I adore. On the India forum I recently recklessly dismissed all attempts to match wine and Indian food, a pointless pairing especially when there really was a good pairing in white beer. Its the lightness and the spiciness and the coolness, that all balance out Indian food brilliantly. Why don't more people make them? Are they hard or expensive to make? Vikram
  25. Its an odd dish, the point of which seems to be the soggy texture that the koris (think quite hard snapping rice papads) take after you dump the chicken curry over it. You get it in some of the Udipi restaurants in Bombay if you ask them for it specially. Its usually not on the menu, but I think the workers cook it for themselves once a week. Rajsuman, a question, how are you defining Konkani cuisine? Judging from the recipes you post you're mostly referring to Mangalorean style cooking, but isn't Konkani - since it has a geographical sense - a wider term? I would think it would cover any coo
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