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i don't think your thoughts on any of this make you out to seem like a "jerk" or a "cultural vampire", and i don't think pat or anyone else used that term to characterize your posts either--most of what i said does not even apply to someone like you (as i noted earlier), though one part of it is an attempt to modulate some of what you said. i think we may be talking past each other on some points but that's an unavoidable hazard with disembodied communication.

Yeah, whippy for the record while I did say "cultural vampirism", I wasn't using it in reference to anything you'd posted. Mostly was just trying to pull apart something in an effort to try for something productive amidst all the morass around racism and colonialism anyone would have to deal with when trying to figure out how to learn about something that's been on the pointy end of that morass.

Basically, I was interested in what you'd asked and at the same time I could see why mongo might have gotten pinged anyway; all I wanted to do was figure out where the lines were, while brainstorming a bit on how possibilities around respectful dialogue could take place and what larger purposes they could serve.

Anyway, I agree that there's some talking past each other here, but I'm hopeful we can get through it to get to the questions.

[edited this to make it sound less presumptuous, hopefully!]

Pat

Edited by Sleepy_Dragon (log)

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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...and some of this is probably my responsibility too because I was the first to ask whether or not learning ayurveda might make things easier for a non-Indian cook. Wasn't an attempt to New Age woo-woo the food, but rather my own attempt at fumbling for an anchor somewhere that bore a little resemblance to what I grew up with around Chinese cookery and medicine, as well as trying for a possibility of mental organization beyond one of ack, I have dozens of spices, I better use them in exactly the quantities called for.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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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

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I'll cook everything tomorrow and report back.

Excellent, sleepydragon, look forward to your accounts.

I should tellyou, by the way, that I've been extolling the virtues of this Rushdie book on various Internet sites for at least 8 years (not foodie ones like this, granted) and you are the first person who has gone out and tracked it down. I feel certain that your efforts will not go unrewarded.

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Yep, that Salman has all the luck, have you seen a photo of the bodacious Ms. Lakshmi?

I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a copy of her unbelievably banal cookbook, not for the take-instant-noodles-add-frozen-vegatables recipes, not for the extremely pedestrian girl-in-Paris stories, but for the fantastically titillating photos of Padma - in a negligee at the market, in a halter top choosing artichokes, etc. I mean, this is real gastro-porn.

I mentioned these Tam-Brahm couples in another thread, I happened to show the males the cookbook when they visited. An indication of the way they rec'd these photos of the (equally Tam-Brahm) curvy Padma Lakshmi is that they slinked away into the bedroom, closed the door, flipped through it and returned it with guilty looks on their faces.

This is a cookbook!!

0786886129.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

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Padma Lakshmi and Nigella Lawson... separated at birth? :laugh:

Well, I guess this is yet another idea for Rushina's book. When in doubt, stick a model's face on the cover to move copies! :laugh:

Ok, time to start cooking with Mrs. Rushdie's help...

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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on the other hand do we trust cookbooks written by such svelte people? if they can't bring themselves to eat their own food why should we...he types while hoping no one who sees his recipes page ever finds out how scrawny his own build is...

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Excellent, sleepydragon, look forward to your accounts.

Well, the cooking and eating is done. And it was good. So very, very good.

I followed one of her menu suggestions and made:

Aloo Palak

Diced Potatoes and Spinach

This was flavored with golden fried onions, chopped tomato, garlic, ginger and spices. I was a little too impatient with this dish, and ideally should have chopped the tomatoes more, as well as let it cook longer. It's just that it was the last one I finished, and chopping and frying yet another onion until golden brown was almost the last straw! But it tasted good. Just have to tweak the chopping and cooking times a bit to get a more cohesive look and mouthfeel to the dish. I went through 5 onions tonight.

Channa Dal

Split Yellow Channa Lentils

This was my favorite dish out of the three. Maybe that sounds a little strange considering the richness of the chicken dish, but cooking-wise I think I hit this one the most accurately. I love the garam masala recipe she's got, especially the addition of bari elaichee (large cardamoms) and sticking with kala zeera (black cumin seeds), and this combined with the bhagar of fried onions and white cumin seeds made for a meaty dal dish with an extra smoky element to it, even though there was no charcoal involved whatsoever. Maybe this is old elementary news to you all, but it was a revelation to me, and something I intend to keep in mind for other foods. Her suggestion to squeeze lemon juice over the dal before eating was all the more perfect because of that smoky taste.

All throughout the clean-up, I kept dipping a fresh spoon into the dal pot, just to have a perpetual one last mouthful. It was truly irresistable.

Murgh Irani

Chicken with Fresh Cream, Saffron and Green Cardamoms

Well, I am sure this dish would have been better had I been able to control the heat and not curdle the aforementioned fresh cream, along with the yogurt. Argh. But it still tasted good. In addition to the description above, this was also flavored with black cumin, cayenne, black pepper, almonds, saffron, fried onions, ghee, ginger and garlic. It had a really nice orange-ish color with a clingy sauce when I got done with it, all accomplished without a single drop of that "tandoori" food coloring! :laugh: Next time I'll be more careful with the heat, as well as remember to toast the saffron in a frying pan first, but it was still very fragrant and tasty.

I'd also probably reserve the chicken breast for another use, and only cook dark meat parts in it. The chicken gets browned first in the onion flavored ghee, but this didn't seem to prevent losing all the flavor in the white meat.

So that's everything, plus rice and yogurt.

I should tell you, by the way, that I've been extolling the virtues of this Rushdie book on various Internet sites for at least 8 years (not foodie ones like this, granted) and you are the first person who has gone out and tracked it down. I feel certain that your efforts will not go unrewarded.

Well, thank you again for the recommendation. I think I got lucky finding this book, it's great. I hope it sees a second printing.

Pat, with leftovers galore

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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Now that you mention it, I think I'd like illustrations. But like others have mentioned before, it depends who you want your audience to be.

One thing I was uncertain about with tonight's cooking was seemingly obvious things like what a "chop" amounted to when chopping an onion or bunch of spinach. I recall Madhur Jaffrey mentioning in "A Taste of India" that there are different knife cuts used depending on the recipe type. So, if you're interested in catering to us clueless newbies, knife cut illustrations could be really helpful.

Pat

"I... like... FOOD!" -Red Valkyrie, Gauntlet Legends-

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I wanted to buy a Vietnamese cookbook but was unable to find one written by a native author so I returned empty handed.

I'm sure there are exceptions to this but I dont think I would buy an Indian Cook book written by say Mary Smith or even Episure unless it had rave reviews.

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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I wanted to buy a Vietnamese cookbook but was unable to find one written by a native author so I returned empty handed.

Somewhere I have a Vietnamese cookbook written by a Vietnamese woman who was living in Madras (I think she was married to the director of the Alliance Francaise). There are several Vietnamese families living in Pondicherry - years back I remember eating good, basic, Vietnamese soups and dumplings in a tiny, spotless restaurant that also double up as a laundry - and I think she took their help in finding out how to make authentic recipes using standard Indian ingredients.

Now that I think about it there's probably a minor category of cookbooks written by people from a particular culture, but based in a different country. (Of course, that description could apply to a whole bunch of Indian-American books, from that grad students guide to Indian cooking that's still available online to the efforts of our own Monica). Diplomats wives have often produced cookbooks, and the spouses of executives in multinational companies are keeping up that tradition.

Its an interesting and I think quite valuable and practical category - you get the expertise of another culture adapted to the constraints of your own,

Vikram

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