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grapeshape

South Asian picnics

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Due to this beautiful east-coast weather, I'm planning a picnic in the park with a few college friends. Would South Asian cuisine fit the bill or would I be better off waiting for a rainy day and invite everyone inside?


If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let'em go, because, man, they're gone.

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Your question is interesting, so please don't take my response the wrong way. But I'm just curious: If you find out that picnics aren't traditional in South India, would you therefore decide not to serve South Indian food at a picnic on the East Coast (of the U.S., I presume)? Because to me, the only relevant question would be whether the food would work well at a picnic. The other question, about whether picnics are traditional in South India, is interesting to me per se but wouldn't have an effect on what food I'd choose to serve at a picnic, unless there are relevant practical elements to it (e.g. perhaps utthapams don't fit properly on paper plates and tend to fall on the ground), which would go back to whether the food would work well at a picnic.


Michael aka "Pan

 

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indians and other south asians go on picnics just like everybody else (are there cultures that proscribe picknicking?)--most indian cities have large parks and lake areas that crawl with picknickers over the weekends.

what we don't really have is set traditions of barbecuing etc. also most indians are not fans of cold food. but as pan said, take food you like, feed it to who you like and don't worry about whether the local indian association would approve.

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indians and other south asians go on picnics just like everybody else (are there cultures that proscribe picknicking?)

No-one was picknicking in rural Terengganu, Malaysia. Too many insects!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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what we don't really have is set traditions of barbecuing etc. also most indians are not fans of cold food. ......

In many picnic places in India, I used to foldly remember street vendors with portable do-hickeys that served goolgapes/phujkas/pani-poori, some did dahi-chaat, narial-pani/daab. So there are places where cold food is popular; not to talk about kulfi etc...


anil

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right.

i meant more as in taking cold food with you, the way americans take salads and sandwiches. we mostly took parathas and so on wrapped in foil or in steel containers to stay warm.

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If I were you, I would absolutely go for the picnic. As a matter of fact, I could go for a long picnic snacking on chaat and pani puri all day long.


--Jenn

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I should have been more clear. The only South Asian recipes in my repertoire are served hot, and (for those of us who still haven't mastered eating rise with our hands) aren't finger food, with the exception of some desserts. So what I ought to have asked was: what types of foods would one prepare for a South Asian themed picnic? What travels well, won't seep through paper plates, etc?

Thanks!


If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let'em go, because, man, they're gone.

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...and what do people from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc. serve when they have picnics? I know there is crossover between American picnic-fare and daily-fare, but there are certainly items I see almost exclusively on the red-checkered blanket.

So what's the South Asian equivalent to cold fried chicken, potato salad, and lemonade?


If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, let'em go, because, man, they're gone.

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...and what do people from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc. serve when they have picnics?  I know there is crossover between American picnic-fare and daily-fare, but there are certainly items I see almost exclusively on the red-checkered blanket.

So what's the South Asian equivalent to cold fried chicken, potato salad, and lemonade?

As Mongo_Jones wrote Indians do go on picnics. As a child I remember going on picnics to the gardens near Malampuza dam in Paalakkad, Kerala. We took lots of crunchy snacks (murukku, tengavada) and sweets (appam, ellunda and mysorepak) that did not require any serving utensils. There was plenty of homemade lemonade and flask full of piping hot south Indian coffee.

Here is a brief passage from Gowri Ramnarayans' article "Evening Picnics along the Cauvery" in which she describes the picnics of her Patti's (grandmother's) time. This picnic was near Cauvery river in Tamilnadu, south India. The article appeared in The Hindu four or five years ago.

During the "padinettam perukku" or the first floods of the Cauvery in the month of Adi, it was the time for evening picnics. Women made four kinds of rice, each spicier than the other - yellow lime, golden tamarind, brown sesame seed, and the mandatory curd rice of the Tamils, pearly white and splattered with green chillies and mustard. ("Flavoured with asafoetida juice, made by marinating and gently rolling the gum with your index finger in a small cup of water," Patti will inform you with pride."None of your odourless powders from a box.") Pickles and fries rounded off this meal by the riverside, served on leaves fresh picked from trees near by, washed down with the cool water from the Cauvery. "You cannot imagine that taste. The gingelly oil from the village press had a fragrance quite unique, as did the tamarind from our own trees that we helped to seed and dry."

Morning picnics were held in the month of Margazhi. Braving the December cold the village elders (only males) would start on their round of pre dawn bhajans. Such roars accompanied by clashing cymbals would wake the children who would rush out and join the procession as it sang its way to the river bank. Some elderly lady would make pongal on a stove of assembled bricks with sticks of wood. This was not sweet pongal but white stuff dripping with home made ghee ("From a single cow," Patti would add), and sprinkled with jeera and pepper. Oh, to take a dollop of it on a plantain leaf straight from the stove, so that it warmed your palm and tongue in the misty mornings . . . !

edited for typos


Edited by Peppertrail (log)

Ammini Ramachandran

www.Peppertrail.com

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Fascinating post Ammini, one wishes there was a time machine for such regressive escapades.

Single cow ghee reminds of my other favourite drink. I guess this one could be called Cowdhu.


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

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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I loved going to picnics when visiting India. The whole family, and it seemed to swell up at the mention of food and outing, would go. We would take parathas, pickles, potatoes seasoned with mustard and lots of fresh lemonade.. Yum..


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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In our family picnic food would reflect the cooking mood of my mom. If she was in South Indian mode, we would eat idlies with coconut chutney. Samosas for the north Indian mode. Puri Bhaji (potato) when she felt Maharastrian. Bhisi Bele Bhat when she felt her Karnatic roots reveled. You get the picture - our picnics were fun... :smile:

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Growing up in Delhi, there were 3 favorite picnic spots.

- Qutab Minar

- India Gate

- Buddha Jayanti Park

In most cases other families / relatives would also join and it will be a big pot luck. Food would include Jeera rice, Chhole (Chickpeas curry), Puris, Masala Aloo, Keema Kaleji and lots of green salads, pickles, chutneys and fruits for dessert.

Most of these items are ideally served hot but are equally enjoyable when they are warm or even a little cold.

However, the main focus on picnic used to be playing cards (for money of course) and cricket, frisbees etc.

Good ol' times!!!

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Deliad -- I remember going to Suraj Kund for the large family picnics!

Oh, Yeah!!

How could I forget that.

Now that I think hard, in addition to Suraj Kund, we also used to go to Purana Qila (Old fort) near the Delhi Zoo, Okhla Canal, and more recently, Appu Ghar.

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