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eG Foodblog: mongo jones - how to lose friends and annoy people


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and the blog may not take the weekend off but i'm guessing most of its readers will--egullet seems to be work-avoidance strategy for many. of course, i hadn't thought all this through when i declared today hump-day for the blog.

Oh, eG is great work avoidance all right - but those of us who don't work regular hours have the great advantage of being able to use it for that purpose 24/7. 3:00 AM on Saturday? You betcha, there I am avoiding away.

For some of us, there is no hump-day.

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i just completely screwed up a message from earlier today--meant to grab a small section of it to quote and instead edited everything else away from it. can't even remember what it said--hopefully it won't screw the context of anything that followed.

anyway this is the bit i wanted to quote:

so dinner tonight:

channa dal

yellow-croaker: spicy-roast a la mongo jones

fried okra

and this is why i wanted to quote it:

people, i'm losing energy and enthu here--will i be forgiven if i only post pictures of final products tonight?

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yes, the channa and kali dals carry an extra layer of exotica for the average american as they are cooked in the pressure cooker.

There are some poor slobs, like myself, who don't have a pressure cooker. The concept is so totally foriegn and even scarey. :hmmm: Channa and the like slow-cook just fine and dandy :wub: . I *am* going to get a pressure cooker soon, however. Right after I re-read that whole pressure cooker thread. I'm still at work, so I tuned in to have 3 whole pages of Mongo-blogging glory.

Chin up, Mongo. Your blog is so delightfully unique and it makes me smile and chuckle as my own energy is flagging. Final pictures are great, anything else is just gravy.

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ok, here's some dal pics to start you off with:

first the dal display:

from left to right: channa, kali urad, mushoor, moog

daldisplay.jpg

channa dal goes into pressure cooker with water, turmeric, salt

dalcooker.jpg

dal comes out of pressure cooker, has things done to it and finally looks like this

dalcooked.jpg

recipe and some discussion here

okra to follow

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this is the okra dish (mother's recipe) with which i convert okra-haters

first step: wash and COMPLETELY dry the okra before touching it with a knife. right after i took the pic another layer of paper towels went on top

okradry.jpg

step 2: slice the okra as thinly or thickly as you want (if feeling lazy just halve them)--but i tend to like it on the thinnish side. discard the tops. (note, because the okra are COMPLETELY dry before being cut, there's a minimum of mucus visible. mmmmm mucus....)

okrasliced.jpg

step 3: slice some onions

onionsliced.jpg

step 4: assemble spices: amchur, turmeric, salt, black-pepper--you want to be organized 'cos once this thing starts cooking it needs your complete and undivided attention

okraspices.jpg

step 5: heat oil (good mustard oil is optimal--if lucky enough to have, heat to smoking point)--drop in okra (it should start sizzling the second it makes contact with the oil)--start stirring immediately and don't stop (get your whole body into it)--your burner should be on high. once the okra begins to crisp on sides and edges and looks like this dump in the onions. keep stirring

okrafry.jpg

step 6: once the onions and okra together look somewhat like this drop in the spices and reduce heat to medium. did i say stop stirring? no, i didn't

okraonion.jpg

step 7: add a pinch of sugar, keep stirring. once everything begins to darken, and things taste good to you, take off heat and stir in "the masala that is made only in my mother's house" (you're on your own here--i've no idea what she puts in it--but it isn't a crucial ingredient...) and serve

okramasala.jpg

step 8: ready to eat--note complete absence of slime/mucus at all stages of preparation

okrafinal.jpg

2 yellow croakers coming right up

Edited by mongo_jones (log)
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and finally roasted yellow-croaker

here's the croakers--presumably they make croaking sounds when still alive, or else someone's got some explaining to do

croakers.jpg

make the spice paste: 1 tspn red chilli powder, 1/2 tspn garam masala, 1/2 tspn amchur, 1/2 tspn black pepper, salt--just enough white vinegar to make a thick paste

spicepaste.jpg

the croakers--scaled, gutted, numerous incisions made in their sides (to the bone but not through), spice paste rubbed into incisions and into cavities--yes, monica, they're looking at you. put into pre-heated hot oven (450? 475?) and roast till done (whenever that is).

fishcoated.jpg

2 minutes before "done" pull out the fish, sprinkle with mystery green herb, finish and serve with steamed rice

fishdone.jpg

hopefully you saved the fins, gills and innards. these are eaten raw

innards.jpg

actually, they're not. throw them away--the icky things

this recipe has its origins in something i saw on epicurious some years ago. that was a recipe for a whole snapper, rubbed/stuffed with garlic and possibly balsamic vinegar and roasted. my version probably resembles certain malayali and goan approaches to roast fish. someone else can tell me if that is true or false. i use croaker for this just because. any small, whole white-fleshed fish will do (try snappers, pomfret etc.--mackerel will probably overpower this spice-paste). also vary ingredients/proportions of spice-paste to taste.

at the risk of tooting my own horn (mmmmm tooting my own horn.....): this was one of the best meals we've eaten of late. i've rarely made the okra, channa dal, or roasted fish better and they went really well together. of course, a certain someone had eaten a surreptitious snack at 7 pm comprising, get this, steamed rice, red chilli paste (kochujang) and bean sprouts. i go to the trouble to make all this and she ruins her appetite on crap. eeeeeeeeeeeeevil!

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Thanks for sharing your dinner with us mongo. It looks like a truly inspired combination--one that I would never have thought of but which sounds like it would be so delicious.

(Thanks for breaking down and showing some of the prep even!)

I must find some petite okrettes to try your recipe.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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does this mean you know what "guvar", "tindora" and "turai" are?

Guvar is the Hindi name for a kind of thin green bean, particularly popular (with different names) in the South. I think they might be a variety of cluster bean.

Tindora is the Gujerati name for a finger-like gherkin-looking vegetable. It's a Bombay favorite (known as Tendli or Tondli), I've never figured out why the Gujju name is used exclusively here in the USA. You have a box of Tindora in one of your photos, Mongo, I think next to the okra (too lazy to go all the way back there and check).

Turai/Toorai is the Hindi name for a fore-arm-sized green gourd (maybe a marrow?). It looks vaguely like a longer and unspiky variety of a karela. I've seen it incorrectly translated on a local menu as courgette, it is definitely not a courgette.

thank you very much bhelpuri! yes, the tindora is next to the okra and the turai next to the chillies, i think.

... and the guvar is to the right of the cabbage...

Edited by bague25 (log)
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"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."

[and I'm not even a Star Trek geek]

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Ok, fine, I'll jump in with an opinion on small city cuisine. I would like to say it has something to do with ley lines, and I'm not willing to completely discount supernatural influence in certain cities - especially in California. Freaky place. However, I think what we see now is a combination of self-fulfilling mythology and practical necessity.

An innovative chef who wants an audience (I'm not saying all of them do) needs to decide if one want to go where the audience is, or hope to draw the audience to wherever one is working. Practically speaking, cities like Chicago, NYC and LA not only have a built-in audience, but have already developed reputations as places where people travel to eat outside of their normal comfort zones, even if they are eating something like pizza.

If our imaginary chef instead decides to establish himself in a smaller market he will have to cope with issues of ingredient availability, costs, as well as his audience just plain not getting it. Now, our chef may become a Thomas Keller (a small fraction), attracting devotees far and wide. Or possibly something of a local legend (a few more than that). Or, he may just not cut it at all (how many restaurants go under in the first year?).

And so, a restaurant owner with champagne wishes and caviar dreams - or at least the goal of a successful venture - might choose to stay with the secure reputation of the city as a food destination, rather than break new ground. So, you get more big city restaurants, more innovative big city restaurants, people learn it is a big city destination for food, and the cycle continues, relegating all but the most successful in other locales to the status of local favorite or whispered legend.

Break the cycle! Move to Nokomis, Illinois!

Actually, I hope that with some of our modern conveniences we will change the food landscape in our small and mid-size cities. Some would argue that we have, but I don't think we're there yet. But hey, in this, I think the internet may be one of our most valuable tools. If we use sites like this one to explore where the good food is in places like Binghamton, NY, then that may be the first big step from a consumer's perspective - we're acknowledging that there can be good food outside of the big cities. Now, we all need to eat at those places.

So yeah, like I said. Ley lines.

--adoxograph

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Ok, fine, I'll jump in with an opinion on small city cuisine. I would like to say it has something to do with ley lines, and I'm not willing to completely discount supernatural influence in certain cities - especially in California. Freaky place. However, I think what we see now is a combination of self-fulfilling mythology and practical necessity.

An innovative chef who wants an audience (I'm not saying all of them do) needs to decide if one want to go where the audience is, or hope to draw the audience to wherever one is working. Practically speaking, cities like Chicago, NYC and LA not only have a built-in audience, but have already developed reputations as places where people travel to eat outside of their normal comfort zones, even if they are eating something like pizza.

If our imaginary chef instead decides to establish himself in a smaller market he will have to cope with issues of ingredient availability, costs, as well as his audience just plain not getting it. Now, our chef may become a Thomas Keller (a small fraction), attracting devotees far and wide. Or possibly something of a local legend (a few more than that). Or, he may just not cut it at all (how many restaurants go under in the first year?).

And so, a restaurant owner with champagne wishes and caviar dreams - or at least the goal of a successful venture - might choose to stay with the secure reputation of the city as a food destination, rather than break new ground. So, you get more big city restaurants, more innovative big city restaurants, people learn it is a big city destination for food, and the cycle continues, relegating all but the most successful in other locales to the status of local favorite or whispered legend.

Break the cycle! Move to Nokomis, Illinois!

Actually, I hope that with some of our modern conveniences we will change the food landscape in our small and mid-size cities. Some would argue that we have, but I don't think we're there yet. But hey, in this, I think the internet may be one of our most valuable tools. If we use sites like this one to explore where the good food is in places like Binghamton, NY, then that may be the first big step from a consumer's perspective - we're acknowledging that there can be good food outside of the big cities. Now, we all need to eat at those places.

So yeah, like I said. Ley lines.

Ley Lines as in Stonehenge?

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

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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Many Earl Greys use average quality Tea leaves which are masked by the Bergamot Flavour.

Tetley which is now an Indian company makes an unusual Vanilla Earl Grey.

Think there's also a variant called Lady Grey?

fab blog by the way - all this delicious food is going to make my hotel room service menu look even more unappealing!

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and finally roasted yellow-croaker

here's the croakers--presumably they make croaking sounds when still alive, or else someone's got some explaining to do

Actually they make that sound when they are caught and/or excited.

The croaking sound is made by the muscles around their swim bladders. Protesting gasps or screams of delight when they communicate with the other sex - "you like chinese or bengali ?"

I first discovered this when I was fishing off Bombay and hit a school of Eels. When I Eeled the first Reel in, it made such a racket that it would send a sqealing pig back to modulation classes. The second one went better, it started upchucking. In return for their impressive performance and letting me pun on their croaking it, I let them go with a strict warning.

Love my spooner. :biggrin:

episure, you need therapy of some sort--perhaps with electricity involved?

i didn't know we had yellow croaker in india--figured it was just a chinese/korean thing. what are some of the local names for it in india?

as for eels, i'll eat them but ever since those early scenes in the film version of "the tin drum" i don't want to look at them in the live form.

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As you know, the standard post-blog diet are cheetos... bags and bags of 'em. One week on that regimen and you should be back to normal, writing your name in the snow...

:wink:

i hate to break this cycle but mrs. jones has promised she will do all the cooking next week. the cooking is not the hard part of the blog-week, by the way: we're at home full-time through august and i'd be cooking almost as much everyday anyway, even if i wasn't blogging. and i guess on a normal day i almost post as much (across all the forums) as i am while blogging.

no, what's exhausting me is knowing just how many of you are dependent on this blog for moral sustenance...in a world gone wrong, where vindaloo is made with everything but pork, where waiters ask you if you want your dal mild, medium or spicy, where indian mangoes are exported to canada but not the u.s, in such a crazy mixed-up world i realize that if my concentration flags for just an instant many of you will disappear.

god complex? or can it be that you should send me $100 and two of your best wives (or husbands if they can clean dishes well) and await the coming of the SIGN?

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We ARE a sorry lot. Ostracized by the rest of the world because we can talk of nothing but food and cooking and totally dependent on kind people like you to feed our addiction.

Already we are selecting our designer-drug of choice to get us over the end of your blog. Mine's a double scotch - straight up - hold the ice and water.

Cheers and thanks!

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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You can find the history of Earl Grey tea

HERE

foodie52, you would dare explain EVIL? do we really need to know anything other than what is obvious: earl grey is what the demon mahishasura dribbled out of his anus while the goddess durga was sticking it to him. all this history schmistory is clearly revisionist.

but let no one say i am not open to other ways of knowing the world:

Earl Grey of Howick Hall, near Craster, was one of Britain’s most popular Prime Ministers. His 1832 Reform Act completely changed the democratic system in Britain to the system we have today of parliamentary constituencies of (roughly) equal size and a one man, one vote electoral system.

notice how all this preamble is needed to set the guy up before the demon-juice can be mentioned

As Prime Minister, he also once sent a diplomatic mission to China and by chance the envoy saved the life of a Chinese Madarin. In gratitude, the Mandarin sent the Earl a delightfully scented tea, with its recipe. The special ingredient with which it was flavoured was oil of Bergamot.

and notice how quickly the chinese are blamed. clearly this was an assasination plot that went awry because the earl was a mechanical ninja and needed daily infusions of oil of bergamot to keep his privates moving.

Earl Grey was delighted and in future always asked his tea merchant – the Tyneside company, Twinings, for that blend. His drawing room soon became famous for its tea and in due course the family gave permission for the blend to be sold to the public.

might this have been when the family fortunes began to sag? in any event it becomes clear who is really to blame for it coming near my nose. not the chinese, the english

Today, Earl Grey is the world’s most popular blend and is sold in more than 90 countries.

i believe st. john points to this as the ultimate sign of the closeness of the apocalypse.

Edited by mongo_jones (log)
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Can try to express how much satisfaction it gives me that I'm not alone in my loathing of Earl Grey tea? Vile stuff.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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All of the dishes you've posted look so delicious I don't know where to begin. I am paralyzed with indecision. Are you going to tell us the good news? :smile:

start with the fish-dishes--they're the easiest and perhaps the most familiar (in case there's other family members who need to be eased in).

the good news won't be so exciting for you people: i'm pregnant!

well, no. it is just that the doctor has given me the go ahead to burst the boils on my ass!

well, not that either. the truth is housing related. we rent a house here in boulder. our landlords went psycho on us without warning. long story. we were looking for another place--found a great townhome (bigger, nicer, more beautiful neighbourhood) for much less than what our current landlords are raising rent to for next year. we'd put in our application and were waiting to hear if we'd got it. we probably have--need to leave in an hour to sign the lease. we really should buy a house of our own, i suppose. but for complicated reasons we won't have a good idea of whether we'll be in boulder long term or not for another year or two. people tell us we should buy now and just sell in a couple of years if we end up leaving but i find that idea wearying. in india people buy a house/flat and live in it till they die and will it to their children--the home as temporary investment is a relatively new idea. also we can't afford boulder--we'd probably have to move to broomfield to get a place bigger/better than we rent here. and currently we have a 5 minute bus ride to work--even though commutes in los angeles were at least 30 minutes for everything, the thought of replacing the 5 minute bus ride with a 15 minute car drive and the parking hassles is also not attractive.

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Doc, thanks for the compliments.

i didn't know we had yellow croaker in india--figured it was just a chinese/korean thing. what are some of the local names for it in india?

Croaker is indeed available, maybe as a different sub species. Like Reef Cod and Red snapper, this species too has not made it to the Indian table and therefore is known by it's name in English.

We are one the the leading seafood traders in India, having subsidiary office in major fishing centres in India.  Products include Shrimps, Scampi, Cuttlefish, Squid, Octopus, Red Snapper, Seer Fish, Groupers, Pomfret, Sole, Ribbon Fish and Croakers.  Acting as Buying agents for foreign importers.
International traders and agents for Indi seafood. We arrange brands and excellent quality products from reliable seafood processors. We are specialized in fresh/frozen: ribbonfish, croaker, eel, pomfret, kingfish, reef cod, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, leather jacket.
Supply of high quality items in correct count and weight at very reasonable rate and terms: Black tiger shrimps, cuttlefish, squid, silver and black pomfret, yellowfin and skipjack tuna, reef cod, croaker, ribbonfish, Indian oil sardine, anchovy, octopus etc.

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

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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the days (blog-related) plans:

food-wise: leftovers for lunch--polish off the liver curry, the nadan meen kari and last night's channa dal and okra; cook dinner: do something with chicken and make either kali urad or moog dal, maybe also a veg (potatoes? cauliflower?).

food for thought-wise: pick up on adoxograph's small/midtown chef/restaurant thoughts--hopefully others will engage with this as well; finally answer moby's question from yesterday about my incredible snobbery and indian restaurants in los angeles/california.

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