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Is there a dish you remember?


Suvir Saran
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I am again going to get all Bengali on your behinds.

The most memorable dish I have EVER eaten of ANY cuisine is Bengali mustard fish.  it contains only

Mackerel - in small steaks ( or any firm boney river fish if you can get it )

Ginger powder

Mustard powder

Freshly powdered tumeric

Er that's it

From watching my mother, I have learned that less is indeed more.

I make a mix of a tsp on the ginger, mustard and tumeric and roll the fish in it and leave in the fridge overnight or for a few hours.

I then put two teaspoons on a vegetable oil in a hot pan and fry off a little more of the mixed spices until they lose their rawness.  I then add the fish and do the same until they take a little colour all over.  Finally, add water to barely cover the fish and simmer on the lowest heat until the fish is cooked.

That's it.  It sounds too simple but with a small bowl of plain boiled rice and perhaps a simple chapati it is a dish from the gods.

S

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Commonplace now of course but the time I first ate Tandoori chicken at the Agra restaurant Whitfield St (London) circa 1969 was one of the great food revelation moments of my life.

The Agra was,or claims to have been,the first restaurant in London serving Tandoori food.The chicken wasn't orange but a deep red colour,with charred black crusty,crunchy edges.It came sizzling with lemon and onions,divided into drumsticks and thighs,giving off a heavenly aroma.Beneath the reddened surface the chicken was incredibly juicy and moist and ,when eaten with naan (also new to me) I remember being almost in tears with the culinary beauty of it all.

I can't remember the rest of the meal and I can't remember who I was with,but that moment will stay with me forever.

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Tonyfinch: that was moving.  Is the restaurant still open?  Do you enjoy going back still?

Sounds like you had a perfect rendering of tandoori chicken.  You have described the dish perfectly.

Simon: simple is always great.  What was the mackerel dish called?  The Bengali name for it that is.

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As it happens the restaurant is still there,although for a long time it has been just another run of the mill tandoori restaurant among hundreds of others.

Since that time I found the only way I could really replicate that first experience ws to cook tandoori chicken at home,either on a bbq or in a chicken brick.

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Suvir

The dish is called Maschher Sorshe Jhal or just Maschher jhal.  I think that covers a wide range of dishes but that is what we called it

Let us never underestimate the importance of Jhol to Bengali culture

S

Tony - congratulations,  The first time I have heard the words "chicken brick" since 1977 :smile:

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What is a "chicken brick"? Spatch-cocking the chicken and weighting it with a brick?

"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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No

A chicken brick is a lidded clay pot that was a pre requisite in all 1970's UK homes along with bean bags.

It is actually quite a good way to cook tandoori food.  excellent for prawns

I think I saw one in The Pottery Barn in Toronto so I think they do sell them

S

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Oh. Thanks.

"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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I had a very memorable Indian food experience in Singapore, where we ate about a dozen different Indian dishes off big banana leaves. I think it was mostly tourist kitsch, especially as presented at the Banana Leaf Apollo restaurant, but it felt authentic in an inauthentic sort of way. Anyway, the dish that totally blew me away was fish head curry, which was the only dish served not on the banana leaf. I have heard from many that this restaurant serves the best fish head curry in Singapore, though I don't know how much that says about it in absolute terms. I hear the dish is more popular in Singapore's Indian community than in whatever part of India most of those folks come from.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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...........

The dish is called Maschher Sorshe Jhal or just Maschher jhal.  I think that covers a wide range of dishes but that is what we called it

Let us never underestimate the importance of Jhol to Bengali culture

........

Jhal and Jhol are two different things no  :smile: Former if I'm not mistaken is about the thikha-factor,

and later is the gravy/stew. I've had the former served in one part of the thali, and the later (just the gruel)

in the second part in my dorm/hostel - While big bowls of rice and dall were on the table  :smile:

anil

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  • 3 months later...

Oh, dear, I forgot to say what it was.

My most memorable Indian meal was had at my first ever visit to an Indian restaurant.  This was in the mid-1960s. It coincided with my first trip on a plane (BEA to London), and first trip on the tube. This was when I was on vacation in London when I was around 8 or 9, and for lunch my parents and I went into a quiet Indian restaurant in Soho (I think).  My father was stationed in Bombay during WWII for many years, and I grew up with him constantly raving about Indian food. I had a chicken dish. It was a big chicken breast, still on the bone, with lovely, red juices. I remember the waiters placing a napkin between my plate and tablecloth. I was determined that I was going to manage to cut this huge piece of meat on my own, and I probably was making a right mess of it.  

That was the first, and I've never looked back.

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I had never really tasted Indian cooking until I visited England for the first time.  I was instantly hooked, of course.  I didn't actually think about cooking it myself until one of those same English friends visited here several years later, and fixed an incredible feast for us, using ingredients from a nearby Indian shop and recipes from a small cookbook - "Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking."  It was then that I realized that we had Indian grocers in town, and that I could actually make much of this food at home.  

There are two dishes that these friends made for us from that cookbook for that feast that are an absolute must when I do a small feast.  The first is Baigan achari, or "The Lake Palace Hotel's aubergine cooked in the pickling style."  I have no authentic standard by which to judge this dish, but I can't imagine it tasting any better in that particular hotel.  The other is Khatte chhole, or "sour chickpeas" which is street food as she describes it in the book.  I absolutely love this dish, but certainly CAN imagine this tasting even better straight from a street vendor...

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The one that I remember comes from my dad's restaurant in New Delhi - the smaller one. I would stand outside at night (works better in the winter) and order Chicken Cheese Tikka (a signature dish of the Tandoori chef there). Even the other places my dad owns do not carry it on their menu.

Chicken marinated in the usual mix of yoghurt and spices (the one additional one was white pepper). The bigger chickens were used to get good sized cubes (only works on boneless chicken). He would grill it in the Tandoor, pull it out at the last minute and soak it in melted Amul prcessed cheese for a minute. Back into the tandoor for a minute or so. A delicate balance between burning the cheese and mind-melding it with the chicken. With quality ingredients and my unearned standing as the owner's son - I would get perfect chicken cheese tikka everytime. This was a heavenly fusion of chicken and cheese (you could not tell where one ended and the other began). Lightly spiced and perfectly cooked - the most tender chicken I have ever had out of a tandoor. Think of the cheese as a finishing sauce rather than a glob of cheese on the chicken and you will get the idea. I would eat two whole chickens worth just standing there by myself. I once told Hemant (of Diwan Grill) about it. His tandoor skills are pretty good too. BUT the tandoori chef at my dad's place is a magician. Nothing else has ever been quite that good.

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The one that I remember comes from my dad's restaurant in New Delhi - ......

Please tell us more. Due to turns of Karma, DEL has been injected into my pit-stops when in .IN, Always interested in getting a

different perspective  :smile:

anil

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Anil,

My father comes from the Moti Mahal line of restaurants (close relative of one of the original owners). He now is a partner in a bunch of restaurants in Delhi. The oldest and biggest being Mughal Mahal in Rajendra Place near Hotel Siddhartha on Pusa Road. The one I was talking about in my post is called Mughal's and is in New Friends Colony.

what else do you want to know?

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vivin,

 I remember Moti mahal from my youth era. I returned this Feb

after over two decades, tried a few road-side Dhabas. Will

need refreshing my memory when I visit again in the future  :smile:

anil

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  • 4 weeks later...

My very first memories of Indian food ( and thus, favouite dishes) are of Tandoori chicken with lots of lime juice on it and Butter chicken. I think I have eaten kilo's of Butter chicken in my life. Strangely, I've never made it at home, but I think I might tonight.

When I was a teenager my dad worked on an archaelogical site in south India and I was lucky enough to be taken there a couple of times.

These trips provided me with my next lot of favourite dishes.

Freshly cooked Jalebi

Puris

Masala Dosa

Rasam and sambar

curds and jaggery

and pretty much anything with lime pickle and yoghurt.

It's the contrasting flavours and textures in Indian food that I find so addictive.

How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

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Polly, where else did you live as a youngster? Your life sounds wonderful.

Do you have a good recipe for butter chicken?

I made some last week. As usual people loved it. I think we may have a recipe or two posted on the Chicken Curry thread. YOu may want to check that out.

I think Julie Sahnis recipe is good. Cut the oil by half or even more.

I love fresh Jalebis and also every other dish you mention. Wow!

What site did your father work at in Southern India? Sounds wonderful.

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The most interesting Indian meal that I ever had was a lunch thali at the Oberoi hotel in Calcutta.I had never had Bengali food,and all the mustardy and acidic accents were very intriguing.The paan at the end of the meal was a kick as well.The tandoor food at Bukhara,in New Dehli was incredible-the best dishes were Pomfret,and a dish of lentils that also had the smoky taste of the tandoor.As for things that I have cooked myself from Indian cookbooks;Appams,from Madhur Jaffreys' Taste of India',and Julie Sahnis' Vindaloo recipe,which I've made many times..

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Wingding,

You are adventurous. Paan, eh? Wow!

Appams.... how do you like them? They are a great dish. Do you make the stew that goes with them? Do you use coconut milk in it?

Tell us more... You seem to have been lurking on the sidelines here even as you knew so much. Anyone that can make Appams must know Indian food very well.

What do you like about that Vindaloo?

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The sauce in the vindaloo is a blend of many spices,tamarind,and vinegar-it has a wonderful aroma while it's cooking,and a delicious flavor.Appams are one of the many things that I love about Madhur Jaffreys' two books;A Taste of India,and Flavors of India-regional home recipes that I've never heard of before,many of them delicious and different from the N.Y. Indian restaurant dishes that most of us are familiar with..

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Suvir, I did my growing up in Australia, where I still live, but I was very fortunate in having parents who were involved in many interesting projects and took us kids overseas a few times.

My father is a photographer and every year, for about ten years, he went to Vijayanagra (sp?) in Karnataka state to document the ancient city that was being uncovered there.

I got to go there twice, and I loved every minute of both trips.

We ( all the people from around the world) who worked on the site stayed in a camp of bamboo huts and army surplus tents that were pitched around a small building that had the kitchen in it.

Every day we ate glorious thalis and the cooks would make extra puris for breakfast when they found out how much my brother and I liked them.

I could go on forever but all this is rather off topic.

Suffice to say that the lovely people I met and the food and landscape and the amazingly different culture made a huge impact on me.

When I returned to Australia I was homesick for India.

How sad; a house full of condiments and no food.

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