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Is there a perfect cocktail to serve


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I have found this discription of a Indian liqueur that sounds very similar to what was described to me "......Rajasthan, various kinds of liqueurs known as ashas, supposedly made up of as many as seventy-five different ingredients as diverse as human blood or crushed pearls and drunk 'mainly for potency'. Ashas were essentially elixirs intended for royalty alone".

Do you know anything about "Ashas"?

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  • 2 years later...

Interesting thread Episure, thanks for bringing it up (though I wonder if your two year delayed reply to A Balic's question breaks some sort of eGullet record!). Which is the company that is planning on manufacturing Asha? Sounds like a dubious proposition - I haven't tried it, but like many of these fabled things, its always seemed like the story sounds better than the product really is.

As the previous respondents on this thread have pointed out, gin would be the basis for the most historically accurate cocktail in the modern sense - lets not get into what was mixed in those Ashas. They seem to have left out pink gins (with bitters) which was one Raj staple. Some of the clubs of the Raj also had special cocktails of their own - I think that "The Raj At Table" book gives the recipe for a few.

My own suggestion though for the best cocktail to go with Indian food is something that has next to no links with India, but at least came from a similar climate: Brazilian caiprinhas. I don't think this is just my own love for them speaking. They are basically just a (very) alcoholic version of the nimbu-pani (for the non-desis, a sweetened lime juice with water drink) that we're all familiar with.

The acidity of limes, and it has to be limes, no lemons please, with the extra bitterness from their skins which are macerated in the glass along with sugar, does a wonderful job of cutting through the occasional heaviness of Indian food. And lime, as you noted on another thread, serves to clarify the tastes in Indian cooking.

There is unfortunately one big problem: from where does one get the cachaça, the white cane spirit that's used for this (and no its not the same as rum, and for reasons why I think there are some threads in the Beverages forum). I have been moaning and asking the question for ages, why on earth is it that we don't have cachaça considering that India produces such vast amounts of sugar cane and that all Indian made alcohol is made from the molasses produced from it.

That is, btw, why the only really good Indian liquor is rum, everything else is extra neutral alcohol with flavours added. Indian Made Foreign Liquor is not always as bad as it sounds, but only the rums are really authentic. Mohan Meakin's Old Monk, in my view, is world class, and here's a link to a nice article on it written by a colleague:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/758522.cms

Back to the cachaça dilemma, I thought at one point that maybe I might find an equivalent in desi daru - the really hard core rot gut which might do the trick, since cachaca is pretty hard core itself when drunk neat. I thought I hit pay dirt when I found a bottle at one of my regular liquor shops that was actually quite well packed and neatly labelled 'desi daru'. It was even lime flavoured and was extremely cheap - just Rs60 for the bottle. I bought a bottle and took it home and tried...

... much, much later when I picked myself off the floor I realised this was a dead end. It was the most incredibly strong stuff I have ever drunk in my life, just sort of knocking tastebuds and any type of sensation quite dead for hours. It is just remotely possible to drink this very very diluted, but a cachaça substitute its not going to be.

Now I am left with:

(a) begging friends from abroad to get me bottles

(b) befriending random Brazilians in the hope of getting bottles from them and perhaps getting them to invest in a cachaca making plant. One of them actually did get me a couple of bottles, but since she was here in India to find salvation declined to join me in making cachaça

© haunting bars that have it. I finished the Indigo stock ages back, now I am working on a couple of places in the suburbs, but this isn't going to last long

(d) substituting vodka, NOT white rum, which despite its common origins is way too syrupy. The vodka version seems to be spreading around town under the name of caipiroshka and it is a pale substitute, but better than nothing.

If you do have contacts in distilleries, please ask them to stop wasting their time making Asha and focus on cachaça instead.

Vikram

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Try Royal Treasure white rum, it comes pretty close to a Cachaca. And for a rougher edge try Al Cazar.

Cachaca( Fire water) also goes well as a Batida with freshly cut mango. If you prefer it sweet (I know you like some goa ports :wacko: ) add a spoon of condensed milk. :rolleyes:

And Old Monk is one of the few spirits which is preffered by expat Indians the world over. A dear friend who handles the import/distribution logistics for Johnnie Walker in the UAE drinks only Old Monk.

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

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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I know you like some goa ports

That's calumny! What I think I meant when - if! - I ever said that was that as ports they are a disaster, but as alcoholic cough syrups they aren't bad, and I've always quite liked cough syrups (maybe that nice dopey Benadryl feeling has something to do with it). Vinicola, which sells these 'ports' most aggresively, got it about right with its name - its really a not that soft drink of some kind. I have also, just once, has a relatively decent port at the house of a Goan friend. I think the name was Tres Irmaos, or something like that, and she said it was the one port that Goans felt was a cut above the rest.

Vikram

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i've sometimes wondered about this from the other side of the coin--what sort of indian food goes well with cocktails?

very generally, i find myself preferring to shy away from large portions, dairy, rice and dals; i gravitate toward smaller portions, spices, meats, fried food and breads.

with the latter sort of fare, imo, beer tends to lose its edge over cocktails.

i follow vikram that cachaca is brilliant with some kinds of indian food (and anyone in n. america making a caipiranha in this light--take the time to find key limes if you can!).

but i hesitate to limit myself to one choice of base libation. given the right treatment, rums, tequilas, vodkas and gins all have their shining strengths with some kinds of indian foods. i'm not sure about various whiskies, though....

another thought that comes to mind is that cocktails are often--at least as much--about the mixer as the base. fruit and vegetable juices, sodas, syrups: all seriously impact the nature of the cocktail. so--

what sort of mixers (guavas, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes (!), chilis, sodas, citrus) go with indian food? and what sort of indian food goes with these sort (fruit juices, etc.) of mixers?

well, blabbity blab blab. blame toucano brand cachaca.

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Litchi juice daiquiri.

i add a tiny pinch of cinnamon to lychee juice and shake with vodka etc.

Green chilli infused vodka with lime juice and syrup.

do almost the same thing with soda, garnished with a split chilli.

:wub::wub:

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My own suggestion though for the best cocktail to go with Indian food is something that has next to no links with India, but at least came from a similar climate: Brazilian caiprinhas. I don't think this is just my own love for them speaking. They are basically just a (very) alcoholic version of the nimbu-pani (for the non-desis, a sweetened lime juice with water drink) that we're all familiar with.

There is unfortunately one big problem: from where does one get the cachaça, the white cane spirit that's used for this (and no its not the same as rum, and for reasons why I think there are some threads in the Beverages forum). I have been moaning and asking the question for ages, why on earth is it that we don't have cachaça considering that India produces such vast amounts of sugar cane and that all Indian made alcohol is made from the molasses produced from it.

That's funny, that was the exact suggestion I was going to make when I read the title of this thread!

Before it got popular on the East coast in the US, I used a combination of white rum and white tequila to approximate the Cachaca. Actually, I think white tequila on its own tastes pretty damn close...the rum was merely an attempt to cut the alcohol level and avoid a hangover.

It goes so well with any type of highly spiced food, so it can cover a lot of cuisines. It is definitely the aperatif of choice in our household.

Edited by Behemoth (log)
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it's not a cocktail really, but a Benedictine after Indian food picks up and mellows out the spices. i think some of the aromatics used in Benedictine are the same as some curry spices.

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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  • 5 weeks later...

Food shood maalum nahi.....

This is what I had yesterday sitting at the edge of my backyard with just a splash of rainfall:

i10590.jpg

Rain Killer :rolleyes:

45 ml White Rum

45 ml Dark Rum

10 ml Honey

15 ml Fresh Lime juice

120 ml Orange juice

Blend the rums with ice, honey & fresh lime. Pour into a straight tall glass & top with Orange juice.

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

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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