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eG Foodblog: Monica Bhide - Thoughts without a thinker


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Ah, Okra, I love it done int he Indian styles I ahve tried. Also, with summer on the way, soon there will be nice fresh Okra at the farmer's market, and not the sickly spotted stuff we have been seeing lately, I can't wait.

Your Cilantro Chutney recipe sounds great. Cilantro Chutney was a condiment that mystified me for a couple years. While I was in London about three or four years back (doing a study abroud) I ended up eating dinner at this hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant my professor recommended to me. Well, I can't remember exactly what my entree was (something with lamb, and a bit spicey) but in this silver condiment cart, next to my plate, was this wonderful vivid green substance with a tangy super fresh taste. I couldn't get enough of it, I could've eaten with a spoon had I not figure that might be a little gauche. However, my waiter seemed unable to translate exactly what the stuff was, so I was lost.

Anyway, flash forward to last week, I was picking up some Djeep frozen Panak Paneer dinners at the Indian Grocers (one of the best frozen dinners I have ever had, of any kind) and as I am likely to do when in that store, I wandered over to the chutney/sauces wall and picked a couple jars that looked interesting. Well, one was Coriander chutney (Swad brand) and that little jar maybe lasted half a week. I put it on everything, and it really works on everything. So now I am going to have to try your recipe, as I'm sure fresh made can beat the Swad (though I do have to say in general I am happy with Swad products).

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I agree - SWAD is good stuff. If you can find NIRAV brand there too -- they are pretty good.

I love this chutney too. So easy to make.

I think we will do okra two ways tonite -- deep fried and sauteed. I love okra. Its perfect in my opinion. (Even electronic brickbats hurt Okra haters, so choose your words gently)

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Monica -

When you buy the big box of curry leaves, are they dried or fresh? 

People swear by frozen leaves. I just prefer to use them fresh. I think time it such that you can use it.. they are inexpensive now. The other thing is to spend five bucks and get a tiny curry plant. That way you have them when you need them. ANd they are always fresh. Heck even I can grow a curry plant.. trust me.. I kill silk flowers. So if I can do it, anyone can

I'd love to hear more about curry leaves. What are they used for? What is the taste like?

I was under the impression that "curry" was a mix of spices, not a particular plant, so this is a new item to learn about.

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Very interested in your blog. I am trying to expand my cooking horizons(dh likes, kids do not LOL). Looking forward to learning lots about indian cooking-hopefully I will be able to find some ingredients out here in my rural area(may have to take a trip to the "big city").

As to snacks for monkeys(I have a 5 year old monkey too-although when we call her a monkey she tells us I'M NOT A MONKEY!). Her teacher only allows "healthy" snacks at school and she okays them before the kids are allowed to eat. I send fruit, cheese strings, yogurt tubes, veggies and dip, nutrigrain bars, goldfish crackers, homemade muffins and minigo. Fruit roll ups are not allowed. Dried fruit is discouraged since it can cause cavities. No nuts are allowed at school. I have heard that some schools also ban dairy(not sure what I would send my kids LOL). One of the best things about summer is not having to pack a lunch for the kids(also have a 7 year old).

Sandra

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Hi Monica,

It's so nice to see you blogging! I'm in bed with flu and it's pouring outside, still your blog has managed to cheer me up no end. It's a big treat, honestly.

I'd love it (and I bet I'm not the only one here) if you could describe your henna party tables in more detail. Also, how do you make the guava cake? I'm curious as George!

Thanks again,

Suman

(Drooling from across the pond...)

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Monica -

When you buy the big box of curry leaves, are they dried or fresh?  I can only seem to find the fresh ones at the Indian grocery store which I frequent, and for some reason I never end up making the dish I bought them for that night, and then it turns into a week, and the darn things have gone bad before I get a chance to use them... I'm sure they will taste wonderful if I can ever get my timing together...

People swear by frozen leaves. I just prefer to use them fresh. I think time it such that you can use it.. they are inexpensive now. The other thing is to spend five bucks and get a tiny curry plant. That way you have them when you need them. ANd they are always fresh. Heck even I can grow a curry plant.. trust me.. I kill silk flowers. So if I can do it, anyone can

I do use frozen leaves as well, but that is usually my extra stock when I buy a fresh packet and don't use them all. I just take the leaves out of the freezer about 10 minutes before I want to use them. Not bad, but fresh is always better. I'm definitely interested in getting a plant now, though. Would you recommend I look online for a seedling to purchase, or in a nursery? I grow a lot of herbs, but I don't think I've ever seen one. Would an Indian market sell this sort of thing?

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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I think if you, like me, don't have the option of ready access to fresh curry leaves, then frozen is a lot better than dried. Dried ones are awful, awful, awful. (Think I've made my point here? :biggrin: ).

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I love champagne mangoes -- they are long and slender, with a yellow skin like bananas.  They are fragrant and always sweet, and never tart , even close to the seed.  I can't always suck on the seed with other types of mangoes.

I love the champagne mangoes, too. As sweet as I've ever found here.

I used to hold events at Whole Foods and here is how we served it -

What kind of events did you hold?

This is fun reading. And your photos of St. John's are amazing. I'm so envious! When were you there? For how long?

Liz Johnson

Professional:

Food Editor, The Journal News and LoHud.com

Westchester, Rockland and Putnam: The Lower Hudson Valley.

Small Bites, a LoHud culinary blog

Personal:

Sour Cherry Farm.

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Monica -

When you buy the big box of curry leaves, are they dried or fresh? 

People swear by frozen leaves. I just prefer to use them fresh. I think time it such that you can use it.. they are inexpensive now. The other thing is to spend five bucks and get a tiny curry plant. That way you have them when you need them. ANd they are always fresh. Heck even I can grow a curry plant.. trust me.. I kill silk flowers. So if I can do it, anyone can

I'd love to hear more about curry leaves. What are they used for? What is the taste like?

I was under the impression that "curry" was a mix of spices, not a particular plant, so this is a new item to learn about.

They are used for providing a pungent lemon like flavor and have NO CONNECTION TO A CURRY POWDER. As different as chalk and cheese.

Use them fresh. Unlike bay leaves, they can be eaten.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Very interested in your blog.  I am trying to expand my cooking horizons(dh likes, kids do not LOL).  Looking forward to learning lots about indian cooking-hopefully I will be able to find some ingredients out here in my rural area(may have to take a trip to the "big city").

As to snacks for monkeys(I have a 5 year old monkey too-although when we call her a monkey she tells us I'M NOT A MONKEY!).  Her teacher only allows "healthy" snacks at school and she okays them before the kids are allowed to eat.  I send fruit, cheese strings, yogurt tubes, veggies and dip, nutrigrain bars, goldfish crackers, homemade muffins and minigo.  Fruit roll ups are not allowed.  Dried fruit is discouraged since it can cause cavities.  No nuts are allowed at school.  I have heard that some schools also ban dairy(not sure what I would send my kids LOL).  One of the best things about summer is not having to pack a lunch for the kids(also have a 7 year old).

Sandra

LOl. Today we packed in yogurt and cheese nips CHEESE NIPS. oye

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Hi Monica,

It's so nice to see you blogging! I'm in bed with flu and it's pouring outside, still your blog has managed to cheer me up no end. It's a big treat, honestly.

I'd love it (and I bet I'm not the only one here) if you could describe your henna party tables in more detail. Also, how do you make the guava cake? I'm curious as George!

Thanks again,

Suman

(Drooling from across the pond...)

I hope you feel better dear. I did not make the guava cake - a friend bought it. It was like guave gelatin. really good.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Monica -

When you buy the big box of curry leaves, are they dried or fresh?  I can only seem to find the fresh ones at the Indian grocery store which I frequent, and for some reason I never end up making the dish I bought them for that night, and then it turns into a week, and the darn things have gone bad before I get a chance to use them... I'm sure they will taste wonderful if I can ever get my timing together...

People swear by frozen leaves. I just prefer to use them fresh. I think time it such that you can use it.. they are inexpensive now. The other thing is to spend five bucks and get a tiny curry plant. That way you have them when you need them. ANd they are always fresh. Heck even I can grow a curry plant.. trust me.. I kill silk flowers. So if I can do it, anyone can

I do use frozen leaves as well, but that is usually my extra stock when I buy a fresh packet and don't use them all. I just take the leaves out of the freezer about 10 minutes before I want to use them. Not bad, but fresh is always better. I'm definitely interested in getting a plant now, though. Would you recommend I look online for a seedling to purchase, or in a nursery? I grow a lot of herbs, but I don't think I've ever seen one. Would an Indian market sell this sort of thing?

Yes you can buy them online. Better yet go to your local Indian store and see if they will sell you one. Ours did not have one in stock but the owners wife grows them and he made six pots for me that he sold to me. I use them as gifts for students who attend my classes.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I love champagne mangoes -- they are long and slender, with a yellow skin like bananas.  They are fragrant and always sweet, and never tart , even close to the seed.  I can't always suck on the seed with other types of mangoes.

I love the champagne mangoes, too. As sweet as I've ever found here.

I used to hold events at Whole Foods and here is how we served it -

What kind of events did you hold?

This is fun reading. And your photos of St. John's are amazing. I'm so envious! When were you there? For how long?

I used to do booksignings for my book and tastings.

We were there for a good week -- it is such a gorgeous place. Case in point

gallery_6825_1143_746300.jpg

Would you look at the water?

I stayed on a small boat and read "Like Water for chocolate" cover to cover. What a fantastic book. It was like a long poem. I loved reading it. Such a fantastic style.

It reminded me of the Mistress of Spices. Another one of my favorites.

It has been pushing me to write fictional short stories on food.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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hi monica! loving your blog!

this has to be some record for the rate of replies,

speed and numbers....

am hanging on to every word and picture.

do tell more about how your henna party went.

also would love to know more about how you

make decisions on what dishes to serve?

do you go for traditional dishes, or fusion?

do you do home style cooking or restaurant style popular items?

etc.

i also have two monkeys, age 7 and 3.

the 3 YO attends a crunchy granola montessori

preschool where we pack their lunches

but are not allowed to send anything junky,

so he gets meal + fruit only. he doesn't yet

know the universe can be different though at home

he has a HUGE taste for junk food

(mommy, we NEEEEED donuts!

let's go get them at the grocery store!)

my 7 yo is blessed with naturally healthy

tastes and actually likes my cooking - i am in

mommy heaven right now

(she: what's for dinner?

me: dal, and pulao, and cauliflower sabzi and yogurt

she: yayy! and skips to table,

i kid you not! i was fairly open mouthed with

astonishment; though she's always been this way:

the only preschooler i knew who took asparagus

spears for lunch, and who insisted on adding artichokes

to the weekly grocery cart....)

for lunch they get whatever i can pack in their

insulated thermoses that's easy to eat:

fried rice, or dal and rice, or pasta type things.

snacks: fruit mostly, though also nuts/raisins

and now the 7 yo is demanding and getting a

small piece of chocolate every day.

YTHN? small pleasures for scrawny kids

milagai

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hi monica!  loving your blog!

do tell more about how your henna party went.

also would love to know more about how you

make decisions on what dishes to serve?

do you go for traditional dishes, or fusion?

do you do home style cooking or restaurant style popular items?

Thanks for your sweet post. I try mostly to cook homestyle and cook with the seasons. I love cooking what is freshly available -- hard in winter. I cook restaurant style dishes in my classes -- people love the classics and its fun. I think my family likes to have a variety of dishes for dinner and the menu is selected alternately by my son or my husband. So tonite my son selected okra (yes he likes okra) and tomorrow hubby wants to do the Malay chicken.

Tonite we will do appetizers -- Gol Gappas - a typical Indian street food and I will use some of the coconut rum I got from St. Johns and I if I get the time I will make a rice pudding.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Tonite we will do appetizers -- Gol Gappas - a typical Indian street food and I will use some of the coconut rum I got from St. Johns and I if I get the time I will make a rice pudding.

Probably not what you had in mind Monica, but rum golgappas sound pretty good! :laugh:

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I think my family likes to have a variety of dishes for dinner and the menu is selected alternately by my son or my husband. So tonite my son selected okra (yes he likes okra) and tomorrow hubby wants to do the Malay chicken.

Tonite we will do appetizers -- Gol Gappas - a typical Indian street food and I will use some of the coconut rum I got from St. Johns and I if I get the time I will make a rice pudding.

thinking way way way ahead here.....

when your son grows up and gets married,

it's going to be REALLY hard for any dil to compete

with your cooking!

OTOH maybe she will be clever and leave all the cooking

to you......

milagai

ps: my family loves okra too.

i can't think of anyone who likes indian food who does

not like okra....

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Tonite we will do appetizers -- Gol Gappas - a typical Indian street food and I will use some of the coconut rum I got from St. Johns and I if I get the time I will make a rice pudding.

Probably not what you had in mind Monica, but rum golgappas sound pretty good! :laugh:

That is exactly what I meant. I usually spike the gol gappa water with vodka but will do it with rum today so they become little shots... for the rest of you -- wait till you see the pics tonite to know what the heck I am blabbering about here.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Confession - I sneaked in a scrambled eggs with illegal quantities of crushed red pepper as a snack before lunch. Now I am headed out. See you all in a bit.

And for those who kept sending me emails about MONKEYS -- i am talking about my son.. read the whole blog and you will know. LOL

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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