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eG Foodblog: Monica Bhide - Thoughts without a thinker

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If we agree on one -- perhaps I can post the ingredients and we can make it together  online??

sounds wonderful... :rolleyes:

If had to vote for one--Chicken Tikka Makhni, just b/c I'd love to see your version.

"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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Monica, can't wait to see your dinner pics. I did some asking about the Pulari I asked you about yesterday. The mom is from Indian from Guyana and the pulari are a type of yellow split pea fritters colored with tumeric that they eat often. The tamarind sauce is HEAVY on the garlic. Is this something you make too?

Helen Kimmel

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I am forever grateful to Monica for turning me on to fresh curry leaves. The difference in my Indian cooking is amazing.

I get a little baggie of them from a local Indian market. A tip I learned from one of my cookbooks is to take them out of the baggie, wipe off all moisture, wrap them in a fresh paper towel and store in a ziplock baggie in my fridge's veggie drawer. They stay fresh for weeks. No watering required. :rolleyes:

OK, can't wait to see your dinner pics, Monica.

Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author

The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)


My eGullet blog

The Renegade Writer Blog

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Monica, can't wait to see your dinner pics.  I did some asking about the Pulari I asked you about yesterday.  The mom is from Indian from Guyana and the pulari are a type of yellow split pea fritters colored with tumeric that they eat often.  The tamarind sauce is HEAVY on the garlic.  Is this something you make too?

Let me ask a few people here -- sounds like lentil fritters. WOuld your son like potato fritters or onions ones.. similar to tempura.. I can show you how to make those easily.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I am forever grateful to Monica for turning me on to fresh curry leaves. The difference in my Indian cooking is amazing.

YAY - I love them to. Our korean store around the corner sells them really cheap.. My plant although its alive is not thriving. Perhaps I need to add something to it.. any suggestions for those with a green thumb????

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Okay finally here is dinner --

1. For appetizers (I realized later I did not take pictures of the rum spiked spice water that went into these.. sorry)

I made gol gappas -- these are tiny crips that look like small balloons. Most Indian stores sell bags of them for a few dollars. They are then filled with boiled potatoes, diced onions, chickpeas and minced cilantro.

Top with Tamarind chutney (store bought today) and "Gol Gappa water" -- Gol gappa water is sold in Indian stores as "Pani Puri" Mix -- see here( Gol Gappa is Delhi, Pani Puri is Bombay talk for the same thing.).. SO the way to eat this is to pick up one with your fingers, top it with chutney, pour the spice water into it and put the whole thing in your mouth.


For dinner we had two types of Okra.. OKRA RULES BY THE WAY.

The first one was thinly sliced okra seasoned with spices and then dusted with chick pea flour and deep fried --


The second was okra subzi -- typical of Delhi -- here is how my mom makes it --


Heat some oil.

Add onions, whole green chilies, and sliced ginger. Fry for a few minutes. Add okra and cook on high heat until the okra begins to crisp just a little. Add red chilies, freshly ground coriander powder, turmeric and salt. Saute for a few minutes. Cover and cook on low heat till the okra is done. Serve hot



This is one of the most loved dishes in my classes.

Next we did a raita-- Take a cucumber and grate it on a cheese grater (side tip-- save all the water that the cucumber releases, it makes a great face mask).

Anyway, press the cucumber in the palms of your hands to release all the water. (you can also do a variation with diced cucumber. Or diced cucumber and onions)

Next add yogurt that has been seasoned with salt, sugar and freshly grated ginger.

Now top it all off with freshly roasted roughly ground cumin and crushed red chilies.



We ate it with Indian bread.

For dessert-- tomorrow I promise rice pudding. Today we went to McDonalds and ate a sundae. Hey life is too short. :wub:

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Oh yum.

Where did you get such nice looking okra? I either have to buy it frozen or wait for midsummer.

At the Indian store. Its still not at its best. I hope to get better okra sometime.

Any DC eGers reading.. where do you buy your okra here? I am assuming if Whole Foods carries it, its pretty good there.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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The fried okra looks SO good! I wish I didn't find deep frying too much of a pain. What tools do you like to use for frying? When I was living in DC, Takoma Park actually, which was until very recently, I got my okra at Whole Foods, and in season at the farmer's market.

"went together easy, but I did not like the taste of the bacon and orange tang together"

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The fried okra looks SO good! I wish I didn't find deep frying too much of a pain. What tools do you like to use for frying? When I was living in DC, Takoma Park actually, which was until very recently, I got my okra at Whole Foods, and in season at the farmer's market.

Yes ofcourse, I remember you -- you were going to school there yes?

I use a wok like utensil for deep frying. I dont own a deep fryer at all. Its simple and I love it. We dont fry that much usually -- once a month maybe.

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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mr easternsun is back with a massive bag of mustard seed  :wub: and heaps of sambar powder (what is in that anyway?)  i dont have an indian grocery (we live in osaka, japan) so i sometimes struggle to find the right ingredients.

i  also have a question about curry leaves.  have you ever tried to grow them and would they grow on on an urban veranda? 

my other question is why are your papads tiny and colourful?  are they some extra special ones?

ok, one more  :wink:  will you be sharing the cilantro chutney recipe with us?  pretty please :wub:

Let me see if I can get all your questions answered --

1. Sambhar powder comes from the south of India and is used to season sambhar (prepared with lentils and if done right is to die for). I have used it sometimes to season sauteed potatoes. Gives them a great tang. Most stores sell them.

2. Yes I grow them.. and they have not died yet.. its been six months - that is a record for me. Just be careful curry leaves and curry plant are two different things. One is edible the other one is not. I think my previous post said curry plant -- it is curry leave plant

3. The small papads -- My son loves them so I make the colored ones. No nothing special other than just that

4. Cilantro Chutney -- I make mine with cilantro, mint, lemon juice, a touch of garlic and on occasion grated coconut. I used to hold events at Whole Foods and here is how we served it -- Take thick slices of warm french bread, spread on some sweet cream butter, top with the chutney and then place a thinly sliced English cucumber on top -- YUM

Hope that helps and keep reading :smile:

thanks for the responses.

i was not clear -- i was actually wondering how to make my own instead of buying the packaged version. i found two recipes last night. i think i will attempt it once the current stock runs out....either that or use it as an excuse to go back to india :wub:

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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Monica, how did you come to like Malaysian food/recipes? How were you influenced and where do you normally get your recipes?

Are we going to see any biryani rice and honey chicken? <----wishful thinking? My fav dessert is vermicelli payasam. :wub:


Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Hi Monica,

Are Pani Puri/Gol Gappa shells easily available in US?

I'm eagerly awaiting the rest of your blog. :wub:

I can find them in several stores in Atlanta, but I do have the fortune of knowing where the Indian grocers are.

Monica, your Gol Gappa look beautiful, and I love that you spiked the masala with rum. I haven't made this at home, but when I do, I'll probably use rum in the spice water. The last time I had this, I ended up reading a magazine over lunch with an article about vodka pani puri. Such a neat idea!

Lovely blog.

Edited by TheFoodTutor (log)
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1. re eating gol gappas / pani puris / puchkas (calcutta-speak)

it's VITAL to adopt the correct stance: straddle legged and leaning

fwd at the waist, then pop the whole thing in your mouth at once.

this is to prevent the water inside from running down your chin

and ruining your clothes.

it will run down your chin anyway (that's part of the fun of street food)

but it won't get on your clothes... :laugh:

that's why it's important to get it all into your mouth at one shot.

imagine the consequences of biting into a fragile water-filled balloon..... :laugh:

2. monica - your son is gorgeous! haai! nazar na lage!

(avert the evil eye)


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Hi Monica,

Are Pani Puri/Gol Gappa shells easily available in US?

I'm eagerly awaiting the rest of your blog. :wub:


Gola gappas / Pani Puri shells are easily available in Indo/Pak stores all over the US. I have surely seen them in many states from NY to Florida.

Also available is Pani puri flour (which is a combo of semolina and atta, I guess.)We have made fresh pani puris at home using this flour and after some experimentation (and a little tip from my mother in law, when they were visiting) they came out perfect. We had Gol gappa / Papdi feast for 3 days in the last month.

I will surely try the Vodka one next time.


What is the ratio of vodka or rum in the pani puri water. Do you mix it with the pani puri water or fill up neat vodka in the gol gappa???

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