Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Suvir Saran

Cooking and food

Recommended Posts

What does the term "cook" mean across cultures?

Is it imply the subjection of foods to heat or fire?

Or does it have other meanings as well in other cultures?

What is it's unique form in Indian cooking?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry,  it is out of my league. I rarely cook - I leave it to the

experts and lovers-of-cooking  :smile:


anil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aaaah... and what did it mean to you and your family growing up? Any thing curious about Indian cooking and styles as compared to the other places you have been and cultures you have studied Anil?

You have traveled very much it seems.  Would be great to hear you compare maybe a couple of styles...

Or at least share what you think makes Indian cooking different or if there is anything t hat Indians think or do differently.

What role does religion play in food, or has played?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cooking as a concept in the Hindu world is not about just subjecting meats and vegetables to heat or fire.  To cook in India would more generally mean to prepare the food for eating.

In the traditional world of Hindu religion, they take cooking to another extreme.  Cooking in that world is the creation of a system whereby you pair in a meaningful and significant manner the food and the person that will consume it.  The goal of cooking is to ensure compatibility between the food and the person eating it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John it gets increasingly more intricate.  And you know, so many people follow these in practice.  There are those like me that love knowing these rules.  But plenty across the villages, smaller cities and even in areas of urban living still follow some principles given from their religions closely.  These of-course are unique to Hindu cooking.

My grandmother told me as a child about the relevance of the whole universe as food to each other.  It was from the Upanishads that she was teaching me.

Hindus believe that food multiplies. There is no other way of thinking of food.  The earth we live in is food, the air we breathe is food, the space above us depends on the earth as food and the earth depends of space for food.  So it shares with Hindus the importance of significance of food in a much larger order than just the culinary.

It is understood then that all those that realize that food itself is dependent on food, is then the master of food.  Such a person will then be able to live a life of peace, with progeny, cattle, a home and above all a brain that is intelligent and a mind that brings the person Brahman like fame.

The above will share with one easily the marriage of ideology and the practical.  The Hindus seem to thrive in the fluidity of things and life.  And this is yet another example.  An understanding of not giving more credence to either what is practical or what is ideological, but to find a middle ground that is respectful of both and takes from each that which can be of help today.  There are times when one could see a clear struggle between what ideology proposes and practicality will dispose.   But there is a framework that exists in contemporary India that gulfs the bridge between these polar opposites.    In fact those than can understand the Hindu principles, are able find contemporary resonance that eliminates the need for practical opposition.  The contemporary life in India is still new and young, and the exploration of how to thrive without losing one or the other is still being worked and successfully.

In other words Hindu cooking is consistent with the larger Hindu philosophy of human beings unable to make much happen without the influence or control of the divine forces.  

Thus it should be no surprise to some that in the Hindu context, even raw foods can be labeled cooked.  Under the Hindu conception of cooking the treating of raw foods with fire, water, milk, sun and peeling can all alter the food from being labeled as cook instead of raw.  Even the word raw has its own many nuances.  To a Hindu thus, what would be called raw, uncooked, or imperfectly cooked are all variations of being cooked.  But for raw foods to be called cooked, one has to follow the set rules about what makes a food cooked, even when raw.

To Indian cooking, there are two very different styles of cooking.  One is called Banana (to make, prepare or assemble) and the other is called pakana (to ripen).  They each mean to cook but have very different meanings.  And then there is the confusion that is further created in the understanding that neither is only relegated to meaning cooking either.  

Then there are still more twists.  Pakana is used more in households where meat is used.  When one eats in a vegetarian or Brahman home, the word Pak will not be used.  They would use ban or taiyyar (meaning ready).

And then there are Vaishnav Sadhus (Holy men who believe in Vishnu) who would never use the common words that are used even in Brahman home kitchens.  They ascribe to words that even a Brahman home chef may consider appropriate violent meanings.

The word Kaatna is commonly used for cutting, but a holy man would rather use Amanyaa.

Khaana (to eat) is the word used for the act of eating foods in most all homes, but a holy person would never use that profane word, instead they would use Paanaa (to gain by divine gift).

Namak (salt) is what one would call table salt in homes, but a holy person would call it Ram Ras (The nectar from Lord Rama).

There is the Pumpkin most Indians call Kaddu but to holy persons, the word is Sitaphal (fruit from Ram's consort Sita).

These will explain how deeply culture and religion and folklore are still enmeshed in many a family and peoples daily lives.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the pedagogy of Cultural Anthropology, Food and Cooking has played a very important role. Food and Cooking are rituals as well as work-life. At its very base is the construct of "Hunter and Gatherers".  From communities to large societies in some form or the other it has reflected in ways that the rituals have evolved.

Mind you I was not trained as a cultural anthropologist, did take some courses at graduate schools though  :smile:


anil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anil, that makes you a perfect person for us to learn from.  You are God as was suggested in another thread.

And the Hindu in me, can see the God in you easily...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a reason why, in the Christian faith, disciples are asked to "break bread" with each other, and with the shepherd of the flock.  Inviting someone else, particularly a stranger, to share your campfire, your table, is one of the highest, most noble, of human instincts.  Sharing food is symbolic...a letting down of one's guard, of one's innate selfish nature, sharing sustinence, nourishment, replenishment of body, mind and soul.

Also, in the bible story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus first created the food ("cooking" if you will), then fed the multitudes; all this to provide an allegory to the spiritual nourishment he was about to impart.  And to satisfy their bodily hunger first, preparing the way for them to then reflect upon, and understand, their spiritual hunger.

And there are the obvious implications in the Christian ritual of communion.  Worshipers literally consume food and drink (bread and wine) to establish their "oneness" with the diety and with each other.  The founder of Christianity (whomever you understand that to be) chose eating and drinking as the single most sacred act a believer can perform in order to become one in community with the church and with the Lord.

Pretty profound.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anil, that makes you a perfect person for us to learn from.  You are God as was suggested in another thread.

And the Hindu in me, can see the God in you easily...

Sheesh. I am a sinner  :smile:  After all, at a very tender age, I swigged XXXRum from my Grandpa's bottle and replaced that swig with equivalent amount of water. Not to talk about having eaten meat, and later on done more nasty things.

Things on to God, that are God's and Things on to anil, that are Ceaser's  :wink:  [ Don't mind stealing Ceaser's ***** ]


anil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Suvier, "food multiplies" post was beautiful, and has given rise to a multiplicity of thoughts in my mind. Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Suvier, "food multiplies" post was beautiful, and has given rise to a multiplicity of thoughts in my mind.  Thank you.

Toby,

I had been waiting for you to share some of those thoughts that came up.. Did any include spices or Indian food? Care to share some with us?

And yes, food to me is all about the manner in which all of life is nothing but keenly connected to each and everything else that forms it. I look at life as being a part of food and food as being a part of life and similarly life being me in this form and me being life.

So, in the end, I am what I eat. And I eat what is from me and of me and will make me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Bhukhhad
      Breakfast in India vs Breakfast in our homes outside India
      My breakfasts have varied from the time I started to cook for myself instead of just enjoying my Mother’s cooking. At first they were a mix-match of meal fixings, or just dinner leftovers. Or the good old breakfast cereal and milk. But as the years passed and I was more organized, the meals I enjoyed in my Mother’s home began to swim in my memories. And I began to prepare those for my family. However, I am no amazonian chef, so depending on  the hectic nature of the days plans, I switched back and forth from convenience with taste, to elaborate and of course tasty breakfasts. We do have both vegetarian and non vegetarian foods but Indian breakfasts will mostly be vegetarian. 
      So here are some of the things I might make: 
       
      1. Poha as in mostly ‘kande pohe’.
      2. Cheela/ Pudla
      3. Masala toast
      4. Indian Omelette
      5. Handwo piece
      6. Thepla
      7. Vaghareli rotli
      8. Dhokla chutney
      9. Idli sambhar
      10. Leftover sabji
      11. Muthiya
      12. Khakhra
      13. Upma
      14. Paratha
       
      1. Kande Pohe: 
      The dish derives its name from Maharashtra where the Kande Pohe are celebrated as breakfast. They can of course like any breakfast, be eaten at any time. 
      Pohe/ Poha are steamed rice grains that have been beaten flat and then again redried. So they are like Rice flakes. Except they are hand pounded, so have a knobbly texture. 
      You get several varieties in the market. I prefer the thick white variety. 
       
      1 cup dry poha per person
      1 medium onion sliced
      1/2 jalapeno deseeded
      1 sprig curry leaves
      2 small garlic cloves
      1/4 t cumin seeds
      1/2 lemon 
      1/8 t asafoetida
      1/4 t turmeric
      small handful of cilantro leaves
      1T fresh grated coconut
      2 T Peanut oil 
      salt to taste
      sugar to taste
       
      In a pan heat some oil and add cumin seeds. When the seeds sputter, add sliced onions and stir. Saute on medium heat till they turn slightly browned here and there. Do not burn the onions. 
      Meanwhile wash the Poha in a colander and drain. Do this two or three times to get rid of any dirt and also to allow them to rehydrate. They do not need soaking. Fluff the poha with a fork. Add salt sugar turmeric asafoetida and chopped cilantro. Mix and set aside. 
      Once the onions are ready add minced garlic and chopped jalapeno along with the curry leaf sprig. 
      Turn the heat to low and add the poha mixture. Stir to coat and to allow the turmeric and asafoetida to cook. The poha will turn mildly yellow and start giving a wonderful fragrance. 
      Turn off the heat. Fluff gently and plate. Garnish with fresh grated coconut and a squeeze of lemon juice. 
      Finger licking good!! 
      Now when I make this next I will post a picture. 
      Update: Ok I felt the urge to have Kande Pohe for tonight’s dinner. So here is a picture. I am certain to enjoy it for breakfast as well. The measurement of 1 cup poha per person is too much for one meal. But carried over to another meal thats super good! I will also have some stir fried bok choy greens made in the same kadhai after the poha was done, and some cooked and sliced beetroot for salad. My family will add some haldiram sev on the poha for extra crunch! And we will all have some chaas to round off this meal. 
      *************
       
      2. Cheela/ Pudla
       
      These are essentially crepes but in the Indian style. 
      1/2 cup sieved garbanzo bean (Besan) flour. 
      Water to form a thin batter
      1T plain yogurt 
      1/2 t ginger garlic paste 
      1/4 or less green chili crushed
      2 t heated oil *
      pinch asafoetida
      pinch turmeric 
      salt to taste
      chopped cilantro (two sprigs)
      some ‘masala’ from a readymade pickle
       
       
      Method:
       
      mix the ingredients together except oil. Heat oil in a separate pan and add about 1 to 2 t of the hot oil onto the batter. It will sizzle. Use a whisk to stir thoroughly. The batter should be pouring consistency. 
      Let the batter soak for about half an hour if possible. 
      On a hot griddle, pour a ladle full of the batter. Turn the griddle with your wrist to spread the batter around. Cook on moderate to high flame. Flip the crepe when all the sides look like they are ready. You can add a little oil to the sides of the frying pan to make the edges crispy. 
       
      In my home we usually have a Besan cheela with some yogurt its a quick and filling breakfast. You can have a small salad or fruit with it to make it more complete. Or fill the center of the cheela with some cottage cheese and fold for added creaminess! 
      ****************
      3. Masala Toast : 
       
      1 slice of bread (your choice) toasted
      1/2 small red onion minced
      1 medium roma tomato diced (or whatever you have)
      cilantro (few leaves)
      1/8 t cumin (optional)
      1/4 t chaat masala ( available in stores)
      1 inch cube paneer
      1 T peanut oil
      pinch turmeric (optional)
       
      Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onions. Add the tomato and cook down to mush. Crumble the paneer and add the dry spices. Stir for a few seconds to warm the paneer. Add the cilantro and though I have not written it as an ingredient, I like a few drops of lemon juice. Do not overcook paneer.
      I started this topic because someone asked for Indian recipes on the new forum. I don’t think they have seen any yet. I hope they find this useful. I am enjoying it. 
      **************************
       
      I will add recipes to the list slowly. I have to however add that after a certain ‘age’ I have now resorted to having to make sure I have three things for breakfast besides coffee: a glass of water, a small portion of fruit and a small portion of some protein not necessarily meat. 
      Bhukkhad
       

    • By Deeps
      This is one of my daughter favorite dishes, being mild and less spicy she loves this rice dish.  Its super easy to make and goes well with most Indian curries.
      Do try this out and I am sure you will be happy with the results.
       

       
      Prep Time : 5 mins
      Cook Time: 5 mins
      Serves: 2
       
      Ingredients:
      1 cup rice(basmati), cooked
      1/2 cup coconut, shredded or grated
      1 green chili, slit
      1 dried red chili
      1 1/2 tablespoon oil/ghee(clarified butter)
      1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
      1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
      1/2 tablespoon chana dal(split chickpeas)
      1/2 tablespoon urad dal(split black gram)
      1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
      A pinch of hing (asafoetida)
      Few curry leaves
      Salt to taste
       
      Directions
      1) Heat oil/ghee(clarified butter) in a pan in medium flame. I used coconut oil here because it tastes best for this dish.
      2) Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal(split chickpeas), urad dal(split black gram), green chili, dried red chili, ginger and curry leaves. Fry this for 30 seconds in medium flame. The trick is to ensure that these are fried but not burned.
      3) Add a pinch of hing(asafoetida) and mix well.
      4) Now add the cooked rice and coconut. Stir well for about 15 to 20 seconds and switch off the flame.
      5) Finally add salt into this and mix well. You could add peanuts or cashew nuts if you prefer. Goes well with most curries.
    • By Sheel
      Prawn Balchao is a very famous Goan pickle that has a sweet, spicy and tangy flavor to it. 
      For the balchao paste you will need:
      > 8-10 kashmiri red chillies
      > 4-5 Byadagi red chillies
      > 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
      > 1/2 tsk turmeric powder 
      > 1 tsp peppercorn
      > 6 garlic cloves
      > 1/2 tsp cloves
      > 1 inch cinnamon stick
      > Vinegar 
      First you will need to marinate about 250 grams of prawns in some turmeric powder and salt. After 15 minutes deep fry them in oil till them become golden n crisp. Set them aside and add tsp vinegar to them and let it sit for 1 hour. Now, make a paste of all the ingredients mentioned under the balchao paste and make sure not to add any water. In the same pan used for fryin the prawns, add in some chopped garlic and ginger. Lightly fry them and immediately add one whole chopped onion. Next, add the balchao paste amd let it cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the prawns and cook until the gravy thickens. Finally add 1 tsp sugar and salt according to your taste. Allow it to cool. This can be stored in a glass jar. Let this mature for 1-3 weeks before its use. Make sure never to use water at any stage. This can be enjoyed with a simple lentil curry and rice.
    • By Sheel
      Goa being one of the popular cities of India is known for its local delicacies. These delicacies have been passed on from generation to generation, while some of them have continued to remain popular, some of them have lost their charm with the introduction of newer cuisines. Since the Portuguese entered Goa, they have had a strong influence on the local cuisine. A major turning point came when they introduced a variety of spices that changed their style of cooking completely. The Portuguese introduced plants like corn, pineapple,  papaya, sweet potato and cashews. One such example of a popular dish would be Pork Vindaloo. Goan food is a mix of hot and sour ingredients that make their seafood delectable. Kokum is one such ingredient which is known to be a tangy-sweet fruit. It is added in curries to render a sour taste and is often accompanied with seafood. Dried red chillies are one the most vital ingredients common among all the local delicacies that is either used in its whole form or ground into a fine paste. Since seafood is the soul of Goan food, it is preserved and relished in other forms too. Goan pickles are known to be quite famous. Prawn Balchao, a very famous prawn pickle prepared with dried red chillies is relished with a simple lentil curry and rice. Another delicacy is the Goan Para Fish made with mackerels, red chillies and goan vinegar. These are regular accompaniments with their routine meals. When talking about Goa, you cannot not mention their sausages. These mouth-watering and spicy sausages are made with pork and a variety of spices. Last but not the least, is the widely famous Goan bread, locally known as Poi. Leavened bread which is part of almost every meal and eaten with plain butter too. These ingredients make the cuisine extremely palatable and continue to make this cuisine stand out from the rest.
    • By shweta gupta
      Do any one familiar with the Bengali spice brands of India, my friend is Interested in Cooking Bengali Food. Can any One Suggest me few Brands to Reffer.
      Please comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...