mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Thai Food Pavilion

In Eating Out on September 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm

A couple of weeks back I was at The Thai Pavilion at Taj Vivanta, Gurgaon, to enjoy a special lunch menu celebrating the first anniversary of the restaurant.  As I arrived, I met Chef Ananda Soloman, the executive Chef and the one behind Taj Vivanta’s Thai restaurants.  He was visiting from Mumbai and had put together the celebratory lunch menu, a mix of Thai Pavillion’s popular and signature dishes.

We were seated at the table, all pretty with the gold-rimmed plates, and the blue orchids, and served a fragrant lemongrass daiquiri mocktail; very refreshing after my mad-dash across town.  The appetizers started to arrive as we made conversation with the others at the bloggers’ table.  The amuse bouche bundle was pretty as a picture and whetted my appetite.amousbuche

seeds

Green Mango Pickle, Andhra-style

In on the side, Pickles, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on July 25, 2014 at 10:34 pm

mango pickle

I grew up at IITD and and the campus Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School) was my high school.  KVIIT was also the campus-school for the two other neighbouring educational campuses – the NCERT and JNU.   That was a time when the middle class still sent their children to public schools.  My mother was a teacher in the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan but by the time she managed a transfer to KVIIT, I had already graduated.  Mr Bhujangarao, from Andhra Pradesh, was our Principal in my last two years at school.  He and his family lived on-campus, close to our house, and over the years our families became close friends.  As with all good neighbours, there was much exchange of food and recipes.  We would visit each other often for dinners; Mrs Bhujanga Rao feeding our need for dosai, idly, and upma, and my mom trying to satisfy her two boys with chhole and rajma.  I still remember how I loved the spicy upma, with lots of tomatoes, that she brought for me when I was recovering from some minor illness.  Nothing like Guntur chillies to awaken taste buds flatened by sickness.

green mangoes 2

Our visits continued even after Mr B was promoted and moved a little further in South Delhi, then to Chennai, and even after he retired and moved to Hyderabad.  His older son, also a friend, moved to Delhi a few years ago and we call on him when his parents come visiting.  Krishna auntie still insists we leave after a meal, lunch or dinner – as the case may be, and it is very hard for me to turn down her cooking.  When she was getting ready to leave Delhi many decades back, I  requested her mango pickle recipe.  We knew we would miss her gentle ways and her cooking, but, at least, we didn’t have to live the rest of our lives without her mango pickle!

Gavar (Cluster Beans) with Peanuts

In Low Fat, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

beans

It’s great when you discover a new way with regular ingredients.  It’s even better when the ingredients involved are few and the recipe is effortless.  My friend SK, who knows my love for Southern Indian food, is often my guide and shares new ideas or leads me to lesser known food-blogs that highlight the kind of food I like to cook.  She is a writer and is constantly engaging the characters, such as you and me, around her.  These ‘encounters’ make her a treasure trove of traditional recipes as well.  During one such chat with me, she sketched the dish the maid had put together for her lunch that day.  A basic, peasant-style approach to food, it involved the ubiquitous red chilli as the only spice.  The addition of roasted peanuts, of course, adds to the nutritional content while providing a hint of refinement to what is otherwise a truly minimalistic dish.  It is almost as if you were deconstructing the Maharashtrian-style gavar-bhaji, and trying to retain what is absolutely essential.  The two dishes are similar, yet it is clear that the peasant-style one has been pared down to its essence. Frugal, but, full of flavour.

The finished dish can work as a side to any Indian meal, or even as a salad.  You could replace cluster beans with another vegetable – french beans, peas, cabbage – endless combinations.  Or mix it into cooked rice, as Sangeeta said she did, with some additional oil or ghee, and you have a one-dish pulav/stir-fried rice that is perfect for a packed lunch.  It has won gavar-haters over to this side!

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