My interest in food and cooking is known to most of my friends, family, and colleagues, and even students. Towards the end of the term I bring some food, usually home-cooked, to the class on a day when informal interactions are scheduled. It is a pleasant way to conclude the semester.
Some students stay in touch after they graduate. Some come and visit and we exchange notes as colleagues. A special mention here is Ryan, who remembers to bring me foodie-things from his travels around the country; many times these are ingredients sourced from where they are grown (or brewed!). Amongst the many gifts I have received from him are coffee from a Chikmagalur plantation, his aunt’s home-brewed plum wine, his mom’s fruitcake, Shrewsbury biscuits and ginger cookies from the famous Kayani bakery in Pune, toddy from Kerala, and Mahuwa (the drink!) from Madhya Pradesh. Recently he brought me dried kokum and kokum syrup on his return from a visit to the Konkan. He seems to be partial to the western coast; perhaps because of his ethnic roots. Back from one such visit to the coast last year, he brought me a packet of Goan pork sausage. Until then I had only read about it.
Remember I asked all of you to suggest recipes? Raji had suggested I use it in a pulao, and Ryan shared a recipe for a curry cooked with the sausage and potatoes. The Goan Chouriço, also known as linguica, is an important element in the Portuguese-influenced Goan Catholic cuisine. Though often identified as a sausage, it is made with chopped pork instead of ground meat and cannot be consumed uncooked. The prepared pork is combined with spices and vinegar, stuffed into cleaned cattle gut, and usually dried in the sun. The resulting aged meat imparts a unique taste and aroma to whatever it is cooked with.
Continue reading “Goan Sausage”
Kashmiri Pandits, just like Bengali Brahmins, are known for their love of mutton and fish. Just the sight of a goat can make my Bengali professor salivate. Likewise, a Kashmiri is within her rights to discount a meal that did not include meat.
Food is perhaps amongst the most gossiped topics in the Kashmiri community. The usual greetings and hugging are always followed by queries regarding the last meal. How do you do? What did you have for lunch? The aunt will barely keep herself from clucking if you omit to mention some meat dish, real or imaginary, in your previous repast. And you had better include the leftover morsel from yesterday’s meal while you are recounting the feast which is obviously your norm. You can see the mental balancing underway as the relative from one side (paternal or maternal) weighs the meal in question (enjoyed at the other side) and determines who the winner would be after they are done serving you next. I have been accosted on the street – and after the pleasantries were done with – “Ah, on your way from your maasi’s eh? So, what did you eat?!” Now I look back at it with nostalgia; it did make our once-upon-a-time annual summer visits to Srinagar all the more colourful.
Yet, this blog speaks little of my nonvegetarian heritage.
Continue reading “Birthdays and other days”
If you have been seeing Batata Vadas appear in some of the food blogs you read and wondering what is up with that, here is what is at the root of it all – old fashioned indulgence. A year ago, while discussing this and that on this blog, I and my readers decided a party was in order – an old fashioned yet not completely throw-caution-to-the-winds party. Celebrating food without worrying about what went into it, or got left out; being intuitive instead of thoughtful. It lead to a bunch of us frying poori last year, some for the first time!
This year we are experimenting with frying batata vadas, some of us for the first time! The motive, again, has been to cook and share with friends and family, and remind ourselves that a little indulgence is a good thing. And, of course, have some fun while we were frying!
Continue reading “Deep Fried Love: Batata Vada”
Before Srivalli completely gives up on me, here I am with my experiments with the mystery powder I received through our very own Arusuvai Friendship chain last month. For all my professed past-life claims, the podi Srivalli sent me had me at a complete loss. I have already admitted I am not good at de-constructing spice blends; I totally relied on Manisha’s intuition for kanda-lassun masala.
After staring at the yellow-orange-powder sitting in a packet on my kitchen counter for two days, I gingerly wrote to Srivalli about my predicament… The yellow powder was going to test my self-professed Southie-ness. I could taste turmeric… dhaniya… and… the rest was a mystery. Now, I have made a few South Indian podis: kootu podi, bisibele hulianna podi, milagai podi; this was definitely not one of those. Well, that left only one other podi I knew: sambar masala! So, I prayed and sent an apologetic note to Srivalli asking if that was Sambar podi I had in my possession. It amused her that I was so unsure… but of course, it was! Whew! I heaved a sigh of relief. My reputation (rather, claim) was intact; at least, for now. Continue reading “101 uses for Mystery Powder”