Pumpkin-flower Fritters and Similar Stories

Sometime back there was a discussion amongst some food-blogger friends on cookbooks and their relevance in a world of food blogs and websites.  The topic was triggered by the surprising admission of some food-bloggers (aspiring writers at that!) that they only look at and rarely cook from cookbooks.  My bookshelf is lined with cookbooks I have been collecting since my teens; they are a weakness.  They are my insights into a new cuisine or deeper explorations of a favourite one. I put a moratorium on further cookbook purchases because I am constrained where bookshelf-real-estate is concerned.  That ended, as all fad diets do, in a binge.  With e-shopping only a click away, I was on Flipkart, ordering away.   I am no longer looking for cookbooks titled “All About Baking,” but seek out books that link food to a culture: “Gujarati Cooking”, or “Simply South.”

cookbooks

I have been searching for a recipe for the Goan Sambarachi Kodi ever since I tasted it at O’Coquero.  On the Web, I came across only one recipe, the one on the charming Goan Food Recipes blog.  While Googling for it yet again (I try to check multiple recipes before attempting a less-familiar dish), I came across a mention for it in Pushpesh Pant’s India: A Cookbook.  Now, I am usually weary of cookbooks that want to cover all of India in one book.  If you know anything about the diversity that is India, you cam imagine how daunting a task that is. In India, I assure you, we know nothing as “Indian Food.”  But Pushpesh Pant is a respected scholar and reading some of the recommendations for the book, I thought, well, his might just be the definitive volume, the exception. To his credit, it has a 1000 recipes and weighs in at over a kilo!  With those statistics I was expecting a tome of great research and insights.  As usual, I started with the section on the cuisine I know better than any other – Kashmiri.  That right there, is the cornerstone by which I judge a cookbook dishing out “Indian” Cuisine. Continue reading “Pumpkin-flower Fritters and Similar Stories”

Simbly South!

Malpe Beach

Talk about signing up for more than your fair share!  I am an adjunct faculty for a Grad program at a college nearby but ended up with full-time teaching load this semester.  The work load in the office stayed unchanged which translates into ‘busy’ and is reflected in the woeful frequency of posts here the past two years.  Factor in the absence of any kitchen help and you get the picture.  But there must be a silver lining, surely?

I had made a case last time that I was better off without the ‘help’.  Well, I think the fact that I was able to handle the additional work load was in no small way because I did not have to supervise the cooking and cleaning downstairs. In the past four months we have eaten out no more than we normally do; perhaps, even less.  In fact, the folk at Andhra Bhavan might be wondering if all was well.  We have resorted to a meal of bread-and-butter on very few occasions.  The family has had to compromise on the freshness of their roties since I firmly believe they (roties, not the family) are not worth the trouble of the clean-up involved, twice a day.  I usually cook enough roties for two meals and sometimes, with the right accompanying dishes that are best with rice, the leftovers get stretched into a third meal.  Otherwise, I feel our meals have more variety, are fresher (except for the roties!), and there is less waste as I use up ingredients before they spoil.

Lest you think it has been all work and no play let me tell you that in 2012 we have already managed two holidays!  The last week of January found us in Rajasthan walking the gorgeous dunes of Jaisalmer.  Yes, it was the same group that did that arduous hike to the Valley of Flowers five years ago; a bit older, none the wiser.  It was a bit hectic and we have resolved that the next trip together will be to a spa – a luxurious spa, not one of those detox ones where they near-starve you – and just let our hair hang down.

That is precisely what TH and I did early this month when we visited the son, now in his third year at college.  This year he has opted out of the college hostel and is trying out apartment-living with two classmates.  It is gladdening to watch him deal with the mundane and the interesting aspects of living on one’s own and sharing space with others with different backgrounds.  While A is a carnivore, both his roommates are vegetarian; one will eat eggs while the other is a vegan and an animal-right activist to the extent that even roaches get protection!  I wonder what they think of A and his ways!

Kapi, fresh South Indian filter coffee Continue reading “Simbly South!”