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Mud Thai 

Ever have those moments where you a bit of information flashes by your cognitive senses and disappears never to flash back again? and yet it leaves such a deep impression that you find yourself searching for it whenever the opportunity arises?
This idea stems from a clip on mixology I remember watching on Indian TV by India's foremost female mixologist Shatbi Basu. While the details of the clip are fuzzy, what remains crystal clear are the ingredients she used, fennel seeds, ginger & fresh Sugarcane juice, While the last ingredient is not really easy to obtain (unless you're in the vicinity of Union square in New York City where there is a juice bar that crushes this fresh while you wait), The canned variety makes for a wonderful substitute. 

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 thick slice lemon cut into pieces, rind and all
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger root
  • 5-6 fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon brown cane sugar
  • 30 milliliters Bacardi light rum
  • 4 ounces chilled sugar cane juice
  • Ice as required 

Combine the fennel, lemon, ginger,Thai basil leaves and sugar. Muddle well.
Add the rum, sugar cane juice and ice into a cocktail shaker along with the muddled mix and shake well.
Strain into a chilled glass & garnish with a sprig of thai basil.


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Lehiyam spiced Popcorn


1: Air pop yellow corn kernels to get about 3 cups. spread into a single layer on a baking sheet

2: Spice blend: 1 table spoon Coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 4-5 black peppercorns & 3-4 'Long Pepper' Known in Hindi as Pippli (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_pepper). Grind all these together to make a fine powder.
3. grind up fresh ginger to get about 1/4 cup of pulp. Strain the pulp to obtain the extract. Allow the extract to stand for 10 minutes to allow the white starch residue to settle. DEcant the liquid & discard the white part.
4. melt 1/3 cup of either cane jaggery or muscovado sugar using as little water as possible. Add the ginger extract and about  1 to 1.5 teaspoon of the spice blend & cook into a thick syrup (thick enought to coat the popcorn but not so much as to form globules of candy over it).
5. Drizzle the spiced sugar syrup over the popcorn & toss till the syrup is evenly distributed.
6. Scarf down while watching a 'masala' bollywood flick of your choice!



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Panaka Punch - Kara Newman's pick for the best spicy cocktail contest organized by Monica Bhide!

Kara says: The flavors were intriguing and complex, and the Panaka Punch had a beautiful aroma too.


This drink would have never occurred to me, had it not been for a recipe for panaka I came across in Madhur Jaffrey's James Beard award winning book 'World Vegetarian' (p. 644) . Not sure why she listed this beverage as 'extinct', but it sure got me re- inspired !!

The Hindu festival 'Ram navami' is celebrated in the month of April all over India. One of the traditional festive offerings in South Indian temples & households for this event is 'panakam', a refreshing punch like drink made with ginger, gud (jaggery, an unrefined sugar) and lime & flavored with cardamom. A time honored tradition kept alive for the past 3000+ (yes, three thousand) years. I prefer adding Lime flavored seltzer in place of water for a refreshing late summer afternoon drink,  but to REALLY kick it up a notch, grab the Lemon flavored Absolut & the Ginger liqueur.





1 oz chilled Lemon flavored Vodka
2 oz  Domain de
Canton Ginger liqueur
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon powdered dry ginger
2-3 pods Cardamom (seeds lightly crushed)
1/2 a lime ( 
juice squeezed )
3 ounces chilled sparkling water or lime flavored seltzer


Muddle the brown sugar, cardamom seeds, ginger powder and lime juice till the sugar dissolves. add the vodka, and ginger liqueur along with the seltzer/sparkling water. Strain into glasses (rimmed with sugar if desired) & serve chilled. Feel free to adjust the vodka as per your personal preference.


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