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Showing posts from 2011

James Herriot revisited - A review of Suvir Saran's new cookbook 'Masala Farm'

I can't ask for a better subject to cap this wonderful year of blogging, Chef Suvir Saran's new book. Masala Farm. Taking a break from life in the Garden state, sipping a piping hot cup of coffee, looking out on Crescent lake in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, with family. The entire setting takes the memory cells on a nostalgic trip, of country life, meandering pathways, cows, horses grazing in pastures, tales & anecdotes straight out of Alf Wight'sbeloved classics.




For those of you unfamiliar with  Alf Wight, he was a country vet from Yorkshire, England who wrote a series of delightfully quirky classic books about country life, animals and his career as a country vet, under the pen name of James Herriot. A bevy of four legged characters and their humans with their strengths & failings, their individual personalities, ranging from elegant to right down eccentric. Its a beautiful ode to country life in the 1940's onward.


Fast forward to the 21st century, it seems th…

Latkes - My way!

(This was a recipe made last year for Hanukkah, It just never saw the light of day on the blog, just on the Facebook 'Panfusine' page)
I'll be the first to admit that Hanukkah was one of the most recent religious festivals that I came to know about, In that respect, I'm as gentile as it gets. but the connotation of a festival related to lights & the celebration of faith & devotion in the Almighty & the mere fact that it falls around Diwali was enough to raise a curiosity in wanting to learn more about the traditions surrounding Hanukkah. For those of you with a similar interest, I refer you to the wikipedia article on the festival ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah ) Even for a gentile like me, hearing the word 'Hanukkah' first brings to mind a plate of warm potato latkes served with sour cream. There are variations a plenty & my version is probably just one in hundreds. Since I do not usually incorporate eggs in my recipes, t…

Dinner and a story. - Birbal ki Khichdee at the Masala Farm

For those of you unfamiliar with the name Birbal, here's a quick primer.

Stories of the third Moghul Emperor Akbar & his grand vizier Birbal are the stuff of legends, and almost every kid growing up in India will have heard at least one or  two of these delightful folktales. Birbal's sense of fairness & justice brought him the undying faith & trust of his Emperor along with jealousy & intrigue from the other courtiers who envied his proximity to Akbar. The Khichdee story illustrates Birbals quiet quick witted way of getting his point across to Akbar.

During the Winter season in Delhi, Akbar was strolling along the banks of the Yamuna river, when he noticed how bone chilling cold the water was, and wondered if anyone would dare spend the night standing in the river. When Birbal responded that if the reward was good enough, someone who needed the money would step up. Sure enough, the announcement (and a reward of a 1000 gold coins) was made, and an impoverished p…

Terra Madre Day.. Celebrating Mother Earth

I'd been racking my brains as to what to create for Terra Madre day (India) hosted byRushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, but sometimes the answer is staring at you in the face! The best dishes in life are those created with the simplest of ingredients, locally sourced and seasoned with an abundance of love and care.

The first dish that comes to mind was a Maa ladoo a delicious confection made with roasted chick pea flour sugar, ghee and cardamom. This is still my all time favorite sweet snack that instantly reminds me of my mother.




The second  was a recipe taught to me by my aunt Lakshmi Ramanathan while on holiday in Bangalore, India. The perfect dish for supper, simple eggplant bharta with fresh roti. 'Chithi' as I call her has been the mother figure in my life from the moment I lost my own mother in 2007.


The dominant flavor is brought about, not by any spice or spice blend, but simply the robust smokiness of the char grilled eggplant and heat from ginger & green chilli.…

Nutty but nice..

Forget the picture above, Look down..Remember this fruit? Yep, the stinky durian's lesser cousin the 'Jack fruit' .






People can be divided into 2 categories when it comes to this fruit, those who love it & those who loathe it. When the edible part of this monster  fruit has been picked completely, the last of the sticky gummy latex like sap wiped off using ladlefuls of cooking oil and the whole pile of lemony yellow arils has been demolished, despite the dire predictions of horrible stomach aches,


all that one is left with is  seeds the size of quails eggs. The outer covering which is smooth and oily textured when freshly ripped off the fruit, turns into a papery/leathery  casing when dry. The seed is seldom thrown away, Its tossed into stews as a vegetable or roasted over a flame & eaten as a snack. Just like the classic chestnut.



I admit, the prospect of tackling a chestnut has always been daunting, kinda like storming a fortress. It was always easier buying fre…

Celebration time!

It would really be puzzling if I began a celebratory post  with the words 'It was a dark & stormy morning'.. but believe me it was. The day was Oct 29th, the weekend after Diwali and I had organized a 'Festival of Lights' potluck to commemorate the release of Food52's new cookbook.
Food52, for those of you unfamiliar with the site is a community sourced cooking website/blog. Founded in 2009 by Amanda Hesser ( whose first book 'The Essential New York Times Cookbook',  won a James Beard award earlier this year) & Merrill Stubbs,  its a stunningly gorgeous,  informative site on all things culinary. The best part, its a group effort with inputs from home cooks & chefs across the world, quite unlike other sites which can be intimidating with inputs from celebrity chefs and the like.
The book itself consists of 140 recipes crowd sourced over 2 years, through a weekly contest that focused on a single theme. (which varied from season to season). Its …