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Showing posts from October, 2011

Pumpkin cravings

Don't you just love the fact that once the calender gets to September/ October, a flurry of festivals begin cropping up all over the world? In India, its Navratri, followed by Diwali, Kartigai, a South Indian festival that makes its appearance anywhere from 15 days to a month & a half after Diwali coinciding with the full moon in the Indian month of Karthik, I guess it commemorates the harvest moon. Others that come to mind, The Moon Festival celebrated in the Far East,  Halloween , Guy Fawkes day, .. Oh boy, the list could potentially go on and on.  I'm not entirely sure, but it may be due to the colder months & shorter days that mankind found ways of socially celebrating events to keep from the depressive nature of this part of the year.
    Back to my own little sphere of a comfort zone, the vegetable I've most commonly come to associate with Fall is the big fat Pumpkin. There's a whole Bubba's list of what one could create with this thick skinned fruit…

Diwali Munchies: Hazelnut & Almond 'Cake'

Its that time of the year again, Diwali, a.k.a the festival of lights.. The brain rewinds to memories from long ago of childhood, the aroma of Diwali savories deep frying in a variety of oils, Peanut oil for the 'mixtures' (as chivda is known down south) & 'omappodi' , coconut oil for the 'murukku' & 'thenkozhal' and lots and lots of ghee for the sweet stuff. Every family had  (& still does) its traditional set of munchies. My favorite memories are that of waking up from my afternoon nap to the aroma of curry leaves being sauteed with asafetida to be added to the 'Miccher' (mixture). There would be a one foot high hill of various ingredients piled high on layers of newspaper to be mixed by hand before being ladled into the large stainless steel containers.(to be unopened, preferably, until Diwali Eve. Yeah, like that curfew was ever obeyed!!).

Fast forward to this century...Start the Car, drive to Edison, NJ , pick up boxes of stuff…

A tribute to Jayasree Satish..

Posts such as these are really hard to compose, and yet the sadness lingers even for those of us who can be categorized as the typical 'third person'.  We lost one of our fellow bloggers, Jayasree Satish  on the 12th of October, to a  rather sudden (and fatal) bout of Pneumonia. I personally did not have the opportunity to know her or even interact with her other than casually glance through comments she made on Facebook. It was only after her passing that I realized what a wonderful collection of memorable, wonderful recipes she's compiled through her blog Kailas Kitchen.

Something that I had never given importance to was the potential of the microwave to churn out a lot more than cooked rice & warming milk. I just got a wonderful tutorial on the same. The recipe accompanying this post is entirely Jayasrees without any alteration to the ingredients, (other than recommendations from her own tasting notes). Thank you Jayasree for the wonderful recipe. My thoughts &…

Spiced Vegetable rice

Its always thrilling to win something in a giveaway, even more so if its a reward for a winning entry in a contest (that way you know you've earned it & the satisfaction is that much more sweeter).

It may or may not be a surprise that lot of native Tamil speaking individuals from madras (present day Chennai) have probably never heard of or ever used this spice blend  in their cooking,  never mind what the marketing gurus claim! and it most definitely is never called as Madras curry powder. You'll be hard pressed to find this blend used daily  in many Chennai households!

This blend probably results from an amalgamation of spice ideas that kind of got 'optimized' (for lack of a better word) for an Anglo/British palate keeping in mind typical English food that discovered a new twist when it was saucily spiced up by native spices. The other blend that comes to mind is the Vadouvan blend that was developed in neighboring Pondicherry by les Francaise (Pon…

Fudging the basics... basic ricotta fudge and applications thereof!

My initial idea was to call this post 'Eating your mistakes' but it turned out to be such a delicious deviation of intended results, I just did not have the heart to tag it as such.

It started out with the intention of making a beloved bengali dessert the 'Sandesh'. My memory cells are pretty much swamped by gustatory inputs about classics like 'Rosgolla' & Cham Cham, that I do not have many memories about the third in the triumverate of Bengali sweets. So I turned to a classic bengali food blog, The Bong Moms cookbook and sure enough, came across this elegant recipe for bhappa sandesh. Scrolling down the list of ingredients, mentally 'checking' off the ones I had on hand...Ricotta, condensed milk (check & check... YAAY I was on a roll here) & I flew off to try this out, entirely forgetting the remaining list of ingredients which I did not have on hand, or a serious look at the simple technique described. That was the end of the Sandesh att…

Thursday tutorials: Call me melon...

Run this thought experiment in your head.. Ready? think of the first taste that you associate with the following word.. MELON

If you said sweet you're probably in the majority. If you said bitter,  your brain process runs along the lines described by the C.J Peters of the the book 'The Virus Hunter' and, upon hearing hoofbeats, you think zebra instead of horses, & you would be absolutely on the dot..I'm referring to the fruit known scientifically as Mormodica charantia, the Bitter melon (a.k.a bitter gourd, karela, carilla, kugua).
Growing up, I absolutely hated the days when this was made at home. After all, bitter is a taste confined to the back of ones tongue & indicative of toxic poisons. Acceptance became rapid after my first rotation at NYU school of medicine with Dr. Slyvia Lee-Huang. She was then working on discovering anti-HIV properties of compounds extracted from the seeds of the bitter melon, in particular a protein called MAP-30.

Well, when you discov…

Happy October! Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies

My mother used to frequently admonish me with this saying... a man who looks at many trees seldom climbs even one.. This week, it has been something like that.. 4 different ideas all half complete.. Well make that 3 half complete, & the fourth (from yesterdays mega-inspiration), went through not one, but two fabulous versions. The first with a lemons worth of zest and the next, with cardamom, saffron & coconut.

This weeks recipe is an Indian inspired version of Merrill Stubbs' mothers iconic cream-cheese cookies. follow this link for the original version.


While OOHing & aahing at this genius of a rich cookie gem, a lot of the food52 contributors came up with a list of variations for this simple recipe & my input was initially saffron & cardamom. Combined with another suggestion (indirectly from Merrill herself) of coconut, comes this unbelievably simple keeper.

Coconut cream cheese cookies (adapted from Merrill Stubbs recipe on Food52.com).

Ingredients: (makes …