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Showing posts from November, 2011

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 …

Kale tales & tempura

The flip side of festive days such as thanksgiving is this terrible sense of withdrawal symptoms that invariably strikes after the festivities are over.. Once the cleaning is done, the nice plates are put away and the last wine cork is located in the far corners of the kitchen counter & tossed out, a feeling of 'now what do I do?' sets in and no dish that the head conjures is ever good enough to beat. and no recipe that has been tried, tested & waiting to be posted seems to fit the bill (Take home message: Its not worth making & banking good recipes way  too ahead of time)
When that happens I regress back to comfort foods that I know I'll regret stuffing my face with.. This time around it was deep fried 'Bhajia',  and a large mug of Masala Chai... at 10.00 am in the morning (doing this ought to rank with hitting the booze at 9.00 am, in terms of socio-culinary blasphemy), but it was delicious while it lasted. Weight watchers just got relegated to the b…

My Thanksgiving table 2011

When November rolls around, so do a slew of events preparing you for the short cold days ahead. The first weekend is 'extended' by an hour thanks to  daylight savings, which brings on a spot of depressing evenings with the sun disappearing under the horizon an hour early (yes, it does rise an hour early as well, but no one bothers to take that into account). the leaves litter the lawn, and thoughts turn to the preparation of that time honored American event. Thanksgiving.
The nice part about thanksgiving is that there is a list of ingredients that are staples on the festive table, pumpkin (pie), cranberry (jellied or in sauce form), brussel sprouts (roasted), Green beans (casserole), turkey (roasted), & ham, corn (cornbread), apples (cider & pie), chestnuts.. of course, there is no set rule that corn HAS to be in the form of cornbread, or cranberry must absolutely be jellied.. Of course, being vegetarian, no turkey or other recipes with meat on the table!

My recipes …

Back to classic basics - Olan

Its one of those days when you just have to listen to your homing instincts & go for the comfort factor. The taste buds craved the mild pastel & silky textures of a classic Kerala dish the Olan. & the nice part is that all it takes is pretty much one zucchini & a can of coconut milk.
Growing up, I remember that whenever Amma made this, I'd always wish she'd make a LOT, Lot more since the dish was tasty enough to polish off on its own. It was always paired with a tart tamarind based gravy known as 'vetha kuzhambu' & ladles of piping hot plain rice, and a fried pappadum. The simple combination of vibrant tartness & delicate coconut milk spiced only with slit green chilli and torn curry leaves.  It simply has to be eaten to be appreciated.
But back to the basics.. There simply was not enough to polish off as a one pot dish as tempting as it is and you know how such matters sit at the back of the brain, never forgotten, but just wait…

Walking the Turmeric Trail

'The Turmeric Trail' by Raghavan Iyer is one cook book I'd love to get my hands on. except, its no longer in print & the only available copies are sold online at black market rates, which I will not pay(its not the price, its the principle!). But the title endures, in another avatar, as the brand name for a set of spices launched last month.

Turmeric Trail is the brainchild of Chef Raghavan Iyer and focuses on 4 spices representing 4 distinct regions of India. Garam Masala, the predominant spice blend used in the Northern states,  Madras Masala, A heady mix of toasted split  dal & spices, thats a mainstay of the signature South Indian stew 'Sambhar', Mumbai Masala, a vibrant mix with dried coconut & sesame, and Chai Masala, a blend of 5 spices, with a potential to sizzle up 50 different dishes, from tea, to hot chocolate to cookies. They're packaged beautifully in natural looking brown boxes tied  with raffia grass and it is quite understan…