Sunday, February 18, 2007

India update 4
16 - 18 Feb 2007

Let's begin with some more general vegetarian goodness. I was in the mood for spicy stuffed bell peppers (capsicum to Indian folk) and my mom indulged me! Along the way I also learned how to make them. I was planning pictures at each step but the battery on my camera gave way and needed to be recharged. Well here they are anyway , along with matki chi usal - a dry curry of moth bean sprouts, ambat varan - a sour garlicky daal, bharleli kashmiri mirchi - bell peppers stuffed with spiced chick pea flour, shrikhand - a yogurt based dessert and karela - fried bitter gourd.

What happened next was a puja (Satyanarayan puja) at our house. Of course this meant the mandatory fast before the puja - fast of course, being a relative term as you can have your fill of sabudana khichadi!

And after the puja was over there was a veritable feast served in the traditional banana leaf shaped dish (Ideally you serve in a real banana leaf but it's hard to find large clean ones these days!) Traveling clockwise in that plate we see salt, lemon, cucumber roasted peanut salad, green coconut chutney, yogurt, puran - sweetened boiled chickpea mash, fresh cashew curry - these aren't your run-off-the-mill roasted cashews, these are fresh from the fruit, soft and creamy and utterly delicious, and tragically unavailable anywhere in the US, lightly sauteed fresh okra, rice with varan dal, chapaties, and masala dudh - milk flavored with saffron, almonds, pistachios etc. etc.

I'm thinking of having another puja before I leave, just for the food...

Anyway, after that on Sunday, I had my buddies over for lunch and there was more great food. Unfortunately I didn't take any pics of the food, but I can list what was on the menu - chicken curry, dry chick pea curry, jain style potato curry, faras bean curry, an assortment of chutneys and pickles, and for dessert dudhi halva - a halva made of dudhi, an Indian gourd, shira - a halva made of semolina and ice cream!

Later that evening I went for the Roger Waters concert at the MMRDA grounds in the Bandra-Kurla complex. I didn't have any great expectations from this thing so was blown away by how good it was! The lights, the sounds, Dark Side of The Moon! He finished with Comfortably Numb! I'll post some pics later when my friend has a chance to get them off his camera phone.

We ended the night with roomali roti - a soft-as-velvet flat bread that's made by tossing it into the air (roomal is the Hindi word for a silk handkerchief), bheja fry - fried brains, chicken bhuna - roasted chicken curry and seekh kababs at Bademiya's at Colaba! Eating on the street, off the hood of your car that's been propped up by a Coke bottle (sorry Thums Up bottle) has it's own unique charm that cannot be reproduced anywhere else!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

So this is going to be a giant mash-up, I'm going to try and use the EXIF information on the pictures to try and figure out what was ravenously pounced upon when... Forget it, let's forget dates, let's just say that I ate this between...

12 Feb - 15 Feb 2007

First up, some unpleasantness. The dreaded potato stir-fry. This bhaji is my mortal nemesis but dad and bro love it, so it gets made anyway. Needless to say I took a picture of it the kadhai, but it never got on my plate. (That's a lie, I did eat some with rice. It tastes nice but it's generally too dry for my palate. I like juicier things!)

Here's a random picture of a street vendor taken from my terrace. Look at the fresh vegetables that we'll never buy! (You don't buy from the vendor in front of your house unless you're lazy. Like a good little Indian you go to the market and bargain with all the vendors there...) The black stuff in the basket on the right is grapes. And there's tea (I think) in the aluminum container.

Here's our carrom board. My dad's a champ but I beat him sometimes...

Here's something I like! It's curried scrambled eggs with green peppers (or capsicums as we call them here!) Along with are some fresh fulka chapaties!

Next up, liver curry! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! This contains all kinds of offal like liver, heart, kidneys! Very incredibly tasty! And it's being served with jwarichi bhakri - a special flat bread that's exclusive to my state. Nutty, salty, with a texture that's unlike any you've ever had! My mouth exploded when I had this!

And now for something which is exclusive I think only to my village, possibly only to my extended family! The Maharashtrian version of breakfast cereal - chaha-pohe! Chaha is tea and pohe is flattened cooked rice! Dunk pohe into a saucerful of hot tea and scoop up spoonful after delicious spoonful. Caffeine and vitamins in the same dish!!

My mom asked me what she should make for dinner.
I said "Sabudana vada!"
"What? That's just a snack!"
"Not if I have a dozen or two!!!"
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, last night I had two dozen hot off the frying pan sabudana vadas with green chutney and Maggi sauce!
And to the uninitiated, sabudana is well explained in Wikipedia, vada simply means fritter. Sabudana, potatoes, peanuts and chillies! I am going to make this when I get back to Madison!

And finally to finish off on a sweet note, here's pictures of two of my favorite desserts - on the left, malai sandwiches (Imagine two flattened rasgullas with sweet heavy cream in the middle!) and on the right, halvasan (I'll need to research more and find out exactly what this contains, suffice is to say that it's delicious!)

So I've slacked off, so sue me! Big update coming tomorrow morning.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

India update day 2 - 11 Feb 2007

I slept for almost 12 hours. That was probably the last of the jet-lag!

After waking and playing zombie for about 10 minutes, the smell of hot dosas drew me to the kitchen. My maid Sujata was making dosas. I pigged out and had 5! And 2 idlis! All accompanied by the special green chutney that accompanies dosas.

And it's just 11 am. I'll update this again at the end of the day. I smell a feast coming on! I'm off to watch the India - Sri Lanka one day match!

And here we are at the end of the day! I had mutton curry for lunch. Delicious! And mutton curry, bheja fry (fried brains) and gaboli for dinner. Followed by rasgullas for dessert! I'm in culinary heaven right now.

And as an added bonus, here's pics of some Narayandas laddus that my mom made.

India update day 1 - 10 Feb 2007

I got home 1:30 am on the 10th and ate kheema-pau after getting home. Kheema is minced goat meat which is usually curried. Pau is simply bread. Here's a pic!

As I hadn't slept at all on the Amsterdam-Mumbai leg (I watched Little Miss Sunshine - awesome!! and Walk The Line - also awesome! and one episode of the Office - always great,) I beat the jet-lag pretty well and got a couple hours sleep in.

Waking up, I had more kheema-pau. Then my mom pop's the surprise on me! She had frozen Alphonso mangoes and Mahabaleshwar strawberries since summer! Whoa! Here's pics of the mangoes and strawberries thawing out. As you can see they lost firmness in the freeze-thaw process, so we decided to convert them to aamras (mango juice) and strawberry milkshake instead.

For lunch we had palak paneer (green spinach curry with cottage cheese) and valacha birda (curried brown bean sprouts) with fulka chapatis fresh of the griddle!! (In my gluttonfest I forgot to take pics.)

Yum yum!

As soon as my jet-lag leaves me, I'll step out. Update for day 2 is next!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

It's time for the annual adventure! This Thursday, I fly to the Greatest City in the World - Mumbai!

Here's hoping I can meet up with all the readers and lurkers and hanger's on of this blog. So please email me (address in the top-right corner,) and I'll send you my contact info (and also reveal my secret identity to those who don't know it yet!!!)