Archive for March, 2008

My Kitchen…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2008 by ashthefoodie

 

  

  

The Kitchen

 

“My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me. It is place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odours carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future.” 

“TO FEED WITH LOVE IS A GREAT VIRTUE AND YOUR KITCHEN CAN NEVER GO EMPTY” 

MY PHILOSOPHY 

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Amma…alias Zaibun Nisha—the last of its Kind…after her, What?

Posted in heritage cuisine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2008 by ashthefoodie

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She says, “What my father had in his hands, I do not even have a portion of it…but what he did leave behind with me was the determination to keep my tradition alive.”

If she meant that her shooley and khud murg were only one fourth of its original taste, I would give a million bucks to get into a time machine and go to the period when her father existed. May be even the Khajuraho sculptures could not have provided what her food gave us…orgasm that meandered from the nose to the tongue to tickle the body from within.

She comes from the legacy of inventors of the famous Tunde Kebabs of Lucknow. Her father worked for a megistrate in Lucknow, who later got transferred to Jaipur. Hence, just a couple of years before India saw the light of freedom, Zaibun Nisha, along with her family migrated to Jaipur bag and baggage. Her father started working in the kitchens of Maharaja Man Singh. And indeed a new evolution of migrant cuisine took place. Today, Zaibun Nisha is the last of that legacy, a delight of the foodies of Jaipur. I have heard stories where five star hotels have asked her to cook her special recipes for visiting State guests and even Heads of States, and marketed them as their own.

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Today, she stays all alone in a small, but exceptionally clean shack at C Scheme masjid, Jaipur. I came to know about her existence while sniffing around the wall streets of Jaipur for that aromatic wiff. Dear friend Shan Bhatnagar, a painter, a designer and above all, a foodie informed me about her. Hence my eyes rovered through the streets to figure out who this ‘amma’ is.I must also mention here Sajid Mehmood the dynamic General Manger of Country Inns and Suites,Jaipur whose constant inputs,warm hospitality and immense knowledge of Heritage cuisine further motivated my quest.

So I chugged along full steam with my Puwali, the invincible Arindita alias Gogoi soon to discover a past life connection, a chemistry, a bonding with ‘amma’. We gazed at each other, eye to eye contact, and we knew there lay a synergy of purpose—a meaningful synergy. She offered a chair to me. I resisted, doubting the durability of the chair vis a vis my weight. I sat down only to realise that I was feeling well rested, relaxed. My meditation class was to begin. We talked while Puwali noted, scribbled on her note pad, our conversation only to be involved and convert it from a twosome to a healthy threesome. That sums up the summery of my first interaction. I realised that I had moved from inches to inches only to leap from milestones to milestones.

We had ordered for Shooley ( sort of kebabs made out tender lamb that melt in your mouth) and khud murg (whole chicken stuffed and marinated with aromatic spices wrapped in roti and normally cooked in a pit ) from Amma. We brought back the food to the five star hotel where we were staying, and offered to share the food with the hotel kitchen. They beautifully garnished it and brought the platter to us. Indeed, the rustic look of the dishes were gone, only to reiterate my belief that how much does an environment, mood and feel affect the food and taste buds. The food was stupendous without doubt and we could not adhere to any table manners while savouring her magical food. But the aroma of Amma’s kitchen and her simple utensils at the backdrop of the mosque kept on ligering in our minds. No matter how expensive the cutlery of the five star hotel may be, but it can’t compensate for the simple alluminium plate on which she offered me her wonderful food.

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The Orgasmic Wiff Of Rustic Dining…

Posted in heritage cuisine with tags , , , , , on March 17, 2008 by ashthefoodie

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I set off on a journey to the historical city of Jaipur to trace the migrant Muslim cuisine of the Pink City. It is said that the Muslims settled in Jaipur during the reign of Maharaja Mansingh and Akbar.

“Serenely full, the epicure would say,
Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today.”

 

FOOD TALK-MY PASSION,MY EMOTION AND MY COMMOTION

Posted in Food Talk: from the heart on March 17, 2008 by ashthefoodie

 

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Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at, and I sigh.

William Butler Yeats

TV PROGRAMMES ON FOOD—AN OVERVIEW — KUDOS TO ANTHONY BOURDAIN -“NO RESERVATIONS “-A SERIES WORTH WATCHING  

We are now being treated to a plethora of food shows. They are proliferating across all channels. Some are better than others. Some are awful. You have the Reality type; chefs freaking out in the kitchen for a seriously doubtful ‘dream’ job. Casting: One gay, one lesbian, one foreigner, one latino, one retard. Parental approval suggested  i.e. Strong language. Then you have  the Travelogue type; some history, some geography, some eating, some drinking, something, hopefully, disgusting.  The Serious Cook type; details about food ingredients, techniques of cooking, close closeups, low budget production. And finally  the Amateur type; good cook, bad presentation, not enough lights, dirty pans. Regardless of the type of show, most are very successful. Since cooking at home is becoming a distant memory in many houses these shows are quite riveting. I mean- fresh food! In gorgeous technicolour.! Plump tomatoes, golden syrup, brown country eggs, green  kiwi fruit…all lit like Greta Garbo. Irresistable. Let it be clear though that the main ingredient in all these programmes is undoubtedly the presenter. A food show needs someone at least slightly edible.  Most men will agree that Nigella and Padma Laksmi fit the bill. And most women will agree that Vir Sanghvi does not. His weighty, pontificating  and humourless style is not appetising. His statements, sometimes,are in very bad taste and he comes across a man who is so full of himself ( Sorry Vir-no offence meant–just a personal observation-I could be wrong–just taking advantage of my freedom of expression-read “Rude Food ” for a taste)

Now take Anthony Bourdain. Very different story.  I have no reservations in saying he is the ice cream on the cake of food programming.For one thing he does not pretend to be an intellectual. Unpretentious, often downright uneducated about the country he visits, his reactions are honest, very human and frequently funny.  He takes his food as it comes. And his people too. He is no gourmet in this series and doesn’t pretend to be, though he knows what tastes good and what he likes. He is not , never ever, supercilious. His humour is self deprecatory which is attractive Bourdain’s shows in India were interesting in that they showed a different side to several well exposed places and people. Rajasthan revealed a take on  H.H. Gaj Singh which was funny, dinner at a Royal wedding, a look at the home life of a chef and his wife (while no quarter was given to the annoying child), a visit to a soothsayer and a  meal in his home where any preconceived notions about fortune tellers were quickly destroyed. A meal at a roadside dhaba where the presenter seemed quite at home, a hair raising ride on a bus, a drink of bhang. Nothing unusual about the choice of scenes. Kind of typical. Maharajas and palaces, poverty and population, traffic and drugs, fortune tellers, spice merchants and bargaining in the bazaar. No Reservations is a series that deseres a watch in all fairness

What is unusual is Bourdain’s attitude and interpretation. Not ordinary. I call Bourdain a culinary warrior for eating the untried , untested, unknown. Now its the “thing” to do,  like ” Lets eat what these foreigners eat. Ooh isn’t it foul.” Only with Bourdain it is ..”Hmm, not bad, not bad at all. I could actually develop a taste for this.”Opinionated, thank god, what a relief in this age of “lets be polite and sit on the fence and  not challenge anyone’s beliefs”, not one to mince his words, Bourdain’s comments are always interesting whether the viewer agrees or not. 

BUT WAIT WATCH OUT FOR “GOOD CURRY NO WORRY ‘–YOUR’S TRUELYS DREAM TO HIT THE IDIOT BOX SOMETIME AT SOME MOMENT HOPEFULLY– I WONDER WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY THEN ——-“HEY  ASH –YOU CAN DO IT”

 

The Food (NE festival at The Park)

Posted in North East and Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2008 by ashthefoodie

Yours truly helping Chef Ankit Mangla (The Park) with the menu

Shinju: a manipuri salad

Pork Bamboo shoot and Raja Mircha

Dried fish: a delicacy in North East

North East India consisting of eight States namely Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram is home to over 100 ethnic tribes , subtribes and communities– each having its distinct characteristics , traditions and cuisines.

The Park hotel ( New Delhi) took the initiative of organizing the north east food festival: Expose North East in 2007. An eight day extravaganza, this festival was organized at Aqua-the poolside outdoor space in the hotel. there was an effort to create the ambience of north east with north eastern girl band Blue Corn adding to the ferver. Also organized simultaneously was an art and photography exhibition which took people to a pictorial journey of the region and also introduced some fresh talents.

In order to popularize the region and promote the cuisine, The Park hotel even introduced a few dishes and ingredients in the menus of their restaurants.

A Divine Sojourn to the Heart of Delhi…Chandni Chowk/Jama Masjid

Posted in Food journey-Delhi with tags , , , , on March 16, 2008 by ashthefoodie

 

It all started from here...my home in Gurgaon-on to a metro from Dwarka

Next in an auto with my buddy Yogesh alias Yogi--Sat in the ultimate Indian vehicle after twenty years...

Changeover on a cycle rickshaw: I was amazed to see that it took my weight to perfection!!!

Gharib Nawaaz hotel: has a tradition of serving 300 people every day; therein lies barkat in food

 

Our ENT specialist in action

Manohar Shah's old shop opened in 1947 after partition after Manohar came from Pakistan--famous for its chole bhature /japani samosa -our Indian version of wonton

This is the famous Japani samosa of chandni chowk--how this name japani came is an interesting story-This samosa was created 48 yrs ago and is an improvised version of the wanton

 

Streets of Jama Masjid

 

Street Connecting Chawri Bazaar and Jama Masjid: Phew!!!

 

Jama Masjid Just Before the Friday Prayers

Fruits of Life

Wah! tandoor

Tandoori

Barkatuddin's Nihari...too good Sevai---Semolina being sold in one of the shops near Jama Masjid. Best sevred with milk, cooked in ghee and dry fruits

 

Next to Chandni Chowk Metro station-bread pakoras and chillas-his garlic chutney is really good

 

Seekh Kebab in Al Jawahar; according to legends the old man named it so because Jawaharlal nehru came to eat here

Dates at its Best(!)---this man sells about 30 different varieties infront of Jama Masjid

RASHID'S HALWA--IT IS MADE OF 40 HERBS AND SPICES IN PURE GHEE--RICH AND HEAVY-BUT GREAT TO TASTE AND RASHID SWEARS IT CURES CERTAINS AILMENTS LIKE PAINS ETC. (check out his caption: the last line)

 

The Journey remains incomplete without the mention of phirni and kheer

Thus Spake the Plates...

Quote Unquote

Posted in Food humour and Quote Unquote with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2008 by ashthefoodie

 

 

 

 

I WILL BE THANKFUL
“I will be thankful
For the food you gave me God
I will be thankful
For the water that you gave
Me to drink to take my thirst away
God”
Lord Byron

 

“All human history attests that happiness for men….the hungry sinner!…since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner.”

“Rice is born in water and must die in wine.”

“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.”

“I’m trying to eat better. And, I do feel wise after drinking tea. After eating vegetables, I just feel hungry.”

“Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels. There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one’s belt buckled.”

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”

“Welcome to the Church of the Holy Cabbage. Lettuce pray.”

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
James Beard (1903-1985)

“If there is anything we are serious about, it is neither religion nor learning, but food.”
Lin Yutang,
My Country and My People

“Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.”
Woody Allen, ‘Without Feathers’

Thus Spake “All human history attests that happiness for men….the hungry sinner!…since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner.”  “Rice is born in water and must die in wine.” “A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.” “I’m trying to eat better. And, I do feel wise after drinking tea. After eating vegetables, I just feel hungry.” Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels. There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one’s belt buckled.”

 “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”

 “Welcome to the Church of the Holy Cabbage. Lettuce pray.”

 “Mutton is to lamb, what a millionaire uncle is to his poverty stricken nephew” 

 “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
James Beard (1903-1985)

 “If there is anything we are serious about, it is neither religion nor learning, but food.”
Lin Yutang,
My Country and My People

“Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage.”
Woody Allen,
‘Without Feathers’

HUMOR-i

A Buddhist Monk walks up to the New York City hot dog vendor and says “make me one with everything”.
The Monk hands the vendor a $20 bill.
The vendor puts the bill into his pocket and the Monk inquires about his change.
The vendor says change must come from within