Monday, June 27, 2005
Saturday, June 25, 2005
2-Minute MagicIt's funny how you never get to do some kid-stuff when you are a kid, but suddenly, when you're grown up (and beyond), you stumble upon those things. As a child, I never played with teddy bears. One simple reason was we couldn't affort investing much into toys and so I could only appreciate teddys at friends' houses. Then, just a couple of years ago, a few American friends started gifting me a second childhood. On any and every occasion--be it a birthday, Christmas or anything else, the would send me these huge teddy bears. At one point it looked like I had to build a new room to house all these furry friends...
Okay, this isn't a Return-to-Innocence blog, so let me cut the toy talk. The reason I mentioned that is the food I am going to talk about now is another item immensely popular with children in India. It's called Maggi Noodles. A Nestle company brand, Maggi has a range of products, from soups, to ketchups, pickles and more. But the noodles remain the most popular in India. So much so that if you say the word Maggi here, it automatically comes to mean the noodles. The reason for the popularity? For one it's easy to cook--takes just 2 minutes to make a packet of Maggi noodles. For another, it tastes yum.
So, as a child, I never had much Maggi. But things changed when I started working. I heard about the glory of this snack from some bachelor colleagues and decided I had to try it. And, did I like it? In fact I felt ashamed, it hadn't entered our kitchen for so long!
The thing about Maggi noodles is it's versatility. There are just so many different ways you can cook it. If you're short of time, you just boil some water, add the noodles and the tastemaker, and bingo, your meal is ready in two minutes. If however, you want to relish it a bit more, add some scrambled eggs with onions in the boiled noodle. And if you want it even more sinfully delightful, cook eggs with some onions and veggies like capsicum, peas, cauliflower/broccoli, and beans and then put the boiled noodles (with tastemaker added) to this mix. Cook for some more minutes and...mmm, you have a hot, divine plate of noodles you just won't be able to resist.
No surprise Maggi (noodles, of course) is ever so popular with children here. And some grown up children too (yours truly).
NOTE: Image courtesy, www.panindia.com
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Khandvi -- Simply SavouryTime for a traditional Indian dish then. I guess you already know this, but let me reiterate, India is a BIG country. And the diversity of the different states and regions is just mind boggling, even for someone like me who was born here. So, things are no different when it comes to food and eating habits across regions--huge differences. And that's the best part. No matter what, your taste buds would never get tired of sampling the same fare again and again.
This dish I am going to talk about now, comes from the western Indian state of Gujarat. Gujarati food is mostly vegetarian, yet very unusual from cuisines in the rest of the country, and rather delicious at the same time. One of all time favourites is the Gujarati snack called Khandvi. This is a fairly unpretentious looking dish. Soft rolls made with gram flour and garnished with finely-shredded coconut and fresh coriander leaves.
What I like about Khandvi is it's light on the stomach, not very spicy, yet extremely delicious. And simple though it may seem, it's not all that easy to make. That's not to dissuade you from trying it though. The sheer scrumptiousness should be enough reason to try it out at home. In fact, I even found a recipe so you could that.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Peruvian dish: Causa Rellena (stuffed causa)Alright. This is something I've been wanting to do for a while, tell a bit about some very traditional dishes from my country, in particular from Lima which is where I live. This time we'll take a glance at the causa.
Before I talk about causa I need to get something clear. Peru is home of the potato. We have an uncountable diversity of this root, and many types of it can only be found here. One of these is the "yellow potato". Smaller than a regular "white" potato, the yellow potato is unique. It has a brown skin and it's surface has a lot of dents instead of being completely smooth. Think of many small balls of playdoh stuck together. Our yellow potato not only produces dishes which are (for obvious reasons) more colorful, but is much softer, which makes it excellent to mash.
Causa starts as mashed potatos. You cook the taters and then you press them until this "dough" results. Then comes the traditional part. You add lemon to the dough (again, Peruvian lemon, not the usual kind which are big and sweet; our lemons are the size of ping pong balls and are very sour) and then you add a special type of pepper called ají. The result is a very compact, very bright dough with this unique hot-sour taste.
From what I've been able to gather, causa was eaten by our ancestors (prehispanic cultures), back when potatoes were a very, very, important part of meals (not that they are not today). Back then it was made only with potatoes and aji. When the Spanish arrived they brought lemon. When that lemon was planted on our soil it resulted in this unique breed I mentioed above.
The origins of today's dish causa rellena is much fuzzier however. According to some, back in the days of our independence (1821), the women from Lima served a variation of the causa; it had been stuffed. The people who enjoyed the feast didn't know what it was and they asked for a name. When no one replied, it is said they exclaimed "For the cause!" and thus the name causa (cause) was adopted.
Nowadays there are many ways you can prepare stuffed causa (our causa rellena). You can use chicken, fish, vegetable, seafood, the list goes on and on.
So now you know. When you come to Lima, Peru make sure you ask for it (my recomendation, try the crab filling, it's delicious).
Pass the ... lemon!
Monday, June 13, 2005
Shrimp SundayAbout a month ago, for Mother's Day actually, me and my family went to this little sea food restaurant where I ordered Shrimp Fettuccini, not really knowing what I was getting into. The result however was delicious and since them I've been dying to go back and order that dish again.
Today I kind of satisfied that craving for shrimp fettuccini, albeit at home. We ran into this recipe a couple days ago, very simple to make so we had a go at it today. It's very different from the one we had at the restaurant but this version was also great. The pasta is mixed with two preparations, one of them has parsley and olive oil, the other has shrimp, garlic and white wine. Mix them up and you get this watermouthing delight.
Stick around, for soon I'll be talking about totally Peruvian dishes (before my compratiots banish me from the country). Meanwhile, have a go at this Sunday dish.
Pass the ... (mmm)... Parmesan!!
Sunday, June 12, 2005
New craving! These delicious Danish breads are new at our local store. Stuffed with apple. Great at any time of the day.
On the platter is noodles, shredded lamb, Mongolian style, some spring rolls (invisible from here) and a bit of kimchee salad. Wash it down with the coke. Keep eating ;)
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Snacking in the heatHere's some trivia for those who don't know this. If the word cha(a)t in the title of this blog intrigues you, here's the key to the mystery. Chaat is a hugely loved snack available in Delhi. In fact, it's one of the trademarks of the city itself. Like many snacks that are hard-to-resist for the tongue, chaat too, is by definition unhealthy.
Today, after work, an office friend and I went for a chaat session. As a true Delhiite I am a passionate chaat lover (watch this space for more). You can gauge that from the fact that I teamed up with my colleague to indulge in it when the temperature outside was a blistering 44 degree Celcius (111 F) (I am not joking). Well, the chaat today wasn't all that tempting, and the pictures I took aren't all that great either. So I will not yet talk at length about what chaat is. I want to show you images when I do.
Following the chaat, I went into a bookshop looking for a book I've been planning to read. Tough luck here too. But there was a silver lining...a candy shop just next to the bookstore! Both my friend and I decided to give in to silliness and bought a packet each of candies. Yum stuff. Hard to resist and harder to share. I will, though. Just control yourself a bit there...easy on sugar, okay?
PS: I read the "don't like fish that much" statement. Et tu, Cesar-e? I really need to save money now. To buy that head-smacking equipment, I mean...laptop ;)
Monday, June 06, 2005
Trout DayOk, I will say it out loud. I don't like fish that much (at this point Sury is ready to smack me on the head with a laptop). However I must say I have a preference for red fish instead of white fish. You know, tuna, salmon, trout...
So it's Sunday and we bought a nice couple of trouts, they sell them already gutted and opened, ready to grill. The grill is one of my secret passions. I'm terrible in the kitchen but I like using my grill and this is a simple thing to do. You only grill the trout 5 minutes on the meat side and 2 minutes on the skin side and voila! You serve it with this really good sauce made with parsley and garlic. A real treat. We serve it with white rice with some corn. We use choclo, a sort of white maize... think corn on the cob, only white instead of yellowish. It takes this cream color once it's coked. Really nice.
Meanwhile apple pie is on the way. My mother makes a great apple pie and I can't wait to cut a slice this evening, might be nothing left for tomorrow, lol.
Shortly I'll be talking about where this passion for grilling came from. Actually it has to do with cooking shows on tv. You'll get more in a future post :)
Pass the gravy!
Sunday, June 05, 2005
This was a treat Cesar once sent me, albeit virtually. Waffles aren't part of regular food here in India, and this sure looks inviting!
Dinner at midnightSo... my first blog ever!
My friend Sury thought it would be a nice idea doing this blog together and I couldn't agree more. It's hard to keep track of the times we've stayed up (we're on opposite sides of the world so someone is staying up late at some point) chatting about dishes one of us is familiar with but the other isn't.
We're always asking each other "did you have dinner yet"? Just last night, as Sury was creating our blog, I was nuking my dinner. She was starting a fresh day while it was 11 p.m. here. Yup, late for dinner. I'm a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to dinner. Since night is the time I usually use to read or chat or work on the computer, many times it's close to midnight when I walk into the kitchen.
So once again, when Sury asked what I was having, we started one of our usual conversations. Sometimes dinner can be something simple and universal; others, it can be odd and very local.
Yesterday I had something called Picante de Caigua. Caiguas are vegetables. They are usually eaten stuffed, since they are hollow, although yesterday I was having them chopped in rings, with a kind of hot sauce with shredded nuts. You never it caiguas by themselevs, since they are bitter, although I am one of those step-eaters many people can't tolerate, lol. By step-eater I mean I eat my plate in sections.
A very typical use of caigua is to stuff them with chopped meat, corn, black olives, etc. At home we have a variation of this, we stuff them with tuna. We eat them with rice (rice is served with a lot of dishes in Peru) and sometimes (not my personal choice) with sweet potatoes.
So, there you have it. A first look at what food can be lie on this part of the world. We'll keep bringing you more insightful glances at our different traditions. India and Peru are countries with a LOT of food history, and we want to share it with everyone who wants to read about it.
Pass the gravy!
Saturday, June 04, 2005
Food fever. Forever.Sorry, for being so late in setting this up. For food lovers like me and this blog's co-author, Cesarcarlos, this should have come up much earlier. So we wasted a lot of time chatting over food in IM and not laying out the menu for the good of the larger world, eh?
But hey, we are now "experienced" food talkers thanks to our endless food chats. Not that either of us is a trained cook or anything, but how does it matter? What matters is we are diehard food buffs and would not spare any opportunity to enlighten you with our gastronomic tales--from the mundane to the adventurous.
It's a pity that on the inaugural day of this blog, I don't have any delicious eating to talk about. I will still do some recording though...to maintain the sanctitiy of this forum, you know. Tonight for dinner I had a simple fare. Rice, dal (lentils cooked lightly), some leftover mutton curry, and mango chutney. With papad and fried aloo (potato) on the side. Feeling slightly overstuffed at the moment, so I will sign off.
Keep eating ;)