(Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Independence Day and a Dish for the Ocassion

Hey, Bloggers. Happy 28th. Yup, for us in Peru it's a special ocassion because it is the day of our independence. This year the date is even more special because as of today we have a brand new president in office. Let's all wish that his period is one for progress an justice for us Peruvians.

So, Patriot Party (that's what we call today and tomorrow). Streets are decorated with the red and white flag -and not just streets, cars, houses, workstations-, people carry the red and white badges, and some trade their usual playlists for some Criollan music to get into the mood.

And of course, you can't have a real Patriot Party without Peruvian food. That's right. Starting breakfast with a traditional panetón you can expect a variety of traditional dishes to grace your palate. Anticuchos? Tequeños? Sounds really good. Something sweet? How about some Mazamorra? And take with you a glass of chicha while you're at it.

Yes, lots of traditional stuff out there. I'va had the chance to introduce these to you along the way. But this is Patriot Party! Time for the big guns. Time for the mother of all Peruvian dishes.

You guessed it. Gather around for a great Ceviche!

Ceviche is the Peruvian dish by excellence. Unique in the world (yeah, there have been attempts to make it in other places, but the real ceviche is as Peruvian as the flag) ceviche as you might know is fish based. But the key ingredient, the one that makes it Peruvian, is our lemon. I had the chance to talk to you about our lemons: small in size, extremely sour. Our lemon is so strong that it can "cook" the raw fish in a matter of hours, and charge it with a powerful taste. To this you add onions and for the commando-type aji and rocoto for a tongue-burning version. You then serve with an assortment of ingredients that make it more than a side-dish: lettuce, camote (sweet potato), choclo (maize), yuca, cancha and cilantro.

Of course, ceviche has many variations. You can have the simple one, the traditional black clam ceviche, or the Mixed Ceviche which includes an assortment of seafood.

And if you're feeling adventurous, try a glass of Tiger Milk. Tiger Milk is basically the pure juice of the ceviche, served as a drink. Strong, spicy and sour, this is what some people call "a beverage to arise the dead". Not only that, but it's a proven afrodisiac.

So now I bring you a simple ceviche recipe, but not without a necessary disclaimer: without Peruvian lemon, you'll only get an approximation. If you want to taste the real thing, come to Peru on your next vacation, visit one of our many seafood restaurants and ask for a nice, big ceviche tray. You'll remember it forever.


200gr fresh white fish
1/2 onion, cut in long thin slices (juliene)
1/2 tbsp salt
Chopped aji
5 fresh Peruvian lemons (you'll squeeze them only when needed, not before)
Boiled maize (Choclo)


1. On a chopping board, clean the fish by removing all bones and dark parts. Chop it in small cubes and put those in a glass or ceramic bowl (**NOT plastic or aluminum**).
2. Peel and chop the onion and add to the fish. Add the aji and salt.
3. Squeeze the lemons over the fish. Mix with a steel spoon (**NOT wood**).
4. Let the fish rest. The lemon juice will "cook" the fish. This should happen over 3 or 4 hours. Stir every now and then.
5. When ready, serve with a bed of lettuce and choclo and camote slices.

And while you're at it, grab your glass of Pisco Sour! Happy 28th!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Prayer for Mumbai

May the bloodshed end.


Mumbai Help

Mumbai Police

Please take a moment to light an e-candle by clicking this CNN-IBN link. For every candle lit (no money required), the news channel will donate a rupee toward the relief of the blast victims. Thanks.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hit the Heat with Potatoes and Greens

This blog has not kept pace well with the rest of the food blogging world. The reason if you ask me is just one--summer. While I am aware that summer is a time for frolick across many European countries, in north India, it's living hell. Temperatures ranging between 40 degree C (106 F) to 47 C (113 F), unending power cuts, acute water scarcity, extreme humidity. The result? It leaves me listless and cranky, and food--eating or cooking--is the last thing on my mind.

However, just because I feel sad to be away from this blog and you all for long, I keep returning. I will, even if the walk is a little slow until the rains come.

And now, to cut the enervated rambling, here's the crux of the matter. Today's dish is Bengal's own comfort food, an item Bengalis might claim a patent for, just like the South of India can for Dosas and Idlis. It's a poppy-seed paste based dry dish, with potatoes and ridge gourd as the main ingredients. What else goes into it? Let's find out!

Alu-Jhinge Posto (Potato-Ridge Gourd in Poppy Seed Paste)


Ridge gourd: 1, chopped into small pieces
Potato: 2, medium sized, cut in cubes
Poppy seeds paste: 2 tablespoons
Nigella: 1/2 teaspoon
Green chilli: 3-4, slit lengthwise
Salt, to taste


1. Heat oil in a wok and add the nigella seeds.
2. Add the potatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add the ridge gourd. Stir for another two minutes.
3. Add the poppy seeds paste.
4. Cover and cook, stirring in between.
5. Add half a cup of water and let simmer.
6. When potatoes are cooked, add salt and the slit green chillies.
7. Serve with hot rice.

Bengalis usually cook this using mustard oil, but you can use any vegetable oil. The taste of poppy seeds paste is unique and has a magnetic effect on the foodie subjected to it. So do give this very Bengali dish, a part of the culture's everyday fare, a try. And if you do, don't forget to let me know how you liked it.

And while we are at it, let this be my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, insituted by the famous Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This weekend, as Kalyn is off to San Fransisco for a trip, WHB is being hosted by Gabriella of the wonderful blog My Life As A Reluctant Housewife. All of you interested in learning about herbs from across the globe, peek into Gabriealla's blog for the round up.

Until the rains come...

~ Sury

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Coming Home to Dal - JFI

We have been really slacking as far as the housekeeping business of this blog goes. Please don't mind if the place looks somewhat dusty and neglected. Now that I am back in our blogging home, let me try and put everything in order so that you can sit around comfortably and enjoy some food.

What's on the menu, you ask? Something hot, comforting, and very Indian. Okay, that's vague. How about making it simple and straight? It's dal I am talking about.

Am I thankful I didn't forget to cook for this month's Jihva For Ingredients (JFI), hosted by the versatile Sailu. She chose dal or lentils as the theme, and I have brought a bowlful for you all. What's special about it? Well, it's different from the usual Bengali dals we cook at home, with the typical cumin or paanch-phoron tempering. Inspired by a recipe from a Sindhi Cookbook I recently added to my bookself, this dal is a delight to be cooked and relished over and over again. Don't go by my word. Try it for yourself, and you will know.

Sindhi Garlic Dal (Adapted from The Essential Sindhi Cookbook by Aroona Reejsinghani)


Masoor Dal: 1 cup (heaped)
Cumin seeds: 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder: A pinch
Ghee (clarified butter): 1 tablespoon
Oil: 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida: A pinch
Garlic paste: 1 teaspoon
Ginger paste: 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves: A sprig
Green chillies: 3-4, slit, lengthwise
Tomato puree: 1/2 cup
Water: 2 1/2 cups
Salt: To taste


1. Wash the dal. Soak it in water for an hour and drain.
2. In a heavy-bottomed pan put dal, turmeric, salt and water. Cook on high heat, bring to a boil and hower the heat. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, until soft.
3. Remove from heat, mash the dal and set aside.
4. In a pan heat oil and ghee and add cumin seeds and asafoetida. Add ginger and garlic pastes when the cumin seeds stop crackling. Stir fry for a few minutes.
5. Add tomato puree, green chillies, curry leaves. Mix well. Cook for another 5-6 minutes.
6. Add the mashed dal to the above mix. Stir well.
7. Serve hot.

I prefer to have this dal with rice, but I am sure it would go equally well with chapatis and paranthas. The garlic-curry leaves flavour blends in perfectly for this thick lentil soup. If ever there could be a living definition of comfort food, this would be it.

Let the slurping begin!

~ Sury