Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In Retrospect

My posts and memes have said quite a bit about my blog and me, and have even had the odd reader tell me that they’d “observed that you wrote all about yourself” so when it comes to doing a Best of 2007 post, I’m rather wary of having to face that comment again.

But I WILL participate for one reason – true to exasperating form, I cheered lustily for this event (and as usual found myself unable to make the time for it and now time is running out rapidly and my enthusiastic cheerleading mocks me from its place on Nupur’s blog where this event was announced).

I’ve thought short and hard of where my blog went this year and what I want it to do next year and I regret to announce I don’t have anything very lofty to share – I want to have more fun and become more popular. Yes, I actually said that, what nerve (and how shameless, I can hear some of you say)! And a little voice in my head tells me, beware, you may actually get what you wish for! But hopefully, that's a story that will never come to pass, and it's a year away.

Now is there anything I want to do for others, my readers? Yes, many of you who have cared to comment said that my posts have often made you smile, and I wish to do that over and over, with every single post. Truth be told, I visit the blogs I do because I enjoy the sharing of life, the humour, the fun, and often empathise with the tears. The recipes are secondary, and I always feel a pang when I’m introduced as someone having a “cookery web site”. Oh well, can’t expect the whole world to see what you want it to!

I’ve taken more pride in my writing than in my photographs and I suppose that’s one thing I would like to change – I want to make more time for my photographs. I usually don’t fuss with accessories and place settings and stuff for the photos, and I don’t much want to, given that the more I have, the more space they take up, so I’ll have to find a way to deal with that.

I also haven’t made much time to investigate or research the recipes I present – in the form of links to other sources about them/the ingredients. That’s something I hope to remedy.

I haven’t participated in as many events as I’d like for various reasons – time, diet considerations and lack of space in the refrigerator – I do want to change this, but I’m not sure how just at the moment.

Here are what I think are my best posts. Best encompasses not only what I enjoyed writing, cooking and photographing but those that seemed to be popular with others, not just going by the number of comments and traffic they attracted but by the intensity of feelings expressed in the reactions.

Some of them are recipes, few are comment and rant, some others are memories and nostalgia.

Foodwise in India

This found a lot of empathy, despite the Gawd-what-a-post! reactions.

The all-important milestone

A rare find

A good-looking dish

A post that struck a chord

Showing off in the summer

Another rare find (a dessert on my blog, that is)

So on that sweet, sinful note, I bid you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Oh, and how could I not mention this milestone, preparing carefully for its moment in the sun - stay tuned!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A recipe and a reminder

Remind me to never, ever fry paneer. I never do, even when it's recommended, but did that in the interests of authenticity as I make Kashmiri dishes so rarely, but it just made the entire thing rubbery even though I kept it soaked in some water.

Even a half measure like shallow-frying it robbed it of its texture, something The Spouse demonstrated long ago. But the gravy was quite a scorcher if you could discount the oily blobs that overran it. This is my third Grindless Gravy for the event, and it just makes the deadline. What's happening with your entries? If they're sitting in your drafts, please rush them as the deadline ends today.

On to the recipe now, adapted from The Pleasures of Kashmiri Cookery by Anu Wakhlu.

Cottage Cheese/Paneer - 500 gm, cut into 3-cm squares.
Red Chilli Powder - 1 tbsp
Aniseed Powder - 1 tbsp
Ginger Powder/Sonth - 1/2 tbsp
Curds/Yoghurt - 2 tbsp, beaten
Black Cardamom/Badi Elaichi - 2
Regular Cardamom (Green) - 2
Cloves - 3
Peppercorns - 2-3
Bay leaves - 2-3
Oil - 2 tbsp
Water - 2 cups
Salt - to taste

In a pan, heat the oil. Add the red chilli powder and a little water and heat till bright red.

Add the beaten curds and fry for a few minutes. Add all the spices and salt and mix well.

Add 2 cups of water and let it boil.

Add the cottage cheese pieces and cover and cook on a slow fire for about 20 minutes till the gravy thickens.

According to the book, the paneer has to be deep-fried beforehand. Also, once the curry is done, it's finished off with a splash of ghee and shahjeera (caraway) for garnish - I only shallow-fried the paneer, which was bad enough, and didn't have the ghee so didn't use that, or the shahjeera.

PS: Anita has a tip on frying paneer in the comments, take a look.

Monday, December 17, 2007

More from Thailand

I’m away again for a couple of days, hopefully I’ll have some time to tell you my Thailand stories then. For now, here are the rest of the pictures from my trip.

Please keep those entries coming for Grindless Gravies! Dec 22 is the deadline.

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's all Thai!

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” _ G. K. Chesterton

As always, places and situations are not what you assume they may be. And I found myself somewhere in the grey zone between a traveler and a tourist, desperately wanting to accept but sometimes unable to. Among other things, one thing I learnt about myself in Thailand last week was that I was less adventurous than I imagined when it came to food. Did the food have to be sanitized and deodorized and presented in the interiors of a plush restaurant to make itself acceptable to me? I hope not; after all, I did try the food off Chiang Mai’s streets _ sausage that was all cloyingly sweet cake in taste and texture, shrimp and squid fries that reeked but were as tasteless as very deep- and long-fried pakoda are wont to be, coconut cakes that smelt and tasted overwhelmingly of coconut, and almost unfamiliar fruit, which were lovely. And in the market, I saw boxes of fried, ribbed creamy worms without flinching.

But all in all, I could have done without that one peculiar smell that assailed me on the street - it was the same in most places, very strong, very sharp and I found myself hurrying past it, holding my breath. After some amount of study, guessing and mulling, I’ve concluded it’s a green leafy vegetable, a combination of coconut and pandan leaf/essence and the cooking medium that did it. What mattered is that it affected Me the Foodie. Now Not So Foodie, and it hurts.

More pictures follow from my trip, but meanwhile, please don’t forget the Grindless Gravies event – the deadline is December 22.