Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Plk Mngdi

Technology, specifically, the cell phone, has brought my friend V and I, who go a long way back, closer. Almost every night, we SMS (text message) each other quite a lot. The Spouse begins to feel the day is incomplete if he doesn't hear my mobile phone ping and wonders why she or I haven't begun yet. Sometimes I've to tell him it's because she knows I'm staying back late at work, or that maybe our fingers are too knotted up from all the texting. And sometimes I text her just to quell his restlessness, that V's in my cell and all's right with the world. (Sorry, Mr Browning!)

Neither of us use the 'predictive text' feature - I find it too troublesome to bother with, I don't know why she doesn't, but we have our own SMS lingo which we seem to follow rather well, skilled at it over a few years of practice and the rather common tactic of doing away with the vowels. But a couple of days ago, I was rather foxed with this: "Don't rmbr td dint hve ful rec then ggld." Er ... Okay, she "didn't remember", "then Googled", i got dat, but who or what was 'td' and what wasn't there, in between? She was telling me about the Ker Sangri we got during our recent trip to Rajasthan and which she'd finally attempted, and I was asking her which recipe she followed. So I texted her back - "ur sms lngo 2 hrd 4 me 2 get" (Your SMS lingo too hard for me to get). Then she texted back properly to say she tried Tarla Dalal's site but it didn't have the full recipe so she Googled it and found it somewhere else and she doesn't remember the source. Whew!

Then it struck me I had to use up my stash too. But I remembered that the grocer who sold it to us in Jaisalmer told us it would turn out well if soaked overnight and well, overnight was over the previous night. But the golden yellow mangodis glinted from the dark corner of the shelf, and I had a bunch of Rs 15-spinach (ordinarily Rs 6, have you been reading about the horribly expensive time we're having, vegetably speaking) so I made the Palak Mangodi instead. Palak is spinach and Mangodi are bits of sundried moong dal (green gram) or urad dal (black gram) paste, usually used as an accompaniment to various curries in Rajasthan, from what I gather.

This is from TD's book on Rajasthani cooking but I halved the recipe as I had only one bunch of spinach - and added a tomato. I was also careless and added the original amount of onion prescribed.

1 bunch spinach/palak
1/2 cup mangodi, crushed (some info here)
1 tsp cumin seed/jeera
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp ginger-green chilli paste
1/2 tsp garam masala
a pinch turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1-1/2 tsp oil
salt to taste

Cook the spinach briefly in hot water, dunk in cold water and drain completely.

Then puree the spinach and tomato. Keep aside.

Add a cup of water to the mangodi and pressure cook for 3 whistles. Drain, keep aside.

Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add the onions and saute till pink.

Add the ginger-green chilli paste and saute for a few seconds.

Add the rest of the spices and the puree. Let it cook for a while.

Now add the cooked mangodis and salt and simmer for five minutes. We ate it with rice, roti and by itself, nice all three ways.

I'm sending this off to Priya who's hosting Susan's MLLA this month.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Star of Wonder, Star of Light

This star and its shadows confronted me this evening when I got back home from work. I fished out my cell phone and took a couple of pictures. Then I went up to my apartment, brought my camera downstairs and took some more pictures. Then it turned out there's an event in NCR called Festive Photos and I'm hoping Jacquie will accept it even though the round-up is due any moment.

Season's Greetings!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meetha, Doubled, Tripled

It was an evening when my heart ruled over my head. There was a buffet waiting in the restaurant but I stubbornly decided to go out of the hotel, find a store and buy myself a snack. It was too early for dinner, but I could do with a snack.

The hotel in which I was staying shared space with several blocks of apartments, and there was a store somewhere amidst all those apartments. I took the long walk over to the other side, located the store and bought myself two packets of chips and a bar of dark chocolate with almonds.

I didn't wait to get back to my room. I opened one pack of chips and tried them - not a fan of assembly-line chips, I rarely buy them, but this was not bad, I thought, reflecting on the taste and detecting a hint of clove! It was only a 35 gm pack, so most of it was gone by the time I reached my room. I am fond of hotel rooms - I love the fact that they are 'housekept', unlike my own house, and I try to leave them in as pristine a state as I find them. I tried to enjoy the room, sitting in the chairs, reading at the table, watching the TV, and sinking into the big bed underneath a cool blanket (it should be a warm blanket but the air-conditioning keeps it cool, even after you turn off the AC).

Two meals of conference food were bad, and though I tried to wriggle out of one, given that it was laid out in the open for humans, mosquitoes and other flies to flock to it, my gracious hosts didn't let me go back to my hotel hungry, shooing off the caterers who advanced every minute to pack up. So I had to eat something there and after trying a few bits here and there, managed to down some rice and dal and escaped to the sanctuary of my hotel room. The irritation of not having had a fulfilling meal went to my head and I reached for the chocolate, dreaming of the breakfast buffet ...

Second day of conference and I had planned to go out to lunch with my friend, but a text message from the powers that be put paid to that plan - I had to call Friend and tell her to have her lunch, I'd call her when I was leaving ... the silver lining to the disappointment was that I got to eat a little bit of the double-ka-meetha that was being served.

Rich, moist and spongy. It must have haunted me, because back home the next day, I went shopping for a loaf of bread and proceeded to make it as per a recipe in Pratibha Karan's 'Hyderabadi Cuisine'. I made one change - instead of the rose water she mentions in the recipe, I used orange flower water because I have a full bottle of it and haven't used it yet since I acquired it two years ago. I didn't use the almonds, just a packet of cashews. And oh, I also didn't stick to her direction to use 2/3rds of a cup of ghee. I used less.

Or probably more. Because I didn't measure it, used it in tablespoons.

So here's what you do. Take 10 slices of bread, cut off the crusts. (What do you do with them? Dump them if you're not environmentally-friendly, dry them and crumb them if you are, or glaze them and lattice the pudding with them later. Glaze them how? I don't know, I just assume it can be done.)

Fry the de-crusted slices in tablespoons of ghee till they are golden brown both sides.

Meanwhile, to 500 ml of boiled milk, add 200 ml of cream and reduce to half, stirring now and then, in simmer mode right through.

Make sugar syrup with 1 cup of sugar and half a cup of water.

Put the fried bread in a greased baking dish. Pour the milk-cream reduction over the bread, and the sugar syrup as well. Sprinkle with saffron and cashew nuts.

Bake in a pre-heated oven - no temperature was specified so I put it somewhere between 130 and 180 C, fancying that I remembered some baking instruction that heavy cake batters needed lower temperatures. Whether I remembered right or not, it was a good thing to do because the milk reduction took its time to reduce further and everything got brown and toasty, cashew nuts included, without getting burnt.

Eat it up, share it, throw it out - fast - it's extremely heavy and can clog arteries and everything else that can be clogged. It's that delicious!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Kadhai Rajasthani

Hah! Thought it was a Rajasthani curry, didn't you? It is a recipe, though.

Recipe for Kadhai Rajasthani: Take some time off, go to Amber Fort in Jaipur and see these huge kadhais.

How could I have forgotten to post these pictures in my previous post? Anyway, here's some trivia for you - I haven't watched Jodhaa Akbar but apparently these kadais feature in the movie. Jodhaa cooks kheer for Akbar in these kadhais. So I read on the Net.

The vast and rambling Amber Fort is also complex and maze-like. I saw these kadhais about 90 minutes from the top before I managed to get to them. I didn't figure it out - I made my way to several points in the fort through a combination of stumbling and guesswork. There are no directions anywhere, not even on the audio guide, if you're lucky enough to be able to listen to it.

There was no information about these kadhais. I shot these pictures from high above, as much as my 14X optical zoom compact camera would allow.

There are more pictures of Amber Fort here.

Swimming pool, bathtub, what other uses can they be put to? They would need a ladder, though. In various palaces and museums, we saw oversized vessels and containers like these that needed ladders to access them.

Like this. This was one of the two containers of Gangajal (water from the Ganges, considered sacred, and believed to wash away sins, including those accruing from crossing the ocean) that the then king, Sawai Madho Singh II, took to England when he went to attend the coronation ceremony of Edward VII. These are reported to be the biggest sterling silver containers in the world.

Kadhai Rajasthani

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Rajasthan - Vinaigrette of Past

Vignette, vinaigrette, does it matter? But the tag line of the hotel I passed by did make for a big grin - and I knew that would be the title for my next post. Here are some delicacies we tried in Rajasthan over the past week, across Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Jaipur.

Dinner at a canteen in the Jaipur Railway Station. The round breads in the plate in the foreground were a pleasant surprise. We got those when we ordered a 'kulcha' - it took us a few seconds to realise they were more pav (of the pav bhaji kind) and less kulcha - the South Indians in us immediately noticed their resemblance to ootappams. We liked them so much, we ordered another plate. The gravy was a thin channa/chick pea gravy, which was spicy and rather ordinary.

Behind, you can see some kachodis. They were filled with dal, spices (saunf/fennel, dhaniya/coriander) and red chillies. Very tasty, very heavy - and very, very hot! The other plate (covered by an arm) contains pooris.

How long has it been since you had a Cassata? This brand used to be famous all over India once, now I suppose it's not marketed everywhere any longer. This was dessert, and comfort, in the cold Jaipur night, in a women's waiting room where we huddled trying to forget we had only two confirmed tickets for a group of four.

Roasted papad and bandhani tablecloth - all set for our first full Rajasthani meal in our hotel!

Ker sangri - the desert vegetables Rajasthan is so famous for. I never realised it would be so oily. (Granted my picture/version in the link above is no adequate representation either, but none of the pictures on the Net seem to contain so much oil!)

Gatte ki sabzi - oily again, but quite tasty.

Samosas (right) with a dry, spicy filling and chilli/mirchi vada at a snacks/sweet shop in the market.

More savoury snacks. The one in the foreground is a maida preparation intended to resemble fried cashewnuts.

Mawa kachori, filled with milk solids and nuts and sugar, which Jodhpur is famous for. We had this in Jaisalmer, though. 

A hole is punched in at the centre of the kachodi and some sugar syrup is poured into it. The periphery also is wetted with the syrup.

Maybe we didn't eat it at the right places but we didn't like it very much as the mawa just tasted burnt and the other batch we had reeked of kerosene from the stove rather than anything else!

Yes, all these curries were very oily! This was a methi-papad curry, the methi being the fenugreek seed and not the greens.

That's a Rajasthani thali. Clockwise from the yellow dish is the kadhi, dal, churma, roti, ker sangri and the gatte ki subzi.

Breakfast at Pokaran - mirchi vada and kachodi frying. 

Another Rajasthani thali - rotis, dal, potato curry, kadhi with pakodas, cauliflower and potato curry

This churma was a delight, fragrant with ghee and cardamom

The chaas (light buttermilk spiced with roasted cumin and carom (ajwain) 

This stall serves up jaljeera, lime juice, shikanji and lemon soda. 

My friend asked for lime juice with mint - this is what she got, I guess it was shikanji!

Yet another Rajasthani thali - notice the churma, it's different in this thali.

Churma, close up - it's been processed in the mixer!

The baati of the classic dal baati churma. After we were served this, a waiter came up with more baatis and ground sugar, crushed a baati in our plates, drenched it in sugar and told us to eat it up with the dal. In a more ignorant past, my first reaction would have been to gag, but I tried it now with a more open mind. Strangely enough, it didn't make a difference or affect me much, so I was content with just a taste.

You can see more pictures from my Rajasthan trip here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Potato Whatchamacallit

I don't know too much Hindi. Yes, I grew up and studied in a State which believed in the three-language formula and went through over eight years of school studying Hindi as the third language but I am still confused about the gender of various nouns and consequently, the propositions that precede them. Most of the Hindi I know comes from watching TV, and the task is made easier nowadays by watching DVDs of Hindi movies with English sub-titles. This also means that I understand more of textbook Hindi than real-world Hindi.

All this goes to say that I can only imagine what Chak De India or Chakh Le India mean. Yes, I have Googled, but when you have answers like this:

"Chak de" is used instead of "chakh de"
Meaning of "Chak De" is Uttah De

Chakna means Uthana
de means Dena

It is oftenly used when calling "Chak De Fatte"
Which means "Duniya ko Utha do Means "Chha Jao"

it's not much help.

Google further, you say.

I did, and it confirmed my assumption that the meaning is something to the effect of "Get going, India!" Or something equally inspirational, like "You rock, India!"

Now, this post has nothing to do with Hindi or Shah Rukh Khan or hockey, but it does have to do with the food show called Chakh Le India on NDTV, which is where I saw this recipe for this potato fry/curry/whatchamacallit.

This was ages ago, and all I remember about its provenance was that it came from a couple who ran a home stay or a guest house somewhere in the hills in North India - I've tried looking for it in the NDTV web site under Himalaya, Himachal, Uttarakhand and such, but it's throwing up 821 recipes and I do NOT have the time to sift through those. So you're stuck with the result of my memory of that recipe. Which is not bad at all, so you're not stuck with it, really.

There's not much to it. The only special thing that you have to do with this is combine a little bit of turmeric, a spoon of chilli powder and coriander powder each, mix it with about half a cup or less of water and leave it to meld for about 15 minutes.

By which time you'd have peeled (perhaps) and cut about three potatoes, sauteed them in a couple of spoons or more of oil with some cumin and maybe some mustard seed (maybe even some wild mustard - which is what jakhya is supposed to be - for a most exciting crunch), and sprinkled some salt over them and stirred to mix.

(Please go through the comments in the post I linked to - they have some information on jakhya.)

Now add the spiced water, cover and cook till they are done.

Your potato curry/fry/whatchamacallit is ready. I love little special touches like the spice water - it makes me feel I've tried something new, even a "simple" dish like this feels "special" and so do I, without the bother of having to use tiresome spice pastes ground in the tiresome mixer or grinder or whatchamacallit.

This dishy dish goes off to Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook who's hosting Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging, now managed by Haalo.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Laksa That Took A Detour

It doesn't take much to feel connected to someone or something. Not years, not weeks. A few forays are enough. That's how I feel about South-East Asia.

First, there was Thailand, then Japan (not strictly SE Asia, but close), Singapore, then recently I went to Taiwan, and on my way back, to Thailand again. Recently, I made plans for a trip to Malaysia and Indonesia but they fell through. With all this, I feel extremely connected to the region :) despite the trips being rather fleeting.

When I first visited Thailand, I could not stomach the smells of food wafting off the carts on the streets. Trying to spend prudently in Chiang Mai, my friend and I opted for the plain (and not the spicy) sausage and divided it into two. We immediately spat it out because it was sweet, so unlike what we expected from a sausage that we told ourselves not to be cheap and then bought the spicy, herbal one which cost 20 Baht. Thankfully, it was delicious. We tried much other street food, but the smell would get to us, and in Bangkok, we ate at a Lebanese restaurant close to our hotel for two days. Even the famous Thai yellow curry was relished in the sanitised confines of our hotel's restaurant, and the som tam was had trying to forget that the vegetarian version I wanted was made in the same mortar and pestle that had, for the previous customer just moments ago, mashed tiny crabs that looked like upturned dead frogs (which was why I had opted for vegetarian).

More travel exposed me a little more to sushi but I think I will stick to the vegetarian version, substitute though it may be. Walking in the hot sun in Singapore only made us thirsty, not hungry, and we didn't eat much. The one day that we could have, we were whisked off to the local branch of a well-known Chettinad restaurant by our well-meaning Indian friends - neither my attempts at deflecting the invitation nor my request for local food were comprehended.

By the time I went to Taipei, Taiwan, and visited its street markets, I didn't smell anything anymore. I didn't even remember there would be a smell. I tasted century eggs and the seafood dumplings that tasted of an unidentifiable ingredient went down my throat without any hesitation. I would have probably tried stinky tofu had I known how to identify it, but all the tofu looked benign to me. (There's no reason why the stink should reflect in the looks, is there? Some of the most snazzy and snotty characters I've come across used to reek, and wouldn't wash their hands after using the toilet.) But I digress - I don't mean that I liked everything I ate, but didn't feel so strongly about it either.

Researching Malaysia reminded me of Laksa. I wasn't very disappointed when the plans fell through but soon after, Aparna's post on a vegetarian laksa had me itching to make it soon. I finally made it yesterday. I was tired of meat and seafood so I too made it vegetarian. I went to the original recipe that she had mentioned, Ottolenghi's, and took it from there. By the time it was finished, it was laksa more in spirit and less in, well, the flesh, in a manner of speaking.

I used an onion instead of shallots. I used the notoriously hot red chilli pickle from Andhra Pradesh instead of sambal oelek. I used dry lemongrass bought in Thailand three years ago.

At first, I didn't have any bean sprouts, and substituted the tofu puffs with paneer/cottage cheese (a bad idea). I ignored the sugar but finally used a spoon of jaggery when the sourness set my teeth on edge.

And though I initially planned to use up a packet of soba noodles, I decided to go with rice. Short grain matta rice. You see, I just bought a 5-kilo bag because the one-kilo ones were no longer to be found, and as the other food in the house would go better with rice, I decided to use a bit of that for the laksa as well.

It was good, but something was missing. I added some salt, it made it better but that was not it. This was the vegetable-paneer-rice-laksa-lime combination

Then for the next meal, to the above, I added a hard-boiled egg and topped it with some sprouts and used lots of pepper. The lime wedge was there but I forgot to add extra. It was great!

For tonight's meal, I fried some tofu with a tablespoon of white flour mixed in water, and ate it with rice and sprouts and pepper - this time, the lime was forgotten, and the vegetables were given a go-by. Not so great, and more filling than I would have liked it to be!

I was tempted to use white rice for this meal as we needed to cook some rice and matta rice takes much longer to cook, but The Spouse said white rice would be overwhelmed by the laksa, and that the plump and sturdy matta would hold its own, so I went with matta again.

I would go for the second option - the one with the egg, sprouts, rice and vegetables. Next, I'm looking forward to making khaw suey - now if only I'd known I could look for it in Chiang Mai ...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Back to Basics-3, The Round-Up

Here's the Back to Basics round-up that I hosted for Desi Soccer Mom, its creator. Please tell me if I've missed out on any entries that have been sent to me.

Jaya of Spice & Curry tells us how to make home-made mustard powder, and how to use it too!

Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen lets us in on her recipe for rasam.

Hema of Salt to Taste gives us a recipe for another staple popular in some parts of the South.

I haven't made anything basic for this event, even though I am the host, but I'm directing you to this more than four-years-old post of mine on how to make flavoured ghee. That's what I intended to republish anyway.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Feeding My Inner Malayali

I should have known there was a Malayali in me when, ages ago, I got off the train and a woman came up to me and started speaking in Malayalam ...

I should have known it when, six years ago, in a boat on Vembanad lake, I found myself speaking to the boatman in Malayalam, quite oblivious of the fact that I didn't know the language ...

I should have known when we went shopping and all I remember buying is the kodampuli and an umbrella from a locally famous umbrella store for the gadget-loving Spouse - this brolly came with a light!

I should know, because I often get mistaken for a Malayali, though I don't know what it is about me that is Malayali!

I know there is one in me because I quite like the food from Kerala, and I was inspired to make a curry with something that only Malayalis use, as far as I know.

The inspiration also owed to other factors:

- A 6-year-old stash of kodampuli - yes, from the same trip that took me to Vembanad and had me speaking to the boatman in a language I never knew I knew

- Rediscovering that said stash a few months ago after having thought I had cleaned it out

- And most recently, a non-Malayali friend's experiment with yam, coconut milk and kodampuli which I tasted and really liked last week. Her kodampuli too owed its existence in her home to a trip. Not to Vembanad, but to Thekkady. And while both of us bought it with fish curry in mind, we also used it for non-fish curry. (And no, I don't think she can speak Malayalam or spoke to the boatman in Malayalam and if she did, I don't know whether she knew she didn't know the language.)

I had two green bananas I wanted to stew, and I decided they were 'It'. I didn't check for any further Malayaliness, but decided to adapt a hazy idea of a green banana and tamarind gravy to this recently rediscovered delight. Usually such gravies, much relished in Telugu families such as mine, are made this way. I was too lazy to check, so went by memory and imagination.

This way:

Green banana – 2 medium, boiled but not mushy, peeled, diced
Tomato - 3, chopped as fine as possible
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Chilli powder - 1-2 tsp *

Kodampuli – 3-4 pieces, soaked in about a cup of water

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 3-4
Fenugreek seeds – 4 (yes, 4 seeds)
Cumin seed - 1/2 tsp
Split and hulled black gram/urad dal - 1 tsp
Split and hulled chana dal - 1-2 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2, broken
Oil – 2-3 tsp

1 Heat oil, add the fenugreek seeds and then the urad dal. As the urad turns colour, add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the rest of the ingredients under 'Tempering' and fry well.

2 Now add the tomato and saute well. Add a little water, if you like.

3 Now add the green banana and mix. Add the salt, turmeric and chilli powder, mix well.

4 Now tip the kodampuli and the water in which they were soaked into the banana. (At that moment, I hadn't known if that was how it's used; I just did it because the kodampuli looked hard and unyielding even after soaking for 30 minutes, and the water didn't look very different either.)

5 Let it boil, checking now and then to ensure the gravy doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add water if the consistency is too thick.

6 At home, tamarind gravies are finished off with a final addition of jaggery. I resisted the urge to do that with this experiment.

I will try this again, with other vegetables.

* Note: I added the third tomato and some more water and boiled it a little more after finding the gravy too hot.

What are the inner 'others' in you - and why do you think they are?

A Reminder: Desi Soccer Mom's Back to Basics is being hosted here - the deadline is October 17, so send in those entries!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Back To Basics - 3

Back to Basics, Desi Soccer Mom's event, is being guest-hosted here this month. The event aims to be a repository of knowledge for ingredients and techniques that are basic to cooking. What's basic for one, can, of course, be advanced for someone else, depending on the kind of cooking and cuisine they are used to.

Here are the guidelines, expectations and rules. I expect to be my usual strict hostess self unless Superhostess raps me on the knuckles and asks me to ease up.

Most of the information below is copied from DSM's post for the first edition of the event.

What the event looks for:

1. How to and tips on how you make your life easier in the kitchen, by grinding pastes or freezing seasonal fruits and vegetables.

2. Recipes for rubs, marinades and masalas

3. Prepping tips - freezing dal, tomato-onion gravy, etc.

4. Recipes for concentrates like this lemon concentrate used to make lemonade.

5. A food recipe that goes with the above is totally optional but welcome.

If you got the drift, start posting the kitchen secrets. Here are the rules:

Rule No. 1: The entries must be original. If inspired or copied from another source, please give credit.

Rule No. 2: Link your post to this post and DSM's orginal post.

Rule No. 3: Older entries are fine as long as you link them here.

Rule No. 4: DSM says she wants exclamation points (!) kept to the minimum and totally avoid them in the title, if you can. (This is an original rule from the blog Indian Food Rocks.)

Please don't send pictures.

Send it to me at srablog AT gmail DOT com.

Please send me the link, your name and blog name.

Please say Back To Basics - 3 in the Subject line of the e-mail.

The deadline is October 17 and I may or may not accept late entries depending on when I do the round-up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's Been A Pleasure Talking To You

In real life, anniversaires and anniversaries are markers of another year survived, grey hairs accumulated (and done away with), kilos accumulated (maybe even shed), successes and failures great and small, or even of an year that was mercifully staid and uncomplicated in what it proffered. My cynical self (I have other selves as well) would agree with Oscar Wilde: "Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event." While I rarely celebrate non-blog milestones on the blog, I do mark the blog anniversary religiously, sometimes eventfully.

For now, though, it's a time to thank you all for spending time here and telling me (or not) what you think of everything that's posted here. I would love to find out why you come here, who you are if I don't know you already, how I've made your day, changed your life for the better and so on and so forth though some of you have told me on and off earlier, but I don't believe in such egotistic excesses ... er ... exercises. (Really, believe me ;) I wish Blogger provided smilies and winkies so I could use them here).

And while numbers don't matter much to me unless they tot up to gazillions in my bank balance and in my blog stats, a Fourth Anniversary does seem like I've lasted here awhile and it's been a pleasure.

Thank you, and keep visiting!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ice-Cream Something

It's past midnight and just a few minutes ago, She gave up telling Herself She would get a start on something She only needed to do at work tomorrow.

"You're too tired," She said to Herself. "How are you going to put together a report when you feel so weary?" So She continued to surf, reflecting that if there was one thing that could attract and distract and provide endless amusement even as it seemed pointless and hopeless, it would be the Internet. (She means that this mouse potato expects no tangible result from all the surfing. It's a state of being where the journey assumes more significance than the destination, but more on its unapparent significance later, whenever it becomes apparent.)

What did become very apparent, though, was that She could do a short post on the blog and impart some purpose to a sleepless night. Existentialist debate of the abovementioned kind can be happily replaced by hedonism.

The day before She made this, She had lunch at an Aunt's house. The Aunt unveiled something like this but She was too lazy to ask how it was made. She kept thinking, surfing unpointlessly that night and then She told herself, "It's common sense - you know there was ice-cream and there were biscuits, and what melts can freeze again, so just crumble some biscuits, add them to some melted ice-cream and freeze it back." As She prepared to shut down, she continued to surf, and came upon this site which confirmed Her frozenmeltingfreezingagain thought process was the right idea. Her friends liked it too.

The dark chocolate art on top was an inspiration.

This dessert is going to a mad tea party.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Eating Out in Taipei

The first stall that I encountered in the Lin Jiang (Tonghua) night market - they were selling pork dumplings and chicken, among other things. The pork dumplings had some black sesame sprinkled on them. The price for five was NT$40.

Steamed shrimp - mild and delicious

This stall had a variety of foods - meats on a stick, tofu, several bowls of broth bubbling away. I didn't know how to eat them but just bumbled along. It turns out that one way of eating them is that you have to choose your meats, tofu and veggies, which are priced separately. Then they will be boiled in a broth and given to you on a plate with some sauce, and the broth, topped with some celery, comes in a cup.

Meats on a stick - a phenomenon that I've seen in Thailand and Singapore as well, and which one can find throughout the other neighbouring countries, which I hope to visit someday soon!

One of the abovementioned assembled meat-veg-soup combinations

Another stall selling food. In the foreground, in those little cups, is what I think is chowanmushi, savoury Japanese custard containing seafood and mushrooms, which I tasted on a trip to Japan.

There are a variety of sweet potato snacks and desserts - I was too full to try any!

Some more, all colourful

And then some!

Sticky rice cakes, with black sesame and peanut powder, being steamed

And they're ready!

Lest you opt for the white sausage, be warned, it has rice and beans in it, not meat!

Name the body parts! Chicken feet, hearts and livers, great delicacies in Taiwan, I'm told!

Look at the stuffed lady's finger/okra. It was tasty - and cold.

Offerings at the Longshan Temple

Many, many more of them

Century eggs on tofu, I think


I don't even know what this is!

And finally, ending on a pretty note!

To see some non-foodie travel pictures, go here.