Friday, October 23, 2009

Rounding Up The Write Taste

Finally, I’ve not been my infamously inflexible host self at all, though that was due to a mistake and not the milk of human kindness - no harm done, though; I love the entries for The Write Taste all the same, they are different, and I’m sure you will all have a wonderful time feasting your eyes on them.

The gracious host that I have evolved into, I’m not going to say a single word about how surprised I was that there weren’t more entries; that I always thought it would be easier to discuss food and cooking than actually create it; that I’m so hysterically grateful to those who participated.

Now, on with the show!

Chow! I’m pretty sure I saw this word in a comic first. Was it Dennis the Menace? Or Archie? I’m not sure. But here is a 21st century version of it, and an account and proof of why it sent her to ‘nirvana heaven’.

Then comes the next entry, which describes something like having your cake and eating it too! More than that, in fact. There is some eating, but much other activity too! Pain or pleasure, you can’t do without food, it seems.

Shake off those inhibitions, and get down and dirty! Squeeze, squish, squash, slurp, swirl! Relish it every which way you can. Or not. What am I talking about? Find out, find out more!

Here’s an entry from a blogger, though it’s not a blog post. It’s a review about a book she likes, which is "not so much about the food but the style of writing and the narration somehow leading to a recipe at the end of each chapter".

The book: Monsoon Diary (Shoba Narayan)
Reviewer: Rashmi Srinivas at Curled Up With a Good Book

“In Monsoon Diary, which can be classified as part cookbook, part travelogue and part biography, author Shoba Narayan takes readers on a journey which is as eclectic and amazing as the contents of the book itself. Food is the dominant factor in this book, and around it the author describes her own life journey. …

… Monsoon Diary is a gently edifying, delightful, utterly satisfying cultural and culinary read.” Read more here.

‘Mapped to tastes and habits’ is the pun that occurs to me naturally, all the more so after a day spent listening to such language (and a day trying hard not to let such jargon creep into my writing). Explore what I’m talking about here.

My refrigerator, it seems to me, is a bottomless pit, an ever-expanding Pushpaka Vimanam that has space for that extra packet which I’ll probably never use. It is also a record of funny life truths and good memories, as our magnet collections live there. And there’s much more to it, as she and her writer tell us.

This is one classic foodie very much in the news nowadays, and there are works of hers, about her, in various media. The post is in Italian, but use an online translation to get its essence. I, for one, have put this book on my must-read list.

I felt the same way the author of this post did after reading the excerpt - to book a flight and zoom away. I’m sure I will, I live in hope. Maybe reading this will channel positive energy our way, don’t put it off!

Boarding school = always hungry.
Typically English = cucumber sandwiches.
And more.

Ever heard of daulat ki chaat? Try it, you’d be surprised at the elements that go into it. Read about all that and more here. You will also find some insights into cookbooks and memoirs.

Nostalgia unlimited is what this book unleashed. But more importantly, it also expanded her world of books - from one that seemed to set her pulse racing to an equally enthralling but calmer one, perhaps one characterized by deeper thought and introspection? Judge for yourselves.

Here’s a peek into some food reading habits, some memories and an introduction to an author in an Indian language. There are links to some recipes he has mentioned too. Discover more.

Les Ouefs! Ils sont excellents! Pardon the French, but you’ll know why I’m speaking a different language when you read this post. A cookbook it may be, but there are life lessons as well.

The descriptions are simply beautiful. I’ve exhausted my French for now, but there’s more here. And I’m relating to the post very personally as I recently saw something as beautiful: A spring onion sliced longitudinally, thready streaks of purple running through it.

Here’s a post that all of us need to read. There is a wealth of information there that we cannot do without. Enough said.

“You know, you have these crazy people asking the waiter, insisting they know where the chicken comes from,” said someone to me years ago, about how some people in her country were hung up on eating food that was produced right, processed ethically. Not so much of a joke now. Read this, think about it, and make some better informed choices.

And my own entry: Here it is!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Call To Action

About a month ago, I announced The Write Taste, calling for entries that highlighted good pieces of writing. The deadline that I set, October 15, is almost upon us. However, I am extending it till the end of this week (Saturday October 17) as I get the feeling that those of you making an effort to send in an entry will appreciate some more time. I won't be able to access the Net for a couple of days myself so I will acknowledge your mails and posts after the 16th.

The details are also in the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Mixture Of Memories

The Listerine was always perched on top of the mesh cupboard in the kitchen. We, my cousin and I, would return from school and head straight for the kitchen, pour some Listerine into a glass, gargle and ... I don't remember what we did next. Study? Play? Possibly. But of course! We'd have a glass of hot, boiled milk, and perhaps something to eat.

I do remember, though, that my grandmother wouldn't usually make hot evening tiffin for us. I've mentioned how unorthodox she was in some of her food choices, so this non-tiffin habit was probably a manifestation of that. (Though an aunt tells me that she did do some of the conventional things when they were younger, but that's another story.) There was fruit to eat, and various savoury snacks (chakkidalu/chakralu/karappusa) that she made herself periodically, pressing the dough out of a heavy brass cylinder in a circular motion into a deep and large cast iron kadai full of hot oil. It would be a delight to watch all those twisty, twirly, rough and smooth treats coming up all brown and gleaming, resting on the sieve-like ladles for a few seconds before being deposited into a gleaming steel can next to the stove. Perhaps there were also biscuits to eat.

But once in a while, as a treat, perhaps, she would make this tasty mixture as a special evening snack and it would be done in a jiffy. I haven't made this in years, wouldn't even have thought of it had it not been for IFR Memories and the bag of puffed rice I was given during the recent Durga Pooja celebrations. I thought of making a 'mixture' with that for this post but I couldn't honestly tell myself whether my grandmother made this or I was imagining it simply because there was an event to enter and write for, but luckily, the thought process tripped the right wires and here is that simple, but great treat my grandmother would turn out in minutes.

My grandmother didn't particularly care for the recipes published in the magazines. She thought they only pretended to be novel and excelled in exaggeration. She would be quite scornful about recipes that claimed to be new just because they had some cosmetic element to it - like a fruit salad being called a pomegranate fruit salad merely because some arils were sprinkled on it. I wonder what she would make of me blogging, all the more so as she (nor my grandfather) never liked me pottering about the kitchen.

But I digress. On and off, it hits me that here's a dish I used to have when my grandmother was around, and haven't had or enjoyed properly since she passed away - it's not always something exotic or special or unusual, just that it's unavailable to me for various reasons, one of them being a slowing memory.

There are many mixtures like this - in fact, the onion, the coriander, lime, chilli powder, green chillies are constants, the main ingredient is the variable (V). Make V peanuts, and it's an appetiser or accompaniment to drinks at the club; make it puffed rice, and it's delivered to you in a soggy cone of newspaper outside the office; use boiled peas and it comes out in little tubs or katoris out of carts or from a roadside stall. This version uses roasted chana dal/chutney dal.

Roasted chana dal/chutney dal/veyinchina senagapappu: 1 cup
Salt, red chilli powder: To taste
Green chillies: Half of one, sliced thin (optional if using red chilli powder)
Onion, chopped: A small fistful
Oil: 1-2 tsp
Lime juice: From 1 or two limes, as you wish

Mix the dal, spices, onion, oil and lime juice well.


This post goes to Manisha's event IFR Memories.

A reminder: There's just a little over a week left for your entries for The Write Taste, on till October 15, 2009. Details in the sidebar too.