(one of) the final installment(s) of the indian (food) summer

About a month ago I had the privilege of eating some home-cooked biryani as well as one of my favourite vegetarian dishes—rajma and rice. I can say that I had no role to play in the preparation of either dishes, and probably fortunately so, since they would have ended up inedible otherwise. Ramesh, our cook, is a genius when it comes to preparing biryani and I’m more than happy to be pampered and spoiled by his good cooking!

Biryani is an Indian dish that basically comprises of rice and a meat (in this case, chicken) cooked together. As you can tell, I don’t really have any idea of how it is actually prepared but talking with people who do know how to prepare it and observing them passively, I take it the two main steps are making the (chicken) curry and then making the rice and mixing them together and perhaps cooking them a bit more. Ramesh’s version features a “layered” style, wherein most of the meat is at the bottom and then there are layers of rice and other various goodies above it. It’s breathtakingly good, especially when enjoyed with a side of raita, which is basically a yoghurt-based watery mixture containing onions, tomatoes, and sometimes cucumbers. Enough talking, though, let’s see some pictures!

A huge pot of Ramesh’s biryani
A huge pot of Ramesh’s biryani

A huge helping of biryani (that is a normal-sized plate!)
A huge helping of biryani (that is a normal-sized plate!)

A look at the biryani as well as the aforementioned raita
A look at the biryani as well as the aforementioned raita

This blog has been dominated by meat so let me remind my readers that I am in fact not a carnivore. In fact, I enjoy a number of vegetarian dishes, one of my favourite being rajma. Rajma is the Hindi name for kidney beans and the way I like it best (as almost anything) is as a curry with rice. I have no idea how it is prepared but its red and tastes delicious!

Rajma curry
Rajma curry

Rajma with rice and Kunduru Bhaja in the background
Rajma with rice and Kunduru Bhaja in the background

Finally, let’s take a look at some food from Orissa, when I was at my mom’s house in Cuttack. I’ve never actually lived there but all my cousins at some period or another have been living there so the feel of family and bonding is great. As a result, we end up with some pretty large meals enjoyed by about 10-12 people simultaneously (there are 9 cousins all in our range and 2 more that are slightly younger but still welcome :P). Seeing that this may be last time in Orissa for a while, I was pampered with one large meal (you’ll see what I mean in a moment) as well as some mutton curry… yeah if you haven’t noted by now, we Oriyas love our mutton!

The grand spread!
The grand spread!

Yummy in my tummy… notice the stark contrast between my plate area and Pinku’s (one of my cousins)
Yummy in my tummy… notice the stark contrast between my plate area and Pinku’s (one of my cousins)

Yep, the grand spread represented my first meal at Cuttack this year and consisted of no little than 10 dishes. There was the breakfast that I hadn’t yet had in the form of idli and sambar. Then there was lunch, which consisted of rice, daal, paneer curry, some dish that I can’t remember now, saag, kunduru bhaja, kakharu phula bhaja and salad. Dessert was served alongside in the form of mangoes. In short, quite a large meal and one that I struggled to finish but ended with a smile on my face! This meal alone was probably responsible for 10% of my weight gain in those 10 days in Orissa!

And now the mutton…

No need for words to describe the taste!
No need for words to describe the taste!

What was judged the “reddest” curry and thus the one that should be photographed
What was judged the “reddest” curry and thus the one that should be photographed

So there’s the end of another food-astic blog! I will have one more up soon about my parents 30th anniversary which featured plenty of scrumptious eating, but that deserves its own separate little post. Must separate home-cooked and restaurant-prepared food, because home-cooked is just so much more deliciously wholesome!

A huge helping of biryani (that is a normal-sized plate!)

cooking chicken, part 1

About a week and a half ago, I received my first non-vegetarian cooking lesson from my mom. The dish on the cards was the basic, straightforward Indian chicken curry. Luckily for me, the end result was actually not bad. In an effort to remember how the end product looked, I went ahead and took photos of everything. I also wrote down the recipe and hope I will have another opportunity this summer to make it, with limited supervision this time, to ensure that I actually learned how to make it, rather than learned how to follow directions.

Ingredients

  • Chicken – 2 breast pieces, 2 leg pieces
  • Marinade
    • 2 tsp dahi
    • 1 tsp ginger paste
    • 1 tsp garlic paste
    • 1 tsp salt
  • Onions x2
  • Tomato x2
  • Chicken masala – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Haldi – 1 tsp
  • Chilli powder – 2 tsp

Directions

  1. Marinate the chicken in advance and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Fry the onions until brown.
  3. Add chicken into pot with haldi, chilli powder and salt. Mix and cover for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and masala. Mix and cover for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. After oil separates, add hot water and simmer for 5 minutes before serving.

Photos

Chicken Curry in Preparation

Chicken Curry in Bowl

chak de india(n) khana

And so I present to you my second food blog of the summer. The fine delicacies enjoyed this time were idli-sambar, rice and fish haldi-pani and, hold your breath, MANGOES! Yep. For the most part I’ve been too busy eating mangoes to be taking their photos, but I managed to break that trend sometime last week. So I present to you my first photos of mangoes. Unfortunately, they may be the last as well, seeing that mango season is ending quickly!

Idli-Sambar

Next up is some fish curry that my mom made. The preparation is called “Fish Haldi Pani“. Those familiar with Indian spices will know that haldi is something known as “turmeric”. The dish is basically a fish curry where the gravy is light, see-through, strongly haldi-flavoured and, of course, delicious.

Close up Fish Haldi Pani

And to end off this post (which I started a few hours back and then my computer died) I have some photos of the king of fruit: the MANGO. I’m so happy that this is the national fruit of India because it is quite definitely the most delicious fruit in existence.

Mangoes

More Mangoes

Even More Mangoes

So I went a little crazy with the number of photos here… unfortunately I just couldn’t narrow the photos I’d taken of mangoes down to just 1. Anyhow, I’m sure you’re not complaining, unless it’s from being extremely jealous. That’s all for now!

upcoming posts

This is a whet-your-appetite combined with a reminder-for-me note alerting the both of our parties about the upcoming posts coming up on my blog. I’m putting it down in concrete form so that if I don’t forget what happened, I can recount my experiences in word form, and if I do (forget) then you (and I) at least have a brief idea of what happened.

  • Sohum eats mangoes
  • Sohum watches 99 with his mom
  • Sohum learns to cook Indian-style chicken curry
  • Sohum watches Aa Dekhen Zara on DVD
  • Sohum gets batteries and a film-roll for an old-school Canon EOS 3000QD
  • Sohum thinks about the ICC World Twenty20 event a bit more

So that’s what’s coming up. I may just have to wake up early tomorrow and get all this done as if it were some sort of paper. Naah….

food

This post is dedicated to food, which is not surprising considering I’m in India, which can be considered the land of (good) food. Since coming back I have been treated to a delicious ensemble of several Indian dishes, including my favourite mutton curry, chicken curry as well as several vegetarian delights (nutri-nugget curry, dal, several different bhajis). Additionally, I also made tiramisu with my mother following a blend of the recipe provided by my Chef Roger cookbook and the one available on the Food Network website.

So here we go with photos…. several photos of that delicious mutton curry. I can still smell and taste it as I sit here sipping my nimbu paani. 🙂

Mutton Curry in a Bowl

Mutton Curry and Rice

Mmm…. guess I have to wait till next Sunday to try that again. 🙂 Actually, probably more, but what the hell, let me pretend to make myself happier. One of the days around then, we bought ingredients for tiramisu and made it. Unfortunately, I don’t remember exactly what day…oops. Here are the ingredients we used:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 1 pkg of fake ladyfingers (couldn’t find the real stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon Old Monk dark rum
  • 3 egg yolks
  • cocoa powder for garnishing

I think that’s it. I think I now know the recipe for tiramisu by heart. 🙂 The basic way you make tiramisu is that you make the sabayon (the creamy thing) which is made of the egg yolks, sugar, and mascarpone (which is Italian cream cheese). The other component is the coffee mixture, which is used to soak the ladyfingers. We have yet been unable to find real ladyfingers in the two times I’ve made tiramisu. The first time we used soft lady fingers, and this time we used Italian puff pastry things. These were really well “varnished” apparently since they didn’t soak the coffee mixture until we crumbled their outer layer by crushing them with our fingers.

Anyways, enough technical stuff… here are some photos!

Tiramisu Final

Tiramisu Closeup

Tiramisu Closeup 2

Mmm… there’s still one piece left in the fridge, but supposedly it’s being saved for one of my cousins. I’m fast running out of patience…

Finally, I have a couple of photos of my favourite ‘biscuits’ in the world. And these are real biscuits, not the crazy baked stuff that you American/British call biscuits. You guys call them cookies… but cookies are supposed to be large, round and have chocolate chips in them, in my opinion. These biscuits are pure magic, and that is incidentally their name. I have one more package left in the pantry which I may go ravage as soon as I am done with this post!

Pure Magic Package

Pure Magic Biscuits

So that’s it. Now I’m a bit hungry even though I ate breakfast about half an hour back. I am still working on photos of the king of fruits… aka mangoes. They’re coming soon…