(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!)

oh! calcutta—bengali foodie paradise

It is common knowledge to most of Mumbai that Oh! Calcutta serves some of the best Bengali food in town. Given Bengal’s geographical proximity to my home state, Orissa, the food is much appreciated by my family. Every time I visit home (usually multiple times) we make sure that we visit the restaurant to be treated to some of our favourite dishes, any lucky cousins who are visiting us, in tow. I know, in particular, that one particular cousin missed out and was more than a little unhappy! This time the fortunate party comprised of my parents, piusa (an uncle), Chiku Bhaina and, of course, myself. Let’s take a look at the happy time we had!

Anonymous Green Mango Cocktail

First, we started off with drinks. I chose a drink that I was to, over the course of the meal, regret since it’s nothing like I wanted it to be. The name escapes me, given that I went there over a month ago (yeah, this is a super-delayed blog post!), but it ended up being a cocktail comprised of green mango juice and, supposedly, vodka. I say supposedly since it tasted just like aamb-panna, something that I am not a fan of. Anyways, nothing like a poor drink to make an already delicious meal taste even better!

Luchis Galore

Luchi and Mangso Kasa

The appetizer of choice, by default, was luchi-mangso kasa. Luchi is a deep fried Indian bread which is similar to its cousin, the puri, but is a lot thicker and, as you can see, a lot larger. Mangso Kasa is a preparation of mutton (or lamb, goat or whatever) that is basically drier and with a lot more masala than the conventional curry. In short, mouth-watering deliciousness. And it tastes like heaven. I know you’re drooling just by staring at it (unless you’re vegetarian, in which case you probably aren’t a big fan of the food sections of my blog anyway!).

Bhapa Ilisi and Rice

The main course was Bhapa Ilisi, which is a preparation of fish with a mustard sauce. We also ordered some chicken dish, but like the photo above, it was simply in the background. The ilisi was delightful, as usual, and one of the reasons I love coming back to the place. It was gobbled up in great proportions and over-eating was very much achieved. As expected, there was no room for dessert or I would have gladly had a misthi-dahi (sweet yoghurt). Oh (man, I love food from) Calcutta!

If you want to visit Oh! Calcutta:

Oh! Calcutta
Hotel Rosewood, Tulsiwadi Lane
Tardeo, Mumbai 400022
Tel.: 022-23539114

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…