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Bengali Recipes

Bengali Wedding Feast And Bahubhat A Bengali weddin s a midnight celebration and reminiscent of all that is poetic and sentimental. The bride dressed in a red and gold sari, wears a crown of soft white wood and is given vermillion in her hair with ornaments of every variety. The groom too wears his crown and a flowing silk dhoti topped with a kurta. The bride is carried to the marriage altar on the shoulders by her uncles and there is much revelry with conch-blowing and clapping. The wedding feast includes vegetables, rice, puris, meat or chicken, eggs and fish dishes. Fish, considered auspicious by all Bengalis, is a prominent feature of their weddings. Covered with sindoor, a symbolic fish is taken to the wedding ceremonially by the bride's family.The first meal served by the new bride is called bahubhat. This is a time of accepting her with respect in her new family and for her to know her new relatives.The important dishes served are

DARVESH Ingredients: 1 cup gram flour (besan) <LI>a pinch of orange colour <LI>1 ½ cups sugar <LI>¼ tsp. saffron <LI>1 tsp cardamom powder <LI>1 tbsp sliced almonds and pistachios <LI>ghee as needed Method: Mix flour with enough water to make a batter of drop consistency. Add colour. Heat 2 cups of ghee to very hot. Through a fine sieve drop tiny drops of batter into ghee. When they are just golden, remove and reserve. Prepare a syrup of sugar with one cup water. When the syrup is ready, add the drops, saffron and cardamom powder. Add nuts. Mix well and serve MISHTI DHOI Ingredients: <LI>3 cups milk <LI>2 cups jaggery <LI>¼ cup curds Method: Heat milk and simmer, stirring constantly till creamy Add jaggery and blend well. Cool While lukewarm, add curds and mix. Pour in a ceramic bowl, cover with a cloth and keep in a warm place. After 4-5 hours, the dhoi will set. Refrigerate when dho s firm. DEEMER DEVIL Ingredients: Serves 6 <LI>4 eggs, hardboiled. peeled. halved lengthwise <LI>5 medium potatoes. boiled, peeled. mashed <LI>2 onions, grated <LI>1 tbsp. ginger-garlic <LI>1 tsp. chilli powder <LI>½ tsp. turmeric powder <LI>1 tsp. gara asala <LI>1¼ cup breadcrumbs <LI>2 tbsps. coriander leaves. chopped <LI>oil for frying <LI>salt to taste Method: Heat 2 tbsps. oil. Add onion. ginger-garlic paste, all powdered masalas and salt. Add breadcrumbs and knead.Shape half eggs of mixture and fit to each half of real eggs. Prepare all eggs thus -half paste half potato mixture. Shallow fry In a pan in hot oil. DHO UTTON KHORMA Ingredients: Serves 6 <LI>1 k utton, cubed <LI>6 potatoes. peeled <LI>4 onions, chopped, ground <LI>1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste <LI>1 cup curds <LI>1 tsp. turmeric <LI>1 tbsp. chilli powder <LI>1 tbsp. gara asala powder <LI>1 tbsp. sugar 2 bay leaves <LI>1 cup oil <LI>salt to taste <LI>Ground coarsely: 6 peppercorns <LI>1 ½ tsp. aniseed <LI>6 cloves <LI>3 cardamoms Method: Mix meat, curd, chilli, turmeric and gara asala powders. Add ginger-garlic paste, salt and sugar. Reserve for 3 hours. Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add whole crushed spices and bay leaves. Add onion paste and brown. Add tomato paste and brown.Add meat with marinade. Brown till oil separates. Add 2 ½ cups hot water, salt if needed and cook slowly till meat is soft.DHO ACCHH Ingredients: Serves 6 <LI>1 kg. Rohufish, cleaned, cubed <LI>1 cup curds <LI>1 ½ tsp. turmeric powder <LI>2 onions, ground to a paste <LI>1 tbsp. garlic paste <LI>1 tbsp. ginger paste <LI>3 tbsps. mustard oil <LI>salt to taste For the gravy: <LI>6 tbsps. mustard oil <LI>1 tsp. sugar <LI>2 bay leaves <LI>8 cloves <LI>4 cardamoms <LI>4 black cardamoms <LI>8 peppercorns <LI>2 pieces cinnamon <LI>6 whole red chillies <LI>salt to taste Method: Mix curd, turmeric powder, ground onion, garlic and ginger. salt and oil. Apply to the fish and keep aside for 3 hours. Heat mustard oil and fry the whole spices. Add sugar and salt to taste. Add the marinated fish and cook till done. CHORCHORI Ingredients: Serves 6 <LI>500 gms. cauliflower. cut into flowerettes <LI>3 large potatoes, peeled. cubed <LI>2 brinjals, stems removed. quartered <LI>200 gms. red pumpkin, peeled, cubed <LI>½ tsp. aniseeds <LI>1 ¼ tsp. cummin seeds <LI>¼ tsp. onion seeds <LI>¼ tsp. fenugreek seeds <LI>¼ tsp. mustard seeds <LI>¾ tsp. turmeric powder <LI>1 tsp. chilli powder <LI>2 green chillies. sliced <LI>2 bay leaves <LI>½ cup mustard oil <LI>salt and sugar to taste Method: Heat oil and add the five kinds of seeds and bay leaves. Add the potatoes and cauliflower and stir fry till slightly brown. Then toss in brinjals, pumpkin, turmeric, chilli powder, green chillies, salt, sugar, one cup of hot water and cook covered till vegetables are done, KALA JAMUN Ingredients: <LI>2 cups khoya <LI>4 cups sugar <LI>2 cups paneer <LI>1 tsp baking powder <LI>5 tbsps. pistachios broken coarsely <LI>½ cup rava <LI>1 tsp. cardamom powder <LI>ghee as needed Method: Mix Khoya paneer, rava and baking powder. Knead well. Reserve for 2 hours. Mix sugar with three cups of water and boil. Remove scum as it tops. Add cardamom powder. When syrup is of a one - thread consistency remove. Divide khoya dough into lemon - sized balls. Stuff each centre with pistachios. Heat 2 cups ghee and fry gently till the jamuns are dark brown. Drain out and put in syrup one by one . Add remaining pistachios. MATHA DIYE MOONGER DAL Ingredients: <LI>1 cup green gram ( moong ) dal, without skins <LI>1 tsp. ground ginger and cumin seeds <LI>2 tomatoes chopped <LI>2 bay leaves <LI>½ tsp sugar <LI>½ tsp. turmeric powder <LI>5 tbsps. oil <LI>1 fish head (rohu), cleaned <LI>½ tsp . cumin seeds <LI>salt to taste Method: Rub fish head with a little turmeric and salt. Reserve . Heat 1 tbsp. oil and fry the dal till pink. Add three cups hot water and cook till nearly done. add tomatoes, green chillies. Add sugar, turmeric and ginger, cumin seed paste. Add the salt and boil till blended. Heat 3 tbsps. oil and fry the rohu head well and add to simmering dal. Heat one 1tbsp. oil. Add fenugreek and cumin seeds and bay leaves. When seeds pop, pour over dal.

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Langhar Recipes

Guru Nanak Jayanti and Guru Parab

For Sikhs, there is no greater occasion of joy than the full moon day around October-November when Guru Nanak was born, and Guru Parab, the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh. It is a day when they rededicate themselves to unity, brotherhood and equality among all human beings. To symbolise these principles, the festival highlights a community kitchen called the Guru ka Langhar. From this free kitchen, food is served to devotees of all castes and creeds provided they sit together and eat the same food. The meal is simple and compact. After the singing of hymns and the veneration of the Guru Granth Sahib, Karah Parshad is served. KARAH PARSHAD Ingredients: 5 cups rava or coarsely ground wheat flour or mixture of both <LI>5 cups ghee <LI>5 cups sugar Method: Heat ghee and add the rava or the flour. Fry, stirring constantly, till each grain is brown. Add sugar little by little and continue cooking till ghee separates and the sugar is blended. No flavourin ust be added.Serve hot LANGHAR KI DAL Serves 8 Ingredients: <LI>2 cups whole black gram (urad) soaked in water for 6 hours <LI>2 tsps. Cummin seeds <LI>2 tsps. turmeric powder <LI>2 tsps. gara asala <LI>4 onions, chopped fine <LI>2 tbsps. ginger-garlic paste <LI>1 cup ghee <LI>salt to taste Method: Put all the ingredients (with 5 cups water) except ghee in a pressure cooker and cook till soft and blended. Pour hot ghee and serve with hot tandoori rotis or chapattis. ALU GOBI KI SABZI Serves 8 Ingredients: <LI>500 gms. Cauliflower, cut into large pieces <LI>6 potatoes, peeled and quartered <LI>1 tbsp. grated ginger <LI>1 tbsp. minced garlic <LI>3 onions, chopped fine <LI>3 tomatoes, chopped <LI>1 tbsp. gara asala powder <LI>1 tsp. turmeric powder ½ tsp. cummin seeds <LI>2 tbsps. Coriander leaves, chopped fine <LI>¾ cup oil <LI>Salt to taste Method: Heat oil and fry cummin seeds and onion till golden. Add ginger, garlic, tomatoes and cook till blended. Add cauliflower, peas and a little water. Add turmeric, gara asala, salt and cook covered on a slow fire till vegetables are done. Garnish wIth coriander leaves and serve.

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Parsi Jashan Recipes

Parsi Jashan Parsis are a fun loving community and celebrate every possible festival with equal fervour. They eat sweets for Diwali, dance for New Year and dress up for Christmas. Their marriages, fashions and other celebrations are accompanied by legendary feasts of meat, sweets and fish specialities. Though cosmopolitan, Parsis believe strongly in their religion and children are trained to understand the scriptures. Every child is initiated into the Zoroastrian religion at a function called the Navjot. Parsi weddings too are occasions for fun, frolic, dancing and merrymaking. Bottles of colourful aerated drinks are served with fish cooked in banana leaves, mutton pulao, fried chicken and dal. The sweets too are rich and creamy. Parsi pickle, made with carrots, sugar and raisins and vinegar is finger licking and tasty. Almost all Parsi families hold a Jashan or festive celebration on birthdays, anniversaries or to mark success in business or education. Recitations from scriptures, intoned musically by priests are a highlight. The holy fire is venerated and fruit, nuts, sweets are offered in thanksgiving . Naturally a feast of typically Parsi delicacies is also served on this occasion. CHICKEN FARCHA Ingredients:6 large legs of chicken <LI>1 tbsp. chilli powder <LI>1 tbsp. turmeric powder <LI>1 tbsp. gara asala powder <LI>1 cup breadcrumbs <LI>1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste <LI>6 eggs beaten <LI>Oil for frying <LI>Salt to taste Method:Mix chicken with all ingredients except breadcrumbs, eggs and oil. Reserve for an hour. Steam cook till meat is just cooked but not soft. Roll each piece in breadcrumbs. Then dip in beaten eggs and deep fry in hot oil till crisp and done. SALI BOTI Serves 6 Ingredients:<LI>1 k utton, cubed <LI>5 onions ground to a paste <LI>1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste <LI>1 cup tomato puree <LI>½ cup curd <LI>1 ½ tsps. chilli powder <LI>1 tsp. Turmeric powder <LI>1 tsp. gara asala powder <LI>2 tsps. Sugar <LI>200 gms potato straws (sali) <LI>Oil as needed <LI class=h3>Salt to taste Method:Marinate meat in all ingredients except oil and sali. Leave for an hour. Heat one cup oil in a pressure cooker and add meat. Stir fry till brown. Add 2 cups water and pressure cook till done. Turn out and serve covered with potato straws. LAGAN NU CUSTARD Serves 6 Ingredients:<LI>4 cups milk <LI>¾ cups sugar <LI>1 ½ cups khoya (Milk Casein) <LI>½ cup mixed sliced nuts,raisins <LI class=h3>½ tsp. vanilla essence <LI>3 eggs beaten Method:Boil milk and sugar till blended. Add broken khoya and stir till creamy. Add most of the nuts and raisins. Cool and add beaten eggs and essence. Stir well and bake in a medium oven till firm. Decorate with nuts and serve warm.You could also bake it in individual portions. MAWANI BOI Serves 6 Ingredients:<LI>4 cups sweetened khoya <LI>2 tbsps mixed pistachios and almonds <LI>2 leaves of silver varkh (Silver leaf) <LI>1 fish shaped mould Method:Fish is an auspicious motif for Parsis. This dish is a symbol of luck and good fortune. Knead khoya with half the nuts. Grease the mould lightly and line with the varkh. Press khoya tightly in the mould and turn over on a dish. Garnish with remaining nuts. PATRA N ACHCH akes 8 portionsIngredients:<LI>8 large slices of pomfret, cleaned <LI>1 tsp. turmeric powder <LI>1 tsp. red chilli powder <LI>Salt to taste <LI>Banana leaves, lightly oiled on one side. For the chutney: 1 tbsp. ginger - garlic paste
4 cups coriander leaves
2 green chillies, chopped
1 tbsp. amchoor or lemon juice or tamarind pulp
½ cup mint leaves
1 tsp. vinegar
Salt and sugar to taste
Method:Marinate fish with turmeric, chilli powder and salt for an hour. Grind all chutney ingredients to a paste. Apply chutney generously to each slice of fish. Wrap in a small piece of banana leaf and secure with string. Steam these packets till fish is done.

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Recipes from Kerala

If all the people of Kerala - India's southernmost state were to vote for the most popular and important festival of the state, they would choose Onam unanimously. Coming almost at the end of the monsoons - around August/September, the festival celebrates the mythical return of the good kin ahabali to his subjects each year. According to legend he was relegated to the netherworld by Lord Vishnu, because MahaBali though a benign king, was also a powerful demon. The annual return of Bal s celebrated with style - richly caparisoned elephants are marched in processions, boat races are held in the backwaters of the coast and homes are decorated with artistic torans made of young coconut leaves. Ten days before the festival, floral patterns and pyramids of fragrant flowers are made outside every house. People wear new clothes and Onam becomes a veritable food festival of the state. The festivities open in the morning with flowers, new clothes and a breakfast of bananas and fried papadams. The high point of the festival is the family or community lunch served on green, shining clean banana leaves arranged in a row. The feast is traditionally vegetarian and includes banana wafers, crisp popadams, pachadi, aviyal, kootu, payasam, rice and sambar, pickles of several varieties and puliinji - a ginger chutney.

BANANA ERUCHERRY Serves 6 Ingredients:6 raw bananas, peeled and cut into short pieces <LI>3 green chillies, sliced <LI>2 cups coconut scrapings <LI>8-10 curry leaves <LI>½ tsp. cumin seeds <LI>½ tsp. mustard seeds <LI>¼ tsp. turmeric powder <LI>2 red chillies <LI>2 tbsps. coconut oil <LI>Salt to taste Method:Mix banana pieces with a little water, turmeric and salt and cook till soft. Grind 1 cup coconut, 1 red chilli and cumin to a fine paste. Add to mashed bananas and set aside. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, green chillies, curry leaves, red chilli pieces, one cup coconut scrapings and fry till golden. Mix in the banana mash and serve hot. TOMATO PACHADI Serves 6 Ingredients:<LI>3 tomatoes, chopped <LI>1 cucumber, chopped fine <LI>½ cup coconut scrapings <LI>2 green chillies, chopped <LI>2 tbsps. coriander leaves, chopped fine <LI>6-10 curry leaves <LI>½ tsp. mustard seeds <LI>2 cups yoghurt <LI>1 tbsp. oil <LI>salt and sugar to taste Method:Grind coconut and mix with tomatoes, cucumber, chillies, salt and sugar. Add yoghurt and mix well. Heat oil, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they pop, pour over the pachadi. Add coriander and serve cold. CHANA DAL PAYASAM Serves 6 Ingredients:<LI>2 cups chana dal <LI>1 cup jaggery <LI>1 cup thick coconut milk <LI>1 cup cashewnuts and raisins <LI>1 tbsp. cardamom powder Method:Dry roast chana dal and then cook in 4 cups water till soft. Add jaggery and coconut milk and cook till well mixed. Fry cashew and raisins separately in hot ghee. Add cardamom powder, mix everything together and serve warm. AVIYAL Serves 6 Ingredients:<LI>100 gms white pumpkin, peeled, cubed <LI>100 gms yam, peeled, cubed <LI>3 raw bananas, peeled, cubed <LI>2 drumsticks, peeled, cut into 3" pieces <LI>2 brinjals, cubed <LI>1 cup french beans, chopped <LI>3 cups coconut scrapings <LI>5 green chillies <LI>8-10 green curry leaves <LI>3 red chillies <LI>½ tsp. cumin seeds <LI>1 cup yoghurt <LI>1 tsp. turmeric powder <LI>4 tbsps. oil <LI>salt to taste Method:Wash all vegetables, add salt, turmeric, ground green chillies and curry leaves. Cook in a little water pan till all vegetables are soft. Grind the coconut finely and mix with the yoghurt. Add this paste to vegetables, and cook for a few minutes to blend. Heat oil, add red chillies and pour over the aviyal and serve hot.

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja




Uttar pradesh - the state where the Ganga, Yamuna, Gomati and many other rivers flow, is the cradle of Indian culture. Weddings and festive days are celebrated with great flamboyance and pageantry; a typically festive meal consists of the following dishes in addition to the standard rice, puris and raitas. JALJEERA Serves 10 Ingredients: 1 tbsp. powdered rock salt <LI>2 tbsps. Freshly roasted and powdered cumin seeds <LI>1 cup tamarind pulp <LI>½ cup jaggery (gur) <LI>1 cup mint leaves, chopped <LI>½ cup salted boondi <LI>1 tsp. chilli powder <LI>Salt to taste Method: Mix, blend all the ingredients together except boondi and add ten glasses of cold water. Check salt, chill and serve topped with boondi. KHOYA MAKHANA MATAR Serves 8 Ingredients: <LI>1 cup makhanas, (puffed lotus seeds) sautéed in oil and drained <LI>1 ½ cups peas parboiled <LI>½ cup khoya (milk casein), or unsweetened condensed milk <LI>3 tomatoes, chopped finely <LI>1 tbsp. curd, beaten <LI>4 green chillies, chopped <LI>1 tsp. turmeric powder <LI>1 tsp. gara asala powder <LI>3 tbsps. Oil <LI>1 tbsp. sugar <LI>1 tsp. cumin seeds <LI>½ cup coriander leaves, chopped <LI>Salt to taste Method: Saute cumin seeds, chillies, powdered spices in oil and add curd and tomatoes. Cook till blended adding water (1/2 cup) if needed. Add peas, salt and sugar and cook gently till peas are done. Add makhanas and khoya. Mix well and after one simmer, remove from fire and garnish with coriander leaves. KADDU KI SABZI Serves 8 Ingredients: <LI>¾ kg. Red/Yellow pumpkin, peeled and cubed <LI>3 red chillies, broken into pieces <LI>½ tsp. cumin seeds/ mustard seeds <LI>3 tbsps. Oil <LI>½ tsp. turmeric powder <LI>1 tbsp. sugar <LI>salt to taste Method: Heat oil; add mustard and cumin seeds, red chillies and turmeric powder. Add the pumpkin pieces and stir-fry. Add ½ cup water, sugar and salt. Cook till done. MALAIWALE KOFTE Serves 8 Ingredients: <LI>5 potatoes, boiled, peeled, mashed <LI>1 cup fine breadcrumbs <LI>½ cup grated coconut <LI>¼ cup mixed nuts, coarsely ground <LI>5 green chillies, chopped finely <LI>½ cup coriander leaves, chopped <LI>Oil as needed <LI>Salt and sugar For the gravy:<LI>3 cups curd <LI>3 tomatoes pureed <LI>1 cup cream <LI>1 tsp. turmeric powder <LI>1 tsp. gara asala powder <LI>1 tbsp. chilli powder <LI>1 tsp. cumin seeds <LI>1 tbsp. sugar <LI>Salt to taste Method: Make lemon-sized balls out of the mashed potatoes. If the potato mash is soft, add bread slices dipped in water (squeeze out all water) to the mash and knead well. Prepare filling by mixing coconut, dry nuts, chillies, coriander leaves, salt and sugar to taste. Flatten each potato ball, put in a small quantity of this stuffing and fold around. Roll each ball in breadcrumbs. When all koftas are ready, deep fry them carefully in hot oil. Drain and reserve. Heat 4 tbsps. oil in a fresh pan, add cumin seeds, powdered spices, then tomato puree and curd. Fry till blended. Add sugar, salt, cream and simmer. Drop in the koftas and serve garnished with a little cream and coriander leaves. ALOO MEWAWALE Serves 8 Ingredients: <LI>12 medium potatoes, peeled <LI>½ cup mixed almonds and pistachios, coarsely ground <LI>½ cup coriander leaves, chopped <LI>4 onions, chopped, ground <LI>3 tomatoes pureed <LI>1 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste <LI>1 tsp. cumin seeds <LI>1 tbsp. chilli powder <LI>1 tsp. gara asala <LI>1 tsp. turmeric powder <LI>4 tbsps. cream <LI>1 cup oil <LI>1 tbsp. Sugar <LI>salt to taste Method: Bore a hole into each potato. Stuff with nuts mixed with salt and a few coriander leaves. Close with potato pieces. Heat oil and fry 2 or 3 potatoes at a time till browned. Drain and reserve. In the same oil, put in cumin seeds. When they pop, add onion paste and fry till brown. Then add powdered spices, tomato and ginger-garlic paste. Fry till oil separates from the paste, add potatoes and one and a half cups of hot water. Simmer, adding cream, salt and sugar till potatoes are cooked and the gravy is well blended. GULAB JAMUNS Serves 6 Ingredients: <LI>2 cups unsweetened khoya (milk casein) <LI>¼ cup fine rawa <LI>1 tsp. cardamom seeds <LI>1 tbsp. pistachios <LI>½ tsp. saffron <LI>1 cup sugar <LI>ghee as needed Method: Add 1 cup water to sugar and simmer till syrup is of one-thread consistency. Remove scum; add saffron and a few grams of powdered cardamoms. Reserve. Knead khoya and rawa well together and set aside for two hours. Knead well again and make lemon-sized balls. Push one pistachio and a few cardamom seeds into the centre of each ball. Heat 2 cups ghee and very gently fry a few jamuns at a time till golden brown. Drain and add to syrup. They will be ready to serve after one and a half hours. MOONG DAL KA HALWA Serves 6 Ingredients: <LI>2 cups yellow gram (moong) dal, without husk, soaked overnight in water <LI>2 cups sugar <LI>1 cup khoya or unsweetened condensed milk <LI>1 cup ghee <LI>1 tsp. cardamom powder <LI>½ cup mixed almond and pistachio slices <LI>silver varkh/leaf Method: Drain dal and grind to a coarse paste. Heat ghee in a pan; add dal paste and fry, stirring frequently on a low flame till the mixture is light brown and aromatic. Add khoya or milk and cook for a while. Add sugar and stir till it is mostly but not fully absorbed by the dal mixture. Add cardamom powder, mix and garnish with nuts and silver varkh (leaf). JALEBI Serves 6 Ingredients: <LI>2 cups maida <LI>3 cups sugar <LI>1 tbsp. lemon juice <LI>1/2 tsp. orange or yellow colour <LI>1 tsp. cardamom powder <LI>½ tsp. saffron <LI>ghee as needed Method: Mix flour with water enough to make a sticky pouring batter. Beat well and leave covered for 24 hours. Boil 3 cups of water add sugar and simmer till the syrup is thick. Remove the scum on top of the syrup with a wire sieve or spoon and add lemon juice, crushed saffron, colour and cardamom powder. Heat ghee in a wide pan and when hot, lower the flame. Beat the overnight batter and pour it through a piping bag or a similar device into the hot ghee in a circular motion, making four or five circles for each jalebi. Fry on both sides till just crisp and remove with a slotted spoon, draining out all ghee. Soak in the syrup and remove after five minutes. Serve Hot.

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Rahul Basu's guide to eating out in Chennai

Rahul Basu's guide to eating out in Chennai

Rahul Basu is our expert on eating out in Chennai. He is a theoretical physicist working at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, which is an autonomous institute of the Dept of Atomic Energy. When he is not working on stuff like HIGHER TWIST EFFECTS IN QUANTUM CHROMODYNAMICS and SUPERSYMMETRY AT NONZERO TEMPERATURES, Rahul does serious research on findin ood restaurants to eat at in Chennai. Here are his views: There was a time when eating out in Chennai (when it was still Madras) meant the local Udipi hotel, or, if you were a carnivore, the local 'Military Hotel'. Times have changed and now Chennai boasts of a large collection of restaurants in different flavours, price ranges and ambience. What follows is a necessarily subjective overview of some of the hot spots of Chennai for eating out: Closest to the Institute, C I T Campus, Taramani, Chennai 600113 is Ashok Residency (no relation to the Ashok ITDC group) which is part of the Film City Complex. Go out to the main road (Taramani Road), turn right and walk for about 5 minutes and you are there. The food is bad, the prices inflated and the only redeeming feature is that the ambience is reasonable and there is a bar (a rarity in Chennai) which is quite pleasant though overpriced. Not recommended for reasonable food at reasonable prices but is the only place where visitors to the Institute can grab a beer without having to take an autorickshaw out to the city. If you can get out of the campus, then Sardar Patel Road in Adyar boasts of quite a few eating places to suit most pockets. Kwality Riviera and Aditya are two restaurants offerin eneric North Indian/Punjabi fare. In addition Aditya also has a bar. Dinner for two will set you back about Rs. 250. For vegetarians and those who like a taste of the South, Adyar has some good south Indian vegetarian places. Khana Khazana in Kasturba Nagar (take a right at the Ceebros traffic light and go about half a km) used to be a good place for standard South Indian fare like thalis and idlis and dosas and vadas. But now, it retains its name but not its cuisine. Its changed ownership and now offers a strange mix of Chettinad, Hong Kong/Chinese/Singapore/Punjabi cuisine (all vegetarian) along with a minuscule selection of the old stuff i.e idlis and dosas - but the quality ain't the same and you don't get filter coffee. Why can't these people leave well alone? The food quality is variable and the prices will set you back about Rs. 150-200 for two. Adyar Woodlands at Adyar junction has some of the best Rava idlis and idlis in this part of town but their A/C 'Hall' is dark, dingy and pretty depressing. Don't go there if you are fussy about ambience. However, you can't beat their idlis and coffee and now with the effective demise of Chutney, is the only place in this part of Adyar to offer good wholesome South Indian vegetarian food and snacks and coffee. A similar place is Vasanta Bhavan on Lattice Bridge Road which I am told serves decent South Indian snacks and coffee. No personal experience though. There are a couple of new places in Adyar. Above Food World, the grocery supermarket in Gandhi Nagar, First Main Road is a place called La Princesse. Perhaps the less said about the place, the better. Two or or three visits have convinced me that the food is not just mediocre, its awful. Their so-called western/Continental/Italian/Mexican is just inedible and their Indian is best avoided. They once gave us a fish which had started smelling and they changed it and again gave us another which was equally smelly. Two such changes finally made them confess that their fish had gone bad. On Lattice Bridge Road (also known by its acronym LB Road - most auto-rickshaw drivers know only the acronym!), opposite IMCOPS are two restaurants - Usilampatti serving chettinad style food and above it Pathankot (yes, as in the place!) serving, no prizes for guessing, Punjabi food. Food at the former tends to be extremely spicy and hot unless you order their stews and the same is true of the latter. Here you can stick to the kababs if you want to cut down on the spice. Portions are reasonable and a meal for two costs about Rs. 300. The food is not particularly distinguished but its ok for a casual lunch or dinner out. If you are now ready to venture further afield, a whole new world of restaurants awaits you. Dhaba Express on Cenotaph Road (after you come down the Kotturpuram flyover) has a good vegetarian lunch buffet which is great value for money at Rs. 51. (You can order non vegetarian dishes separately). It has a large number of items, and while they don't have interesting vegetables (mostly brinjal, potatoes, koftas, couple of salads), they are reasonably made and not, for once, overspiced and there are rustic wooden benches and tables where you can sit in the open air. They also have a restaurant which is reasonable but somewhat pricey. The buffet is immensely popular with the office going crowd so it gets quite crowded at lunch on weekdays but there is sufficient seating. The largest number of restaurants though, in terms of density, is on TTK Road (known earlier as Mowbrays Road). About half a kilometer from Park Sheraton Hotel, on TTK Road itself is a new Thai restaurant called Benjarong (Five Colours - Pancharanga). The food is great and authentic Thai since they fly in most of their ingredients, the interior decoration is lovely, and the tables have vases with real orchids. The culinary aspect is overseen by a father and daughter team from Thailand and you will frequently see her in the evening cutting up fruits in beautiful shapes and designs. Portions are reasonable, and a meal for two with soup and dessert comes to around Rs. 700. Try their unusual desserts like Tim Tub Siam - Ruby Water Chestnuts in Coconut Milk. One of the best mid-range restaurants in Chennai today. Along TTK Road, opposite Sankara Hall is a whole slew of restaurants of all varieties and varying quality. Kabul professes to be the place for North West Frontier food but actually is one of those generic kabab and roti places. Pandiya Nadu, (metamorphosed from Panjim) as its name suggests, offers Chettinad cuisine like so many others and the quantities are abysmal. Duchess claims to serve so-called 'Continental' food and is a place best avoided by people from the Continent, and in fact elsewhere! Further along TTK Road on the left is a relatively new place Stop at Sam's which offers a rather pleasant selection of Indian, Chinese and Continental food of various types. The food and ambience are generically good, though not exceptional (an adjective that can be applied only rarely to Chennai Restaurants) and its also a good place to make a quick lunch of one of their large sandwich platters. They also have Quiches and Moussakas but the few times I have been there, these have not been available. TTK Road crosses a major Road of Chennai at the Music Academy crossing - its called Radhakrishnan Salai on the right and Cathedral Road on the left. On the left as you get onto Cathedral Road right at the corner is a multiplex of 4 restaurants (the West has multiplex theatres, Chennai has multiplex restaurant complexes). Baahar is (no prizes for guessing) an open air place offerin eneric North Indian and Mughlai fare - the food has remained at a fairly decent level for many years and costs about Rs. 250 for two. They will occassionally agree to serve you beer in steel tumblers. Nizam serves (or rather claims to serve) the famed cuisine of Hyderabad but tends to fall flat on its face quite often! Palki has nice decor and absolutely ghastly food. Amravati offers Andhra cuisine and is a typical banana leaf place with mediocre food. As you go further up Cathedral Road on the right are three restaurants - Don Pepe, Copper Chimney and China Town. The first serves Mexican and Spanish food along with some 'Euro-Mex" combos. Its good value for money and their platters are very nice - typical platters are around Rs. 150 and with a salad shared by two, makes for a satisfyin eal. Try their Chicken and Avocado Salad. They have maintained their standards for quite some time now. Their Mousse is laced with gelatine and is consequently too stiff. They have recently added 'American' food to their repertoire (did I hear someone say 'What's that?') which means stuff like roast rack of lamb, clam chowder, baked sea bass and so on. However they spoil it by serving prawns instead of clams in the chowder and the only fish they (or, for that matter, any restaurant in Chennai) seem to have heard of is Seer (Banjaram) - so the variety of fish in the menu is quite limited. Their Spanish/Mexican is still the better bet, I think. (If you live near Anna Nagar, a 'xerox' copy of this place is Picasso with an almost identical menu - not surprising since its run by the same people.) Copper Chimney offers again generic North Indian/Mughlai food - good but somewhat overpriced like its cousin in Mumbai. China Town is a reasonably good Chinese restaurant. In both these restaurants, be prepared to shell out around Rs. 350-400 or more for two. If instead of turning left onto Cathedral Road you turned right onto Radhakrishnan Salai then within about a kilometer, there are again a whole host of restaurants. The New Woodlands hotel on the left is something of an institution here and serves excellent South Indian thalis and the usual run of dosas, idli, vadas and so on. Again, typical of a place of this kind. it also serves excellent South Indian filter coffee. The Savera hotel on the left has Minar which serves Mughlai food and is highly overpriced. The Piano is a multi-cuisine restaurant - always a danger in Chennai since it frequently implies a lack of understanding on the part of the cooks of any of the cuisines. Piano has its share of Chinese, Continental and Indian dishes. Its continental fare smacks, as with many restaurants in India, of the Raj era with its collection of Chicken a la Kiev, Chicken a la King and so on. Unfortunately the fare is on the heavy side, much of it laced with garlic, cream, mayonnaise used with a heavy hand. The sea food salad, which could easily be made light and tasty is doused with huge amounts of mayonnaise makin t cloyingly heavy. The a la Kiev has the butter reeking of garlic. Overall the place has good potential but is spoiled by the lack of a light and sensitive approach to spices and fat. About Rs. 450 at least, for food without alcohol. Malgudi in the same hotel serves food from the four Southern states and is better than similar restaurants elsewhere. However its not cheap and a meal without alcohol can cost anything between Rs. 300-400. Leaving Savera behind and moving on, we reach the Karaikudi complex. This has three main restaurants. Karaikudi provides good Chettinad food from the region of Karaikud n Southern Tamil Nadu. For those of you who think eating non-vegetarian Indian food outside means Tandoori Chicken, kababs and naans, this is the place to try for something different. The food and ambience are refreshingly different and definitely worth a visit - about Rs. 250 for two. A popular item amongst most of our visitors in the Quail (Kadai) roast. Shogun is a generic Chinese place but also has a sprinkling of Thai, Singapore, and Malaysian cuisines. Coastline is a pure fish place - a bit cramped but their fish is fresh and their fish salad and Malabar Fish Curry are worth trying. They have recently expanded their bill of fare and have a fairly large variety of sea food. Their mixed sea food platter is quite nice but very expensive - the full platter varies in cost depending on availability - the last time we were there it was Rs. 1500 and enough to be shared among 3 people. They also have large crabs but again these are very expensive. All these places are in the same price range otherwise for the standard items. On the right hand side, facing the Karaikudi complex (almost!) is Saravana Bhavan Fast Foods. Saravana Bhavan is something of an institution in Madras and specialises in Thalis and other fast food items. Regrettably, my personal opinion in this matter is somewhat contrary to that of the general public - I think these Saravana Bhavan chain of restaurants is highly over-rated and there are numerous other places in Madras serving better Thalis and Idlis and dosas. On one of the main arterial roads of Chennai called Nungambakkam High Road (recently renamed Mahatma Gandhi Salai but nobody, least of all auto drivers, will know that name) there are a few restaurants which are reasonable. Opal Inn, which is part of Hotel Ranjith is an old haunt for all types of cuisine - Indian, Continental, Chinese. The food is unremarkable but if you are in that region and want a reasonable place to grab a bite, you could try it. I am told that the Ranjith Hotel roof top boasts a kabab place which is very good and, unusual for Madras, serves beer. However I have not tried it myself. Further up is Cascade - a Chinese place which again offers some South East Asian cuisine like Sapo and Satay. Not too authentic though - they tend to substitute lemon for lemon grass - but if, like most Chennai residents, you don't know the difference, then its not a bad place to eat. The food, after all, doesn't taste bad! Their Steam Boat, in fact, is rather good and is a good satisfyin eal for two. There is now a copy of Cascade in Besant Nagar so you might want to try that since its closer to the institute. Nungambakkam also boasts (?) of Pizza Hut in Chenna n the Gee Gee complex along with one in Kasturbai Nagar, Adyar, and has its 'desi' version too - Pizza Corner. If you go further up Nungambakkam High Road where it merges Valluvar Kottam Road towards Egmore, there is the Red E Food Court - a food court as its name suggests, offering a variety of cuisine like Thai, Mexican, Indian etc. Reasonable value for money and for some reason, kids love the place. On Thyagaraja Road (Pondy Bazar Road) just after turnin n fro ount Road is the GRT Grand Days hotel (a part of the Days Inn group in the US). This has good value for money restaurants and also a decent buffet for about Rs. 250. The Copper Point serves Indian food including the not-so-common South Indian dishes like Fish Moilee and the like. About Rs. 250-300 per person. The Oriental Pearl serves Thai and Chinese food in the same price range and has a fairly wide variety of items. A small sprinkling of other South-East Asian dishes fro alaysia, Japan etc., are on the menu but are sometimes not available. A nice starter is their Chicken Satay. Good value for money and though not cheap, far lower than five star places. Here is a sprinkling of a few other places you could try in Besant Nagar near the beach (called Elliot's beach). Eden restaurant near the Besant Nagar bus terminus is a pleasant pure vegetarian place which serves a wide variety of North Indian and baked (continental?) items - some quite interesting. For example, they have the vegetarian version of Spaghetti and Meat Balls by substituting Soya Nugget balls for the meat balls. They get full marks for novelty though not all their dishes are a resounding success. Close to Eden is a small place called Bella Ciao serving (no marks for guessing) Italian cuisine. Its actually run by a Italian couple and has the usual run of Ravioli, Fettucini, and the like. Its good for a change but the prices are inflated, the portions tiny (4 small slices of garlic bread costs Rs.25!) and its definitely not value for money. Its also extremely cramped and its not pleasant to have your elbow continuously di nto another diner's ribs (or worse, vice versa!). You get Italian wine but then, I wouldn't want to have mediocre Italian wine at their prices! They of course serve Italian coffee (Espresso, Cappucino and so on) but its made very light and watery and the coffee is not of the highest quality. (For such things go to Coffee? mentioned below). Their Tira Misu is quite disappointing. I have noticed however that different people have different reactions to Bella Ciao so I would suggest tryin t once and deciding for yourself. Close by is also the new dandified 'avatar' of Sri Krishna Vilas called Vishranti which offers good South Indian Thalis, Dosas and Idlis and other such snack items at reasonable prices. Worth a visit if you want a nice place to sit and good South Indian vegetarian food and excellent filter coffee. Another place nearby, close to Eden is the oddly named Jelly Belly - its like a Delicatessen serving vegetarian snacks and desserts (why does Chennai have so many vegetarian 'yuppie' places?). They have grilled toasts, club sandwiches (what's a vegetarian club sandwich?) and a fair selection of strawberry, chocolate and other mousses. Its run by the same family that runs Eden and, if you don't mind the absence of animal protein, they do it quite well. There is also a Chinese place nearby called Canton Beach Palms - serving the usual Chinese menu available in so many places. The place is nice and airy and prices are about Rs. 150 per person. Right on Elliot's beach is a food court called Planet Yumm containing Domino's Pizza, Sangeetha Bhavan, Wang's Kitchen, Haveli, and café Coffee Day. There is also a nice children's play area and it's pleasant to visit in the evenings and sit outside with the sea close by. Five Star Places: I can't afford most 5-star places so this list will necessarily be very selective. The Dakshin at Park Sheraton serves cuisine of the four southern states. The Peshawari at the Chola Sheraton serves North West Frontier food and is very good; however you better go there with a fat wallet, or plastic money (with no worries of paying the bill when it comes) or with green-backs which automatically give you a 44:1 advantage! The Raintree at the Connemara serves Chettinad food under a huge raintree and is also worth a visit. The buffets at the Chola Sheraton - Mercara and Sagari are of course worth the money if you are a large eater - they typically cost around Rs. 300. But watch out - all these 5-star places slap a 20% tax on your bill which can be a substantial increase in your expense. A new place on Greenways Road near Pizza Time called Coffee? is a coffee parlour inspired, no doubt, by Starbucks and offers other than the usual vegetarian snack items, a wide variety of coffees from around the world - Thai, Italian, Colombian, Turkish - you name it. All of them cost Rs. 30 and its a popular hangout for the (very) young yuppie crowd - on the whole a nice and cheerful place (if you are not too conscious of your grey hairs) run by a couple of very friendly youn uys. They even have a few books and tank tops on display and sale!! In the same vein, there is a very yuppie joint called Qwicky's in T. Nagar on G. N. Chetty Road. Coming from Panagal Park, pass the Van ahal Circle and its almost immediately on your right. They have numerous brands of coffee and snacks and is a favourite hang out for college kids. If you are on the wrong side of 30, you are going to feel like a grandfather, in there!! Ice Cream parlours: These are becoming really popular in Chennai. The closest to the Institute is the one above Adyar Bakery on Sardar Patel Road called Shakes and Cream - very nice and reasonably priced - though their interior decorator should be fired! On the other side on First Main Road, Gandhi Nagar, near the Bata showroo s Baskin Robbins which is also good but with the Fatherland connection, feels justified in charging high prices. There is Chill Thrill in Kasturbai Nagar opposite Khana Khazana Restaurant (mentioned above). There is another in Besant Nagar which is supposed to be good but since I have never been there, I have forgotten the name! Baskin Robbins at Adyar Circle is best avoided - the prices are high and the ice crea s not very good. Finally, last but not the least, Hotel Runs (don't take the name seriously) is a Kerala Muslim 'Irani' like restaurant which has the cheapest, good Tandoor tems - a half chicken Tandoori costs about Rs. 50. But perhaps, if you are finicky about where you eat, you should ask them to pack the food... Fast Food Places: There are suddenly a lot of fast food places in Chennai. In Adyar itself, there's Pizza Corner at the start of LB Road, with bad pizza but I believe with some specials which include bottomless Pepsi, Pizza Hut (yes, the original) with nice ordinary and pan pizza, a salad bar, spaghetti and so on but fairly high prices for a fast food joint - around Rs. 300 for two. However they occassionally have special deals advertised in newspapers and those are good value for money. Its located along Kamaraj Avenue wherein you turn right from Sardar Patel Road at the Ceebros Arcade on the Kasturba Nagar side. Further down is Domino's (yes, again the original) whose pizzas are far better than those of the home grown variety and, in fact, better than Domino's own pizzas in the US!! Also cheaper than Pizza Hut (a regular with 3 toppings is Rs. 79) and you can order them from the Institute (1-600-111-123 toll free). There is also a Pizza Hut in the Gee Gee Emerald complex on Nungambakkam High Road where also, opposite the Landmark bookstore is the Ispahani shopping complex. This has MarryBrown a Kentucky Fried Chicken clone fro alaysia, I am told, but its chicken burgers and fried chicken are even worse than KFC's. Their french fries are like matchsticks. Even McDonald's would be better. However just above on the first floor is the Coffee Day coffee parlour - good coffee, nice ambience and a pleasant view from the large glass plate windows. Not much to eat though and the noise, both from the chattering yuppies and the loud music can get on your nerves. This overview will get updated at irregular intervals so watch this place. The views expressed here are my own, and not shared by others in the institute, but should be.

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Pronunciation Guide for Pasta Shapes

When making delicious pasta dishes, be sure to choose a pasta shape and sauce that complement each other. Thin, delicate pastas like angel hair or thin spaghetti, should be served with light, thin sauces. Thicker pasta shapes, like fettuccine, work well with heavier sauces. Pasta shapes with holes or ridges like mostaccioli or radiatore, are perfect for chunkier sauces.

Alphabets - This favorite kids' shape is usually used in soups for a fun meal anytime.

Macaroni [mack-a-ROW-nee] ("Dumpling") - A highly versatile shape that can be topped with any sauce, baked, or put in soups, salads and stir-fry dishes.

Rotini [row-TEE-nee] ("Spirals" or "Twists") - Rotini's twisted shape holds bits of meat, vegetables and cheese, so it works well with any sauce, or you can use it to create fun salads, baked casseroles, or stir-fry meals.

Angel Hair Capellini [CAP-a-lee-nee] ("Fine Hairs") - Thin, delicate strands are best if used with thinner, delicate sauces. Other uses: break in half and put in soup; use in salads or stir-fry meals.

Manicotti [man-a-COT-tee] ("Small Muffs") - Stuff Manicotti with a mixture of meat, cheese and vegetables, top with your favorite sauce, and bake. Or stuff and freeze for a later time.

Jumbo Shells - Best when stuffed with your favorite mixtures of cheese, meat and vegetables. Stuff with meat flavored with taco seasoning, top with salsa and bake for a delicious Mexican dish, or create your own stuffed treat.

Bow Ties, Farfalle [far-fol-LEE] ("Butterflies") - Bow Ties brighten any meal with their interesting shape. Thick enough for any sauce, or make into a salad or soup.

Medium Egg Noodles (From "Nudel," German meaning paste with egg) - This size of Egg Noodle can be baked, tossed in soups or salads, or topped with cream, tomato, cheese or meat sauces for a delicious meal.

Medium Shells, Conchiglie [Kon-KEEL-yeh] ("Shells") - Shells make a great addition to soups or as the base of a wonderful salad. Try remaking your favorite Macaroni and Cheese using Shells, for a fun twist on a time-honored tradition.

Ditalini [dit-a-LEE-nee] ("Little Thimbles") - This versatile shape can be used as the base of any dish. Bake it, stir it into soups, or create great salads and stir-fry dishes.

Wide Egg Noodles (From "Nudel," German meaning paste with egg) - Go beyond the traditional Stroganoff and use, Wide Egg Noodles to create soups, salads and casseroles. Or, top with any sauce and serve hot.

Spaghetti [spa-GET-tee] ("A Length of Cord") - America's favorite shape, Spaghett s the perfect choice for nearly any sauce, or it can be used to make casseroles or stir-fry dishes. Go beyond tomato sauce and see what your favorite becomes.

Fettuccine [fet-a-CHEE-nee] ("Small Ribbons") - Perfect for heavier sauces, like cheese, meat and tomato sauces. For variety, try breakin n half and puttin n soups, or use for a salad.

Orzo ("Barley") - This small, grain shaped pasta can be topped with any sauce, added to soups, or baked as a casserole. Perfect as a side dish as well as a main course.

Vermicelli [ver-ma-CHEL-ee] ("Little Worms") - Slightly thinner than Spaghetti, Vermicell s good topped with any sauce, or as a salad or stir-fry ingredient.

Fusilli [foo-SILL-ee] ("Twisted Spaghetti") - This long, spiraled shape can be topped with any sauce, broken in half and added to soups, or turned into a beautiful salad. Fusilli also bakes well in casseroles.

Penne, Mostaccioli [mos-ta-CHOL-ee] ("Quills" and "Small Mustaches," respectively) - This tubular pasta goes well with sauce, used in salads, baked in casseroles, or made into stir fry dishes.

Wagon Wheels, Ruote [roo-O-tay] ("Wheels") - Wagon Wheels make interesting salads, casseroles and stir-fry dishes. Add to soups, or simply top with sauce and enjoy.

Lasagne [la-ZON-ya] (From "lasanum," Latin for pot) - Create new Lasagne casseroles by using chopped vegetables, cheeses and any kind of sauce. You can also assemble your casserole and freeze it for later.

Radiatore [rad-e-a-TOR-ee] ("Radiators") - This ruffled, ridged shape adds elegant interest to any sauce. It also works well baked in casseroles, or used in salads and soups.

Ziti [zee-tee] ("Bridegrooms") - A medium-sized, tubular pasta shape, Zit s perfect for chunky sauces and meat dishes. It also makes wonderful salads, baked dishes and stir-fry meals.

Linguine [lin-GWI-nee] ("Little Tongues") - A great shape for all sauces. Also a good choice for salads and stir-fry dishes.

Rigatoni [rig-a-TONE-ee] ("Large Grooved") - Rigatoni's ridges and holes are perfect with any sauce, from cream or cheese to the chunkiest meat sauces.Source: National Pasta Association

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Facts About Pasta


In 18th century England, macaroni was a synonym for perfection and excellence. That's why, for example, the feather in Yankee Doodle's cap was called "macaroni." In fact, the word "macaroni" means "dearest darlings" in Italian.

The Chinese are on record as having eaten pasta as early as 5,000 B.C.

In the 13th century, the Pope set quality standards for pasta.

Tripolini or "little bows" were named to honor the Italian conquest of Tripol n Libya.

There are more than 600 pasta shapes produced worldwide.

Top-quality pasta is made from durum wheat. According to the North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service, about 73 percent of the durum wheat grown in the U.S. is actually grown in North Dakota. American-grown durum wheat is considered among the best in the world and the pick of the crop is earmarked for domestic use ensuring a finished pasta product second to none in the world.

According to Miss Manners (a.k.a. Judith Martin), a fork is the only utensil that may be used to eat spaghetti while anyone is looking.

In Italian, fettucine means ribbons; stelline means little stars; and capelli d'angelo means angel's hair.

Contrary to popular belief, Marco Polo did not discover pasta. The ancient Italians made pasta much like we do today. Although Marco Polo wrote about eating Chinese pasta at the court of Kubla Khan, he probably didn't introduce pasta to Italy. In fact, there's evidence suggesting the Etruscans made pasta as early as 400 B.C. The evidence lies in a bas-relief carvin n a cave about 30 miles north of Rome. The carving depicts instruments for making pasta - a rolling-out table, pastry wheel and flour bin. And further proof that Marco Polo didn't "discover" pasta is found in the will of Ponzio Baestone, a Genoan soldier who requested "bariscella peina de macarone" - a small basket of macaroni. His will is dated 1279, 16 years before Marco Polo returned from China.

Legend has it that noodles were first made by 13th century German bakers who fashioned dough into symbolic shapes, such as swords, birds and stars, which were baked and served as bread.

All pasta is made by essentially the same equipment using the same technology. Also, in independent taste tests conducted by Consumer Reports, Cook's Illustrated and The Washington Post, U.S. pasta either was found superior to Italian imports or the judges were unable to discern a difference between them.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducin acaroni to the United States. It seems that he fell in love with a certain dish he sampled in Naples while serving as the U.S. Ambassador to France. In fact, he promptly ordered crates of "maccaroni," along with a pasta-makin achine, sent back to the States.

The first American pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 1848, by a Frenchman named Antoine Zerega. Mr. Zerega managed the entire operation with just one horse in his basement to power the machinery. To dry his spaghetti, he placed strands of the pasta on the roof to dry in the sunshine.

To cook one billion pounds of pasta, you would need 2,021,452,000 gallons of water - enough to fill nearly 75,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

One billion pounds of pasta is about 212,595 miles of 16-ounce packages of spaghetti stacked end-to-end -- enough to circle the earth's equator nearly nine times.

Pasta is one of the foods kids most frequently eat at home, according to research conducted by Land O'Lakes. Seventeen percent eat spaghetti while 16 percent eat macaroni and cheese. Statistics from the NPD Group, a custom research group, show that kids eat 62 pounds of pasta each year, more than any other age group.

Consumers enjoy pasta for dinner more than 40 times a year (approximately once a week), with dry pasta as their favorite form, according to Harry Balzer, NPD Group, Chicago, Ill.

Christopher Columbus, one of Italy's most famous pastaphiles, was born in October, National Pasta Month.

During the '80s, macaroni, which was traditionally considered a "blue-collar" down-home meal, was transformed into the more upscale "pasta." As more and more people began to have fun with it and romanticize it throughout the '60s and '70s, its image began to change along with its name.

The word "pasta" comes from the Italian for paste, meaning a combination of flour and water - including the many forms of spaghetti, macaroni, and egg noodles. The term pasta has always been used on Italian restaurant menus to encompass all the various pasta offerings.

Pasta existed for thousands of years before anyone ever thought to put tomato sauce on it. The Spanish explorer Cortez brought tomatoes back to Europe fro exico in 1519. Even then, almost 200 years passed before spaghetti with tomato sauce made its way into Italian kitchens.

Egg noodles contain egg; almost all other dry pasta shapes do not. By federal law, a noodle must contain 5.5 percent egg solids to be called a noodle. So without egg, a noodle really isn't a noodle.

One cup cooked spaghetti provides about 200 calories, 40 grams of carbohydrates, less than one gram of total fat, no cholesterol and only one gram of sodium when cooked without salt.

Speaking of spaghetti...and meatballs: the Italians only ate meat a few times a month. So, when they came to America, where meat was so plentiful, they incorporated meat into their cookin ore often, makin eatballs an American invention.

Cooked al dente (al-DEN-tay) literally means "to the tooth," which is how to test pasta to see if it is properly cooked. The pasta should be a bit firm, offering some resistance to the tooth, but tender.

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio's favorite food is said to be pasta, according to a Wall Street Journal article. Source: National Pasta Association

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Chilli Saga

Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain for a specific purpose-to bring to world the famed spices of the orient. The winds however had other plans. They steered him to another coast leaving him at large to discover another spice - chilli, which has since set palates across the world afire. Certain occidental cuisines that looked upon this pod with trepidation are now becoming somewhat adventurous and the chill s emerging as an exciting firecracker on the otherwise bland table. Chefs are delvin nto methods of providing the diner an introduction to the nuances of different varieties of chillies.

  Click on image for Recipes

The earliest spice…… Chillies in their wild state thrived in Mexico as far back as 7000 BC and in their cultivated state around 3,500 BC. So valued a commodity were they that vanquished tribes paid homage with sacks of chillies. An assortment was later developed by the Mayas and the Incas who relished various chilli varieties. Montezuma, the last of the Aztec emperors, was an avid fan of the fiery pod. He favoured a fusion quite fantastic - a liquid blend of cacao beans and chillies. The many varieties of chillies the discoverers of the New World chanced upon, exposed the extent of individual attention showered on this spice. And once the rest of the world was introduced to their charms there was no looking back. It was the Spaniards and Portuguese who were instrumental in spreading the chilli to Europe where it was well entrenched by the middle of the16th century. It was about the same time that the chilli reached Asian shores.

What's in a name….. Looking for the famed black pepper of the east, the Spanish explorers instead chanced upon somewhat different pods, which possessed a tang and a bite somewhat reminiscent of the former. So they named their discovery pepper. The Dutch, inveterate merchants already tradin n the eastern spice, and worried that the new find might be taken to be its more exotic variety insisted in callin t by its original Aztec name, chilli. Today the matter is amiably resolved. All pungent varieties of the spice are generally referred to as chilli peppers. All peppers belong to the genus capsicum. Capsicum, the botanical name is possibly derived from the Latin capsa for box in deference to the hollow pods. Or from the Greek kapto -to bite.

Hot stuff ….. Chillies contain capsaicin - the potent substance that gives them their fiery character. Almost 80 percent of the capsaicin in a chill s in its seeds and membranes. To retain flavour but reduce the bite in a chilli, remove the hot stuff. And to increase the bite of a milder variety, simply roast the entire pod. Chilli peppers add colour and flavour to many cuisines. The pungent curries of India, the blistering sambals of Indonesia, the spicy Thai soups and the piquant Mexican salsas would certainly lose their zest were it not for the chillies used. The world at large is increasingly falling victim to the charms of the chilli. And that's not simply because they add a certain taste.

What's good about chillies…. Chillies are known to be a good source of vitamins, minerals and beta-carotene. The Capsaicin is now recognised to be an antioxidant combating free radicals in the body, and research points to its clot dissolving properties. Capsaicin rubs have been found to be effective panaceas for arthritic and other muscular pains. In the Indian indigenous system capsicu s a valued medicine…a strong circulatory and digestive stimulant, an alliterative helping to restore normal health and a decongestant. Besides all chillies are low in fat and sodium. So don't hesitate to bite into them, they can only be good for you.

Simply fascinating…… In their mindboggling variety, their colour, shape, size, zip - no spice is more intriguing than the chillipepper. Chillipeppers are highly individualistic - throw the same seed in different climes and watch the personality change. Even peppers on the same tree can differ from fruit to fruit! Mostly the fiery chillies come from hot dry places and milder ones from cool moist ones. And generally the thin, small tapering ones are sharp, the rounded broad ones milder. Colour is no yardstick whatsoever.

Measuring hotness……. The hotness of chillies is generally measured in Scoville Units.The former developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, ranges potency from 0 for the bell pepper to over 300,000 for the Habaneros. Pure capsaicin measures 15 million. There's a handier chart too rating them on a 0 to10+ point scale.

Paprika is…. It's the dried fruit of the milder variety of capsicum, also called pimento. Brought from Turkey over the land route to Hungary where subsequently specific varieties were developed, paprikas are intrinsic to Hungarian cuisine. Though some paprikas might be spicier, they are generally amiable seasoning quite distinctive in their bright red colour and great flavour. Chilli Traits NameAppearanceFlavourRemarksAnaheimblunt nosed, long and narrow.Clear taste with just a bit o' bite.Char over flame for that tilt in flavour.Birdseyetiny & brightsharp, strong and very hot.An Asian favourite.Pascillalong slender, an unusual dark brown, raisin-textured when dry.Mild, with a smoky flavour. Cayennethin, pointed, wrinkled.Strong and sharp.Tips at the upper end of the popularity scale.Jalapenoblunt, almost oval.The chubbiness conceals a medium-hot flavorful interior.Chipotle when smoke-dried.Distinct meaty flavour.HabaneroYellow-orange, lantern shaped, puffy and wrinkled.Unusual demeanor emblematic of its aroma, very fiery character. Serranosmall, pointed torpedo- like Turns from shiny green to bright red, then yellow. Very hot, sharp & savoury. Poblanogreenish black, tapering triangularly. Mild to hot. Flavourful. Ancho, Mulato in its dried state.Mirasolskyward pointing yellow fruit.Generously diffuses colour and unique flavour.Guajillo when dried. Shiny smooth, red and hot.Jamaican Hotbright red, small , irregular physique. Not quite a thing of beauty. Very hot. Cascabel small, tomato shaped. When dried, a translucent brownish- red with rattling seeds.Moderately hot. Kashmir irchlong and fleshy, wrinkled when dry.Great colour.Mild and flavourful.

India, the land of chillies….. Move over Red Savina, the hottest Habanero, the …. Naga Jolokia is here. This Tezpur chilli has made history with a rating of 855,000 Scoville Units! (Tezpur lies in the state of Assam). It is now confirmed to be the hottest chill n the world. Introduced to India just after the voyage of Vasco-da-Gama the chilli was embraced with a fervour that remains unabated to this day. So embedded it is in Indian cuisine that rare is a kitchen without. Where would the blistering Andhra and Kolhapuri curries be without the chilli? What would the chilli enthusiast do without the lavangi…that tiny flaming bit that sets the mouth afire? What would communities where rice and chappatis are downed with no more than pounded chillies, be without it? And our pickles and chutneys? It's unimaginable. Indian Chillies. Name AreaDescriptionDhan izoram , Manipurscarlet, highly pungentSanna aharashtra, Andhra Pradesh Madhya Pradesh red /reddish hot/very hot Nalchet aharashtra red,very pungent Mundu Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh Yellowish red/scarlet hot/fairly pungent Madras Pari Andhra Pradesh Bright red, hot Tadappally Andhra Pradesh Red, thick mildly pungent Byadagi Karnatakared, pungency low/almost nil Kanthari Kerala, Tamilnadu ivory white, small, highly pungent Jwala Gujarat light red, highly pungent Kashmir irch Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir deep red, fleshy pungency-negligent Hindpur Andhra Pradesh red, very pungent

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Cuisine of a Mystical Land

Snugly nestled in the thickets of Eastern Himalayas lies truly a magical land aptly named the last Shangri-la on Earth. This is Bhutan whose mystique landscape matches wildly with it's cuisine. The people of Dragon Kingdom simply love to eat and they like it hot, very hot. The Bhutanese are passionate about chilli and these fiery little things form a ubiquitous part of every dish, every day. "Without chillies we die" they sin n unison and to prove their words chillies are spread generously all over - on the roadsides, on rooftops and on the courtyards like butter spread on the kadak bread toasts. The huge baskets of chillies at the markets put to shame the bursting pumpkins, white radish, potato, cabbage, cauliflower and beans.The local chilli used here is Capsicum Annum, a fluffy red variety. The smaller Indian variety is also grown and a red and incineratingly hot Nepalese chill s used for pickles. "We Bhutanese, consume chillies like vegetables not as spices", says our host at the hotel City Centre. No wonder then, an average family uses more than three dozens of chillies every day. And they surely believe in starting them young. So the little ones are peppered with small amounts of the fiery drug when they start taking their first steps and soon they become addicted just like their parents. It is little surprise that their courtship with chilli begins with the first rays of the sun. The morning chai- suja, a thick viscous soup made from butter and salt is supplemented with Chilli spiked ezay. Ezay is a snack comprised of chopped chillies, onions, tomatoes and a home made Yak cheese called datshi. When mixed with milk, ezay becomes a heavenly meal that is also offered to important Buddhist Lamas. The national staple diet- Ema Datshi is also a cheese and chilli combination. And any time, anywhere you can freak out on (if you dare) on raw chillies dipped in salt and served with green onions. "If it does not make you sweat, then why ever bother to eat?" they ask. Therefore, if you would like to taste their cuisine, you might want to tell them to tone it down. Another important feature of this exotic cuisine is the use of rice. Five kilograms per head per week is the normal consumption. As this is the only crop cultivated, rice also finds its way in various forms from breakfast to dinner. It's either rice with curry or curry with rice and lots and lots of......... .Yes, you guessed it right. The urban areas including Thimpu, Paro and Phuntsholing use the white rice while the rural population uses the red (with husk) grained variety. Rice based delicacies include Desi- a tasty mixture of white rice, butter, sugar, golden raisins and saffron and Zow - a fried rice made with sugar, butter and oilseeds. These are also the favourites of His Majesty King Jigme Wangchuk and are served on special occasions. In eastern Bhutan, some wheat is cultivated and the staple diet is Puta or wheat noodles. In most families of Southern Bhutan, corn kernels are dried in bamboo shoots and then ground coarsely to make Kharang. This is then added to the leftover curry and made into a Thukpa (porridge) style breakfast. The rice is served in a special tightly woven bamboo bowl called Bangchung made in the Kheng province. This is a lovely souvenir from Bhutan and can be used as a wall decoration. Meat especially Yak meat, is a staple food for the non-vegetarian. Yak is a common sight in every household. Not a single part of the animal is wasted, besides the meat, their milk is made into cheese, even the skin is fried and served as a snack with drinks. The Yak herders come down from the highlands in autumn and sell meat, butter and cheese to villagers in exchange of rice to last them a full year. The average meat an adult Yak yields is 250 to 260 kg. It also produces 1 kg of butter and an equivalent amount of cheese in three to four days. The locals sometimes hang thin strips of yak meat in the courtyard to be dried in the hot sun and store it for use later. "The dried variety is much more delicious", quips a village woman on enquiry. Though they appreciate the pleasure of meat, being a Buddhist country, slaughter of animals is restricted. In Bumthang, a district in eastern Bhutan, slaughter of animals is not allowed at all, however you can eat the meat if the same animal fell off a cliff. What a concession! In the Nepalese dominated northern regions the use of meat is more common. A particularly interesting variety is the preserved Yak haunch. The haunch is wrapped in cloth and kept under cover for two to three months. At celebrations it is taken out and served with a generous helping of chillies with a strong local drink.

The most common preparation of meat is Pa or curry. Large chunks of meat are mixed with lots of vegetables and chillies and boiled for a long time to make a curry. Turmeric or other spices are not used, leaving the curry white. Zhasonpa is prepared in the same manner, except chicken pieces (Zhason) are used instead.

Bhutanese also love Momos, a kind of a dumpling. Though a Tibetan speciality, it has occupied a permanent place in the Bhutanese cuisine. Chicken and Pork Momos are favoured but cheese Momos are the most common. In the interiors of Southern Bhutan, Shel Roti is preferred which is quite different form a chapati. Designed like a ring this is made from rice flour and deep fried in bubbling hot oil. Sugar is sometimes added to make it tastier.

Coming back to Ema Datshi. Here is the recipe in brief if you want to try: To make the cheese, pour boiling water to the yoghurt left in the churn after the butter is removed. Stir gently till it turns into a soft yellow paste, which is then fried with butter and sugar to get the 'Datshi'. Finally, add chilli, salt and cook with the Datshi to make a curry. Sometimes the Datsh s dried for a few more days to make it hard. It is then cut into pieces, stringed and kept over fire for three to four months and this stone hard chewin u s ready. This is what the Bhutanese chew all the time. They say it helps to keep the body warm. We tried but spat it out in no time due to its pungent odour. Repeated persuasion by our guide could not change our opinion even when the temperature fell to -7 degrees. Now, how do they wash down all these hot, spicy delicacies? The answer is simple, either with a drink or with Tea. The Bhutanese are habitual drinkers and refuse to touch any thing else after sun down. The local speciality is Ara a stron reen liquor, made from any grain cultivated in the region either rice, wheat or barley. In traditional feasts, an unusual snack is offered. Butter is heated with egg and Ara is poured over the whole offering. In the Kheng region, raw meat is served with drinks and on special occasions, the whole village participates in the feast. In Bumthang, a rare tea is made from a parasitic plant Neshing Jurma, that grows on Oak trees. This vanilla scented heady tea can convert even the most hard core critic. In most Bhutanese homes tea or liquor may be served as a starter and at the end too, since they do not eat desserts. Doma or betel nut is also frequently consumed. Unlike Pan, it consists of only the leaf, lime and nut and they swallow the juice. Offering of Doma between teenagers is considered as a sign of affection. These days however, the Urban Bhutanese are tilting towards the Western type of food and even the rural population is not interested in this laborious process. But in festivals, weddings and other traditional gatherings the Bhutanese will always opt for the cuisine of the land. by Monideepa Banerjee

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


A Cheese Story

La Ferme Cheese is a small scale enterprise, a country farm started in 1988, to experiment and develop a line of dairy products in Auroville, Pondicherry. Modern as well as traditional techniques and methods have been brought in and adapted to the peculiar conditions of this South Indian environment and culture, with an interest to satisfy both Western and Indian tastes. Today it employs eighteen workers and processes an average of 600 to 800 litres of milk, producing roughly 100 kg a day of quite a variety of fresh and seasoned cheeses as well as yoghurt, ice cream, packed milk etc. The milk comes from La Ferme's own dairy and from farmers in the surrounding villages. The bulk of the production is sold in Auroville itself at the "Pour Tous" shop but there are also some sales outlets in Pondicherry and Chennai. They will also send anywhere in India by courier service. Their cheese contains only all natural whole cow milk, salt, vegetarian enzymes and fermenting cultures. This is genuine traditional cheese, a refined gourmet product, not processed and mixed with preservatives, artificial flavours, colours or emulsifiers as in the mass produced varieties. Furthermore their pasteurisation and cooking process are done with alternative Bio-gas energy as an answer to their ecological concerns for the environment. Interview with Benny - Cheese maker

I came to India because of the Auroville project and took up my former activity, but paradoxically it was here in Auroville that I learned to make other European cheese types. In Europe this way of working together does not quite exist, especially not in cheese making, Europeans are more individualistic. This is a great advantage we have here to make good farm cheese with traditional hand made techniques that invariably yields high quality cheeses with rich tastes and unique flavors. In the west over-strict hygiene rules and broad industrialisation have normalised the subtle differences of great tasting traditional cheeses and it becomes increasingly difficult and costly to find good varieties. The strive for perfection is a stron deal in Auroville, applicable to everythin n life. But to apply it to Farm cheese makin s more difficult here as we are coping with ever-fluctuating Natural elements. As for my former specialisation - goat cheese production, there could be a tremendous possibility for development in India, but it would need an equally tremendous input of energy to improve conditions. For instance: the increase of the milk production per goat would demand the introduction of other breeds. But there too, one day Auroville might be a pioneer to develop this activity. FRESH CHEESE (all 280 Rs/Kg) Fresh cheese is made only upon order and needs 24 to 48 hours of processing. They have a short shelf life of one to two weeks and can stand a maximum of 36 hours transportation period in the cooler season. Shipment of this cheese in the hot season is not advisable although it has been done successfully in the past but at the risk of the customer. Mozzarella - Italian variety-very mild tasting, fresh white cheese especially for melting on pizzas and other cheese covered dishes. Feta - Greek variety of white fresh salty/sour cheese, specially for mixin n raw salad or cooked in salty pastry and vegetable dishes. Philadelphia herbs and spice - Spread cheese with garlic and herbs. Ricotta - Fresh full cream cheese, excellent sweetened, ideal for baking recipes, spread preparations and as thickener in sauces. SEASONED CHEESE (CHEDDAR STYLE) :

Seasoned for a period of a few weeks to a few months in a cool protected storage room, this variety is delicious eaten as an after meal cheese platter in the French fashion, for snacks, in sandwiches, melted on pizzas, bread, chappatis, vegetable casseroles and any oven baked dishes. Do not bake this cheese on top of preparations for more than a few minutes, just enough to give them their appetisin elted consistence and wonderful smells. If presented as a "Cheese platter" they should stand for some time at room temperature before served and eaten. Only in this condition, not chilled, will they give their full and characteristic flavours. Slight variations in the taste and texture of La Ferme cheeses are to be expected since they use hand made - country farm – manufacturin ethods and not mechanised technology. They tend to suffer less from transportation and can be shipped all the year through. Although each of these have their specific taste and characteristics that is unlike any other cheese in the world, some comparisions are mentioned: Lofabu is a 2 to 3 months old cheese with a mild nutty flavor that pleases most palates, children or connoisseurs, Indians or Westerners all love this cheese that can be used for a wide range of purposes like melting on pizzas or oven baked dishes, cocktails, snacks, salads, salty pastry, sandwiches, cheese platter, melting on dishes, etc... (Could be compared to soft/creamy Dutch cheese like Edam or Raclette cheese.) Price : Rs 390 / kg Cheddar is a 3 months old cheese with a firm texture and a more pronounced taste ideal for cheese platter, salads, cocktail, snacks. Price : Rs 440 / kg Jeera Cheese is a lofabu seasoned with cumin seeds and is a delicious appetizer. Best for cocktails, cheese platter, melting on dishes.. Price : Rs 390 / kg Swissly is a 2 months old cheese with the characteristic strong flavor of raw milk cheeses and is suitable for about the same purposes as the Lofabu. (Could be compared to Tilsit or a sharp Pyrennee.) Price : Rs 390 / kg Auroblochon is a 12 months old plasticoated cheese with a very strong and piquant taste that will be enjoyed only by people who like this kind of cheese. The plasticoat film has to be peeled off before eating. Best for cheese platter, melting on dishes. ( Could be compared to a soft/creamy young Parmesan/Grana type. Can't be grated only chopped or sliced !) Price : Rs 440 / kg The prices above are subjected to 10% tax and packing/forwarding charges will be extra. The cheese is sent through Professional courier or any other courier service if specified and payment by advance cheque.ABOUT MOULDS AND FUNGUSThey are highly desirable as they give cheeses their distinct flavours. they are natural ferments in all cheeses whether you see them or not and are known to be helpful in digestion. If moulds develops on cheese in your fridge it doesn't spoil and you can simply scrape it away if you don't like it, as it is all a matter of taste and appetizing look. BON APPETIT ! LA FERME CHEESE 605101 AUROVILLEPh : 0413 622212 Fax : 0413 622274 E-mail : olivier@auroville.org.in If you wish to visit them, kindly call first.Guided visits are possible in the afternoons only

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Our Italian Cuisine Expert- Paola Sambruna

Our Italian Cuisine Expert- Paola SambrunaI was born in Milan, Northern Italy, in 1967. I used to live in a town in the northern outskirts of Milan: Cinisello. It is one of the many towns surrounding big cities where inhabitants just sleep, and spendmost of their time in schools, offices, shops, downtown. Milan is the capital of Lombardy: it is the second biggest town in Italy after Rome, its capital. In Milan there are all the things you can find in a big town: museums, galleries, ancient cathedral and churches, theatres, lots of shops and the only Italian Stock exchange: that's why they say Milan is the capital of Italian business and economics. Milan is nearly 50 km far from the Swiss border, and also quite near France, Austria, and southern Germany, so travelling and exchanges are really easy. ot my degree at the Catholic University of Milan, in Foreign Languages and Literature (English and Russian). Now, since ot married, I live in a small town halfway between Milan and Pavia, south of Milan. I work in an investment bank in the very heart of Milan (and I don't like it!). I used to practice some sports, but now that I have very little time, so I just take Bharata Natyam lessons, here in Milan, once a week. My other hobbies are first of all cooking, and then if I have time (that is almost "never"...!) I like reading, cross-stitching, playing the piano, and drivin y bike in the countryside.How and when did ake friends with cookery? My mother cooks very well, and my grandmothers used to. Children imitate adults, and cookin s like a game: you handle food, with or without tools, you can wash it, cut it, pound it, mix it, knead it, spread it; moreover, all the senses are involved, not only sight and touch, but also taste and smell, and sometime hear. What an experience! Such different things: round, square, flat, thick, soft, hard... Master, transform and create something to eat! Put your fantasy to work and create something that goes beyond self satisfaction: make people happy, nourish them! Could a child resist to all this? I don't think so... and I did not!My very first dish prepared all on my own were some canapés: salt crackers with a slice of cheese, a slice of tomato, some salt and a pinch of oregano on the top of them. I thought I had discovered a brand new dish, I felt I was setting up a revolution in Italian cookery, but I had just discovered one of the classic matches of Italian cookery: cheese, tomato and oregano, just like a "pizza"!From then on, I became more and more interested in Italian cuisine and also in finding out new recipes from all over the world. ot acquainted with Indian cuisine in 1986 in a take-away in England: the aroma was so appealing that I decided to try something new. It was a totally positive experience: the smells, the colours, the taste... all was so fascinating and exciting. I decided to go "deeper" and the Internet has really been helping a lot, in my search for new recipes. Italy has so many different regional cuisines, and India, such a huge country in comparison, offers even more. In the last ten years more books about foreign cooking have appeared in bookshops, and more restaurants.Unluckily most girls nowadays can't cook or do not have any interest in it. Every country, every people, have their own recipes and I think that they should not be forgotten or forsaken. So, I could match my interest for foreign languages with my interest for cookery: to get to know a foreign culture you have to consider all the aspects, and food is a tradition that widens one's horizons, for a more open-minded world.I present for my fellow viewers of Edibleindia.com some of my favourite recipes with a short introduction to the region. Please keep checking from time to time as I add more delicacies from the 20 provinces of Italy.1] Risotto Alla Milanese Milan (as above)2] Cotolette Alla Valdostana Aosta Valley3] Vitello Tonnato Piedmont4] Risi E Bisi Veneto5] Torta d ele e papavero Trentino-Alto Adige6] Giambars/Brodetto alla Gradese Friuli Venezia Giulia7] Pesto alla Genovese Liguria

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Wine and Pizza

Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day or 350 slices per second. But all too often wine with pizza is overlooked in favor of beer or soda, says Leslie Sbrocco, author of the upcoming book, The Women's Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine, available October 2003. As a testament to wine's versatility, Sbrocco recently paired wines with America's favorite pizzas for October National Pizza Month.

"What we found is that wine and pizza are a perfect marriage of flavors. From vegetarian-topped pizzas to pepperoni, both red and white wine were great choices with the pizzas we tasted because wine pairs so well with pizza's main ingredient-cheese," says Sbrocco. Pizza selections tasted were based on America's favorite pizza toppings according to the National Association of Pizza Operators. As a wine educator and NYTimes.com wine columnist, Sbrocco spreads the word that wine should not be intimidating. In fact she recommends stocking your shelves with wine by buying bottles of affordable reds and whites to have on hand any day of the week. "The biggest thing that people need to remember is that wine - just like food - is one of life's simple pleasures to share with family and friends". Sbrocco dishes out the following tips to help get beyond their fear of wine: Don't Rule Out Leftovers - Just like pizza, wine can stay fresh for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Trust Your Gut - Like anchovies versus pepperoni, it all boils down to personal preference. Drink what you like, red or white, with the foods that you like. Follow the 15-Minute Rule - Take white wine out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving and put red wine in the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving. Think TV, Dinner and Wine - Don't feel like breaking out the stemmed wine glass for pizza and Monday Night Football? Use a tumbler - any glass is a wine glass. Stock Your Shelves - You don't need a fancy wine cellar to keep several of your favorite wines on hand. Just store the bottles in a spot away from heat and light. FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPINGS - WINE PAIRINGCheese Full and toasty Chardonnay holds up to the mouth-filling and roasted tomato flavor of the pizza sauce and richness of the cheese. The acidity of a light Beaujolais serves as a foil for this pizza's cheesiness. A classic Chiant s also a great choice. For an American alternative try Sangiovese, named for the grape used to make Chianti. Pepperoni The fresh tartness of a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris (they are different names for wines made from the same grape) puts out the fire of the zesty pepperoni and cleanses the palate. A mild, less herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc will also do the trick. A refreshingly cold glass of White Zinfandel is delicious with this pizza, as its sweetness tempers the spicy pepperoni. Sausage, mushroom, and onion A full-bodied Chardonnay holds up to the sausage and the mushrooms, while pairing perfectly with the sweetness of the onions. A Zinfandel or Syrah (called Shiraz in Australia) has just the right fullness and zip to complement the pizza's hearty sausage and earthy mushrooms. Vegetarian - green pepper, fresh tomato, black olives, mushrooms, onions The herbaceous quality of Sauvignon Blanc works perfectly with the pizza's green pepper and mushrooms. Pinot Noir is a red wine that is light enough not to overpower the pizza loaded with veggies. The wine's earthiness is an added bonus, as it complements the mushrooms on the pizza. Hawaiian- pineapple and ham/baconWine with a Hawaiian pizza? Absolutely! Sauvignon Blanc is fantastic with this pizza. Its acidity complements the pineapple and is a delicious counterpoint for the smoky ham. The fruitiness of a light Beaujolais complements the fruity pineapple but doesn't diminish its tartness. An off-dry (just slightly sweet) Riesling, served well chilled, offsets the salty ham and cheese while echoing the fruity aspect of the pineapple. Try one from New York, Washington State or Germany.

Leslie Sbrocco is a wine writer, reviewer and educator based in Petaluma, California. In addition to writing for wineanswers.com, Leslie's weekly wine picks are published on NYTimes.com and she is at work on her first book geared towards the majority of wine consumers - women. You can also see her on "Evenin agazine," a lifestyle television show airing on San Francisco's CBS affiliate. Leslie's focus is presenting entertaining wine, food and travel tips with the busy consumer in mind. Article used with permission of wineanswers.com

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


Fine Cooking Secrets

Even the busiest host or the most amateur cook can make the holidays a spectacular culinary success by transforming ordinary dishes into special treats, according to Martha Holmberg, editor of Taunton's Fine Cookin agazine.Fine Cooking, the fastest-selling food magazine on the newsstands today, gives readers expert know-how on how to prepare delicious food such as make- ahead mocha souffle that can be made and frozen for up to two weeks in advance to save on time without sacrificing taste, tips on how to avoid problems, and the confidence to try new recipes whether they want to spend a little or a lot of time cooking."We give people the secrets to makin reat meals and home-baked treasures with time-saving tips so they can concentrate on having fun in the kitchen and enjoying their guests," she says. "Creating wonderful dishes doesn't have to mean complex recipes or intense labor."Holmberg offers these tips and recipes for a simply spectacular, hassle-free holiday:Holiday Tips To make almost any dessert look elegant, take plain whipped cream to new heights by adding flavor, color and texture. Experiment by flavoring cream with extracts, spirits and syrups, by foldin n fruit purees, or by sprinkling with chocolate shavings, citrus zest, nuts and crushed candies and garnish with mint or edible flowers. (See recipes below) Few home cooks realize that some seemingly delicate souffles can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer for as much as one month without sacrificing taste or appearance. The busy host can easily pop the thawed dish into the oven while guests are finishing their meals. (See recipe below for Mocha Souffles.) Dress up the holidays by making sophisticated versions of apple, pumpkin and pecan pies. Give their appearance a new twist rather than fiddling with the taste your family demands each year by decorating the rims or creating patterns on top of pies with pastry cutouts such as fall leaves. Roll pastry dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut designs 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide or find a leafy cookie cutter. Use the dull edge of a paring knife to indent the cutouts with thin lines resembling leaf veins. Every year, home bakers struggle to figure out what went wrong with their dishes, especially pie crusts. If the crust is tough like cardboard and shrinks during baking, there could be too much gluten in the mix. Gluten is formed when you add water to flour and is essential for baked goods, but pie crusts should have just enough to bind it together. Try working the butter, lard or shortenin ore thoroughly to the flour so that less gluten is able to form. Other remedies call for adding sugar or small amounts of vinegar to bind with the flour before adding water. Homemade tarts, cakes, pies, cookies and candies make wonderful gifts especially if you can find clever ways to wrap them. Haunt flea markets and consignment shops for vintage tins, canisters and ceramic planters. Think creatively when in the kitchenware department too. Bamboo steamers, canning jars and even measuring cups can make attractive and useful carriers. Elegant Whipped CreamWhipped cream can transform a dessert into something special by spending just a few minutes creating custom flavors. Experiment with extracts such as vanilla, almond and peppermint or spirits such as brandy, rum and bourbon to get the right taste for your dessert. You can also try adding honey, maple syrup or molasses and foldin n melted chocolate, fruit purees or finely crushed coffee. Brown-sugar Brandy Cream:Combine 3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream with 2 packed tablespoons dark brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon brandy or rum. Whip until blended and the cream forms soft peaks that hold a shape. Chocolate Whipped Cream:Melt 2 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate. Whip 3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream with 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and small pinch of salt until it forms very soft peaks. By hand, whisk in the melted chocolate until blended and the cream forms soft peaks that hold a shape. Fruit Cream:Whip 3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream to soft peaks. Fold in 1/2 cup lightly sweetened pureed and strained fresh or frozen fruit (mangos and berries work well; start with about 1 cup). Whisk a bit until the cream holds a shape. Individual Mocha SoufflesYields 6 souffles

3 oz (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into pieces; more for the ramekins Granulated sugar for dusting 3 tbsp dark rum, brandy, Grand Marnier, or water (use half plus 11/2 tbsp of water if baking the same day as preparing) 11/2 tsp instant coffee granules 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1/4 tsp table salt 3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature 3 oz (3/4 cup) confectioners' sugar Lightly butter six 6-ounce ramekins and dust with granulated sugar, tapping out excess. Set the ramekins on a small baking sheet.Stir together the liquor or water and the instant coffee. Set aside and stir occasionally until the coffee is dissolved. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave. Remove from the heat and whisk until glossy and smooth. Stir in the coffee mixture and the salt. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. Add about one-third of the confectioners' sugar and whisk until well blended and smooth. Set aside.In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer or medium-high speed until they're very foamy and they're just beginning to hold soft peaks. Increase the speed to high and gradually sprinkle in the remaining confectioners' sugar. Continue beating until the peaks are firm and glossy. Spoon about one-quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture and whisk until blended. Add the remaining whites and gently fold the n until just blended. Pour evenly into prepared ramekins (the mixture will almost completely fill them).If you want to bake the souffles within 24 hours, refrigerate them. (To refrigerate: Chill for about 30 minutes, and then cover in plastic and return to the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.) If you want to hold them longer, freeze uncovered for 20 minutes, then wrap each ramekin well in plastic and freeze for up to two weeks.To bake straight from the refrigerator: Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Unwrap the ramekins, set them on a baking sheet, and bake until they're puffed and risen about one inch above the ramekin, about 15 minutes. The top will be slightly sunken in the center; consider it a place to pop in a few berries or a dollop of whipped cream. Remove the souffles from the oven and serve immediately.To bake from the freezer: Unwrap the ramekins and set on a small baking sheet or jellyroll pan. Let them sit for 20 minutes while heating the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake on the baking sheet until puffed and risen about one inch above the ramekin, 18 minutes. Remove the souffles from the oven and serve immediately.

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja


When it comes to eating, location is the most important ingredient

It's not WHAT you eat but WHERE you eat that makes the real difference to our culinary experiences. A well prepared Chole Bhatura, Tandoori Chicken, or a Dosa should taste more or less the same whether it is at a roadside dhaba, stall or a Luxury Hotel, right? Not so according to researchers at Bournemouth University; location certainly makes all the difference to the acceptability and enjoyment of the food we eat.For the study, a dish of Chicken a la King and Rice was prepared centrally usin dentical ingredients to a standard recipe but served in 10 different settings ranging from a residential home for the elderly to a 4-star restaurant. Each meal was served in a way deemed appropriate for the surroundings with diners asked to rate the acceptability of the experience. In particular, the respondents were asked about the taste, texture, appearance and toughness of their meals.

For appearance, ratings from a Private boarding school were the lowest with ratings from the University training restaurant, a 4-star restaurant and a Day care centre coming the highest. For taste, both of the restaurants rated the highest and a Freshman's buffet the lowest. And for texture, the Private boarding school and Army training camp were the lowest whilst the restaurants and a Private party were the highest. "The results show that in many cases the environment is far more important than the food," says Professor John Edwards, Head of the Centre. "Three different classes of variables contribute to our appreciation of food - those related to the food itself, those related to ourselves and those related to the eating location and situation."We know a lot about the variables related to food since these are part of produce development and supported by the technologies related to food science and technology," Prof Edwards continues. "Next well-known are the variables related to ourselves, drawing fro any fields including psychology and physiology. "But we know even less about the eating situation until now and we're convinced, on the back of this study, that location contributes significantly to our acceptance of food and, most importantly, to our enjoyment of the eating experience."As far as I am concerned I prefer Dhaba food!Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja

Suresh Hinduja