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  1. From Time out Mumbai 2004 Plate tectonics We happily order contemporary European, Italian, even Japanese food. So why aren’t we thinking out of the kadhai with Indian cuisine too? asks Rachel Lopez. The next time you’re at an Indian restaurant ordering a platter of reshmi tikka, mopping it up butter chicken gravy with a garlic naan or spooning dal tadka from a metal bowl over your share of jeera rice, think about what your well-travelled, free-spending, trend-savvy counterparts in other cities are doing. If they’re in New York restaurants like Devi or Tabla, they’re probably being served crunchy bhindi fry as a pre-dinner snack, a square pyramid of sukkha bhel on clear glass plate and drops of meetha and teekha chutney on each side as an appetiser-for-one, having dal as soup, and a tandoori steak between two triangles of naan as a sandwich. In London restaurants like Amaya, Benares, Cinammon Club or Zaika and they’re probably getting their ragda pattice as three aloo tikkis stacked over a little puddle of ragda on plate criss-crossed with trails of tamarind sauce. They’re ordering a lamb kebab starter that’s actually a single minced-mutton ball balanced on a dab of yoghurt and topped with another dab of chutney. They’re getting duck, prawn and chicken in the same dish (but cooked to different styles and served in a segregated glass plate as a tasting portion), enjoying pao bhaji as a main course (with a burger-bottom of spiced pao topped with bhaji and onion garnish) and getting their fish-curry-rice in a single white plate (featuring a cutlet of rice topped with curry and filets balancing on the whole affair). Restaurants in cities as far apart as Mauritius, Moscow, Toronto and Dubai are offering sophisticated four-course Indian meals with nary a kadhai, oily tadka or sharing-portion of biryani in sight So much for India being in sync with international dining trends. While our cuisine is making big leaps abroad, it seems to have stagnated in the country of origin. Even Indian restaurants advertising contemporary or modern Indian fare are, for the most part, serving light fusion, wary of venturing further. Khana Sutra, which opened at Kolkata’s new Chrome hotel in November, claims to be the India’s first restaurant serving nouvelle Indian cuisine. But instead of the one-person servings, lighter sauces, clearer flavours, short menus and artful presentation so characteristic of the French nouvelle cuisine movement of the 1970s, KhanaSutra simply updates regular restaurant khana. Generic green, yellow and red gravies are dispensed with and the tandoori betki, a popular main course, is served whole, but their signature dal still comes in a big bowl and every one ladles out their share. “The new Indian middle class isn’t as curious and open to new ideas as everybody would like to believe,” said Antanu Chowdhury, Chrome’s F&B executive and the man behind KhanaSutra. “But there is potential for change.” The rest of India’s food industry desperately believes that too. “May be we wanted to eat the way we have eaten all our lives and that is why it’s taking time, but I do not feel people are reluctant,” said Hemant Oberoi, executive chef for the Taj group, who opened Varq, a contemporary Indian restaurant in Delhi in 2008. “There’s life beyond tikka, makhani and biryani in our cuisine.” The bestsellers on the menu include martaban ka meat (lightly spiced lamb with onions and tomatoes) and Varqi crab (a tower of crabmeat sandwiched between crisps of filo dough, topped with a prawn and garnished with chive, vinegar, chilli and a red chilli flower). Suresh Hinduja, a food consultant who runs GourmetIndia, India’s oldest and perhaps most respected food forums, in Bangalore believes that Indians “deserve better than standard plating and presentation”. But he lists several reasons for its failure to take off in India, the most obvious of which is the way Indians view their own cuisine. “Its comfort food for us,” he said. “Recipes and dining styles were all invented in our villages so as we move to cities, the last thing we want to do is abandon our past by changing the food.” We’re wary of exoticising what is familiar. We’re scared of fixing with what ain’t broke. We like to share and we’re reluctant to use forks and knives for food we so proudly eat with our fingers. We’re also not likely to pay higher prices for what is essentially the same food, plated prettily in single portions and not subsidised by family-size quantities. Meals for two at Varq are a steep Rs 4,600 and the tasting menu at Devi, New York is $85 per head, both not including drinks. Food columnist Javed Gaya, who makes frequent trips abroad, recalls seeing “plenty of Indians” forking out 60 pounds for nouvelle Indian food at London’s Amaya. But Indians abroad aren’t the same as Indians in India. We may eat out several times a week and be familiar with sashimi, truffle oil and carpaccio, but it will be a while before we can pay Rs 1,000 for vegetable koftas without thinking of how our mums can make it for less. “We’ll pay Rs 1,000 for something only if it is completely foreign,” said Hinduja. In the time it takes for Indian diners to accept that style is substance with nouvelle Indian food, chefs will do well to keep busy. Nouvelle menus take time to develop because they are so dependent on the chef’s imagination. “I took almost five years to conceive the idea [of Varq], that too in a city of Indian food foodies,” said Oberoi. “At times my own colleagues thought it will not work.” Gaya believes that the chain of command at five-star hotels are too complicated to let chefs develop menus independently and there aren’t enough stand-alone places willing to make the big leap. Indian restaurants today are also in a difficult situation, believes Hinduja. “It will be tough for European or Indian restaurants to introduce nouvelle Indian because [customer] expectations there are different,” he said. “We need a whole new category.” He slots nouvelle Indian restaurants into three grades: gentle (the slightly tweaked food at Devi), mid-way (the slightly more elaborate food of Benares) and radical (Debu’s in Toronto, which served a single main course of Mughlai-style chicken with fried quail egg, panseared quail with cardamom flavoured ground caribou and veg kathi roll with chicken vindaloo for Valentine’s Day). “We’ll have to start at the gentlest,” he said. Until then, there’s new hope in Juhu’s Azok. The menu has been developed by Vineet Bhatia, whose Michelin stars (two) and restaurants (in London, Mauritius, Los Angeles, Dubai, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Moscow) may just give local diners the confidence to try something new. Bhatia calls his food modern Indian cuisine – dishes that “look European, but feel Indian if you eat with your eyes closed”. Azok serves blue-cheese and dhaniya naans, banana cakes dusted with cumin, wasabi flavoured kulfi, and a Punjabi Penne: red chicken tikka with asparagus and penne in a makhni sauce. Their main courses come plated and people still ask how many it can serve, but the kitchen is accommodating. It’s willing to do the old one-by-two and plate them separately. Maybe nouvelle Indian just needs a little push. Codified classical cuisine, with its set proportions and combinations, was a reaction to the ancient regime and was sparked off by the French Revolution. Nouvelle cuisine, like similar movements in theatre, film and literature, was born out of Sorbonne’s student revolution in the late 1960s. Could it be that we’re happy enough with our bowls of gravy and there’s nothing to protest?
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  2. To continue, how is it not possible to understand the constant, and very close interaction between Iran and that ancient India? Do you realize that citrus from the SAME HIMALAYAN FOOTHILLS, including Assam, went to Iran, and became a celebrated ritual fruit for the Jews? Where do you suppose the word "magic" comes from and how is it related to this topic? Do you realize how powerfully even later sufis were influenced by the Indic sphere of influence? Why not read the Gospel of St. John with some attention? As an IT expert, what have you done to grow your knowledge of Panini's Shiva Sutrani? Please read On the Architecture of Panini's Grammar | Paul Kiparsky - Academia.edu http://www.academia.edu/3082019/On_the_Architecture_of_Paninis_Grammar When Indians are so contemptuous and ignorant of their own heritage, why handle such people with kid gloves? Eevry last thing we know, including cleaning our bums, had to have originated from elsewhere, eh? What a miracle we also did not have to learn reproduction from our holy mentors in Central Asia, or did we? Perhaps that lies behind the degraded individuals, degraded in mind and morals, that come out of modern Bangabhumi! What about eggplant, cucumber, a host of legumes, including mung, and the very term khichari, mash-khichari, today widely found in Central Asian languages? Not one of these came from India, and Indians were such dumb asses that they could not figure out how to cook with self-evident combinations until they had been raped, desecrated, and crushed into subjugation? Read Nala's Story and try to grasp the sophistication of the food scene being described. I have not found a single food writer from India even latch on to this extraordinary primary source, the vaantaabhojis, eaters of regurgitated rubbish, literally, vomit-eaters. So, Iran probably got its long-grained basmati via India, and its plump bulu-type rices from the Turkish lands, with an origin in China. Biryani, in Iran, Syria, balochistan has not a thing to do with rice. Special earth ovens are constructed and racks of fowl, or whole sheep are inserted, covered and carefully cooked. They are then hung up, and pieces, as preferred by customers, or consumers, are cut off and refried in its own residual grease on the spot. ALWAYS served with wheaten bread. THis is BIRYAAN, meaning, fried [meat]. How on earth does this dish become the forerunner of the palAnna type dish we know today? Let me tell you how: I inherited a knife from my great-grandfather, except my grandad changed the blade and my father the handle! That is how contrived and plainly idiotic tour de force is employed to make biriyani a gift from conqueror. The Indian mind is never so happy as when licking the boots of powerful masters. So it would have to take Mughals, to create meat and rice dishes, eh? No possibility of having some cooked meats in gravy, well known in ancient India, to be mixed in with some cooked or parcooked rice, eh? How many times have you fried up remnants of a mutton curry or korma, or chicken, or shrimp, with some leftover rice? if you had that intelligence and creativity, why deny the same for your distant forefathers? For a group who were havily into legumes and wheat dough, how extraordinarily difficult would it be to wrap lentil mash, or even meat, a highly popular food [read the Rksamhita, ever?] into a sheet of flattened dough and either boil, steam and fry it? DO we need to be taught how to brush our teeth with those with no such history? Have you read the works of Chinese pilgrims to India, and of the Tibetans? They have much of interest on how food was cooked, how personal hygiene maintained. No pieces of brick or rock, changed in type from summer to winter, ever figured here. So why not do what devout chelas do, adopt the gurvaamnaya in toto? Why leave out the rocks, eh? I find it beyond disgusting that such garbage should be repeatedly endless, so that falsehood become the gospel truth. Indians were worthless filth, and had to be civilized by waves of conquerors, eh? I rather admire the Bhojpuri batman who resigned his job [an apocryphal tale, I suppose] when he was outraged by his boss wanting "sauce"! Arre yaar, aaj saas ko mang rahein hain, kya kal jodu ko bhi mangwayenge? Not like our present craven crowd, happy to surrender not just saas, and jodu, but their entire body and soul to the service of evil. Try to study the different paths of evolution of Mughal and Afghan cuisines, in your own Bangabhumi. Try to think, try to reason, and not communicate garbage through unstudied enthusiasm. If I ask you what were the crucial differences, how they exist currently in Bangabhumi, and why is Bangabhumi being brought up in the context of Mughal and Afghan cooking, what would you reply? When you can make thoughtful presentations of these topics to a wide and well-informed audience, only then has such expositions validity. I am a mere Hindu fascist, so please ignore whatever this sub-human has to say.
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  3. Please allow me to offer an alternative to your account since I feel very strongly about this subject, specifically to transfer the credit for Indian cooking styles, to external influences. You are MOST WELCOME to question my conclusions, AFTER you have done the necessary homework as I have. Perhaps I am repeating material already written by me in earlier times, but so be it. Like you, I, too, have spent an enormous amount of time to research this topic. :Let us start with the origins of rice, aromatic rice, and the etymology of rice/meat dishes, culminating in "biryani" as we now know it. Rice might have been domesticated in both the Indic and the Sinic centers of plant domestication. This is an area of professional interest for me, and you may read or contact Prof. Susan McCouch at Cornell University, to verify or dispute my assertions. Some say that the origins of the aromatic gene, in rice, had a single origin in the Chinese center, while others will dispute that. However, there is little doubt that in India, the fragrance or aroma gene is most pronounced in rices that have evolved along the arc of the Himalayas from Assam, through UP to Dehra Dun and Jammu. All other aromatic rices in India are thought to have derived from these northern sources. The basmati or aroma gene presents itself in 3 types of rices in India: the long grained basmati, the medium grained basmati, and the mini-grained basmati In Assam we have the esteemed KETAKI, in Bangabhumi, the Sitabhog, Gobindobhog, Kalojeere, all mini types, in UP the medium grained Vishnubhog, and the long grained in the Dun Valley and Jammu. Each of these types have given rise to their own cooking methods and regional preferences. In East Bengal, to this day, the preferred biryani rice, called polao chaul, is the small/mini grained type, despite its greater stickiness. In Rarhi cooking, this same min basmati is cooked into ritual chitranna or gRtodona by first soaking, drying on cloth, and then gently sauteeing in ghee, along with whole spices. Note that NO onion or garlic enters this ritual cookery. In the UP region, we have the Vishnu bhog cooked with ripe mango and creamy fluids of choice to create a version of the kacchi-kacchi biryani, which has an ancient history in India. Simply because Achaya cannot understand classical references well enough, or is an unspeakable fool, along with Vir Sanghvi, in many or most of his conclusions is NOT my fault. I am a vaidika, steeped in the language and culture of Bharatvarsha. Please refer to the tale of Raja Nala. In earlier times, upon awakening, Raja Nala, Yudhisthira, Mother Janaki and Sri Krishna Vasudeva were the 4 names that were prAtaH smaraNiiya; to be recalled in a conscious manner. This includes the apprehension, prajnanam, of their works and deeds, caritam. Nala Raja had taken a keen interest in a particular type of cookery, when yet a king. He had learned from his palace cook the fine and difficult art of cooking "kacchi-Kacchi biryani" where raw meats, etc. were placed all together in the same pot and made ot come out perfect. When enslaved, Nala used his cooking skills to ingratiate himself with higher and higher levels of officials, until at last he landed himself in the court of the very ruler who had usurped his throne, and recovered his just title. Please carefully read the Nalopakhyan in the Mahabharata, and hopefully, in a translation created by worthwhile scholars, not Debroy!! You appear to be a bangasantana, and probably can access the many fine Bangala translations, or even go to the Original, and try to understand what is being said. In Bangala, we say, Porer mukhe jhAl khaowa keno?" Why taste the pungency of something hot via the mouth of another, when your own mouth should suffice. You will undoubtedly have experienced enough Sanskrit pedagogy in life to know that polao, pilaf, pilau, etc. all derive from the Sanskrit, even Vedic, pala + anna = palAnna; pala = meat, anna = food, but here briihi and shAlii dhAnya, rice, transplanted rice!! Would you be so obtuse as Achaya and such idiots to conclude that the very meat-loving ancestors of ours were so stupid and craven that they could not think to cook together, rice, meat, other grains, ghee, all in the same pot? The very term haviShyAnna, which you might today observe upon the death of near relatives, clearly indicates rice, ghee and a few selected vegetables to be cooked TOGETHER IN THE SAME POT, and eaten for ritual events. So, it these clownish ancestors of ours, who composed some of the world's earliest spiritual literature, were just some ragged binch of kaffirs, who did not know which way was up? How degraded and mentally do y your fellow modern Bangalis need to be, to become so craven and so utterly ignorant? Do you seriously understand that one of the FIRST RICES reaching Iran was the java-type tropical ecotype of Oryza japonica, which should more correctly be termed Oryza sinensis. These were fat, shortish grains to this day preferred in the polos of Central Asia, across which this rice migrated towards Iran. But Iran had very ancient connections with its sister culture in India, sharing language and much else. Note that the major center of gravity of Aryan culture was AFGHANISTAN, very gradually moving east towards the Ganga, and then, Bangabhumi, Assam, etc. Please carefully read the Mahabharata where you will find out who those ancient KAAMBOJAs were, and who it was that Srimat Bhishma was referring to when he was reading out his list of places from which they would need to procure different elements of their fighting forces. From Afghanistan, came the horse riders, from the Shakas [Scythians] came the bowmen, well-known even during Alexander's invasion, and the Kambojas were fierce warriors, the easternmost of the iranian tribes that bordered the Indo-Iranian lands. Do you appreciate that the common lingua franca was just called bhAShA, with its regional variants that can still be traced today from those earliest times? That the mother of the Prophet Zarathushtra was named RbhA, a vedic seer, or rShi? Do you appreciate that those familiar with the Vedic language, termed chandas, easily can read and understand the OLD PERSIAN in which the earliest Zoroastrian scriptures were composed? DO you realize the cognates between ZARD and HARI, golden, radiant, bright green, effulgent with radiance? Zhairi <-> Hari, Zhairi -> Zard. How would you like someone completely illiterate in IT lecturing you about what IT should be, become, etc.? Insufferable, no? That is how I feel when I read Achaya, the sole fool, writing about Indian food history. Did you know that some while, our Lalua, snapped, yeh IT-FiTi kya bakwas hai? I.e. he did not know the term IT, so that very fact made it bakwas. You can check the public record on this. That is how I feel when people spout off about biryani, sambusak, paneer, yoghurt and the rest.
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  4. Some, or even many, would question your advice to fry the rice and then cook it in liquid. Such procedures might be followed for a range of pulaos, common to West Bengal, but not anywhere else that I know of! Are you sure you are really able to cook biryani, from raw meat + raw, soaked rice all in one pot together, to raw meat layered with rice, or with cooked korma layered with almost-cooked rice? Each of these 3 styles have particular names, and none of them is cooked as per your prescriptions of the "perfect biryani"? Even the Awadhi "biryani" so popular in Kolkata is prepared from a stew of meat and almost-cooked plain rice. I am sorry that what you cook will not ever qualify for a "biryani" [North Indian] in my book. It is probably delicious in its own right, but for various classes of biryani, the art is in manipulating fat, water, heat, and much else to arrive at a perfect product. In southern India, various preparations are termed "biriyani" which is their privilege. In Dindigul, for example, the local red rice is cooked and piled high with a tasty mutton curry. That is what Dindigul biryani is. Different types of cooking techniques appear all over the south, including clever variations on kormas, and such, that require a far more restricted and defined set of rules, when prepared in the context of the Ganga valley.
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  5. If you are talking about Biryani and Pulao then you must eat it at Bhopal. They have the richness of Mughlai cuisines. I ate it at WelcomHeritage Noor-Us-Sabah Palace in Bhopal and still I remember the taste. It was really very tasty that I want the recipe but the hotels chef didn't gave it to me. Any ways if you are also want to taste a good Biryani then go for it. check here for more information- http://welcomheritagehotels.in/hotel-facilities/noor-us-sabah-palace-bhopal
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  6. Okay here goes. 8.00 am : Started the day with Thadal(Thandai) - almonds, rose petals, melon seeds, fennel, black pepper and saffron. All finely ground into a paste with sugar and mixed with ice cold milk. Got around to cooking a marathon spread and finished by 1.30 pm. Top row Sukka Mung Tamatar Kadhi Mung dal seera/halwa 2nd row Boondi raita Sai Bhaji Methi Aloo Bhee/Lotus root in dahi masala Ambri pakora/Raw mango Gucchi Pulao/Morel Pulao Sindhi Chapati(didnt come out right) Brinjal, Arbi, Bhindi, Dudhi, Tinda, Suran and Kachri fried and dusted with dry masala powders Drumsticks in tomato and onion gravy Gulab Jamoon(not in the picture) My friends over ate and wanted to collapse soon after. I ate very little as pre tastings spoil my appetite.
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