When I peel garlic, I wonder what the hell was the plant thinking all through the evolution? That it will fly and build a colony on Jupiter? For god’s sake, the pods are shrink wrapped, tied at both ends and then they hug each other like it’s a tribal dance inside a clean film and then there is extra packaging on top so that they can last ten cataclysmic events. It is the Hilsa of condiments. I can still understand some human misbehaved with a…Continue Reading “Peeling garlic, thinking Hilsa, evolution and tribal dances”

Industry experts and watchers wield a massive amount of influence when it comes to determining outsider’s view of the sector. That’s why, while we need those who support and promote nascent sectors, we also need dispassionate journalists who can evaluate facts, write with a global perspective; and state things as they are so everyone is wiser. Against this background, you will notice a massive void in Indian wine writing. Though I have never been much interested reading about wines and must confess that have not…Continue Reading “About wines”

dwarka market spice

Okay, I think I am getting into the food walk space. Only one walk – Dwarka haat one. Yesterday, I wrote about the cupcakes and then we got these spices. Then, you get everything else from the east and south that you get nowhere else, not even in CR Park. Banana stem, banana blossom, gondhoraj lemon, moringa flowers, some ten types of grasses that I had never seen before (calling them grass, will be saag once we eat them), unknown tubers, pumpkin flowers and leaves,…Continue Reading “Weekly haat in Dwarka Sector 23”

banana flowers

Coconut is called the tree of life because every part of it is used. What should we call Banana tree, whose every part is eaten? Apart from the stem and the flower and fruit, the leaf is used in cooking. A friend from Nagaland once told me that they let the banana trees rot and eat the fatty worms that grow inside. I can’t think of a part that’s my favorite, I love them all, depending on the recipe. One part that i have not…Continue Reading “Eating the banana tree”

murugan idli shop chennai

People wake up differently. Some struggle to down a toast and tea, some are hungry enough to eat the world. I wanted to eat the universe. Staying in T.Nagar, Chennai, in a small hotel opposite Grand by GRT, there were a lot of options to choose from. So, we got down, chose the green coconut over the yellow one and marched ahead towards Murugan Idli shop that a friend had recommended. I remain puzzled about the yellow one till date, some say it is from…Continue Reading “Murugan Idli Shop, T. Nagar, Chennai”

chaat on mahabalipuram beach

Every part of India has its own chaat. Apart from South India. I had never heard of one, never seen a photo, never seen a chaatwala on the streets, one in Nagpur but he was from UP. So, effectively, no chaats in South India. Until, one evening in Mahabalipuram. On a pitch dark beach when it was difficult to see one’s own hand, we saw a saw a circle of white light in the distance. The light was from a cart that had hanging raw…Continue Reading “Chaat on the beach, Mahabalipuram”

ghee unites india

Divided by cultures, united by ghee. When I was young, I was given bowls of ghee to fatten up. Lanky kids are bad brand ambassadors of motherly love and generosity. The early training led to turning me into a ruthless ghee raider by the time I was an adolescent. And, I am from the east. The punjabis love their ghee and makkhan. Kashmir uses ghee as a cooking medium. States in the south have a whole range of ghee dishes, from ghee roasts to dosas…Continue Reading “The crux of Indian culture is ghee”

moonrakers mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram. It’s a big name. Its other name mamallapuram is as big, just one character less. You can walk through the whole town in less time than it would take to say the name ten times. The legends about the town are so massive that your expectations in terms of scale become a little biased. Anyway the naam bade aur darshan chote town is small but not disappointing. There is enough to see and keep busy for a whole day. The few hotels in the…Continue Reading “Moonrakers, Mahabalipuram”

coconut sprout chennai

Have you ever tasted these? These are coconut sprouts. I don’t know how to grow these. I have seen coconuts fresh of the trees which have these and then there were a few that were plucked and stores and grew sprouts. I am from the coastal belt but have no idea how to cultivate this. Leaving the coconut on the tree until it matures may be the way. The point being if you don’t see it on a cart like I did, I don’t know…Continue Reading “Tasted a coconut sprout?”

There have been a few cheese posts lately. I could write this as a comment but this is not about cheese. This is about cheese and wine and anything that is seen as high brow. I usually stay away from all such posts as my experience with both cheese and wine is like less than 2 years old. Never had too much money or inclination for either and both were paraded as such high trends that people like me stayed out because of reverse-disdain. But…Continue Reading “About wine, cheese and food snobs”

The guy who gives me a haircut spends 45 excruciating minutes on how to hide the whites and the bald. The salon, yes I go to a salon, has never slid a line in the bill or winked at me for a tip. But since morning most restaurateurs have come out saying how if you don’t pay service charge, you are robbing poor dish washers and service staff of their due. Imagine the owner of a for-profit enterprise saying his staff needs public charity to…Continue Reading “Service charge is in restaurants is a giant scam”

coconut grating korana odia

This is called a korana in Odia. Koriba, the verb, would roughly translate to grating. So, a korana, theoretically, can grate anything. But, in practice, it is a single purpose tool – grating coconuts. I am not claiming this is an Odia innovation, but I am sure non-coastal folks would rarely have seen it. Once you know how to use it, it looks deceptively easy to handle. When you don’t, you call it what we call all things we don’t understand – art. In my…Continue Reading “Grating coconuts and adulthood”

puchka gupchup golgappa

There is nothing new about calls to prove your patriotism. Before all these idiotic new ones, there was the original, primal one that every east Indian would know. If you are from Bengal or Odisha and had moved to Delhi, no matter how many lifetimes back, you will walk into this question so many times that they can act as milestones for your life. Do you love puchka/gupchup or have you converted to golgappas? You see, if your answer is in favour of the first,…Continue Reading “Puchka / Gupchup or Golgappa?”

odia bengali singara

      This is the most dominant streetfood in Odisha. The vendors are everywhere, under every tree, at every bus stop, in front of every school. Everywhere. It is a breakfast item, a preferred lunch dish for some and is eaten at all hours of the day. Quite a lot goes into this too – there is the vada soaked in dahi, matar ghugni, dum alu, sev bhujia, onions and coriander for garnish and some sprinkle a spice powder. There is also a sweet…Continue Reading “Streetfood of Odisha”

vada pav delhi

The problem with delhi streetfood is that we have too much of alu chaats and too less of vada pavs and pohas and dabelis etc. We can all add items from our home states that we don’t find here. If you are in Malviya Nagar, there is this vada pav vendor, across the road from Moti Sweets. The classic vada pav in the photo came for just 35 bucks and the pav bhaji for 65. They also have a dabeli on the menu. The vada pav…Continue Reading “Vada Pav Junction, Malviya Nagar”

gourmet passport

In all these years, I had never been to Social, until this weekend. The place has always been the cards but seemed too cafe-ish for a full meal. Good thing is it is not. There are items on the menu that will do well even in a proper restaurant. Though there was loads to order from, I went for the laska curry. The curry was too mild for a laska, was more like a Thai green curry with noodles. But I did not mind because…Continue Reading “Social, Defence Colony”

naali cha omfed bhubaneswar

We have all had different kinds of teas, haven’t we? However, this one threw me off the chair. I spent two decades in this city and had never tasted this one. This time, luckily I did. This tea costs five bucks. Has lemon, honey and a spice powder that makes it almost taste like Hajmola. It is very addictive and I used to have two at a go. It is a version of what the Bengalis call laal chai and what the Odias call naali…Continue Reading “Tea Shop, Unit 4, Bhubaneswar”

kalakand alwar

A dirty war is going to happen on the issue of kalakand in Alwar. Apparently, it all started with one guy after partition – Baba Thakurdas. He used to sell it on a cart and then a small shop. It was so good that it caught on and now there is a whole market in Alwar known as the Kalakand Market. But there are violent debates about whether it is a kalakand or a milkcake. Every sweetshop in the city has milkcake on the counter….Continue Reading “Kalakand, No, Milk Cake, No, Kalakand in Alwar”