Food and Drink

Perfect Summer Salad

    My staple during this hot Turkish summer has been kisir, what some call Turkish Tabbouleh. It’s not really a salad, but it makes the perfect cold side for stuffed peppers or karniyarik (another Turkish dish I’m making a lot lately).

    I learned this recipe from my maid, but you can also find a perfectly good version in Claudia Roden’s Arabesque. Her book shows kisir served in traditionally in lettuce leaves, but you can easily leave it in a bowl if you feel like skipping the presentation.Read More »Perfect Summer Salad

    A Taste of Goa

      Tired of bland veg curries and dals? Think sheekh kebabs are the only non-veg contribution to Indian cuisine? Then, check out Goa. Thanks to the Portuguese, who left their Euro-Christian tastes for meat, Goan menus include beef and the ever-popular goan sausage. Being on the coast and blessed with wide rivers and creeks, Goan chefs also make the most of the bounty of the sea, with shrimp, lobster, and freshwater fish figuring prominently into daily specials and family feasts. And, although Goan cuisine is not that well-known, even outside of western India, one of its dishes has come to be a staple of curry shops round the world: the dreaded, but oft devoured, vindaloo.
      Read More »A Taste of Goa

      Mango Season!

        Mangowallahs.jpg All I have ever heard about the great Indian mango is true ? it is the ripest, freshest, and one of the most enjoyable fruits ever. Forget the scrawny, stringy tasteless Mexican mangoes that we have to settle for in the U.S. Mangoes are the real deal here ? and there?s more than one kind.

        Eight long months we have been waiting for mango season. In the meantime, we have had plenty of fruits to make us happy: papaya, oranges, sweet limes, pineapple, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, tender coconut, and guava. I like papaya in doses (not dosas!), but it can go gelatinous fairly quickly if you cut it and put it in the fridge. Fresh pineapple has been a godsend, and I still try to have it every day if not every week. It was a joy to discover that watermelons were at their peak here in November and December; cantaloupes have also been quite good for some months now. Around Christmas, a Goan co-worker introduced me to Guava cheese, a traditional yuletide snack that?s basically just equal amounts of guava and sugar boiled and blended together, then hardened and shaped (sometimes into triangle wedges so as to attain a cheesy resemblance). And limes and sweet limes are around all the time for making fresh/sweet lime soda, a local specialty that?s so much more light and refreshing than a lassi.

        Unless, of course, you?re talking about a mango lassi.
        Read More »Mango Season!

        Feasting High and Low

          A bout with jaundice – or even a little tummy ache now and again – certainly doesn’t encourage adventurous eating. But I am happy to say I am back to enjoying the interesting range of cuisines that Bombay has to offer.

          On the low end of things, the most exciting development has been mine and some co-workers subscriptions to a daily tiffin service. What’s a tiffin, you might ask? Well, I think it’s probably one of India’s best inventions. The item itself looks a bit like a thermos with multiple compartments for Indian food staples, such as dal, rice, veg or non-veg entree, chapati, and raita, salad, or mango/lime pickle. The top container, which typically holds the least messy of the food items, may also contain a note. In our case, since we have a tiffin service, the top part contains a hand-drawn bill for the week’s tiffins. Though, I like to imagine that wives who send tiffins to their husbands stuff love notes in the top.

          For a couple of weeks now, we’ve been getting the 5-part tiffin and it’s been great. I really look forward to my lunch-time surprise now. And, the best thing is the cost: about $1 per day.
          Read More »Feasting High and Low