Yes, I know what you’re thinking. A recipe for Masala Fried Fish?? I mean, how basic right?! You chuck some chili and turmeric paste and deep fry the fish and it’s done. Fini. Like honestly, why even bother listing it here. But I have, because we make this at home very often and it’s used as a bait to eat the rasam rice. It’s part of the family repertoire of quick fix meals when all we want to do is put our legs up and chill or in most cases, order in some greasy Chinese.
On cold rainy days like these, my mother-in-law, (whom I prosaically call Aunty) would suggest a warming Mutton Curry for dinner. As a child, mutton was never on my wish list for special Sunday lunches. I found the meat chewy and stringy and never got accustomed to the strong flavor of an older sheep. Whenever my mother made mutton at home, there would be a general consensus that I would not be partaking of any. My mother herself never bothered to expand her repertoire of mutton dishes (save the Mutton Chops recipe and an occasionally Curry) because excluding herself and my grandmother, no one really cared for it. My vegetarian father was happy with his Buss Saaru (Greens and lentil curry) and I was happy with my chicken kabab and that was that.
I’m not certain we can call this Biryani in the purest sense of the word. But the debate on what constitutes Biryani has been raging for decades and I don’t have the time or the inclination to delve into its subtleties. For me, Biryani will always be a one-pot meal of rice and meat cooked together with spices, served with aplomb on a Sunday afternoon. Sundays would be incomplete without Biryani in our house, though logically it had no place in Andhra-Karnataka cuisine.
Bisi Bele Bath – the Kanndigas answer to dal kichidi, but with so much more pizzaz! As a Bangalorean, you can’t escape this dish – every Udupi restaurant or darshni worth its salt, will inevitably list it on its menu. There is nothing more satisfying or comforting that digging into a plate of steaming hot (bisi) lentil rice (bele bath). The accompanying chips, mixture or boondi just adds to the heavenly experience. And to top it all off is Ghee…the mother of all flavour enhancers and my personal favourite fatty item 🙂
You learn something new every day. Like there is a community in Madurai that has erstwhile Tamils who settled in Sri Lanka, who repatriated to Tamil Nadu. And that our very own Priya Bala is from that small and unique community. ITC Hotels under the aegis of ‘The Kitchens of India’ has been showcasing unique & undiscovered cuisines and cooking styles from across India. They now present “Spice Island Flavours” which is the food of Southern Tamil Nadu that has absorbed the influences of Sri Lankan culinary repertoires. This rare cuisine is on showcase at Dakshin, ITC Windsor till the 31st of August. I was invited last Friday, for a preview of the menu and a tete-a-tete with Priya, who lovingly curated and cooked the food of her childhood, alongside the chefs in the ITC kitchen.
Missy baba, Tip-top, Abli, Bleddy Buggers, Dekchis, Blessed thing, Suzies – If all this sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, you probably didn’t have cool Anglo-Indian friends and neighbors like I did! Growing up in the Cantonment area of Bangalore, I was exposed to more than my share of ‘my girl, ‘junglee’ and ‘what men (man)?’ than I care to remember. But what it also did, was expose my palate to the wonder that is Mutton Ball Curry, Coconut rice, Railway cutlets, Bobo Curry, Kedgeree and Keema Puffs. I’m not ashamed to say that I sat close to Melanie Lushington during junior class, so that I could share her tiffin! So it is with some nostalgia that I welcome the Hobson Jobson Festival at Monkey Bar. A tribute to all things Anglo-Indian, but with the customary monkey-business thrown in!
My blog might be replete with posts of eating out at fancy places but trust me that’s restricted to once or twice a week. The rest of the times (ok, I do eat out a lot) are confined to no-frills places with simple but satisfying meals. A restaurant that sees me going back a couple of times every month, ever since I moved to Koramangala, is the Odiya restaurant called Dalma. I was first introduced to the secrets of this place by an Odiya colleague who insisted I try their absolutely scrumptious Rasagullas. After listening to (in length) the story of how the rosagulla actually originated in Odisha and how the Bengali’s usurped this sweet, made it whiter and more spongy and popularized it as their own, I was more than intrigued to taste the original one. And so one fine day, a couple of years ago I stepped into the building at the Titan Eye signal that declares in bold red font – Dalma, tasteful Odishan cuisine. Orissa and West Bengal are located next …
Why am I giving you a recipe for a crazy-red-hot dish in the middle of summer? Have I lost my bonkers (and my taste buds)? Ahem ahem… that was a nice opening spiel, don’t you think? Now, getting down to business. If you think about it – all the ‘hottest’ food in the world comes from the ‘hottest’ places. Mexico, Indonesia, Andhra Pradesh, Nagaland…all famous for foods that send you running, to pack your tongue with ice! Logically, you would expect these people to be sipping on watermelon juice and eating a cucumber salad and not trying to replicate the external temperature assault, internally! So why do they do it? The wisdom of ages pours forth now (actually this is a result of being a closet trivia junkie!). Spicy food is your best bet to cool down. Capsaicin, the chemical in all spicy food is in cahoots with our central nervous system to help regulate the temperature in our body. It starts by increasing the blood circulation and dilating capillaries – resulting in more of …