amatuer watercolourist, foodie, cook, traveller, all rolled into one. simple yet fun recipes accompanied by watercolour sketches.

Friday, February 16, 2007

kafka's soup

This Valentine’s Day I got a lovely book as a gift. Kafka’s Soup; A complete history of world literature in 14 recipes by Mark Crick. (Libri Publications Ltd.)

The 95 odd page book is filled with quirky illustrations, lovingly composed photographs and recipes in the voices of famous writers: Raymond Chandler, Jane Austen, Franz Kafka, Irvine Welsh, Marcel Proust, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Steinbeck, Marquis de Sade, Virginia Woolf, Homer, Graham Greene, Jorge Luis Borges, Harold Pinter and Geoffrey Chaucer.

The recipe for Lamb with Dill Sauce a la Raymond Chandler begins with classic Chandler world-weariness:

I sipped on my whisky sour, ground out my cigarette on the chopping board and watched a bug trying to crawl out of the basin. I needed a table at Maxim's, a hundred bucks and a gorgeous blonde; what I had was a leg of lamb and no clues.
I took hold of the joint. It felt cold and damp, like a coroner's handshake. I took out a knife and cut the lamb into pieces. Feeling the blade in my hand I sliced an onion, and before I knew what I was doing a carrot lay in pieces on the slab. None of them moved.

And the Mushroom Risotto a la John Steinbeck could well have come out of The Grapes of Wrath:

She shared the mixture out carefully in the cracked bowls, and sprinkled on the last of the parmesan. It was not meat and potatoes, but at least her family would eat tonight.

The book's perfect if you love reading and cooking. Thanks, Ash!

Monday, February 12, 2007

gini's fish recipe with a twist

Gini's blog was one of the very first that I started visiting regularly. Her blog has some of the most innovative recipes, all accompanied by detailed steps and the loveliest photographs. I'd never had, let alone cooked, anything like her fish with baby fenugreek leaves. So I set about trying to replicate her recipe in my kitchen. But as luck would have it, for the longest time, I couldn't lay my hands on the three main ingredients: pomfret, fenugreek leaves and time. However last Sunday, I'd had enough and simply decided to go ahead and improvise with what I had at hand. Thanks Gini!

So I had to substitute fenugreek leaves with baby red spinach leaves. And instead of frying the fish whole, I made fillets.

What to take:

for the fish

1 large pomfret, cleaned and filleted into four
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
salt to taste
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine the turmeric, chilli and coriander powders and salt. Add just enough water to make a thick paste. Smear the paste all over the fish fillets and marinate for an hour.

for the spinach

3 cups of chopped baby red spinach
1 small onion diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to make:

Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan. Shallow fry the fish fillets till they turn golden brown. Set aside.
In another pan, heat one tablespoon oil and add the mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the onion and curry leaves.
Stir in the chilli, turmeric and garam masala powders when the onions turn soft.
Once the raw smell of the sices disappears, add the chopped spinach leaves and cook covered for about eight minutes.
When the spinach leaves start to reduce to a paste, add half a cup of water, and cook covered for another three minutes.
Slide in the fried fish fillets to the thick gravy and stir gently so that the gravy coats the fish.
Serve hot as a side with steamed rice.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

mumbai meri jaan

Two weeks ago, I returned to Mumbai for work after an interval of almost thirteen years. Three days is hardly enough to savour all that Mumbai has to offer, but I did the best I could.

Pani poori, bhel poori, ragda patties and vada pau off the streets whenever I could. I caught this guy reading the newspaper as he waited out a lull in business.

The most awesome gobi parathas with my blogger buddy, Poonam, at Papa Panchos in Bandra.

Beer, akoori, tandoori pomfret and great ambience at Cafe Mondegar, Colaba with Niranjan. Mario Miranda characters on the walls. A teenager at the table beside ours spouts wisdom: "Life is fun if you don't try to escape it." Whatever that means.

I finally caught a glimpse of the six sigma-certified, business school-lecturing dabbawalas. The sketch makes the guy look sad, he was anything but.

Many other lovely moments that I could not capture either with my sketches or the camera:

Pan-fried pepper pomfret at Soma, the Grand Hyatt, roomali roti and dal tadka at Jashan in Bandra, Vasudha's works at the Jehangir Art Gallery, a long ride with a taxi driver who comes to Mumbai every six months from his little village in Uttar Pradesh. His farm provides enogh food for his family. His months in Mumbai pay for the other necessities. He lives with three other taxi drivers in Santacruz. They get together in the evenings and cook meat, fish, vegetables and rice. He misses his village and his family, especially, he said, his wife's mutton curry.
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