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Archive for August, 2007

Shrikhand is a luscious saffron yogurt, scented with ground cardamom, pistachios, almonds, and nutmeg. Its mild sunshine color, creamy smoothness, and delicate saffron flavor create an ambrosial combination. Although shrikhand is a sweet dish, in Gujarati meals it is not eaten as dessert, but rather, as a part of the main course, and often with puris (fried flat bread).

Below is a recipe for shrikhand. It’s easy to make and so good in the belly.

Ingredients: yogurt (I used about 16 lbs. for 25 people), saffron, sugar, cardamom, almonds, pistachios, and nutmeg (all to taste).

Strain some plain yogurt through a cheesecloth for about 4 hours. What remains is thick yogurt sans the water. Discard the water (or keep it to use in a soup- tastes great). Add sugar to taste and mix once.

Crush threads of saffron with a mortar and pestle.

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Add a little warm milk to the saffron threads and crush them further. This way, the warm golden color of the saffron is released.

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Crumble almonds, pistachios and cardamom, either by hand, or through a small mixer, until they become very small pieces (but not a powder).

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If you are using a mixer, process each ingredient separately, as almond slivers are more delicate than pistachios. Cardamom pods should only be pulsed enough so that the shell comes off; after extracting the shells, pulse the seeds once so they are broken into tiny pieces.

Add these ingredients, plus the milky saffron, to the sweetened yogurt. Grate nutmeg to taste.

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Mix well and taste; then let chill in refrigerator for at least an hour. Yum! (A picture of the shrikhand is at end of the post.)

Here are some other foods I ate alongside the shrikhand this weekend-

Piles of puris:

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Flaky, savory samosas:

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A cauliflower and pea shaak (subzi) made by my nani, who is visiting from India:

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Sambariya- stuffed baby eggplants, potatos and peppers:

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And finally, the whole plate of food (the shrikhand is on the left, in the bowl):

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ENJOY!

 

 

 

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breakfast

I feel like I’m eating fall! I paired my pumpkin flax seed granola bar with some whole milk, blueberry yogurt. SOO delicious, like I was on a farm instead of at my cubicle.

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After lunch we walked to the Toscanini’s, also in Central Square. My family loves ice cream (one of my grandmas runs a business making homemade ice cream in Bombay) and Toscanini’s has been a long time favorite, as I’m sure it is for many Massachusetts residents: exquisite flavors, and never too eggy, artificial, horrendously colored, gross, cloyingly sweet, or watery- the myriad of adjectives that can be assigned to too many ice cream chains.

Toscanini’s makes sublime (if slightly expensive) ice cream. Famous flavors include Burnt Caramel, Vienna Finger Cookie, Cardamom, Espresso, Cake Batter, Khulfi, and Ginger. The Burnt Caramel is a classic, its smooth, woody color and smoky caramel taste spiced with pungent, fiery undertones. A total taste bud dance party.

But this time, my eye was drawn to the Lime-Vanilla. I love lime/lemon ice cream flavors because of the tart-creamy combination, and this one, as expected, was incredibly good. The mild, soothing vanilla immaculately balanced the sweet tart essence of lime. Oh, if only I had some lime-vanilla melting on my tongue right now.

Toscanini’s also makes these awesome micro sundaes. For $3.50, you get a small scoop of ice cream in a Dixie cup, topped with rich hot fudge, fresh whipped cream, and a sprinkling of nuts. So tiny yet so satisfying.

Small ice cream: $3.75
Toscanini’s has many locations; we went to the one at 899 Main Street in Central Square, Cambridge, MA. Tel: 617-491-5877

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Mary Chung’s is a Chinese restaurant my friend Maggie and her parents introduced me to back in high school. I think for a while, they drove into the city every Saturday for Dim Sum. Since I accompanied them frequently on these weekly visits, my tastebuds soon developed a yearning for the two vegetarian dishes they always ordered: Dun Dun Noodles and Scallion Pancakes.

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Mary Chung’s makes phenomenal scallion pancakes. A flaky, browned exterior gives away to melt-in-your-mouth, scallion-stuffed layers. These are never too oily, but instead perfectly, lickably, fried. The dipping sauce is dark and tangy. These pancakes are addictive. We ordered two plates for the 3 of us, but I think next time, we’ll have to order three.

The Dun Dun Noodles are equally addictive.

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This is a dish I can imagine shoveling into my mouth on a street corner: the cold noodles topped with crunchy white bean spouts, sauteed garlic, and spicy crushed peanut and sesame sauce, can cool you down and heat you up at the same time. The bean sprouts provide the refreshing crunch of water, the noodles are slitheringly long and drenched in crushed peanut and sesame, and the scallions are sharp and nose-clearing. At the end of the meal on Monday, I was left with a few lone noodles on my plate swimming in the delicious, nutty sauce, and I had to stop myself from tilting my plate and slurping it down.

Scallion Pancakes: $2.95 for 4 (we got a double plate). Dun Dun Noodles: $5.25 (lunch special, M-F).
Mary Chung’s is at 464 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139. Tel: 617-864-1991

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Sizzlers is a special dish, a Bombay treat. Sizzlers, the Breach Candy sandwich, pav bhaaji, hot, soft paneer tikka– these are all the foods I crave on the 16 hour plane ride across the world. My desire to visit India is always doubled by the possibility of stuffing myself silly on Bombay’s khanna.

While there are entire restaurants devoted to Sizzlers in Bombay, I’ve never seen them served anywhere in America- until 3 days ago, when I had them at Wild Ginger. In Bombay, I’ve eaten them most frequently at my masi’s house. Sitting around the table, each family member gives orders for what we want on our sizzling platter, choosing 5 or so ingredients out of a delicious list that includes bananas, cutlets, peas, paneer, peppers (red, green, yellow), pineapple, tomatoes, onions, and french fries. About ten minutes later, scorching iron skillets are carried into the room, our choices bubbling and fuming under the blanket of a slightly sweet, smoky sauce.

The sizzlers, or the “Soy Cutlet Sizzling Platter with Black Bean Sauce” at Wild Ginger was the same idea.

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Stewed, and slightly charred tomatoes; sweet green peas; succulent heads of broccoli, and the soy cutlets- oh, I am so in love with these soy cutlets. They were firm and juicy- crispy, blackened outer skin, the black-bean sauce enabling them and the other veggies stick a little to the skillet, and tender, chewy insides. I adored this dish. Just like the sizzlers of my Bombay memories, I had a variety of juicy flavors and textures to slowly eat my way through, all fiery hot and laced with sauce. I want to go back to Wild Ginger for so many more meals- and the next things to try are the Seitan Skewers with Satay Sauce and the Basil Soy Protein with Asparagus and Zucchini.

Soy Cutlet Sizzling Platter: $12
Wild Ginger is at 380 Broome Street, New York, NY.

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@ Rice’s house.

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At Alice’s Tea Cup, an Alice in Wonderland inspired tea shop, you can pretend you’re in a fairy-tale. Let’s say my tea-palette isn’t the most discerning- I don’t pretend to know teas well, and I generally like most that I’ve tried. But, I am well-acquainted with playing make-believe, and that, I believe, is what this sweet, girly shop is all about. Scenes from the book adorn the walls, and tea is served from a teapot into mismatching cups and saucers. And the food is also excellent, and if you ever, as a child, wished you were English so you could partake in afternoon tea- a frequent wish of mine, since I read so many Enid Blyton books, where the kids gorged themselves every afternoon on warm scones and jam, and small sandwiches and mini pies– this is the place to fulfill that fantasy. The food, if you order enough, comes on a tiered stand, the abundance and selection prominently displayed.

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We didn’t order enough for the tiered stand- just a couple o’ scones and one sandwich. The scones- pumpkin, and banana chocolate chip, accompanied by cups of thick sweet cream and scarlet jams, were big and soft. The pumpkin scone -I love most pumpkin-flavored foods- was warm and spicy with a dusting of cinnamon and the faint taste of sugar. Spread with the sweet cream and tart, fruity jam, it tasted just as I had imagined teatime scones to taste like, as a child devouring Enid Blyton books.

We also ordered a sandwich to share- the Roasted Cumin Carrots with Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese on Semolina with Black Sesame Seeds. A mouthful of a name, and a mouthful of flavors, too. Filled with sweet, slivered carrots roasted with sharp-smelling cumin and placed against the smooth goat cheese, it was an unusual vegetarian find. However, it comes with a side salad, and vegetarians, beware: I have a terrible suspicion that the dressing that topped the salad has chicken stock? broth? or something non-veg in it. Besides that small, maybe imagined, snag, the tea experience was near-perfect.

Two scones with preserves and jam: $5; sandwich: $8

Alice’s Teacup has a bunch of locations (it’s a chain…), but I went to the one on 102 West 73rd Street, New York, NY.

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