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Posts Tagged ‘lickable’

Last Saturday, my cousin Krupa came over for lunch. Krupa is the cousin who introduced me to Enid Blyton (and subsequently, all the books I read for years) back when we looked like this:

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[in the fort, eating]

Now she is getting her PhD in English at Cornell where she is writing her thesis on Bengali and Urdu literature. Krupa and I share a love for eating as well as reading- when she still lived in Bombay, we always spent a couple days of my visits baking or cooking. Our food love probably stemmed from all the picnics we had on my deck in Massachusetts:

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[yum, dunkin donuts, oreos, and ketch-up! typical.]

Originally, I had planned to make dhansak for her, but that idea quickly died when I realized I didn’t have any of the ingredients. So we decided to make my version of my mother’s lentil salad and Anthony’s bruschetta.

The lentil salad is super easy to make if you buy precooked lentils from Trader Joe’s (or somewhere else).

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Simply combine the lentils with olive oil, lemon juice, sundried tomatoes, parsley, jalepenos, red onion, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper, all to your own tastes. Or combine the lentils, lemon juice, and olive oil with other ingredients of your choice. I usually also like to add celery and avocado, but I forgot to do so on Saturday. I think the creaminess of avocado goes really well with the lemon and pine nuts, though my mother disagrees. My mom usually serves this salad with feta but we served ours with a soft ripened mushroom cheese and a truffle cheese, both on the side.

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Anthony and Waqas made the bruschetta, which was amazing. They brushed slices of a baguette with olive oil and toasted the bread in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the bread had a cripsy exterior. Then they combined some canned tomatoes with freshly chopped ones, basil, garlic, and olive oil. This meal was easy to prepare and each bite of the bruschetta and the salad popped with fresh flavors. After lunch, we played Scrabble. Krupa and I (well, mostly Krupa) destroyed Anthony and Waq, because all of Krupa’s words were above 20 points. It was ridiculous, and the boys looked distraught. I felt bad. And that was Saturday.

A couple days ago, I got an email from Krupa, saying that she decided to start a food blog! Krupa’s Kitchen has two delicious entries so far. I’m eagerly awaiting my bottle of achar

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The Diner’s Journal on the NYT asked “notable eaters” to share their foodie wanderlust: on an all-expense paid trip to anywhere in the world, where would they choose to dine? The Times asked Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, who said he’d go to Delhi- to eat both the streetfood and restaurant food at Bukhara. My parents and brother are in Delhi right now and have been telling me about how amazing the roadside chaat tastes. Sitting here in New York at 5 in the morning, awake for the past 3 hours from a terrible whack of jetlag, and dreading the icy, icy air that awaits me on my way to work, I’m highly jealous of all that spicy Delhi chaat my family is eating. It is 3:30 pm there, and I’m sure they’re snacking somewhere.

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[my masi’s famous paneer tikka]

As for me? I would go to Bombay to eat Paneer Tikka. The paneer in India is delicious- creamy, subtle, and soft. Marinated cubes of paneer, their edges charred crispy black, and sprinkled with chaat masala make paneer tikka a vegetarian decadence- but only in India. Trying to replicate the dish here, with substandard paneer, just ends up disappointing.

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Although I love the Breach Candy Sandwich, my recent trips to the Right Place have been awfully disappointing. While it’s still fascinating to observe the efficiency with which the sandwich man makes these triple decker vehicles of (supposed) gastronomical delight, the sorry truth is, these sandwiches no longer taste as good as they look.

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So, I’ll speculate: could it be the chutney that lacks that extra zing? The chaat masala that’s missing its magic? Yeah, yeah, whatever, no one really knows, and nor do they care. Except one kind soul, who told me about a new sandwich shop in South Bombay, which is not really new at all, except that no one ever told me about it, despite knowing my obsession with these sandwiches. Until the day that X casually mentioned, oh, I actually prefer the sandwiches behind Bhavan’s College, I never knew about the sandwich man behind Bhavan’s college. Of course, when I mentioned Bhavan College Sandwich Man to my cousins, they were like, oh yeah, he’s really good, and so is the sandwich man near J.B. Petit (their high school). Hmm okay, thanks for never telling me about these men and letting me suffer through disappointing sandwiches, is what I thought, but…the past is the past, and now let me tell you about this sandwich from behind Bhavan’s, and one from Hill Road in Bandra.

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Unlike outside the Right Place, there is no line stretching to oblivion for a Bhavan’s sandwich. Which I don’t understand, because Bhavan’s Sandwich Man makes better sandwiches, really. Some elements are strange- like the inclusion of BEETS and RADISHES- but they aren’t necessarily bad and I actually like the slight bitter edge from a radish sandwiched inside an otherwise buttery comfortwich.

Bhavan’s Sandwich Man’s chutney is 600% more flavorful and spicy than the Right Place’s chutney. The whole experience is much more satisfying than eating the Breach Candy Sandwich from the Right Place because each sandwich element functions as it should: chutney= spicy and fresh; cheese= salty and gooey; tomatoes= juicy and sweet; onions= strong and stinky. (In contrast, this is one of the main reasons a sandwich from the Right Place is so disappointing nowadays. Not only did the sandwich used to be excellent, but you would think simply that combining these ingredients would naturally produce something delicious. Yet, the Right Place’s sandwich always falls miserably short of tasty. So good thing there is Bhavan’s.) And located right on Chowpatty, but a little in from the main road, it’s a much more convenient place to hop out and eat a finger-lickin-good sandwich than Breach Candy, which is crowded with roly-poly Guju aunties.

Later in the afternoon on the very day of the Bhavan’s revelation, I went to Bandra with my cousin. After poking around Cottons for kurtis, we made our way to Hill Road for some street shopping. But we never actually made it to the street of apparently dizzying fashion and glittery clothes because we decided to have another sandwich instead. Pure gluttony, I know! But hey, I was on vacation.

This sandwich man, who operates on the border of Hill Road, makes a crispy package. We just had a mini sandwich from him, made on regular, small white bread, instead of the gigantic triangles used to make regular Bombay grilled sandwiches, but those few bites were the best of the day. Mr. Hill Road Sandwichwala’s sandwich was so amazing because not only was the chutney spicy and the cheese hot and melty, but he did what no previous sandwich man has done so far- he slathered an extra coating of butter on the top of each sandwich, post-grilling, which had the effect of making the sandwich moister, saltier, and all together more heavenly. I know these foods aren’t for the faint of heart, or health. They shouldn’t be eaten every day. But once a month would be fine, I think; I only get to eat them once a year.

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Happy 2008. I hope this will be a year of discovery, friendship, and tasty samosas.

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My cousin Chelna and I both arrived in Bombay late Saturday night. She is getting her masters degree in London; I’m twiddling my thumbs in New York. To celebrate our arrival back into the city of senses, Dadi made us ragda patties– a favorite dish that we share. I really wish I had a recipe in addition to my photos but I missed Dadi cooking, what with all my unpacking and eating chaklis for breakfast. But I promise to make some soon, when I return to New York.

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[the patties and ragda- black eyed peas- cooking on the stove]

 

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[the garnishes: tamarind chutney, mint-coriander chutney, hot green chilies, and diced onions and cilantro]

 

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[ten patties, gobble gobble]

 

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[piled high: patties, ragda, chutneys, kanda marcha (onion green chilies)]

 

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[yum]

 

related posts: Bombay foods and babies; at last

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[Queens at night]

Sripraphai
64-13 39th Avenue
near 64th street
Queens, NY
(718) 899-9599

I’ve always liked eating Thai but Sripraphai’s chefs transformed a soothing, coconut-rich food into an exciting, eye-opening cuisine. The cooks worked magic on the essential ingredients- the peanut, coconut, lemongrass, red peppers, – until each had a chance to shine. Unlike the Sripraphai’s food, the restaurant’s décor is nothing special. Wooden tables, wooden chairs, large windows, lots of sunlight.

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We started our lunch with a bouncy pile of bean thread salad tangled with matchstick cut slices of tofu. On top sat carrots, green beans, and lacy cilantro. The lemony dressing gave the salad a kick and woke up my taste buds. I was ready for the meal.

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Next, Waq ordered a vegetarian Tom-Yum soup. I don’t really like hot and sour soup, but I’m glad I tried Sripraphai’s. The sourness wasn’t a scrunch up your nose sour, but a more full-bodied, warming sour. (I would imagine lemongrass nectar to taste like this soup.) Flat juicy mushrooms and velvety soft tofu floated in the soup like lily pads; thin pink slices of a spicy ginger and burnished-wood colored peppers added color and bite.

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On December 1, 2007, Anthony and I threw our “Pressed Apples Make More Cider” party. It included a variety of refreshments (see the menu below), sustained merriment, a little debauchery, and a good old-fashioned reading. Our wonderful guests read fiction, poetry, and plays that they had authored around the themes of cider and apples.

 

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The party people came from Baltimore, Boston, and New York; many had attended college with us and majored in the Writing Seminars. During our senior year of college, the Writing Sems started a Reading Series. Each Monday night, at the back of the Hopkins Deli, 2-4 students would read their pieces in front of a packed audience of friends. On Tuesdays, we met at CVP (the lovely Charles Village Pub, how I miss your grubby glory) for our Writing Sems Happy Hour. Over large quantities of alcohol, we discussed classes, fiction, and professors. Those were the days.

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The idea for our Pressed Apples party emerged from reminiscing about those days, and we think it turned out mighty successfully. We’re hoping to start a mini reading series now, nowhere near the scale of Pressed Apples or Hopkins Deli, but big enough to recreate one of the things that brought all our friends together.

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The Menu for Pressed Apples

 

Mulled Cider Swirled with Rum
A warm drink to ready your spirit (and tastebuds) for a night of good cheer

 

Sipping Cider with Champagne
A refreshing drink to cool you down

(more…)

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