It makes my heart sing. We stayed the last few days at the Lake Palace in Udaipur. We had to reach the hotel by boat. On one journey, I got into the boat with 10 muslim women from Kuwait. They were traveling in a group of 27. No men. They were laughing, singing and looked so free.
Chef Amar focused on his flaming spinach dish, while master chef Choti Lal executes.
Chef Amar, former chef of the king of Udaipur, has been at the Lake Palace for 15 years. Chef Choti Lal for 23.
I love these chefs and their wood fired kitchen. They only have two gas flames, two tandoori ovens and several small hand painted terra cotta clay ovens for the Neel Kamal, the Taj Lake Palace’s fine dining room.
Eating with ones hands is a sensual, connected, primitive delight.
The mix of flavors and one-on-one contact of fingers and food to the mouth is nothing short of nurturing yourself on a deep level. Skin to skin contact happens with the first suckle. From there we naturally learn to eat and to be fed.
In many cultures, the mothers then feed their children solid food by hand, not by spoon. The nurturing quality of being fed by the mother creates a bond and a trust that grows as natural confidence until the child can feed himself independently.
To eat with ones hand’s as adults is awkward until you get the hang of it. When you do, it’s sublime.
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Walking the small lanes of Varanasi, we passed old tea shops, paneer venders, bead sellers and so forth and stumbled upon a lassi shop popular with travelers. Our favorite was pomegranate and pistachio.
A lassi wallah sits in the window with his legs crossed and blends fruits into different flavored lassis by hand in a big silver bowl with a wooden pestle. Afterwards, he sprinkles the poms, having peeled them on the spot.
My favorite part? They are served in terra cotta.. then crushed afterwards.
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It’s Sunday morning and I’m hungry. I remember that I have some super fresh eggs from Cure Organic Farm, from just down the road. I think to myself, shall I scramble them? Over easy? Poach? Yes! I say to myself with that smile that knows just exactly what to do. Not only will I scramble them, I’ll dress them up ~ Indian style!
What does that mean exactly? It means tempering your oil with spices before you pour your beaten eggs into the pan. I use a variation of fat, depending on what I what. I use a nob of butter with a drizzle of olive oil at times, other times I use ghee, but my favorite is coconut oil which gives it a south Indian flare. [Read more…]
In cool white linen, we caught a ride over to Philipkutty’s farm with a kind man headed that way in his boat. Umbrellas were a civilized way to shield from the sun. We were on our way to visit with Anu and her mother-in-law Aniamma, to learn some of her mouth-watering dishes. We learned about so much more than curry… We learned about their family, life and spice-island agriculture. I held a bright red-cased nutmeg in my hand and realized that it was fresh mace, which turns to orange when dry. [Read more…]
The village potter in Khera Deo Garh, near Chhatra Sagar, shares his craft with us as we creates vessels for water and everyday use. His wife will later decorate each pot and deliver them to each household in the village.
As part of our Tasting Royal Rajasthan Culinary Adventure we are fortunate enough to be invited to a home for a cooking demonstration and lunch. Amma is the family’s matriarch and she makes the best lemon rice, taking care to cover each grain with the delicious seasonings .
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
2 teaspoon cooking oil
2 teaspoons of Chana dal (optional)
2 teaspoons of white urad dal
About 10 cashew nuts broken up
2 teaspoons of black mustard seeds
3 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon Turmeric
Asafetida ( optional ) a pinch
3 Tbsp of cilantro leaves finely chopped
One inch of ginger finely chopped
1 green chilli finely chopped
Juice of 2 medium size lemons [Read more…]
Improvisation is the mother of invention. A friend from Canada dropped in on me, quite sick. I know my chicken. He needed a stiff single malt, but that was out of the question. He wanted tea. What was the next best thing? A hot toddy. That way you can have your tea and your whiskey too. I didn’t have Bourbon in the house, but I had a few different Scotch’s. Most of them, too precious for a toddy..but why not? Medicine is medicine. I didn’t have cloves on hand either, but I did have my boyfriend’s hand-ground chai masala mix. I thought, why not? We were given a special 5 spice recipe from our Gujarati friend, Rajiv in India a few years ago. I love blending cultures and it struck me that the peppery blend could be quite good for what ails.