Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunny Sonoma

Spent the last week in California with family and friends and boy was it fun!
We drove up to the Sonoma vineyards one of those days, and visited Buena Vista, Benziger and Cohns'. Stopped for a quick bite at the Basque Cafe in downtown Sonoma. The sandwich was bland but tasty nevertheless-roasted eggplant, bellpeppers and some lettuce?

Also tried something called the Florentine, basically caramelized almond slices dipped in chocolate. Yum!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chapaathi and Daal

I used to hate chapaathis as a kid. May be it was that my already mature aesthetic senses couldn't bear to eat anything that began life as an almost colorless, beige piece of moldy dough.

But then you grow up and realize that things don't have to look good to taste good. And so, I have been teaching myself the fine art of making chapathis for the last several weeks now.

My first piece of rolled out dough looked like the continental United States, but things have improved since. They turn out thin and smooth and puff out more often than not.

Last week, I made some moong dal, but south Indian style, in that I followed Gemini Mahadevan's recipe.

Here's the recipe from the book:

தக்காளி உருளை கிழங்கு சாகு-A: (Pg.99)

பச்சை மிளகாய் 8, இஞ்சி ஒரு துண்டு, தக்காளிப்பழம் 175 கிராம், உருளை கிழங்கு 175 கிராம், பாசிபருப்பு ௧00 மில்லிகிராம் , மஞ்சள்பொடி அரை டீஸ்பூன், உப்பு 2 டீஸ்பூன், ஜீரகம் அரை டீஸ்பூன், எலுமிச்சம்பழம் இரண்டு, கடுகு 1 டீஸ்பூன்.

பச்சைமிலகைகளைக் கீறிக்கொண்டு , இஞ்சியை நறுக்கிக்கொள்ளவும். உருளைகிழங்குகளை வேகவைத்து உரித்துப் பொடி பண்ணவும். தக்காளியை நறுக்கிக்கொள்ளவும் . பாசிப்பருப்பை வேக வைத்துக்கொள்ளவும்.

ஈயம் பூசிய ஒரு பாத்திரத்தில் கடுகு தாளித்து, சீரகத்தை போட்டுச் சிவந்ததும் பச்சைமிளகாய், இஞ்சி, தக்காளி எல்லாவற்றையும் போட்டு வதக்கி, உப்பு, மஞ்சள் பொடியைப் போட்டு, ௨00 மில்லி தண்ணீரையும் ஊற்றி வேக வைக்கவும். சுமார் 3 நிமிடங்கள்வரை கொதித்ததும், பொடி பண்ணிய உருளைக்கிழங்குகளைப போட்டுக் கிளறி, பாசிப்பருப்பையும் சேர்த்துக் கலந்து கீழே இறக்கி, காயம் ஊற்றவும். எலுமிச்சம் பழத்தைப் பிழிந்து கலக்கவும்.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Coffee skin

Reading Toast, Nigel Slater's memoir. Funnily enough, found some familiar anecdotes. Like his hatred of the skin that surfaces on hot coffee, or chocolate or any milky beverage.
God, I how I hated paal aadai! That's what we called it-dressed milk would be a rudimentary Tamil to English translation.

Why doesn't aadai form on my morning cuppa joe anymore?

Which brings me to the question of why people have kids. See, as you grow up, you forget more and more of your childhood and memories from childhood fade away at an increasing rate. You get nostalgic every time you attempt to recall those evanescent memories of paal aadai, band-aids, wonder bars, choppu saamaan, and thakaali vengaayam.

So, what do normal adults do? They recreate these memories, not for themselves, but for a fairly good approximation of themselves-their offspring. This way, you don't have the time for reminiscence or nostalgia. You simply recreate them.

There, my pop sociology for the day. Quite crass and unsophisticated. But these are my attempts at grappling with issues of parenthood and parenting and why people procreate.

Soul Vegetarian, Atlanta

Run by some members of a community called the Black Israelites, the Soul Vegetarian restaurant offers a unique experience in dining out. We went to their West Side branch on a Saturday afternoon after a visit to the Georgia Farmer's Market in Forest Park.

I walked in to the restaurant, not knowing what to expect. It seemed unusually quiet for a Saturday afternoon. There seemed to more employees than customers-just one in fact, and he was typing away on his laptop. Surreal as lap toppers are usually coffee shop fixtures, and not to be found in quirky, hole in the wall restaurants on the other side of town.

I was drawn to the several newspaper clippings decorating the walls of the main floor-all of them elucidating the history of black Israelities and their leader, Ben Carter.

We decided to the give the place a try.

The lunch buffet plate seemed a tad out of our price point at around 12$, so we decided to order individual items from the bar. Macaroni and cheese, veggie pizza and onion rings.

The mac n' cheese had no cheese or any other dairy product in it, so the fact that it turned out remarkably similar to the quintessential southern staple of unctuous creamy goodness that is mac n' cheese is a testimony to the chef's skill at innovating with vegan products. The veggie pizza was just as good and even had hints of turmeric in it.

And the onion rings? What can one say about those greasy, crisy onion rings except that were crispy, greasy and hog heaven!

P.S: Pictures from my blackberry pearl.