Odiya Cuisine

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Gud rasgulla: Odiya origin

As home to the ancient Jagannath Temple at Puri, which cooks for and feeds an average of over 10,000 people each day, the recently renamed Odisha boasts a rich culinary heritage whose dishes are often wrongly attributed to West Bengal. Did you know, for instance, that the gud (jaggery) rosogolla originated in Odisha? Odiya cooks then took their talents to West Bengal, where they were employed in the homes of rich Brahmins. According to many historians, this sweet has been offered to the Goddess Lakshmi at Puri for several centuries, predating the Nobin Das story.

We glimpsed the complexities of Odiya cuisine as we traveled through the state. Although we only spent a few days in Odisha, visiting Puri, Konark, Bhubaneswar, and Chilika Lake, the few dishes we sampled made an impression for their distinctly different flavors. This cuisine is neither heavy nor oily, and its flavors are a subtle meld rather than a loud, joyous cacophony.

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Jiggs Kalra at Jamavar: Mewari Cuisine

Lunch with a friend

When you get a call from the country’s best-known gourmet, you answer your phone at once, and snap to attention. When you get a call from a friend, you answer your phone,¬† drop whatever you’re doing and make the time to break bread together. If the friend in question is the country’s best-known gourmet… well then, you’re one lucky ducky *insert smug smile.*

Jamavar at The Leela Palace recently showcased the cuisine of Mewar, Rajasthan in the form of a menu that the aforementioned gourmet/friend created through painstaking research into the history and culture of the region. He insisted that I sample the wares, and I gladly accepted.

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Cantonese Cuisine: At Home

Gavin struts his stuff

I enjoy “Indian Chinese” food. I even enjoy “American Chinese” food. That said, I have often wondered what the good people of China think of perversions like “Gobi Manchurian” and “General Tso’s Chicken”. A random tweet, from Gautam John of Pratham Books, bemoaning the lack of authentic Chinese food in Bangalore, sparked an idea.

Gavin Mak, who belongs to one of Bangalore’s oldest ethnic Chinese families, has been catering at our home for years. While Mak Hospitality, his catering company, dishes out some very good Indian, kinda-European, and desi-Chinese cuisine, Gavin¬† never serves authentic Chinese food, because he believes that “no one will eat or appreciate it”. I made a deal with Gavin: If I could find 10 people who would enjoy the “bland” flavors of true Cantonese cuisine, he would have to come and cook it himself.

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Teppanyaki and More: Beyond Sushi #3

Trying to look beyond  the sushi on Harima's menu

Trying to look beyond the sushi on Harima's menu

So Mr. Small won his first inter-school quiz contest on Thursday – and requested a celebratory dinner for Saturday evening. Now do my kids want to eat Happy Meals at Mickey D’s? Of course not (I’d disown them if they did). KFC? Nah. Erroneously assuming that his parents stash piles of money under the mattress, he wondered whether we could fly back to Bangkok to eat some of the delicious street food we’d sampled there. Keep reading…

The Divine Delights of Kobe Beef: Beyond Sushi #2

I recently had an out of body experience. It was called Kobe beef. In a nondescript yakiniku restaurant in a nondescript mall in Bangkok’s little Tokyo area, I ascended the proverbial stairway to heaven, and it’s an experience I’m keen to repeat.

Miraku restaurant in Thaniya Plaza

Miraku restaurant in Thaniya Plaza

First, context. We’d been wandering around this specialty golfing mall called Thaniya Plaza – yes, such things exist – looking at golf clubs, golf balls, putting mats, golf attire, and mostly useless golf widgets (for example – three varieties of exploding golf ball that will allegedly cause your golfing partners to roar with laughter, or more likely, rage) and we were starving. The kids and I parked ourselves on a bench outside a restaurant with a Japanese-sounding name and waited for our avid golfer to declare his shopping spree complete. On his return, we ignored his plaintive pleas to eat outside on the street (not Thai food again!) and insisted that a sushi binge was in order. Keep reading…