Truffles: Move Over Piedmont, Here Comes Balehonnur

As Susan Boyle recently showed the world, appearances can be deceptive. Take the truffle, for example. It’s never going to win a culinary beauty contest – heck, it’s not even going to qualify for the first round. Yet this butt-ugly mofo manages to find its way into the kitchens of the rich, the famous, the culinary Rembrandts, the nouveaux riche, the wannabes and even the don’t-wannabes. People pay hundreds of dollars for a single top-quality truffle: an astronomical sum for a gastronomical luxury (okay, that was uncool, but I couldn’t resist).

Made in India...

Made in India...

To learn that these stinky, blob-like mycorrhizae (look it up, baby!) have been growing right under our noses, uncelebrated, right next door in Chikmaglur, came as a bit of a shock. When chef extraordinaire Abhijit Saha invited me to his swish new restaurant Caperberry to check out ‘The Great Indian Truffle’, I was there before you could say “tuberous fungifus”.

Keep reading…

Advertisements

Potatoes (#2 What Can I Do With…)

… I’m back. After eight (okay, more than eight) weeks of eating, drinking, traveling, and trying to help someone fight for justice from possible hospital negligence. Oh, and did I mention that my best friend (she of flying yellow pepper fame) delivered twins?

The humble spud

The humble spud

When the rain forces me to roll myself out of my hammock, I will get round to sharing with you reviews of restaurants dishing up Bengali, Parsi, and Navyati cuisines, as well as a peek at my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant and simple ideas for the dinner table. For now, though, since I have been in couch potato mode, I thought I’d ease back into work with exactly that: the potato.

Keep reading…

Olive Oil: Mysteries Revealed

Olive oil: Know what you're buying

All olive oils are not created equal

Seems like everyone’s into olive oil these days. I’ve seen it in restaurants, in stores, on dining tables, and in kitchens everywhere – even the most traditional of Brahmin adige manes and Punjabi rasoi ghars. “Yeh toh haalth ke liye achcha hota hai, toh hum ab isme hi pakaate hai sub kuch,” (This is good for health, so we now cook everything in it) seems to be the prevailing school of thought. However, all olive oils are not created equal. “Whoa”, I hear you say. “Isn’t all olive oil “good” oil? And if not, how can you tell the difference?” I have four words for you: read the frickin’ label. Keep reading…

Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper: “What Can I Do With…” #1

Bell peppers

Bell peppers

My closest friend threw a yellow pepper at me the other day. Really.  “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” she hollered.  She’s pregnant, and her husband has taken over the vegetable shopping. Seduced by the alluring colors and neat packaging he sees at their local Namdharis store, he stocks their refrigerator with heaps of vegetables in a bid to get her to eat healthier food. Problem is, the exotic veggies he picks up aren’t really native to Indian cuisine, so other than sticking them in a salad, my friend doesn’t know what to do with them. Result: a plethora of expensive, shriveled up vegetables in the bottom of her fridge.  So, this series is for you, M.

Keep reading…

Say Cheese: Provolone, Emmental and Parmigiano Reggiano

Say Cheese

In its simplest form, cheese is essentially curdled milk. Unpleasant, but true. Ancient cultures probably discovered cheese by accident, when their milk spoiled, and they had no choice but to make use of the resultant milk solid. “Hmmm,” some ancient gourmet might have said, “a little rennet, a dash of salt, and we may have something here.” Jokes aside, the earliest pictorial evidence of cheese-making has been found in Egyptian tombs that date back to 2000 BC… and the practice probably predates the murals by over 1000 years. Keep reading…

Mmmmushrooms…

The unbearable humidity of the monsoon season provides the perfect growing environment for mushrooms. These often-overlooked gems of the forest floor are a nutritional treasure trove; they’re low in calories, fat- and cholesterol-free and contain very little sodium. On the plus side (and a very big plus it is too!), they contain lots of protein, and nutrients like selenium and riboflavin in quantities that are optimal for the human body. And, of course, they’re delicious.

Mad about mushrooms

Mad about mushrooms

Keep reading…