Freshness redefined in Mapusa, Goa, India! What a beautiful market.
Black lentil dal with homemade paneer, toasted papad, lime and amla pickles, jeera and mint rice, veg entre of the day (at Culinary Institute Of America). My teammate and myself whipped this up in 45 minutes. Papad and the pickles are store bought. Papad was roasted on the grill.
We reserved the whey from the paneer and made a vegetable stock with it. Cooked the lentils in the whey — gave it a tangy profile. We used South Indian spices in this dal, though we used urad dal. Curry leaves, kasthuri methi, jeera, mustard seeds, ajwain, mirch, coriander, turmeric and garlic / ginger / onions.
We deep fried the paneer for color and texture, and seasoned it before adding to the lentils.
The rice was cooked in a vegetable stock and finished with butter, toasted cumin, cilantro and mint.
It was a good day!
That’s how masala dosa is made. You spread a thin layer of the urad dal / rice batter. You top it with some seasoning. Then comes the masala with potatoes, herbs and spices. It is topped with raw cabbage for extra texture. And in two-three minutes it is folded into crispy perfection.
Near Crawford Market, Mumbai
A final trip to Goa with chicken xacuti, pork vindaloo and fish marinated vinegar and chorizo spices served with rice and chapati
The vindaloo we commonly find in the West is a neon red, where the color is usually imparted by food coloring. Like most vindaloos, the powerful Kashmiri chilis, the vinegar, and garlic is on the front, followed by the sweet and tender pork elevated by whole cloves.
Xacuti is a toasted coconut dish with a coriander and cumin powder forward flavor — this one was garnished with fresh coconut milk, which I find is excellent with toasted coconut. Mustard seeds and curry leaves impart the classic South Indian depth to the braise.
The only missing classic Goan dish at the table is a cafreal — which is a deep coriander and mint curry. You always have to leave something to go back for. I like to leave my relationships open ended.
Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, India
The famous avial — Vegetables fried with curry leaves and mustard seeds, braised in a deeply satisfying tart yogurt and sweet freshly grated coconut
One of the most iconic dishes of the Indian South… Avial, i will miss you!
As long as you can pick them up and dip them in a broth, it’s Indian food! When I poured the vegetables over my steamed rice noodle paddies (Iddiyapam), I was shunned by my waiter. He looked at me disappointed and exclaimed something in Tamil that sounded like ‘Do the right thing already, you’ve been in India for two months now!’
And I raised my eyebrows at him in a look that said ‘My friend, I’ve developed my own opinions about eating with my hands in the last couple of months. If I’m tasting multiple dishes on my fingers, I don’t like to mix flavors. I focus on each dish.’
The look didn’t help the disappointment of course.
The vegetables prepared in a khadi (North Indian tangy yogurt broth) were accompanied with a sweet cardamom flavored coconut water.
Surguru, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
The ominous planet on my plate is technically a poori / puri: A puffed balloon of a bread! This giant version is called a bhatoora / bature. It’s originally from Punjab but orbited down South. The chole (spiced chickpeas) was a classic southern chickpea fry with sweet spices, tomatoes, cashews and coconut.
Again the fun factor is on the front. When you pierce this thing the first time, a cloud of steam emerges. You’ve gotta watch out!
Surguru Spot, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
Not all Thalis (plate, table d’hote) are created equally. Generally you have unseasoned bread or rice complementing a selection of overseasoned broths, braises, stir fries and stews. This one is a vegeterian Thali.
Some of the dishes have a balanced taste profile and some of them are either utterly sour or have tremendous umami depth to them. The permutations and the fun is endless and it never gets old.
The highlight of this Thali was the bite that I constructed with the mint rice, the sambar (South Indian veg stew) and the onion raita…
A samosa a day, keeps the doctor away! Huh?
Well, I surely anticipate my daily samosa every morning. Each vendor prepares them differently and differences abound between northern and southern parts of India.
The samosas in the south have a thinner crust much like the Turkish yufka (i.e. Muska borek). They are rarely stuffed with potatoes, often have cabbages, carrots, lots of onions and sometimes southern flavors such as coconut chunks, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
The northern samosa is usually a larger portion, stuffed with potatoes and peas — and for some a complete meal with chutneys.
Yea, most samosas soak up a lot of fat and will clog your arteries. But who needs such big arteries anyway, clog them away!
My south Indian grandmother used to make the most amazing vadas- your photo has reminded me of them!
The southern vadas are some of the most satisfying forms of bread. I wish I grew up with a South Indian grandmother as well — of course, in addition to my Armenian grandmothers… We have something similar to parathas / parottas in Eastern Turkey (katmer) but nothing like these vadas. I love them!
In the middle you have a southern vada (a flavorful doughnut with South Indian spices), topped with yogurt. It’s then seasoned with cinnamon. But the garnishes make the dish — peanuts, besan crunchies (chickpea flour), peanuts, cashews, raisins, cumin, shredded carrots, and coriander…
The Solar Kitchen (Auroville — en experimental community near Pondicherry) feeds nearly 250 people daily and is powered solely by solar panels. Here is my meal complete with a beat and egg salad, uttapams (rice pancakes), coconut chutney, a delicious sambar, and boiled red and white rice. The sambar had banana flowers in it — what an interesting plant, the banana is. The flowers taste and feel like artichokes!
Here is a sushi bento box from India!
Hah — not really. It’s an assortment of fruit and nut rolls with almond and pistachio pastes, rose and saffron, white poppy seeds and strawberries, caramel and carrots… Some of the best sweets I’ve had in India!
This Thali was one of the best I’ve ever had. A rich coconut broth with mutton stock as well as a deep cinnamon flavor. A samolina halva. A rice dish that is as creamy as a risotto and rich with south Indian vegetables and spices, a vegetable fry with gourds, onions, yams and red chilis. And finally a tomato rice with eggplant, peas, onions and spices. Complete with rice puffs, and a poratta, and a raita.
Here is a paper dosa! It’s the equivalent of only eating the crust of a loaf of bread… Dosa batter is poured on the griddled, flattened, and allowed to cook a little bit. Then the excess is scraped of gently with a spatula and the dosa is allowed to further crisp!