International cooking for the youthful malcontent.


Ethakka Appam

There are actually dozens of recipes for this snack online, with few variations from one to another. I suppose, then, it’s not essential to write my own, but damn it if these aren’t one of the tastiest mid-day snacks ever. I have to write about them. More importantly, I have some information to add about plantains.

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WTF is Asafoetida?

Alternate names: asafetida, devil’s dung, stinking gum, hing (India)

The first thing you need to know about asafoetida is that foetida is Latin for “stinking” or “ill-smelling” (the word “fetid” comes from the Latin). Asafoetida stinks. Like sulphur. It’s not pleasant.

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Dal Tadka

About 3 years ago, I purchased a large bag of dried chana dal from Loblaws, having no idea what chana dal was, or what to do with it. What I did know was “lentils are healthy and I should be eating some lentils”. So I took this bag home and tried out a recipe from an Indian cookbook I had.

It turned out mostly terrible. Not only have I learned that the cookbook in question routinely calls for 50% of the salt needed to make anything taste good, the preparation steps were vague about how to cook the lentils themselves. Over the next few years, I tried the dish a few more times with mixed results – the lentils were too hard, not seasoned well, too dry, etc. Of course, it didn’t help that I had never actually eaten dal before. All I had was a picture of something that looked pretty good, and some brief descriptions of the finished product. I have this problem often.

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Paneer Jalfrezi

We were out looking at possible wedding venues a few months ago, and were at what has turned out to be our choice location: The Sheraton Parkview. Like many venues, they deal with The Host, a popular Indian caterer in the Toronto area and, as luck would have it, The Host has a restaurant location directly below the Sheraton in an underground mall. A perfect chance to “test” some wedding menu options!

One of our meal picks was a tawa paneer dish – paneer pan-fried with peppers and onion. It was good, and seemed simple enough to make at home. I gave it a few whirls and had quality results each time (it also works well with mushrooms) but I got the idea to build a sauce base for it as well, thinking I was inventing a brand new curry. I wasn’t – what I was actually doing is making a jalfrezi-style curry.

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Macaron Lab 1

Cookie: Rose Water and White Chocolate

Cookie Recipe: tant au tant mixture, 1+ tsp neon pink colour, added pinch of salt to meringue, otherwise basic recipe

Baking Details: my oven at 360 F (need to test heat with oven thermometer) for 10 minutes

Filling: white chocolate ganache (4 oz white chocolate to 3/8 cup 18% cream) + 1/2 tsp organic rose water, steeped cream with 3 green cardamom pods

Environment: July 10th, 10 pm, very humid, 30 C

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The Macaron Challenge of 2012

Me and my bright ideas.

I’m getting married next year in June, and we’re in the planning phase – booking a venue, arranging vendors and the like. One thing we have to consider are “guest favours”, because it is not, apparently, good enough to offer guests 5 hours of open bar service, entertainment and a great meal – you also have to give them a take-away trinket worth a few percent of the cost of the rest of the evening. Why? I do not know, but you do.

Early in the Spring, we did a small tour of Toronto-made macarons, and blogged about it here. I’ve had a growing fascination with the cookies since I first tried them in Paris last summer. Lemon macarons in particular. I love them. Anuja enjoys them enough to suggest we offer them as our “guest favour”. We canvassed our favourite bakeries and got some price estimates and had it in our mind to go ahead with this plan, at a cost of about 4-5 dollars per favour. Total: approx. $1,600. Sheesh. That would provide 2 cookies in plastic packaging, with a tag attached (that we would make ourselves), for about 300-350 people. Pricey, yeah? Yeah.

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Vegetable Biryani

This recipe is going to get a bit ridiculous. Fair warning. I was heading out into the Ontario farmlands with my two friends, Jim and Andrew, to record a rock and roll album at Chalet Studio, and since we were staying overnight, we needed to bring food. One problem: Jim is a stubborn vegan, and Andrew leans vegetarian (or at least, he did) so I built a hybrid vegan biryani out of recipe ideas for 3 or 4 vegetable curry and rice dishes. The end result was pretty great: a spicy-hot tomato curry infused into richly flavoured baked rice, with large pieces of potato, cauliflower, and carrot mixed throughout. The whole thing was topped with fried cashews and raisins, and lidded with phyllo pastry (egg-free, naturally).

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