Archive for the ‘Snack’ Category
Puffed lotus seed have been part of Indian snack scene for as long as I can recall.I recently found this product at neighborhood market, Sigona’s. They are made here, right in Palo Alto! These have a little clarified butter, a touch of salt and a hint of heat. The entire 1 oz content is 130 calories. They are more substantial than rice puffs, very unlike popcorn, mostly crunchy and a little chewy. Closest in texture is perhaps pork rind Chicharrón. They do not appear to have a strong taste of their own, essentially picking up the added flavors. You can get these puffed and unflavored lotus seeds in Indian grocery stores but they often smell rancid. If you can find good quality unflavored version, then just toss them in hot butter, salt and perhaps some pepper, chili powder or lime. Enjoy with chai or beer.
Fish fry continues to be part of Bengali “afternoon/low tea”. The type and style of fry depends really on the season and availability. Bigger pieces are typically fried lightly coated in turmeric and salt and served with a dash of lime. Smaller fish are dunked in a a spicy wheat flour or besan (can be substituted with garbanzo bean flour) batter before frying.
My father’s generation can perhaps tell the taste and texture difference between 30-50 different varieties of fish. Most of these varieties have now disappeared from the local markets. Now when I visit Kolkata, there is at least a once a week story about the good old days when fish were plentiful in the rivers.
To be honest, I like the ritual more than anything else. Family gathers at the table waiting for freshly fried fish to be served. My mother’s kitchen is only a few feet from the dinner table so we eagerly watch her as she heats up the mustard oil and fries for a good few minutes until the outside is fried crisp but the flesh is flaky. The pungent aroma of mustard oil mixed with the fresh fish oils is perhaps the best pick me up even on a muggy summer day.
I have developed a fondness for Kentucky bourbon and I think it goes really well with family and fried fish. And my family agrees one hundred percent.
The fish disappears rapidly leaving behind folks licking fingers. A few fish bones on the plate and aroma of fish and bourbon is all that is left behind.
These Spanish peppers have caught on in San Francisco Bay Area. Last few years they were expensive and scarce at the farmer’s market, a small basket for $5. This year, our neighborhood Asian market has a large bag of these for $5. Last year, I fried these peppers in oil until blistery. This year, I got lazy and decided to push these under the broiler. Surprisingly enough, they came out at least as good as fried if not better.
This is one of the great street foods of Delhi – daal pakodas (fried lentil balls) served with grated radish and carrot and topped with chutneys. Like a small plate of chaat, this is a multi-dimensional exploration of tastes and textures. The pakodas are crunchy and the lentil is tangy. The pakodas are neither too dense nor too fluffy and provides a nice bite. Grated radish and carrot adds a refreshing crispness. Horseradish overtones and bitterness of radish and sweetness of carrots adds to the dimensions of taste. Coriander/mint chutneys are savory, tart, and gingery. Tamarind chutneys bring the taste of molasses, and dates.
Following recipe serves two –
- Start with a dozen tender okra. Wash and dry thoroughly.
- Slit open with a paring knife and stuff a pinch of the following spice mixture – 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder), 1 tsp anardana (dry pomegranate seeds), 1 tsp toasted and crushed cumin, 1 tsp red pepper powder
- Prepare a thin cake like batter by mixing 1 cup of besan (bengal gram flour) or chickpea flour with sufficient water, a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp cracked pepper, 1/2 tsp anardana, 1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp nigella seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of red pepper powder/flakes
- Prepare a mustard oil bath for frying – 1-2 cups depending on your fryer.
- Heat mustard oil to smoking.
- Coat the okra in batter, a few at a time, and fry until golden.
- Drain on a paper towel and serve with chutney.
Samosa sandwich – hot crisp samosa sandwiched between sliced white bread with some mint or coriander chutney. Conceptually, this is not far from chip butty.
In a pinch, ketchup can be substituted for chutney. Or Sriracha. In a pinch, wheat bread can be substituted for white. And by the time, you have substituted Trader Joe’s frozen samosa for the real ones, the purists will cringe. But it will satisfy the Punjabi-ness of your being.
Somewhere between lunch and dinner, I often find myself craving for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. Mostly I make do with a health bar. Some weekends, when all the chakras are in alignment, a cake is born in my kitchen. This one started out being yet another banana bread variation but the nutty taste of buckwheat overtook the tropical taste of banana. The end product was so moist and nutty that I decided to call it a tea cake, perhaps the best tea cake to come out of my kitchen.