Regent's Park

Blogging for a better today

I have been blogging regularly for a year now and its been one of the best experiences of my lifetime.  I had blogged before but the frequency of my posts then was a function of my mood now my mood is dependent on what I write. If you are looking for the usual post about food then this is not it.

If you look at WordPress stats alone, you’d find 70 million + blogs using it as a publishing platform. That is considerably more than the population of France! There are more people Web Logging than ever before. Its not just about writing about your life and what happens in it daily but reading what others have to say. We all have friends and families to surround ourselves with and yet there is an allure in writing to and for complete strangers. ( that’s what made pen pals popular ) There is so much joy in sharing our very personal lives with people sitting across the planet in different time zones, with totally unrelated cultures and lifestyles. I read a few blogs in Icelandic and Romanian using Google Translate, language too is no longer barrier for fellow bloggers to share their experiences.

So why do we so unreservedly indulge in this verbal exchange over fiber optics? Why take time out from a mostly unrelated job to type out a few words of perhaps little literary value but great expressive power? To me I think it is not for the pursuing of unfulfilled dreams or to showcase hobbies, but it is for human interaction. To meet like minded people, lovers of the art which you yourself practice and admire. Meet the kind of people who you seldom meet in real life. It is also to perhaps gain recognition which one’s non – blog existence is not able to provide. Appreciation from living souls without the judgement which generally accompanies it. Every like, reblog, comment stirs within even the most popular of bloggers a feeling of elation, of being recognized for one’s work, of feeling special.

I find it hard to stick to only one of my favorite topics, food while writing. I have so many more thoughts in my head and so much more to express. I thus came up with a few more blogs, varied in content perhaps not so much in style though. Let me make the introductions :

 

Potsoup Potsoup : This blog! The first of the franchise and the product of a ravenous mind in constant love with the edible world. I started this with the object of sharing food photographs from around the world and now post content from all the nations of the planet going about the business alphabetically.
Potsoup For the Soul Potsoup for the Soul : My 2nd venture to hold my ramblings about life. Movie reviews, book reviews, poetry, quotations , music that I like and points that I ponder while sipping something hot and dark. Its also been around for some time now but recently my creative writing has picked up pace.
Potsoup For the Eye Potsoup For the Eye: The youngest of the family this blog is literally a window into my world. It’s my photography blog as I experiment with my DSLR, mobile and other devices with image capturing abilities. Follow me on a journey of learning how to shoot and discovering new interesting subjects. This is the most frequently updated blog for I have little writing to do.
Potsoup For the Mind Potsoup for the Mind : Perhaps the most neglected of its siblings this one has hoped to voice my opinions on matters academic and knowledge driven. Being the most time consuming this one has received little attention from me and others, here’s hoping things will change.

So join me on a journey on any of these paths, hopefully all, as I write and read and click and listen.

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Mindless Eating

PotSoup:

For someone to whom the idea of a diet causes physical discomfort, I enjoyed this book, hope you enjoy reading about it.

Originally posted on PotSoup for the Mind:

You’ve got bad eating habits if you use a grocery cart in 7-Eleven.
- Dennis Miller

Brian Wansink is a professor in the fields of Consumer Behavior and Nutritional Science at Cornell University. He heads the Food and Brand Lab there which does some very exciting work on what we eat, why, how much and in what surroundings. They have demo restaurants, cafeterias and other eatery settings to carry out experiments on food consumption behavior. I had been following the publications by Dr. Brian and his fellow researchers, I finally got my hands on his best selling book : “Mindless Eating“. A very informative and yet entertaining work, encompassing various research experiments performed at the Food and Brand Lab and elsewhere. The author’s stint as a Stand Up comic doesn’t hurt the readability of the book.

I always approach books on dietary issues with caution, to be truthful I don’t…

View original 1,762 more words

Beer Butter Chicken

Beer Butter Chicken

When you have lived in Goa for a decent amount of time you develop a love for rich dishes and warm breads after a nice swim in the ocean. Traces of sea salt still clinging to your soles, generating a slight itch, sand getting shoveled by your flip flops as you seat yourself at a beach side restaurant. Then comes your order, hot luscious, decadent Chicken Makhani with cheese stuffed Naan  and a tall glass of beer which was just about to freeze as it was liberated from the confines of an ice box. Watch moonlight bounce off the waves of a calm ocean and feel the sea braze caress your face as you experience the flavors of tomato, tender fowl and sips of fermented barley. Enough to make an atheist believe in heaven.

About a year back I, with the pregnant desperation for good home cooked food that inhabits the life of a young bachelor, decided to try my hand at cooking the famed chicken dish with a twist. When you are going to have beer with it, why not add it to the gravy? You add alcohol to stuff, can’t go wrong ( unless its Nitric Acid ). Over months I have sort of perfected this recipe. So when on this Sunday afternoon the Sun started to play hide and seek with the clouds and the temperature dropped by a 5 or so degrees C, I whipped out butter, beer and chicken.

Ingredients

Red Shallots 6 ( Medium)
400 gms of nearly ripe tomatoes
50 gms salted butter
500 gms of boneless chicken meat (breast is best)
2-3 tablespoons oil
Garam Masala
Red Chili Powder
Turmeric Powder
Ginger Garlic Paste
1 Can Beer ( 350ml )
Salt & Sugar

AND
1-2 Cardamom pods, a few cinnamon sticks
Dry fenugreek leaves ( Kasuri Methi )
OR
Store Butter Chicken Masala paste( Optional)

Recipe

  1. The first thing that you need to do a minimum of 4 hours before you start cooking is prep the chicken. Cut it into squareish pieces about 5 cms long. Smear the meat with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 tsp red chili powder , 1 tsp salt and 1tsp of ginger garlic paste. Add a few drops of oil and spread the marinade evenly. You could add a little curd or a few drops of lemon if you like.
  2. If you remember my last recipe ( Nimbu Chicken, you need to cut 4 onions (large pieces would do ), fry them in little oil( 1 tbsp) till they are a pinkish brown.
  3.  Cool the onions and then add a teaspoon of ginger garlic paste to them and make the whole mixture into a fine paste. The paste should be a grayish brown color. (Add the cardamom and cinnamon now if you don’t want to use the store bought paste) 
  4. The tomatoes are to be cut into 4-6 pieces each. Try to keep these uniformly sized.

  5. Frying the tomatoes before pureeing them is what gives the dish its unique color and texture. So to a vessel with a curved bottom ( on a high flame), add a few teaspoons of oil. To the heated oil add 30 gms of the butter. The butter and oil shall froth together as they form an emulsion. Plonk in the tomatoes, stir and cover. Keep cooking these till the skins begin to peel off and all are uniformly cooked.
  6. Cool the tomatoes and puree to a fine consistency. The color should be a fine orange.
  7. Slice the remaining 2 onions thinly and to a large vessel add 1 tbsp oil and the remaining butter and fry till they are nicely pink. Then add the onion paste. Cook this on a high flame continuously stirring with a spatula. The water shall evaporate and the mix shall tighten.
  8. Add the pieces of chicken and watch their color change instantly as the heat hits them. Stir and add 2 teaspoons of red chili powder and then the tomato puree.Stir and let it cook.
  9. As the gravy begins to get dense add beer in installments. Too much beer can make the dish watery and bitter so add according to taste along with salt and sugar. Also sprinkle the Garam Masala to add flavor and fragrance.
  10. As the chicken was pre marinated it’ll cook quickly with 15-20 minutes. Check occasionally and let it simmer in the gravy a few minutes according to how you like it.

Serve the final dish with ParathasNaan or Basmati Rice but make sure there is beer around. After 2-3 pints and this lot t,his song is what describes it best. The video’s crap though.

D-605

What the World Eats : Haryana

Haryana is not the epitome of Indian tourism under any kind of tint your glasses may have. There are a few religious destinations which find many domestic takers but a few crowded places of worship is not my idea of a good vacation. Luckily there is food here to make up for the lack of scenery. Enjoy the notes of one of the most prominent sons of the Land : Pandit Jasraj

The state of Haryana surrounds the national capital of Delhi on 3 sides. The region being populated since the times of the Indus Valley civilization is much as rich in history as any other place in North India. There are still remains of the Indus civilization in the state which have become tourist spots. Kurukshetra in Haryana was the legendary battleground where our own mythological LOTR like tale of the Mahabharata  climaxed. Described as the greatest war ever fought the participants were cousins, the Pandavas and Kauravas. One can conclude logically that there might have been some sort of a battle here, about a millennium or 2 ago. If so the people and society must be large and reasonably advanced. In the 11th and 12th century we have evidence of the Delhi Kingdoms gaining influence here. The famously valiant emperor Prithiviraj Chauhan’s general Hari Rana is who the name is sup-positively named after.  The Delhi Sultanate and Islamic rulers of the area also laid claim to the region soon after. Harayana houses Panipat, the historic battleground where many great wars have been fought. The bane of many a 7th grade history students Panipat hosted 3 major military clashes. It might surprise you to learn that when the Mughal Empire weakened, Haryana came under the yolk of the Maratha Empire. The Scindhiya’s ruled over the region for a decade.

An Artist's impression of Arjun's enlightenment from the Mahabharat
An Artist’s impression of Arjun’s enlightenment from the Mahabharat

As had happened all over India, eventually  even this state was annexed by the British East India company.  There were some valiant attempts at freedom from 1857, some of which had local leaders seeking the help of Iran and Russia to get liberation from the British. It was many years after India’s independence that Haryana in 1966 got separated from the Punjab and was formed into a separate state. Since then it has grown into a synonym for prosperity. The harvests in the region have been bountiful as this was one of the 1st participant in India’s green revolution. It has the 2nd highest per capita income for a state in India, the largest number of rural millionaires in the country and one of South Asia’s highest developed economic zones. Gurgaon a major IT hub and home to India’s largest automobile manufacturer Maruti Suzuki is one of the reasons the state has the highest investment/ capita in the nation. Faridabad is the state’s and North India’s largest industrial city.

Despite all of this Harayanvis are to Indian jokes what the Irish are to British ones. Prosperity, muscle and sheer size and strength define most Haryanvis making it home to a majority of Indian athletes and international medal winners and also to the organic, yogic, political firebrand Baba Ramdev.

Now we come to the food, the consumption of which has been  producing some of India’s tallest and well built individuals for centuries. The food is rich yet simple. Farming has been a major occupation and life has mostly been rural hence you shall not find influences beyond the geographical neighbors : Punjab, UP and Rajasthan.

Rajma
Rajma

Rajma : Kidney beans( Red), the only serious contender to Chole for being crowned North India’s most popular dish. Its kidney beans prepared in a rich tomato, onion and ginger garlic gravy best served with hot fluffy rice. The ideal gravy isn’t too runny nor too dense. The origins are debatable but we got the beans from Mexico, Jammu & Kashmir has some of the best recipes and Himachal grows a good crop. So why here? Cause its popular even as a street side food. This Punjabi recipe is really spot one, the images are great too. Source – VegRecipesOfIndia

Masala Karela
Masala Karela

Bharwa Karela : Bitter gourd stuffed with spicy masala and fried or seared. I personally don’t approve of bitter gourd, the taste somehow is off putting even though I like bitter things. The masala stuffed dish is something many people do swear by. The stuffing changes all over India, here is a somewhat Haryanvi take from a commercial website. Source – RPure

Egg Curry
Egg Curry

Egg Curry : We don’t do too much with eggs in India, we either boil them or create masala omelettes. Some kebabs have eggs coated over them and then there is the egg bhurji. But this dish for the days when chicken and goat is not affordable, it has a unique place in Indian households. An onion and tomato gravy form the base of the filling egg curry. Source – ManaliCookingSchool

Saag Gosht
Saag Gosht

Saag Gosht : A spinach based mutton dish with meat cooked so soft that it falls of the bone. A traditional pahari dish, mostly found in Himachal Pradesh but since I don’t see a post in the future of that state so why not throw with it in here? Source – JyotsanasWorld

Gajar Gobi ka Achar
Gajar Gobi ka Achar

Gajar Gobi ka Achar : Or mixed pickles of any kind. In all the places where the winters become a little trying you find an increased inclination to hot and spicy pickles. Cauliflower, carrots, peas, raw turmeric and other ingredients come together for preservation in the sun to make these wonderful accompaniments. Source – PepperMill-Miri

Date & Tamarind Chutney
Date & Tamarind Chutney

Date & Tamarind Chutney : Perhaps the most definitive ingredient of chaat and universal accompaniment to Indian snacks. Its our replacement for ketchup if you will. Its sweet, sour and a little tangy enjoyed best with things hot and fried or over dahi bhalle or bhel. Source  - PaakaShale

Channa Dal
Channa Dal

Channa Dal : Nothing spectacular about this dish of gram. A simple dry preparation with boiled lentils, turmeric, green chilies, cumin seeds and fresh coriander. It forms the protein in a veg meal and the perfect side dish to a spicy chicken. Source – YouTube

Doodhi ka Halwa
Doodhi ka Halwa

Doodhi ka Halwa : An ingenious sweet dish made from grated bottle gourd and milk. The vegetable is allowed to cook in the milk till the fat from the dairy separates into lipidous granules. Very tasty and good for health too. The recipe describes how do you make this simple and healthy dish. Source – VinyCooksVeg

Pinni
Pinni

Pinni : Arguably a Punjabi dish, Pinni is also popular in Haryana. Made from ground Urad dal , roasted and then cooked in sugar syrup this is decadent sweet with a tendency to increase the gravitational pull on your belly. Source – Bikanerwala Recipe -

Gond Ke Ladoo
Gond Ke Ladoo

Gond Ke Ladoo : Yes, sweets made from edible glue. You get glue which you can eat in most shops selling traditional ingredients for mithai. You then add ground gram flour or semolina or any other roasted flour, sugar, ghee and dry fruits and this creation with sticky bits inside is ready. A treat in the winters ( I am eating one as I write this ), the recipe does justice to the name and its fame. Source – UmaCulinaryWorld

Badam ka Halwa

Badam ka Halwa

Badam ka Halwa : One would not be wrong in arguing that this highly expensive dish is found nearly all over North India and can’t be tied to any one state. But the prosperity of the Haraynvis has perhaps enabled them to consume this creation of almonds with  a greater frequency. Made from a huge quantity of the mentioned dry fruit, its got the bitter smell of the almond and a taste very rich. The image and presentation in the source post seemed to pretty to leave out. Source -RamyaaCooks

So that was Haryana, the more interesting and discussed state of Himachal Pradesh is next. If I find enough to go on, for these traditional foods are not that well documented, otherwise here is something to whet your appetite – FoodFairy

green-peas-background

A Pea for your Thoughts

” Eat your peas” says an apron sporting 30+ mother of two admonishing a reluctant 7 year old while blocking half of your screen with a not insignificant posterior. A scene not unfamiliar in movies, TVs and cartoons from the nation of the star spangled banner. It always sets me wondering, who doesn’t like to eat peas? Peas are wonderful, so green, so spherical what’s not to like?

The Pea plant is one of the oldest constituents of the diet of humans. Ancient Egyptians, the Indus Valley civilization and certain pockets of Europe had their inhabitants popping pods much before men had even begin to think of matters like religion or politics. Its interesting and  heartening to observe how what we eat remains so consistent over the ages while everything else has changed. I found it hard to believe at first but the Pea Pod is actually a fruit. There exist numerous varieties of the pea in the world today from purple to the yellow split pea which flourished in the Gangetic plains of India spreading all over Asia and Arabia. Then there are sweet pea pods often cooked with a dish instead of shelling the inhabitants. The best loved perhaps remains the humble green pea. Eaten by men for thousands of years now grown over much of the world the pea is truly magnificent.

The Green Pea that we consume is said to have come from the regions of Turkey and Jordan however it became the Green pea only recently. In the 17th and 18th century began the practice of eating peas before they ripened to their usual yellowness. The culinary voices of France rang out in opposition but for the indifference of more adventurous countries we began as a people eating the soft sweet green meat of peas. Scientifically peas have perhaps the greatest contribution among other plants towards genetics helping Mendel formulate his theories of inheritance.  Lets now bask in the glory of some of the best pea recipes from around the world.

Pea Leaves & Shoots : A Chinese delicacy, the leafy parts of a pea plant also find human takers in our world. This fusion recipe displays a unique blend of pea shoots with other ingredients to form of all things, a risotto!
Source – EatAndRelish

Butternut squash risotto with pea shoots leeks and goat cheese
Butternut squash risotto with pea shoots leeks and goat cheese

Peas & Carrots : The success of this pairing is obvious as far as the palate goes but even from the point of view of the color palate its a hit. This salad image is so simple yet brilliant.
Source – Heidirobb

Peas and Carrots Salad
Peas and Carrots Salad

Shrimp with Pea Puree : Shrimp with anything sounds like a good idea but grill them and serve with this garlicky puree and Bob would be your uncle. A great recipe and brilliant snap too.
Source – TasteFood

Shrimp with Pea Puree
Shrimp with Pea Puree

 Sugar Snap and Barley Salad with Spicy Grilled Shrimp : While we are on the subject of shrimps this draws my attention. Into the dish goes the pea and the pod making for a lovely sight with the pinkish meat contrasting against the lively green.
Source – WhereTheCookiesAre

Sugar Snap and Barley Salad with Spicy Grilled Shrimp
Sugar Snap and Barley Salad with Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Pea Salad : For a pea salad you just need a fatty dressing and perfectly cooked peas. From here could got a Russian salad or any other variation like the one mentioned here.
Source – RomancingTheGenres

Fresh Pea Salad
Fresh Pea Salad

Chilled Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche lemon and Tarragon : Pea Soup is one of the symbols of sturdiness and comfort especially trying times and weather. A staple of even Vikings, now with a special twist with great pictures to match.
Source – TasteFood

Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraiche, Lemon and Tarragon
Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraiche, Lemon and Tarragon

Mushy Peas : Mushed peas, not appetizing to look at and a dish resounding the gong of Anglican culinary taste along side ground meat patties and Yorkshire pudding. Its a developed taste is the best I can come up with.
Source – VoraciousVander

Mushy Peas
Mushy Peas

Sweet Pea Fish Pie : Was fish ever meant to enter the inside of pie, that is one question that must perhaps trouble greater minds and stomachs than mine. I am here simply here to applaud this excellent looking pastry.
Source – Sobeys

Sweat Pea Fish Pie
Sweat Pea Fish Pie

Pea Shoots Pasta : Pasta with shoots and peas is not a texture or taste hard to imagine. Anything that breaks a bite with something else than cooked dough should be decent enough in pasta, no?
Source – TasteFood

Pea Shoots Pasta
Pea Shoots Pasta

Matar Kachori : Deep fried Pillows of flour filled with spiced pea and dry fruit served with a spicy and sweet chutney.  The pea is very important to Indians as not only being a vegetable easily found and grown since the ancient times it is often the savior of a mostly vegetarian menu choice.
Source – JainRasoi

Matar Kachori
Matar Kachori

Matar Paneer : Soft cottage cheese in a sweet sour tomato onion gravy with lots of freshly picked peas cooked to a green perfection. Of the various veg dishes cooked using peas this is the most iconic. Popular with most, this is often the first culinary main course dish an aspiring Indian cook learns.
Source – Wikipedia 

Matar Paneer
Matar Paneer

While there remain countless more Pea dishes in the world it is obviously impossible to mention or cover them all. I have also take care to refrain from the Pea desserts for there is after all too much of a good thing. Pea Muffin? Really?

Egg Sandwich

Cheese Garlic Scrambled Eggs Tomato Sandwich

When you live as a bachelor in a home far away from home, rarely is the luxury of a full course dinner afforded to you. However that doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. From the simplest of meals can come the greatest of joys. Here is such a meal, for a light dinner or a heavy breakfast the perfect dish : Cheese Garlic scrambled Eggs Tomato Sandwich! Sounds something out of an Enid Blyton book.

Recipe

2 Eggs
2 Medium semi-ripe tomatoes
Handful of Coriander leaves
4-5 cloves of garlic
Cream Cheese
Milk
4 slices of Brown Sliced Bread
Salt, pepper & other seasonings

Salad
A nice salad to accompany this sandwich shall always be welcome. You could have slaw or you could have something healthier. I chose cabbage and spinach sliced not too thin, laid to rest in ice cold water to keep them crunchy. Then thrown around the greens in a bowl with a little salt and vinaigrette dressing. (Vinegar, sugar, lime and olive oil would do too)

Salad Greens being massacred

Sandwich
How do you like your scrambled eggs? Fluffy and moist ? Then whisk them to fluffy peaks and add a little cold milk. I personally prefer eggs scrambled without milk or whisking.

Whisking eggs to a bubbly froth

Take a sauce pan and put a dash of oil and set the flame at high, add thinly chopped garlic and stir till it turns pinkish brown. Now add the Egg mix or break in the eggs directly. Start stirring from the start to get a uniform texture. Let all the water from the milk dry away, add salt and pepper and take off the flame. Now to the sliced bread, on one slice apply cream cheese ( I used Mexican chili) and another daub some cold milk. On the cheese add round slices of tomato, heap the eggs, add chopped coriander and top liberally with ketchup. add the milk daubed slice on top and you have a kick ass sandwich!

The final Product

You might choose to have this with a fresh green salad or boiled potatoes and mushrooms which have been sauteed with oil, oregano and salt in a hot pan.

A hint of Salad

Food Porn & other things

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