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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What the World Eats : Iran

I promise a post as coming soon and no sight of it for a fortnight, for things which give lesser joy than blogging must be tended to as the bread you dream of can’t be eaten. Such are the times we live in.

Iran, etymologically, The Land of Aryans, is definitely an intriguing place. A country whose impact on global history and polity has been more than most nations. Whose culture and cuisine has influenced lives from Britain to Bombay.While I rant on about this land formerly known as Persia, you play this list of songs from the land to create an Iranian Aura.

Bordered by Afghanistan and Pakistan on one side, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia on the other lying above the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, Iran is the Eighteenth largest nation by size.  There was civilization here nearly 3000 years before the pious carpenter walked this Earth. Under Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenid Empire became the largest the world had seen yet. Alexander the Great of course put an end to that empire which was followed by the Neo -Persian era which had Iran play an important role in the Byzantine Empire. By Around 600AD Zoroastrianism was replaced with Islam as a result of invasions. Iran was a major player in the Islamic Golden Age with contributions not dissimilar to Europe’s Renaissance.  We see an adoption of Iranian culture by Turks in the 10th Century followed later by invasions by Genghis Khan  who wiped out a huge chunk of the Iranian population.  The middle ages see various local conflicts and notable Nadir Shah and his huge empire including the annexation of India and its looting. Russo-Persian wars , famines and Anglo-Persian wars formed much of the modern history of the country. The British  remained till the 1920’s followed by a period of internal political turmoil.

Perhaps the most well known period in Iran’s history is that which commenced in the 1940’s. When you pick up history books, comic books and newspapers from the period you find the mention of Iranian Oil and the West’s need for it. So when the then democratically elected PM, nationalized the much coveted petroleum supplies of Iran there was much perturbation. The USA, Arguably by acts in the best interest of its own people and not those of the Iranians, helped depose the PM and the democratic government and replaced it by an Autocracy/ Monarchy headed by the Shah. The first direct intervention in a sovereign nation by the US in the cold war, the country found it self changing.  With westernization of the populous came also the tortures and arbitrary arrests generally associated with a dictatorship. Ayatollah Khomeini a  a religious leader voiced his opposition to the Shah and his government and was imprisoned and then exiled. The Shah’s repressive regime was met by  the Islamic Revolution in 1979 which saw the return of the Ayatollah and the exile of the Shah. Follow the story of Argo with US citizens being held captive in exchange for the Shah ( They were released later with the Shah never coming back to Iran). Saddam Hussein  invaded parts of Iran during this period of turmoil. That conflict ended in a UN mediated peace. Iran today is an Islamic Republic with the questionable title Supreme Leader still in place. A democracy by all means but with freedoms which we take for granted not so free.

In terms of tourism, the majority of tourists today remain Asian Muslims who visit sites of religious significance. European tours with an archaeological interest are a minority. It seems a shame that despite its great art, history and culture this nation has its tourism determined by religion.

The cuisine of Iran has influenced and been influenced by that of Turkey, Mesopotamia, India and parts of Central Asia. Many a dishes in their name and conception seem very familiar with Indian dishes.

Chelo kabab

Chelo Kebab  : Considered the national dish of Iran, this is steamed basmati rice served with different forms of meats cooked on a skewer. The meat can be lamb, chicken or ground beef mixed with parsley and spices. Here is a glimpse from an Iranian restaurant, the other images are worth checking as well.
Source – Jalda

Ash

Ash : Ash refers to ‘a thick winter soup’. This one is Ashresteh, a thick soup with noodles in it. Parsley, spinach, dil and onions, lentils, flour with other hearty ingredients form this recipe. The source blog has some wonderful pictures and text on Iranian culture. This picture what won me over was the fried garlic.
Source – Persian(Ate)

Borani Esfanaaj

Borani Esfanaaj : Spinach is pretty popular in Iran( that’s what I concluded from the recipes I have been browsing). This dish is a spinach based yogurt dip. With all the thin breads like Nan – e -Lavash being popular this is a good accompaniment.
Source – TravelSenses

Fesenjān

Fesenjān : This is a poultry dish made with ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup. The red jewel like fruit is very popular in Irani cuisine. This dish sounds a little bland, but then some cuisines believe in the subtlety of taste.
Source – FigFondue

Kashk - e -Bademjan

Kashke Bademjan : A dish of eggplants and tomatoes, something similar to the Indian baingan ka bharta. The eggplant also features prominently in the cuisine of the region. The source site for this image is host to pages of multiple cuisines.
Source – InternationalFood4U

Khoresht Baamieh

Khoresht Baamieh : Okra and Aubergine stew with beef. Khoresht means a meal. So you’ll find a lot of dishes with that in its name. The images on the source blog are pretty, especially of the process.
Source – DyalasKitchenJournals

Kookoo Ye Marchoobeh

Kookoo – ye -Marchoobeh : Persian style Asparagus Frittata . A very green dish this, the images on the source are stunning to a degree of inspiration.
Source – TurmericAndSaffron

Mirza GhazemiMirza Ghasemi  : This is roast aubergine mush with eggs which get scrambled in the process. This becomes not a main dish but more of an appetizer or side dish to meat and bred. Again the resemblance to Indian dishes is uncanny.
Source – SabrinaPassions

Zereshk Polo O Morgh

Zereshk Polo O Morgh : Barberry Chicken Rice, a very interesting recipe. Look at the source post it gives a very detailed step by step recipe with photos to match.
Source – edibleMoments

Nan-e sangak

Nan -e- Sangak : A plain, rectangular, or triangular Iranian whole wheat sourdough flatbread firstly.The bread is baked on a bed of small river stones in an oven. There are, normally, two varieties of this bread offered at Iranian bakeries: the generic one which has no toppings; and the more expensive variety which is topped with poppy seeds and/or sesame seeds.
Source – brotdoc

Nan-e barbariNan – e – Barbari : The Barbars  are an ethnic tribe from Eastern Iran. It is from their name that the term Barbarian  originates. This bread is associated with Tabriz so is also called Tabrizi Bread.
Source – NotitieVanLien

Naan-berenji

Naan Nakhodi : Shortbread made from Chickpea flour with butter, icing sugar, cardamom and vegetable shortening. Sounds like a great accompaniment to Iranian Tea.
Source – MyPersianFeast

Tahchin
Tahchin :  Iranian Rice cake that includes rice, yogurt, saffron, egg, and chicken fillets. It is also possible to use vegetables, fish, and meat instead of the chicken fillets.
Source – PersianRecipes

Sohān-e-AsaliSohan Asali : Persian Honey and Saffron Almond Candy. This comes from a unique blog which centers on Persian cuisine. A rather sugary treat but all recipes on this source site look brilliant.
Source – TurmericAndSaffron

Irani ChaiIrani Chai : Tea is an important part of Persian culture, the way the brew it, how its savored. Here is a recipe.
Source – fyeaIran

So that was Iran, with all its mentions across news and political speeches I now know more about it just by being curious about its culture than reading papers and watching the Tele. All you learn from those sources is about the nation’s politicians, to know its people I’d suggest reading blogs.

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Griffin Bread : A review

While I never post restaurant reviews on this site, this one is an exception, a poetic one at that.

Longing for a good juicy burger and a piece of pie,
was the person denoted by the perpendicular pronoun I.
Heard that there was a new bakery in town,
to devour its creations I went around.

Breads of sizes and shapes different on shelves low and high,
coffee machines, pastry displays and a very brownish ambiance met the eye.
Comfy looking sofas and squarish seats,
all of this with a view of the uninspiring street.

The menu although not vast was a little unique,
sour bread and baguettes did my interest pique.
But for instant satiation I had a hunger for Friday Lunch,
what I was in store for the ambiance had given me hunch.

First came the chicken burger in all its glory,
I was expecting a novel and was met by a short story.
Juicy and salty and laced with spice,
the size was clearly not for men, more likely for mice.
At 175 a piece although with decent flavor,
due to its minute size, it instantly lost favor.

“Cold coffee” I answered when asked what I’d like to drink,
A very cold, sweet, slightly under-caffeinated glass appeared in a blink.

With pangs of hunger gnawing on my abdomen,
the tempting pastry display I began to examine.

With a friend I shared desserts of type three,
A Donut, a cinnamon roll and a tart chocolatey.
The doughnut was a bun filled with some sort of custard,
not colored white but a shade of mustard.

The cinnamon roll was perhaps the least disappointing,
with a spice mix inside and a painfully sweet icing.

Tarts have been known to have hair in the most unlikely of places,
but not the ones we eat, they are the ones with faces.
A solitary follicle I don’t really seem to mind,
but heavy chocolate with a tough crust to bind?

The taste is nothing foreign to a visitor of Barista or CCD,
the rates of the items might certainly be.
Of the service there was nothing notable,
for you take your meal from the counter to the table.

Curiosity might incite a solitary visit for something sweet,
but things will have to change if the owner seeks a repeat.

Food : 3/5
Ambiance : 3/5
Service : ~
Hygiene : ?
Cost : 2/5

More of my culinary criticisms can be found here.
Iranian women pray during the Eid al-Fitr prayer in Tehran, Iran

Coming Soon : Iran

Iran or the land that was known as Persia has had history and culture richer than most nations. When it embraced controversy as an old friend, the world refused to see this culture. What do we know about Iran? Its people? The life they lead? Can this nation not be discussed in human terms rather than gauging its nuclear ambitions?

In my next post I shall try to explore the food of this elusive and often maligned nation and its people. Whether it be Persepolis the movie or any recent entrant at an International film festival we can’t deny that we are not intrigued by the nation. This is the land which became the base of Argo and the subject of hatred of many people worldwide. Till then here is a scripted and yet informative American look into the nation.

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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

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What the World Eats : Indonesia

As absences go, this has been a long one. But blog writing to me is a hobby, a thing which I do out of pleasure not need. The story of the Indian States that I had been weaving in the past few posts remains incomplete. To be frank I am a little tired of sticking to one culture, one which I know so well. Fret not for we will come back to the lands of the Ganges and Gandhi, if not immediately. Today we look at the archipelagos of Indonesia.


Here is the background music for this post, pop from the Nation.

It is ironic that in my quest to explore cultures beyond India, I end up with a nation whose name springs from the name of the Indian Subcontinent. Even the cultures are not very dissimilar due to the common Hindu influence. The 4th  most populous nation in the world Indonesia, is also the largest Islamic country in the world (by population). This may be surprising to you if its the first you have heard of it. But it is testimony to how immigration impacts culture. Homo Sapiens have inhabited these parts for the last 30,000 years. The early people, the ancients of the nation are believed to have impressive naval abilities. The people from here are thought to have achieved travel to Australia and other distant island groups, quite early on. As South India gained strength just before the middle ages, trade with India prospered. Among other imports were Hinduism and Buddhism which began shaping Indonesian culture. It was much later in the medieval times that Islam came to this country, again via trade. The history of most countries in the area : Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore were intertwined. Trade, agriculture and culture progressed in similar directions. As other nations embraced Islam and tweaked it to suit local customs so did this country.

Nearly every Asian nation came under the yolk of Imperialism sometime, its only who dominated them a few decades back that decides what kind of curry they eat today. The Dutch were the masters of the region up to the 20th Century. The Japanese occupied the region during the 2nd World War and are considered responsible for the millions of casualties during the time. At the end of the war, Sukarno a nationalist leader became the first President of Indonesia. Attempted coups, attempts by the Communist Party and other political skirmishes turned violent before the New Order was established under military rule. The economy saw major upheavals in the 1990’s which led to the stepping down of the President.

Agriculture remains the main source of income for the nation and the primary occupation. You shall find influences of Chinese, Indian, European and Middle Eastern cuisine in the food here. Perhaps not as globally popular as Thai cuisine, the love of chilies, coconut milk and rice is shared by this culture too.

Mie Aceh

Mie Aceh : Thick yellow noodle are served with slices of beef, goat meat or seafood, such as shrimp or crab. They are served in rich, hot and spicy curry-like soup. The noodle and spices are cooked with bean sprouts, tomato, cabbage and celery. They may be fried (Goreng – here) or soupy (Kuah).
Source – Silangmonas

Babi guling 1Babi Guling : The consumption of pig meat is frowned upon by Islam so this festival dish of roasting an entire pig is confined to the small pockets of Indonesia where Hindus or Christians are in majority. This dish is popular in Bali.
Source – beautifullyBali

LawarLawar : Lawar is a dish created from a mixture of vegetables, coconut and minced meat mixed with rich herbs and spices, originating from Bali, Indonesia. The ‘Red’ Lawar you see here might be product of mixing Pig’s blood in the dish.
Source – DatedMango

Sate Ayam MaduraSate Ayam Madura : Grilled Chicken Tenders served with creamy roasted peanut sauce. Satay is a technique very common in this part of the world so most dishes with ‘sate’ in them are often referring to something like this.
Source – TheEndangeredSartorialist

Arem AremArem Arem : Parboiled rice, stuffed with veggies or a chili sauce, wrapped in banana leaves and then boiled. Its like the poor vegetarian’s sushi. Also find the recipe in the link below.
Source – CatatanNina

Bakwan MalangBakwan Malang : Indonesian style egg noodle soup with meat ball, fried wonton, tofu & vegetables.
Source – GrandTopic
Recipe – Sajiansedap

RawonRawon : a strong rich tasting traditional Indonesian beef black soup. Originally from Surabaya in Indonesian province of East Java. It uses black nuts/keluak (Pangeum edule, fruits of kepayang tree) as the main spice which gives the strong nutty flavor and dark color to the soup.
Source – Bubblews

Lontong BalapLongton Balap : This consists of rice cake , bean sprouts , fried tofu , lentho , fried onions , soy sauce , and chili sauce.
Source – ChizzysLife

Lontong KupangLongtong Kupang : Rice cakes with white mussels. Rice as you can guess is a very common component in Indonesian cooking.
Source – Sijagomakan

TerasiSambal Terasi : Shrimp paste, a common ingredient in various South Asian cuisines. In South China, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam. Here its known as Terasi. It can range from the wet texture you see here ( Mixed with Sambal) to condensed blocks.
Source – DailyCookingQuest

Opor-AyamOpor Ayam : Chicken in coconut milk. A dish enjoyed during Ramadaan, fasts are broken on this. The source lists along with a few great Indonesian recipes.
Source – DesireToEat

PecelPecel : A Vegetable salad with Peanut chili sauce. Sprouts of course show up as a matter of routine.
Source – Corlena

SerabiSerabi : Indonesian pancake that is made from rice flour with coconut milk or just plain shredded coconut as an emulsifier. One of the few posts in English on Indonesian Cuisine, this one shares a wonderful recipe too. The blog is a treasure trove of edible things from this country.
Source – belajarIndonesia45

Nasi LiwetNasi Liwet : Nasi liwet is a succulent rice dish cooked in coconut milk and chicken broth, from Solo, Central Java. Common steamed rice is usually cooked in water, but nasi liwet is rice cooked in coconut milk and chicken broth, thus giving the rice a rich and succulent taste.
Source – Didinpurnama

KleponKlepon : a traditional rice cake, popular in Indonesia and Malaysia. It is a boiled rice cake, stuffed with liquid gula jawa (palm sugar), and rolled in grated coconut. Klepon is green because it is flavored with a paste made from the pandan or dracaena plant whose leaves are used widely in South East Asian cooking.
Source – ProudWeirdoKitchen

GudegGudeng : Gudeg is made from young unripe jack fruit (Javanese: gori, Indonesian: nangka muda) boiled for several hours with palm sugar, and coconut milk.
Source – RiceAndCoconut

Soto BandungSoto Bandung : Clear broth beef soup with radishes, garlic and lemon grass.
Source – GastroButterfly

KaredokKaredok : Karedok is a raw vegetable salad in peanut sauce from West Java, Indonesia. It is one of the Sundanese signature dish. It is made from cucumbers, bean sprouts, cabbage, legumes, Thai basil, and small green eggplant, covered in peanut sauce dressing.
Source – IndonesiaTypical

PangsitPangsit : A Pansit is an Indonesian Wonton, it generally comprises of meat inside layers of flour, fried or steamed. This however is an egg pangsit. Somehow prettier I think.
Source – SundayMorningStory

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Bakmi : Bakmi consists of two Hokkien Chinese words literally translated to English as “meat noodles” (肉麵, Pe̍h-ōe-jī: bah-mī). Bakmi is a wheat based noodle which was brought to Southeast Asia by Chinese immigrants with Fujian or Hokkien origin, generally prepared and topped with minced soy-sauce pork and few sliced of char-siu.
Source – AudreysCookingBlog

Ayam GorengAyam Goreng : Ayam goreng is a generic term to refer to various kinds of Indonesian and Malaysian dish of chicken deep fried in coconut oil.
Source – food4Two

Sliced TempehTempe : A traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form
Source – Wikipedia

SambalSambal : Sambal is sauce typically made from a variety of chili peppers and secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars. There are more than 300 varieties of Sambal to be found in Indonesia. Check out the source post for some great images from the region.
Source – TheMissingIngredient

Beef RendangBeef Rendang : Rendang is a spicy meat dish which originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia. It is perhaps a definitive dish for the nation. As one of the most loved and recognized internationally, this is a caramelized beef curry.
Source – MichaelToaSmoked LumpiaLumpia : Fried Chinese spring rolls popular throughout South East Asia. The Indonesian versions I guess would go well with sambal.
Source – Mehmetyasin

BaksoBakso : Bakso or baso is Indonesian meatball or meat paste made from beef surimi and is similar in texture to the Chinese beef ball, fish ball, or pork ball.
Source – dinaanna

Goat KariGoat Kari : Goat curry, tomatoes, spices, goat meat. Curry leaves of course. The source post has some great recipes from Indonesia and greater pics.
Source – DentistVsChef

Prawn GulaiPrawn Gulai : Gulai is a type of food containing rich, spicy and succulent curry-like sauce commonly found in Indonesia and Malaysia. The main ingredients might be poultry, beef, mutton, various kinds of offals, fish and seafoods, and also vegetables such as cassava leafs and unripe jackfruit. The gulai sauces commonly have a thick consistency with yellowish color because of the addition of ground turmeric.
Source – HungryC

BakmiBakmi : Bakmi is a wheat based noodle which was brought to Southeast Asia by Chinese immigrants with Fujian or Hokkien origin, generally prepared and topped with minced soy-sauce pork and few sliced of char-siu(叉燒) or barbecued pork, addition of Chinese green vegetable leaf and a bowl of Broth. In Indonesia, the issue with pork persists hence a Halal recipe.
Source – forumnyanya

SotoSoto : Sroto, tauto, or coto is a traditional soup mainly composed of broth, meat and vegetables of Indonesian cuisine. This is considered, ideal Indonesian Comfort Food.
Source – PSILoveToCook

SateSate : A dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce.Satay may consist of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, other meats, or tofu; the more authentic version uses skewers from the midrib of the coconut palm frond, although bamboo skewers are often used.
Source – FifthFloorCooking

Gado GadoGado Gado : Gado-gado (Indonesian or Betawi), also known as lotek (Sundanese and Javanese), is an Indonesian salad of slightly boiled vegetables and hard-boiled eggs served with a peanut sauce dressing. This post offers a non egg version but the colors are captivating.
Source – KelliesFoodToGlow

Nasi GorengNasi Goreng : “fried rice” in Indonesian, can refer simply to fried pre-cooked rice, a meal including stir fried rice in small amount of cooking oil or margarine, typically spiced with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), shallot, garlic, tamarind and chilli and accompanied by other ingredients, particularly egg, chicken and prawns. There is also another kind of nasi goreng which is made with ikan asin (salted dried fish) which is also popular across Indonesia.
Source – FoodAndChick

So that was Indonesia and its varied food. I knew so little about the place, its culture and food. Look at the photos, I think this might be the most colorful post ever. The joy of writing on global food is precisely this, there is something new always, if not in life then at least on screen.

 

 

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