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.

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

YogyaCeilingWide

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.

 

 

There was no ice cream in the book but the photos lovely.

Eating to relax

Stress can lead to obesity, why? Cause we find eating relaxing, more the worry, more we hog. While there are certain foods packed with endorphin and there are others which toy with our neurotransmitters with ease, the act of consumption is in itself somehow calming. Before you read on here is the posts background score to relax and then read to.

Eating is perhaps one of the few self rewarding activities all of us indulge in. This is the only act of self pleasuring that gender, age , cultures, race and religion find themselves incapable of curbing. Gluttony might be a sin but if you see the number of religious feasts we consume you’d be surprised. When office has been trying, you meet a traffic jam at every signal, life at home is noisy and turbulent and even the person you took vows with seems expendable for the day, what do you do? When the miserable few decades you have on Earth seem without a point and you need consolation. That is when you and I turn to foods, comfort foods. Sitcom stars devouring fatty ice creams after breakups, the Sienfeld crowd always contemplating life in a coffee shop, eating chocolate after Dementor attacks, food saves us and beyond sustenance.

I recently read a paper on comfort food, the authors propounded that our meaning of the term is governed by our gender, age and circumstance. The idea is that when we are young, as proponents of hedonistic life styles and unbridled consumption, we love salty, fatty and sweet rewards. As we age the thirst of more fulfilling and yet healthier meals increases. While men like hot meals as they associate them with the idea of home cooking, mothers or loving wives, the women have different ideas. Soups, salads, sandwiches and prepared food find favor from the fairer sex for these suggest a lack of effort in preparation so relaxation for them(the cooks), in it self. The gist of the paper & that of another article hints that the food we find comforting is one which we reward ourselves with, rather than use to alleviate suffering. So I thought why not bring together food which to me is comforting, nurturing, caring and uplifting.  Perhaps you agree with me? Lets see and mutually release that good old dopamine.

Carrot Cake : Carrot and Beet roots were mixed in baked goods presumably in the Middle ages in Europe. A scarcity of sugar prompted these experiments with root vegetables. A carrot cake unlike any other baked creation is moist, salty, earthy, colorful and full of flavor, all in on luscious package. When topped with fresh creamy frosting it brings color to the cheeks of the most depressed of people. This recipe by Holman I think along with photo does it justice.Carrot Cake

Burger & Fries : Juicy patties of meat with pickles, fresh lettuce, cheese, tomato, onions between fresh soft buns with crisp thick salty sticks of potato. An ideal lunch followed by a nice movie and perhaps a beer. Its been around only for a century but delivered joy to billions, hundreds of times. This picture from the Modern Man, won me over.
Burger & Fries

Cocktails : An invention during prohibition when alcohol had to be disguised as juices or coffee before it could be publicly consumed, the cocktail is a class apart form other drinks. A sugary liquid with a punch, these are popular for what they represent, beaches, pool parties, fun, joy and indulgence. This Pina Colada by CBS represents just what I want to say.
Piña Colada

Dal Chawal : I guess you’d have to belong to the Indian subcontinent to understand the allure of soft basmati rice with very slightly spiced lentils, clarified butter and a little bit of pickle. Its what everyone away from home yearns for and what helps billions sleep peacefully at night whatever tomorrow may bring. Its hard to find a good image for this but Asha Pagdiwalla saved the day. You can find her blog here.Dal Chawal

Pasta : When Marco Polo brought noodles from China to Europe he couldn’t have fathomed the impact he’d have to Global cuisine. All forms of pasta are said to have originated from his fascination for the oriental thinner strands of flour. Red tomato sauce, white sauce or whatever takes your fancy, pasta with garlic, olive oil, basil and few veggies is satiating. This Zucchini Ribbon creation by LifeTastesLikeFood is just the ticket.
ribbon-pasta
Chip : My infatuation with the potato chip is fairly recent. Its just been a side kick till recently. Backup with sandwiches, puff pastry and even samosas, the potato chip for me goes best with anything meaty. A meat filled foot long sandwich with herb spiced chips (wipes drool off T shirt). I posted about chips earlier and this image I found at a wonderfully informative post about them.
potato-chips

Kebabs : To be found nearly everywhere now, the product of Mediterranean cultures these roasted meats and vegs carry a smoky charred flavor and smell which when coupled with a good drink lifts you from the worries of the world. Well spices and marinated, food you eat with your hands and feel comfortable doing so. The source post has tips on how to cook, eat and enjoy kebabs so freak out!
MJS SpanishStylePorkKabobs.jpg

Anything Chocolate : This food is a known aphrodisiac, once an embodiment of luxury and always a symbol of joy and celebration. The nature of a dessert changes by the inclusion of this ingredient. You can drink it, eat it, apply it or just smell it, it does things. This photo about many things chocolate might be staged but sure is tempting.
Sweet-Yummy-Chocolate-chocolate-34691337-1467-2126


I actually find all food relaxing, hence the blog, duh! But still these were some of the delectable dishes I turn to in moments of dullness. Tea & Coffee also perhaps receive mention for they are the most used of resuscitators but perhaps they can be filed under necessity rather than indulgence?

Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable Biryani

The Biryani is a unique delicacy which has been made popular as the signature rice dish of the Indian sub continent. Made from mutton, chicken, fish, prawns or even camel meat; the recipe originated from the Mughal era or perhaps even had traces in the Sultanate of Delhi. The Biryani is primarily an Islamic dish made popular everywhere by restaurants and caterers as its easy to cook in large quantities and is a meal in itself. When the vegetarians couldn’t enjoy the dish and India is a nation of veggie munchers, we got the Vegetable Biryani. While many presume that the method of preparation is exactly the same as the more carnivorous option, there are considerable differences. Hyderabad has been synonymous with the Biryani for years now so I developed my own recipe here and although there is no meat in this, the result is delicious.

Ingredients

Basmati Rice (Long grained)
3-4 medium red onions
Half a cauliflower
3 medium potatoes
1 carrot
100gms French beans
Peas
2-3 cups of tomato puree
3 Green Chilies
1 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
8-10 garlic cloves
Ghee and Oil
Handful of salted & roasted dry fruits ( Sultanas, raisins, currants, cashews, almonds and pistachios)
Wheat dough/ bread dough would do ( A small lump)

Spices
2-3 Bay leaves
6-7 cardamom pods
1-2 sticks of cinnamon
1 teaspoon shahi Jeera
2-3 Large cardamom pods
3-4 Cloves
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp red chili powder
Sugar,salt
1 tsp Chole/Dal Makhni masala

Recipe

  1. The secret behind a successful Biryani is good Basmati rice. The grain should be long and the rice not too new ( the year of harvest shouldn’t be too close). A few people choose to soak the rice a few minutes before cooking, I don’t, it makes the grain brittle. 
  2. Take rice according to the number of people you are going to serve. For 4-5 people 3 cups should be more than adequate. Wash it, add a tsp of salt, the green cardamom pods(small) and the cinnamon broken into small pieces. Then boil this in excess water till its about 3/4th done. Now drain the water and put the rice to dry in a colander. After it slights cool down, keep in a closed container for at least an hour. This process of cooking removes the extra starch, makes sure all grains are fluffy and separated. The cooling is important too.
  3. The cauliflower and potatoes are to be cut into mid size pieces and slightly sauteed in little oil. You don’t need to cook them through just a little.  
  4. The beans and carrots and any other vegetables just need to be slightly steamed, less than the cauliflower and potato. You can add baby corn, mushroom or any vegetable with a little body. 
  5. The onions have to be sliced very thinly, well separated and deep fried on a medium flame. This takes time and the result shall be caramelized reddish brown strands. Separate these onto a large tissue paper for the extra oil to be absorbed. You might want to make more of these for using later, they make a good garnish. These are known as Birista.

    This is what the onions would look like
  6. The green chilies need to be thinly sliced along the center, don’t remove the seeds. The garlic cloves also need to be finely chopped. Adjust these according to your tolerance for heat.
  7. In a large thick bottomed vessel, add a generous dash of oil. Wait or this to heat and add the spices except the powders. Add now the ginger-garlic paste, green chili and garlic and let them brown slightly before adding the cauliflower and potatoes.
  8. Saute these and add the other vegetables except the peas. Now add turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt and sugar and stir the lot. You can now pour in the puree and add water to make a wettish curry like consistency. Let this bubble slightly. Add the Garam Masala and Chole Masala/ any Indian spice mix for a tomato based gravy.

    Cook the peas slightly before adding to the Dish
  9. Now take the pot off the flame, start layering rice onto the mix. After putting half the rice, add a layer of peas, and half of the fried onions. After this is done add the remaining rice followed by the onions and a layer of dry fruits.
  10. Poke holes in the layers with a long thin knife. slide down ghee through these generously and sprinkle a little salt in between layers according to taste.
  11. On the flame place a Tawa  or a sauce pan on which you place the pot. You need to cover the pot with a lid which is to be sealed using dough as shown. This shall confine the flavor to the pot and help steam cook the mix.

    Sealing the top of the vessel
  12. On a slow flame lit the Biryani cook for 30 -40 minutes. Serve after mixing well. Open the pot just before serving to retain the aroma.

While this is considered a daunting dish to make the trick is to get the timings right : for cooking the rice, vegetables and the biryani. As the vessels and implements you choose have a role to play this you get to learn via experience.

Thoroughly mix the Biryani to get rice with dual colors
The final product
Cool Raita for accompaniment

This is best served with a cool, vegetable raita. On a ending note I am reminded of this sketch by Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) of an Indian restaurant. Raita with Biryani always a hit.

Food Porn & other things

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