Saturday, June 30, 2007

Garam Masala

I took a sip of the cold beer and gobbled a morsel of the intense aromatic 'Yakhni Pulav' - A North Indian preparation of Basmati rice cooked with lamb in its own juices and spices. I looked at Raji and smiled. She could read in my eyes, what was in my mind. As I said in a devotional tone "is this heaven". The taste was like a 'final wish' in life come true. As I savored the irresistible dish, I thought its the succulent lamb, the fragrant basmati rice, the right balance of sun ripe tomatoes, the unsurpassed herb coriander, and Raji's own 'GARAM MASALA' - Made with a special recipe which she inherits from her Late Father's renowned 'Tava Dhaba' - A mélange of different cuts of lamb, chicken, fish and their offals cooked ala minuet seperately as per order on a tava (rustic flat round griddle) placed on top of live coal providing the heat with fresh coriander, chilies, tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and the special Garam Masala.

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in the North Indian cuisine, whose literal meaning is 'hot (or warm) spice'. Garam masala is not "hot" in the sense that chilis are, but is fairly pungent. The Mughal Emperor's considered Garam Masala as the majestic renaissance in the evolution of North Indian cuisine.

But the real enchantrass is Raji who uses the perfect balance of every commodity used in the making of her Garam Masala. In every traditional north Indian savory vegetarian or non-vegetarian dish she makes it works like a magic potion enhancing the flavor to its fullest height. It acts like a building block of tantalizing sentation on your taste buds. Every dish she makes tempts me, entices me to boost my appetite persuading me to leave the plate clean.

But how does she do it?? The answer to this fact is 'The simple ratio of a humble, yet precise mind which evaluates each individual spice and gives justice to their natural balance of flavor and harmony including mace, bay leaves, black pepper corns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves and lastly but not the least cinnamon. I accept the verity without demur, Raji's heart is the abode of legendary obsession for cooking with passion and salute it from within.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meyer Lemon

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. May be this saying was justified enough by Shakespere in his classic Romeo and Juliet. Can you imagine calling rose by any other name today!!!

Some things have distinct nature embossed in their name therefore you cannot imagine changing their name or it becomes a change of the whole concept in distinction, like my personal favorite Meyer lemon. The Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri) is originally from China and thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange or sweet orange . The Meyer lemon was introduced to the United States in 1908 as S.P.I. #23028, by the agricultural explorer Frank Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China. It is commonly grown in China potted as an ornamental plant.

It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs, such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, during the California Cuisine revolution.Its very predominant especially in USA.

When I cut it in half for the first time, The sanity lay in the haunting perfume of the rind, the juice supplied the most sophisticated aroma to my taste buds. It carried a distinct natural sweetness which is unprecedented as its tartness.

Try a Meyer lemon & thyme sorbet matching it with a matured Gewürztraminer for a wilful diligent experience or roast a chicken in a concoction of Myer lemon juice, fresh chilies and larger, you will feel obliged to thank mother nature for this unique ingredient.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Creativity is the mastery of simplicity. I beleive it does not take computer mind to be creative. Its just being honest with your thoughts and let them exploit the resources available. The thoughts can be generated by your brain anytime eg: when you are watching a television, when someone talks about a scrumptous affair with the dinner they had, when you are reading a novel and your mind gets distracted by a devine aroma flowing with the pacific breeze through the window. it is a mental process of generating new ideas which multiplies with the sheer passion within you.

As a chef I know passion within you is a motivational drive towards creativity. I developed this dish using the creative thought and exploiting the fresh resources available in the pacific.

Fresh Red Snapper rubbed with the lively herb dill, indulgent wild mushroom risotto, wilted young spinach with a engaging mango and pomegranate salsa. Do a favour by balancing with a new grape Sauvignon Blanc for a memorising crisp, clean, harmonical memory on your taste buds.

It is like when you say from within "just right" or "just the thing"