Praveen Anand is a Chennai-based chef trained in western cooking. Today, his passion is authentic South Indian food. His embrace of the traditional is significant in a nation that has quietly begun discarding some of its food customs. In his two-decade long career, he has researched foods of various communities in Southern India bringing dishes from each of them to a wider audience. The fruits of his labor are evident at Dakshin, listed as one of top 20 restaurants in Asia in the authoritative Miele [...]
Food & Travel
“Eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath,” a Shakespearean character entreats actors in the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Alliums are aromatics, eaten precisely for their smelly qualities. But what if you’re forbidden onions and garlic for life? Some vegetarians in India are required, for religious reasons, to shun onions and garlic. They have come to rely on a potent resin as a replacement: asafetida. Read more about this spice here. html.
Most readers with an interest in world history are familiar with Ireland’s seven-year Potato Famine, which lasted from 1845 until 1852. Fewer know of the catastrophic 1943 famine that claimed up to three million lives in Bengal, an eastern Indian state and then British colony. In the fall of 1942, Bengal’s rice crop failed following a devastating cyclone. As World War ii raged on its eastern border with the Japanese invasion of Burma, Bengal went on to lose its source of rice imports. Despite this crisis, [...]
We humans use a combination of our five senses — sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste — to navigate the everyday world. Among those who operate without the benefit of one or more of these senses, the blind and the deaf have our immediate sympathy. But what of a person who cannot smell — an anosmic? Can we even begin to fathom her frustration? Smell is an undervalued sense. When we can drink in the scents and odors around us, it is hard to appreciate [...]
For over a decade, during the Independent Activities Period between semesters, MIT has offered a non-credit class on “old food’’ from the region around the Mediterranean Sea. The idea came from conversations history department chair Anne McCants, who teaches the class, had with a colleague about how little their students knew about daily life in the past,’’ she says. “Both of us liked to cook and I was especially interested as well in nutrition and health of past populations, as well as the productive capacity [...]
“Please teach me Indian Vegetarian cooking! I will bring ingredients and pay you $10/hr for your trouble. I would like to know about your culture as well.” In 2008 Nani Power, Virginia-based writer and aficionado of spicy Indian food, impulsively placed this ad on Craig’s list. Much to her delight, more than a dozen Indian immigrants who lived within driving distance of her home responded. Many of her hosts offered her ginger-flavored chai, milky black tea, as a welcome beverage. Over time, some shared their [...]
Swati Banerjee barely knew how to cook when she came to this country five years ago from India. Now the Boston University biochemistry doctoral student always cooks dinner after she gets home from the lab. Leftovers are for the next day’s lunch. All of this and her other kitchen adventures are recorded on her blog, The Whistling Pressure Cooker. Read the article here. html. pdf.
On any given school day, one industrial kitchen in Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, is astir well before dawn. In this food factory run by the Akshaya Patra Foundation, workers prepare hot lunches for over one hundred thousand children in the city’s state-aided schools. Inside the plant the preparation proceeds like clockwork. By seven a.m. special containers of a paella-like tomato rice are loaded onto the waiting food trucks. I savor a plateful for breakfast before boarding one of these vehicles. Despite the city’s chaotic rush-hour traffic, [...]
SOMERVILLE — Losar, the Tibetan New Year, begins with a spoonful of dessert. Dresyl, also known as deysee, is a warm dish of sweetened rice that women make for their families on the morning of this festive day. “In Tibet, we would add droma, which tastes like a chewy sweet potato. But here raisins work as a good substitute,’’ says Yeshi Lokyitsang, owner of the House of Tibet Kitchen. She pulls out a Ziploc stash of the miniature root vegetable with traces of Tibetan soil [...]
LONDON — Dishoom, which opened last summer and calls itself “A Bombay Cafe in London,’’ takes its name from the Indian comic book equivalent of “Pow!’’ and “Wham!’’ In some Bollywood films, “dishoom’’ is, at times, said out loud in fight scenes when someone throws a punch. Mumbai, once called Bombay, is the home of studios where these films are made. Started by three Londoners who spent childhood summers in Mumbai, Dishoom pays homage to old-fashioned spots there. At one point, there were a few [...]