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Thursday, 19 January 2006

Comments

milgwimper

Oh Inidian food...*swoon* LOL Everything looks so very good. :) I think the bread is called a poori. I will have to take some pictures of some of the local chaat houses. :)

mizducky

Oooh! Yum! Another reason to head back up to that Little India Center!

Lessee...consulting my copy of Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking ... I agree, that puffed-up bread looks like it's a poori. I sorta thought they eventually deflated--either I've had bad ones, or you got a good one fresh out of the fryer. And I think the tempura-looking vegetables with the lacy batter coating must be some variety of pakoris--the batter is made out of chickpea flour. Oh, and I love those metal trays with the little individual dishes--the tray-and-dishes set is known as a thali, or at least that's what I've seen it called. Other than that, well, I know that eggplant and okra are big faves around India, but beyond that I'm clueless too. I think it's possible that in some cases the chef just went and applied South Indian-style cooking techniques to whatever vegetables were available, Western or otherwise. :-)

Kirk

Hi Mills - Lot's of good eats here.

Hi mizducky - Some of the dishes are surprisingly good in the buffet. Though I've been told the food is really spicy; it(at least for me) wasn't.

clare eats

Food looks great :)

YUM!!

Rachel

I'm glad that your wifey decided that she liked indian food again. Lots of variety in it ! Even though, you might not have known many of the names of the dishes, your description helped me to imagine what it tastes like :) Everything looked good ! Glad you had such a good find here Kirk :)
P/S you kept referring to the food as "loose" I hope they weren't offended ;) I think they had no intention of being tarty

Reid

Kirk,

Sorry for my not visiting in a while. It's been quite busy at work...and I will continue to get busier during the next two or three months. *sigh*

In any case, you're lucky to have a selection of Indian restaurants that serve buffets. The only places that I can think of here are Zaffron (horrible) and India Cafe (on select nights only). Because of this, Indian food can be an expensive proposition here and one that I don't get to indulge in often enough.

Kirk

Hi Clare - Double YUM!!!

Hi Rachel - I thought loose sounds better then watery, or liquidy....LOL!

Hi Reid - We're very lucky to have Little India Center with it's concentration of Restaurants and Markets. Never really had Indian food back home.

elmomonster

Wow! That food looks so colorful! As long as its all vegetarian, I wouldn't mind not knowing what I was eating. Just imagine if it wasn't a vegetarian place!

Kathy

The balloon of crust is called poori - my favorite and probably most unhealthy of Indian breads. $6.95 is such a good deal for all the variety and food you get - and it appears to be good quality. Thank Kirk, I'm supposed to be doing my accounting homework and now all I want is some poori with curry.

Rachel

mmm I see what you mean now kirk lol I should have kind of guessed it was loose as in 'Stools' but that word should never be mentioned in the same blog as food... oops I did it now! ack!
I think the curry is "thin" or "less creamy" or even like you said "watery" so that it is absorbed better by the rice and bread mmm I could use some roti prata (Singaporean/ Malaysian adaptation of south indian fried flat bread, served at indian restaurants there) dipped in curry now ... a favourite Singaporean breakfast!

Jack

Kirk, glad you liked Madras Cafe. It doesn't get the traffic like Ashoka's but it's very good. Could be because it's a veg. restaurant, or more likely it because it's south indian. It's actually one of my favs. I'm going to have to get my dosa fix soon.

MEalcnetric

You know I dont like Indian, but that sure did look GOOD! I gotta get my hand on some Dosas. hmm...carbs...

Kirk

Hi Elmo - The food is very tasty, and not heavy as Indian food is sometimes. And you can identify, most of the ingredients.

Hi Kathy - Thanks for the info! The prices really can't be beat.

Hi Rachel - Ummm 'nuff said! :o)

Hi Jack - The flavors at Madras are much more assertive and the tastes are very "clean".

Hi MEalcentric - How're you doing? We've missed you, hope all is well. The Indian food at Madras is not as butter or cream laden. And rice is the starch of choice...and who doesn't like rice?

MEalcnetric

Kirk...been feeling lazy and not much good eats going on...I'll be back soon...

Kirk

Hi MEalcentric - Look forward to your return.

Leese

Hi Kirk,

As a South Indian, I'd figure I'd enlighten you as to what you ate. :)

Yes, the bread was definitely "poori", as someone said. Basically, it's just a dough made of wheat flour and water, flattened, then deep fried. Sometimes they poof up, sometimes they don't. ("Chapathi" is the same exact thing, but it's cooked on a hot skillet or open flame instead of deep fried.)

If the onion chutney you referred to was eaten with the idli, then it's actually called "chumunthi", and only has a little bit of onion in it. The main base of the chumunthi is grated coconut that's blended with hot dried red chillies, then sauteed with a tiny bit of onions, ginger and black mustard seeds in an oil & water base.

The item in the center of your thali meal picture looks to me like an *attempt* at making "uzhunnu vada". (I say 'attempt' because the shape is supposed to be that of a small donut.) Basically, it's made from urud dal (a lentil); it's the same base as in idli, minus the rice flour. The uzhunnu vada is also different in that it's prepared as a thicker batter, combined with chopped onions, green chilis, ginger, curry leaves, and then deep fried.

As for the bitter element in the eggplant curry, my guess would be the addition of the vegetable known as "pavikya" (a bitter gourd), popular in the state of Kerala. That's the only bitter thing I can think of which would make it stand out so much. Now that I think about it, it might have been a "pavikya thiel" which is basically a peppery, watery sauce with this bitter veggie and other veggies in it. But that's just my guess.

The peas & carrots with curry is basically just that, but we call it a "thoren curry". 'Thoren' in general means a vegetable side dish, and 'curry' refers to any side dish. It's just peas, carrots, grated coconut, and onions lightly sauteed with a tiny bit of tumeric powder and black mustard seeds in oil.

The "sambhar" is a vegetable stew (anything veggie goes, really), but the key ingredient is asafoetida powder which gives it it's unique flavor and smell. The veggies are stewed with dal lentils, asaf. powder, and water. After it's cooked, you quick-saute it in hot oil that contains onions and black mustard seeds. (Note: not sure if the asaf. powder is stewed first, or sauteed in at the end; my hubby makes this dish, not me...hehe).

The last picture you posted is "aviyal". Basically, it's the same thing as sambar, but with grated coconut, and without the dal and just enough water to cook everything down. It's supposed to have a thicker consistency. Unlike sambar, you don't need to saute this in oil after the veggies are cooked; the oil is added while cooking.

As for the rice dishes, they're just pulaos, or what we call 'vegetable fried rice'. Instead of the rice being pre-sauteed in oil as it is in biriyanis, the veggies and spices are sauteed, and then tossed with the cooked basmati rice. Nothing fancy... simple stuff.

A few notes about South Indian cooking: nearly all curries (veg. and non-veg) use curry leaves in them, as well as tumeric powder. Also, depending on the region of the state you're in, coconut (grated or diced) is often used in curries.

Hope that solves the mystery about what you ate! :) Enjoy.

Kirk

Hi Leese - thanks for taking the time out to explain what we were eating (and enjoying)! I appreciate your time and effort.

Leese

Not a problem, Kirk! I always enjoyed sharing knowledge about my culture, be it about food or traditions. :)

chi

i love south indian food - I had the giant pillow, bhatura cholle.

If you're ever in Berkeley, go to Vik Chaat Corner on the weekend. It'd awesome.

Personally I didn't like Madras service because the waiter was very very persitent on what I would like... and forced me to get a crappy paper dosa instead of masala dosa... =(

Ed

I second chi's recommendation for Vik's Chaat Corner in Berkeley - good stuff!

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