Category Archives: World Cuisine

Grill’n and Chill’n

GrillnChillnSummer is here, with hot afternoons, bright colors and happy faces. Parties are in full swing with grilled food and chilled drinks. Memorial Day at the end of May is the start of the grilling season.

Grilling is an All-American tradition. It is a method of cooking food at high heat over direct flames. Grilling is different from bar-b-que.  Bar-b-que is cooking marinated foods at temperatures between 200 and 300 degrees F. Grilling is about cooking foods at very high heat, well above 400 degrees F. Most barbeque sauces are tomato and sugar based and will burn if they are used for grilling.

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The Rise of King Corn

CornNative Americans call it the food of the gods that created the earth. Corn has an important place in history. Its origin dates back to 5000 years and takes us to Mexico.

With the shocking prices of rice and wheat at Indian stores, I have consciously begun to include makki ki roti (corn roti) into our weekly menu. Corn flour is abundant and a healthy substitute for other staples.

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Hot Sandwiches on Cold Winter Days

[Note: This article was published in India Currents Magazine in Feb 2008. Excerpted here….]

I looked through my kitchen window and could feel the chill. My husband was plugging away on his laptop in the office room. I peeked in and asked, “Shall we go out to lunch?” He jumped at the offer. We debated where to go. Where could we get a nice, toasty sandwich? We thought about a few fast, casual places we both knew, but none sounded quite right for a cold afternoon. Then my husband asked, “How about that chutney sandwich?” “Oh!” I said, “You mean the one with warm wheat bread, spread with spicy homemade tomato chutney, layered with pepper jack cheese, sautéed onions and bell peppers, and a layer of grilled chicken?”

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Caribbean Calypso

Caribbean IslandsBeautiful turquoise beaches, sky scraping palm trees, silver sands, glistening sunlight and romantic sunsets: the Caribbean Islands are a colorful treat for our eyes, and their cuisine is equally something to relish. There are more than 7000 islands in the Caribbean plate, that we call the West Indies.

The early inhabitants of the islands were from the northern part of South America. Their cuisine included corn, cassava, squash yams and sweet potatoes along with an extensive selection of seafood. Eventually ravaged by disease and their conquest by the Spaniards, English and French, most of the early inhabitants were wiped out. The native cuisine, called Creole, was influenced by European, African and Spanish cuisines.

One toasty Sunday afternoon, we had a few friends over for a Caribbean party. Here is a peek at the menu. Enjoy! Continue reading Caribbean Calypso

Fusion Food: Cooking without Borders

One Friday evening we went out to try a new restaurant with a friend. Our friend was curious about the cuisine. I told her they had some interesting dishes and she exclaimed, “Please don’t say Fusion – it feels like the chef has a hand in all the pots, and does not have a clue where he belongs!” That sparked an interesting conversation.

Black Pepper Ice CreamFusion marries 2 or more ingredients, from 2 different cuisines, and creates a new dish that compliments the individual flavors and ingredients. Many centuries ago when the Chinese came to America, the Africans moved to Europe and the East Indians and French learned to dine together, fusion was born.

Today, this blending of cuisines has gained momentum. This is the new trend in many metropolitan cities around the world. This New World Cuisine requires a great deal of creativity and knowledge on the part of the chef, to come up with a dish that incorporates entirely different cuisines. The world is truly flat, when it comes to Fusion food.

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A Confluence of Cuisines

A few months ago, my good friend, Lakshmi Pratury called me and said, “Praba! I need you!”. She was putting together the entire conference gala for TiEcon 2006. The theme for the Gala was a “Global Bazaar”, with entertainment combining the best of the east and the west. For dinner, Lakshmi said, “Praba, come up with a menu that will blow away the 1200 people who will be at the Gala!”

TiEcon 2006 Gala DecorAs I thought more about it, I told my friend, that this crowd would be hard to please. This was an elite group of well traveled, “been there, done that”, well read, smart Indian Americans. They set a high bar in whatever they did, and were constantly in search of the “next big thing”.

The resident Chef at the venue would turn my menu into the Gala dinner. My challenge was to work with the Chef and his staff, without stepping into their kitchen! Their workers’ union rules would not allow yours truly to get in there!

I got down to work. My first take was a huge menu, that would bring together distinctively different items from all around the world, in keeping with the “Global” Theme!

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