Sunday, December 14, 2008
Roald Dahl's murder weapon when frozen. Delicious when cooked.
Started with a 3.3 kg bone-in New Zealand
leg of lamb from Citysuper, IFC, Hong Kong.
Not much silverskin, a layer of fat on top, a
hefty knuckle... perfect for roasting.
The marination: simple is best
Garlic, rosemary, thyme,
lemon juice, olive oil, pepper.
My kitchen and living room smelt
mediterranean for hours.
The leg of lamb packed with all those goodies
inside a ziplock bag. Or rather two ziplock bags.
Note to self: buy BIGGER ziplock bags
Marinated overnight, all those flavours
wrapping themselves lovingly around the lamb.
Surely the full moon helped a bit.
Taken out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking.
Marination removed and meat patted dry with
paper towels. Then seasoned and massaged vigorously
with salt and pepper. Didn't forget the chef's touch
of cutting slits and inserting slivers of garlic and sprigs of fresh herbs
Looked good enough to eat even at this stage.
The lamb went in the oven with lots of pomp and ceremony, cheered
on by an enthusiastic audience.
Seared in the oven at high heat (around 300 C)
for ten minutes (after lots of fiddling around with the knobs
of an unfamilar oven and a couple of misfires.)
Then roasted slowly for almost two hours on medium heat,
around 180 C. Basted with olive oil and some of the marinade
every half hour.
By the end of Hour 1 the whole house was smelling yummy
and people were getting hungry and restless. By Hour 2
pizza delivery numbers were being looked at. Any longer,
and I would have had a riot on my hands
The lamb came out looking fairly good, all
that fat having melted into the meat, the surface
The meat rested for about 20 minutes under
a foil tent, letting the fibres relax and the juices
ooze into every pore.
Carved with a hungry audience gathered
around as if in prayer. A couple of
" silence of the lambs" jokes were cracked.
The sauce - red wine reduction: caramelised onions
scraped and deglazed with red wine, mixed with pan
juices, reduced and simmered with lamb stock, chicken
broth and mustard.
Some vigorous chomping later, this is what was left in the end.
Probably fair to say that it was a success ! And a bit of a relief for me I must say.
Most pics in this Post are courtesy my friend Manash Dasgupta
Friday, September 19, 2008
8 DAYS A WEEK IN THE CITY OF JOY
An evening of Appams & Ishtew at Abeer & Anna's
Appams by Anna. The music of fresh batter sizzling on a hot pan
Anna's Appams hot off the griddle. Whisper-soft riceflour pancakes,
slightly lacy around the edges. I followed them right from the kitchen
to the dining table.
With Appams on the plate, can Mutton Ishtew be far behind :
white mutton stew cooked in coconut milk and flavoured
( I think) with cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, peppercorn and cinnamon
And then just to take things to another level, the unique Pineapple curry.
Chunks of sweet pineapple in a sweet n sour coconut-based gravy.
Anna's mom's secret Malayalam recipe. All I can say is that it combined
the flavours and spices of South India, East India and
South-east Asia in one delightful concoction.
Concert Tribute to Ustad Karamatullah Khan, the late
tabla maestro - the 32nd generation of an unbroken
lineage of the Farakkabad gharana, dating back to 1132.
Ustad Sultan Khan on Sarangi, Ustad Sabir Khan on Tabla
and Taufiq Qureshi on percussions.
Delightful jugalbandis and some enthusiastic sparring.
Classic ragas and Rajasthani folk songs.
Constantly, playfully blurring the boundaries of
classical and folk, traditional and fusion.
Oh Calcutta ! restaurant, Forum, Elgin Road, Kolkata
Mary Memsahib-er fish finger: small, thin, crunchy cylinders of
fried breaded fish named after the ubiquitous "Madam Mary - ",
a nice tribute to the rich Anglo-Indian contribution to Calcutta
cuisine and Calcutta life. The strumming of guitars in the
back-lanes of Rippon Street, rum-soaked cakes at Christmas ...
Pic courtesy http://indiareadyreckoner.blogspot.com/2008/06/food-guide-to-kolkata.html
Golbarir Kasha Mangsho: A cover version of the rich, dark-as-sin,
dry mutton curry from Golbari in Shyambazar, North Calcutta.
Looks lethal. Tastes amazing. The stuff of legend.
Kumro pata-e aam aachar ilish: Boneless hilsa pieces marinated
in mango pickle and green chillies, wrapped in pumpkin leaves and
steamed to perfection. Innovative take on the Hilsa,
but rooted in Bengali cooking tradition. Sweet and tangy.
Daab Chingri: Prawns cooked with mustard, turmeric and green chillies,
steamed inside a green coconut , and served in the coconut shell.
Creamy and delicate. Even better while listening to Rabindrasangeet.
Hilsa dinner at Mamu and Mamiya's
A 2 kg riverwater hilsa bought from the finest purveyor in Lansdowne Market. Unbelievably tasty, the flesh soft and sweet and pinkish white. Gives the Toro ( fatty tuna belly) a run for its money in my book.
Doi Ilish: The Hilsa being cooked in Mamiya's kitchen.
Mustard paste, yoghurt and green chillies. The holy trinity behind every great Hilsa curry.
Ilish Mach bhaja: Hilsa fried in mustard oil.
Crispy, slightly charred skin, sweet and firm flesh.
With fried, slightly salty roe that manages to be creamy
and firm at the same time. And that little yellow oil on
the plate - mixture of the natural oils of the fish and
the pungent mustard oil - to be scooped up with some
plain steamed rice. Enough to send any Bengali to the moon.
Finally the moment, a precious moment that comes
rarely to us non-resident Bengalis.
I broke off a bit of the fish, dipped it in the curry and
took a small bite. My eyes closed automatically, all my
senses started singing , and my soul leaped in joy.
The sweet fish, the velvety sauce, the kick of the
green chillies and mustard paste, softly tempered
by the yoghurt. It was pure. It was emotional. It was magnificent.
Man of the Heart
A multi-media solo performance on the life and times of Lalon Phokir,
the 19th century Sufi mystic bard. Enacted through solo acting and
reading, video projections, live and recorded audio and minimalist props.
A stunning world-class performance for only forty rupees. Only in Calcutta.
Mutton Biryani from Arsalan
Pic courtesy http://www.virtualtourist.com
Which is the best mutton biryani in Calcutta ?
Over the last two decades I have always vouched for Shiraz,
in Mullickbazar, Park Circus. This time I had to do a serious
rethink after tasting the biryani from Arsalan
( Park Circus 7 point crossing) .
Fragrant ( I can still smell it sitting thousands of miles away
in Hong Kong), every grain of rice flavourful, almost juicy,
a melt-in-the-mouth piece of mutton, a gigantic chunk of potato,
not overtly greasy ... what more can you ask for
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Yes I've had the pleasure. From Spicy Frog in a hotpot restaurant in Chengdu and red hot Beef Rendang in a Mamak joint in Kualalumpur, to sizzling Pig's ears in Manila and Cabbages with Condoms in Bangkok. From Prawns in coconut sauce in my hometown Kolkata and Scallop in Orange in Shanghai to Rabbit Wonton broth in Melbourne and Erdinger beer in Singapore ...
'Lost' whisky distilleries of Scotland
Bacon and Chocolate
Schmap Melbourne Guide
Friday, August 22, 2008
These are a bunch of small, charming , much-loved, often remote distilleries in Scotland that once all produced their own distinctive brands of single malts , but were closed down in the 1980's due to a variety of geographical, economic and political reasons and were therefore 'lost' to posterity.
But all was not lost.
Some of the old stock of these now 'silent' distilleries have been carefully preserved , and are occasionally bottled and released, much to the delight of single malt afficionados. The remarkable quality of some of the vintages, the story behind them, the rarity of the bottlings and the dwindling supply, all add to their charm and their rising prices.
The whole fascinating story is beautifully detailed and turned into a profitable business by The Whisky Exchange
Based in London, The Whisky Exchange sources these lost vintages from manufacturers and bottlers and sells them online. The user-friendly design, easy payment process and the expert guidance notes makes ordering from the site a breeze and a pleasure. It takes 3-4 days for an order to be processed and delivered to Hong Kong. No doubt delivery times in the UK and Europe would be shorter.
In the last three months I have ordered four bottles from The Whisky Exchange, two for my friends and two for my own collection. I intend adding to the collection over a period of time.
Rosebank 1991 / 16 Year old / 53.9% / 70cl
Glenglassaugh 1973 / 34 Year old / Bourbon Cask / 52% / 70cl
Port Ellen 1982 / 25 Year old / 52% / 70cl
Brora 1982 / 23 Year old / Sherry Cask#2294 / 50% / 70cl
Needless to say, I will take great care of these bottles and hopefully watch their prices rising. But will I be able to overcome the temptation of drinking them ?
All pics sourced from http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com
'Lost' whisky distilleries of Scotland
Bacon and Chocolate
Schmap Melbourne Guide
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
My photo of Melbourne airport got chosen to be included in the newly released fifth edition of the Schmap Melbourne Guide.
I took this shot with my Sony Cybershot DSC-T7 through the aircraft window just as the flight landed in Melbourne at dusk.
The photo on Schmap Melbourne Guide
This is a pretty cool Guide, available also on iPhone
Schmap on iPhone
More such pics in " Shots from the Sky" on my Flickr
Other shots of Melbourne
My 7 course degustation meal in Taxi restaurant, Melbourne
Saturday, June 7, 2008
During my trip to New York City last month I finally achieved something I've been planning for a long time - a meal at chef Wylie Dufresne's wd~50, one of the most critically acclaimed, talked-about, blogged-about and hotly debated restaurants in the world today.
Cornstarch thickener is an everyday example of a hydrocolloid; so is gelatin. The hydrocolloids chef Dufresne uses are a little more exotic - things like xanthan gum and agar-agar. An entire wall of his hi-tech kitchen is lined with little white bottles that would not look out of place in a chemistry lab.
The ingredients of the Eggs Benedict (top) and the finished dish (below). Pic courtesy New York Times
Now, to our much anticipated meal. Twelve courses eaten for over two hours in a dimly lit and relatively spare interior, at a table looking directly into the kitchen. Dishes timed perfectly, and served and explained expertly.
Pic courtesy Foodplow
Sweetbreads, rhubarb, roiboos, hazelnut
Tiny sweetbreads served with a scrape of rhubarb sauce. An amuse-bouche. Gone in 5 seconds leaving a slight tart taste in the mouth. Incidentally 'roiboos' is an African tea herb. Who knew ?
Lamb belly is the 'meat of the moment' among New York City chefs this season. It is essentially lamb bacon, rich salty and crunchy. Here it came accompanied by black chickpeas, both toasted and pureed. And the surprise wd element - 'pickled' cherry-flavoured cucumber.
Wintergreen parfait, avocado puree, chartreuse gelee, candied walnuts