Friday, November 27, 2009

arbi (colocasia) fry

known as seppaankizhangu in tamil and arbi in hindi, it is a delectable root vegetable. in kerala it is an extremely popular vegetable and used as even a main staple food. in gujerat,the leaves of arbi are used to prepare a dish called "patra" which consists of tamarind and other spices. used in morekuzhambu (buttermilk kuzhambu) and in plain kozhambu as a vegetable,it is perhaps most liked as a deepfried curry in tamil nadu and known as seppankizhangu vadhakkal.

the skin of arbi is not edible. therefore, after pressure cooking without any water,the skin has to be peeled off. it is very simple to make but needs a bit of caution so that the vegetable does not get overheated.

take 1/2 kg oil,4 tsp salt 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder and a bunch of curry leaves. boil the arbi in a pressure has to become very soft. then allow it to cool and peel the skin.heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and add mustard seeds and green chilli.add urad dal when it splutters.when urad dal is roasted you can add the arbi taking care that you add them slowly and also mix them gradually so that they get an even coat of oil. then add chillipowder,salt,turmeric powder,sambar powder (you can even add 2 tsp of besan), a pinch of asfoetida and fry until it takes a golden brown colour.add curry leaves and stir.

what you have cooked is truly heavenly stuff.though it goes well with chapati,it is normally eaten alongwith sambhar or rasam.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

a fine dining experience-'the dome' and the 'corleone'

my cousin from the us was on a business trip to india. i missed him the previous week when he arrived as i was travelling to chennai for my niece's wedding.while returning to the us,he stopped by at mumbai for a day which gave us an opportunity to meet. we planned for drinks at my place and a quiet meal in some good restaurant. we had a few things to discuss in privacy and i thought "the intercontinental" which is near home would be an apt choice. we first went to the "dome" which is at the rooftop to quench our thirst. the "dome" offers a fantastic view of the arabian sea. the ambience is superb and from the bar one gets a breathtaking view of the queen's necklace. post drinks, we decided to have dinner at the 'kabab korner' situated on the first floor."kabab corner" is one of my regular haunts. their service and food are excellent. my favourite steward is jaspal singh who does his best to keep a vegetarian like me happy and well-fed in a restaurant where most of the guests are eating nonvegetarian stuff.he makes it a point to get me hot and mouth-watering vegetarian kababs. as the decision to go to intercontinental was impromptu,i didn't book in advance and when we reached there from the "dome" we found the place was full. though there were a few empty tables they were all reserved. regretably,we left the place and went over to 'corleone' situated next to "kabab corner".

'corleone' is intercontinental's signature italian restaurant. i had never visited this place earlier. i thought i was taking a big risk. but my maiden experience proved otherwise. the ambience in 'corleone' is awesome,the sicilian food truly delectable and the service excellent. there were very few guests in the restaurant which meant that we could have our conversation peacefully. we ordered a plate of risotto and penne arrabbiata which we both liked. in italian, arrabbiata means angry.the arrabbiatta we ate was a roman sauce of tomatoes,garlic,red chili and basil cooked in olive was served with wheat tubular pasta and some fresh parsley sprinkled on top. the taste was hot and fiery and i liked it. the arrabbiata made me very calm. my cousin enjoyed the food as well though he might have liked it less spicy and less hot.

the restaurant is named after a small sicilian town which has the ignominy of being the birthplace of most of the 'mafiosi'. why this name was chosen is anybody's guess.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

the carbon billionaire

you might think that i am hung up on billionaires after two recent postings on this subject and yet another one now. actually,for the first time,i came across the words carbon billionaire.i was intrigued and wanted to know what it meant. a tag which has been given to al gore, ex vp of usa and one who almost became president. he has taken up the cause of saving the planet.he has been relentlessly pursuing this cause and has travelled extensively all over the world to spread the awareness of climate change and the impact it can have on people and their lives.

he has also invested heavily in green companies. those companies that work for reducing pollution and making the planet greener and a safer place to live in for future generations.the projects these companies have taken up are solar power,biofuels,sustainable fish farming,waterless lavatories.his fortune has already risen from 1.2 million pounds to about 60 million pounds. these companies are all likely to become extremely profitable over time and that would give al gore excellent returns. in anticipation of this windfall al gore is likely to get,the us press is now referring to him as the first carbon billionaire. he very recently hit back at global warming sceptics who are labelling him the first "carbon billionaire" from his earnings as an investor in green technology. he dismissed them as "global-warming deniers". if all the carbon trading mandates go through in the next five years al gor they say would have multiplied his money multifold.

for the last eight years al gore has been a powerful advocate of government policies to limit carbon dioxide emissions. his latest book, 'our choice: a plan to solve the climate crisis' and a sequel to his earlier work, which was also a successful film, entitled 'an inconvenient truth' is being released very soon. his new book which expected to become a new york best seller,emphasises the need for political will if anything is to be effectively done on climate change. he covers a wide range of subjects like forest management,nuclear energy for generating power,geo thermal energy etc. these subjects were discussed and debated by him with likeminded experts which he refers to as "solution summits".

with the approaching copenhagen talks on climate change al gore's stock is likely to rise further.some of his critics ask whether his advocacy for reducing pollution has anything to do with swelling his own coffers. he is also a partner in a venture capital firm which has heavily invested in companies that are developing alternative energy sources and technologies which are energy-efficient.

al gore lobbies powerfully with members of the us congress for passing strict emission laws. sceptics who believe that this whole earth warming is all highly exaggerated, wonder whether he is doing all this for piling up a huge fortune.there is no altruism they say. recently al gore reacted to a critic by saying that if she thought greed was at play she didn't know him.

we need some al gores in india. i would like to see some carbon crorepatis in india who like al gore will push relentlessly the cause of climate change. our country would be a better place to live in.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

extreme billionaires

i had not heard of this expression ever interest aroused,i researched a bit on the net to find out who are these people and why are they called extreme billionaires.they have money pouring out of their ears;but,they are bored with the hobbies of daily life.they are looking for major adventures and risky endeavours.things that give them a kick,a rush of adrenalin in their blood so to say.

one such guy is guy laliberte.he is the billionaire founder of a psychedelic entertainment group.he blasted into space on a russian rocket at a cost of us$ 35 million (rs170 crores).his trip lasted 12 days which included a nine-day stay at the international space station.he put on a 2 hour web show featuring himself in space and featuring some celebrities on earth.laliberte worked rigorously to pursue this hobby.he learnt russian,underwent intense cardiovascular training to get into space shape,mastered the use of instruments on the space vessel.

maverick ceo richard branson is another example of an extreme billionaire. he is creating his own private space agency.his travel company virgin galactic will start carrying passengers out of the the earth's atmosphere in 2011. cost of ticket? 200,000US$.(rs 1 crore). total flight time will be 2.5 hours like from mumbai to kolkata. branson has broken many records on sea and in air.

there are others in this extreme billionaires' gallery. roger penske the mughal of auto racing,larry ellison the founder of oracle and ernesto bertarelli who do extremes just to get the thrill.

beyond money, it is self-actualisation that these people seem to crave for.

the indian curry is 'world's healthiest meal'

gurpareet bains is a 32 year-old anglo-indian chef and a british nutritional therapist who has created the 'world's healthiest meal'. the meal consists of a chicken and blueberry curry with goji berry(the himalayan superfood) and pulao rice. it is claimed that it is a superfood that can help fight cancer.while the spicy chicken meal does the job of fighting the cancerous cells,others like ginger,chili,turmeric and garlic which are known for their antibacterial and antiviral properies do their respective jobs and in aggregate the meal can take on diseases like dementia,alzheimer's and cancer. each serving is supposed to contain the nutritional equivalent of 49 helpings of spinach,23 bunches of grapes or nine proportions of is according to experts 20 times more nutritious than any specially formulated healthy meal.the winning factor appears to be the combination of two genres of food stuffs-spices and fruits, both known for their exceptional health took the indian "superfood" pioneer almost two years to make the meal perfect.

the scientific measurement of antioxidant in foods is done on a ORAC scale(oxygen radical absorbance capacity).this superfood contains 25,000 ORAC units.salads which come under the healthy foods umbrella have less than 5000 ORAC units. and do you know that a single teaspoon of cinnamon is the equivalent of two portions of grapes or a glass of fresh pomegranate juice? gurpreet has carefully chosen all the ingredients. for example,chicken has low fat.chilli helps relieve pain.turmeric keeps the heart,brain and joints healthy.

bye bye to greasy curry. welcome the new superfood.and await the best development chef's indian superfood cookery book showcasing the best in our superfoods and superspices. gurpreet bains is currently chef at 'indian superfood' and lives in bedford,uk.

the curry and rice according to food critics tastes pretty good.and costs only about rs 200 per portion.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

millionaires,billionaires and trillionaires

lakhpati and crorepatis are terms used for the rich in india.the former is for those whose wealth is more than a lakh of indian rupees. and the latter for those whose wealth runs into crores (one crore is equal to 100 lakhs).in the old days you could count on your fingers the number of crorepatis in india. today there are a dime a dozen.some have earned their riches using their entrepreneurial skills and with a lot of hard work,determination and luck.while others have made it on the fast lane by crookish means.the recent revelation of madhu koda,ex chief minister of jharkhand state is a case in point. rs 2500 cr scam says the cbi. it is surely much more than all that.he has swiss bank accounts,mines in liberia,companies in thailand and vietnem. that a tribal who started life as a porter could reach such dazzling heights of fortune in a very short period shows that there is something radically wrong in our system which is not able to detect such cases of fraud much earlier.

like these indian terms for the super rich,the english and americans have coined the words millionaire and billionaire.i thought till recently that the word trillionaire did not exist. when i googled to check whether i was right, i found a list of trillionaires too! (100 billion dollars). that is what is called mindboggling the us and europe too some have earned their money rightfully while others have illgotten wealth. after all, greed like many other human qualities is universal.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

kela kofta curry(fried raw banana dumplings in a thick gravy)

kofta is a vegetarian alternative to meatballs.a few days ago,i asked my cook whether he can prepare some kaccha kela(raw banana) kofta curry.i had read about it in some magazine and desired to taste a well cooked kela kofta curry. our guest house cook,rao,is a quick learner and quite a talented guy and is able to spin out some remarkable stuff. this latest desire of mine was met with great success. i found it tasty and it went well with the chappatis and basmati rice that i ate alongwith.

here is a recipe which i picked up on the internet and passed it on to rao. if you are interested in whipping one up, you may try it.. it is not difficult to make.only you have to be careful while making the kofta.

ingredients for kofta

raw bananas- 500 gm
besan- 2 tablespoons
green chillies-2 to 3 cut into small pieces
ginger-1 inch long
green coriander-i table spoon
paneer-100 gm
salt to taste
oil-to fry the koftas

ingredients for the curry:

tomatoes--250 gm
green chillies-2 to 3
ginger-1 inch long
cashew 25(soak in water for i hour)
cream- 2 tablespoons
asfoetida-1 pinch
jeera-half teaspoon
turmeric powder-half teaspoon
dhaniya powder-1 teaspoon
red chilli powder-quarter teaspoon
salt to taste
garam masala-quarter teaspoon
green dhaniya-1 table spoon

method for the kofta:
boil the raw bananas in a pressure cooker. mash the bananas after they are well boiled.add besan,green mirchi,ginger,green dhaniya,paneer and salt.mix it up well. pour oil in a frying pan and heat.put the balls in the frying pan and keep on turning them till they turn brown.your kofta is now ready.

method for the curry:
grind finely the tomatoes,green chilli and ginger in your mixy.keep this paste separately in a bowl.
grind the cashews fine in the mixy.add cream and grind again. add oil into the frying pan and heat it up.add asfoetida and jeera and then add add turmeric poder and dhaniya powder after the jeer starts bursting. add the tomato paste kept in the bowl. add cashew cream paste and red mirchi powder and keep on mixing till the oil is fully exhausted. add 1 glass water in the masala and boil add salt and garam masala and mix add the kofta in the mixture and allow to cook. in five minutes the koftas will become soft.

now the kela kofta curry is ready. dress with green coriander and voila! have fun.

Monday, November 02, 2009

in praise of idleness

idleness has its virtues. i have found that from practical experience. and not knowing what to do sometimes is very relaxing and destressing.i, therefore, recommend to every one to develop the habit of being lazy. but please don't go overboard on this recommendation. indulge in this luxury only at times. i am not espousing the cause of permanent laziness.

like getting up quite late on certain days,having coffee in bed,skipping your shave, enjoying a few mugs of chilled beer before lunch,having a siesta in the afternoon,listening to some soothing classical music and spending time in a spa in the evening.and playing with your children/grandchildren before going to bed.

and thanks to the latest gadget which prepares breakfast automatically you are in for some pampering for being lazy.
an omlette,toast,freshly squeezed orange juice and a cup of hot coffee-all by just pressing a teacher 26 year old yuri suzuki and masa kimura of japan have designed and developed a fully automated 45 feet long real life breakfast is targetted at lazy people.the project cost suzuki only about 900 pounds sterling which is equivalent to about Rs 63,000.

suzuki,who studied in the royal school of arts,london says that he was inspired by hollywood films to create this cracking machine. almost eight decades ago,writer-philosopher bertrand russell in his eponymous essay,"in praise of idleness",provided all lazy guys a quote to justify their indulgence. he had a deeper meaning to convey though. he felt that the very purpose of the industrial revolution was getting negated. instead of lightning our burden and taking off our load of mundane activities,the new machines were only increasing our workload. instead of sitting and relaxing,man was working 24 x 7.

the creation of suzuki and kimura perhaps will to some extent ease our lives and may sooth bertrand russell in his grave.
the breakfast machine is fine.but how many have the space to put such a long machine in their homes? can not the design team of suzki and kimura condense it to a much smaller size?

perhaps,it may be a winner then.