Thank you for that very considered response! As someone who is just trying to learn how to cook dishes that are not of my own cultural background, my feeling is that I feel confident enough to try to track down ingredients that need to be in a recipe. However, I also am not knowledgeable enough about new to me ingredients to know if something is going to throw something off in terms of expected flavor if I leave it out. It might be a negligible amount; it might be a lot - I don’t know the ingredient!
On the other side of the coin, this is a tweet that came across my feed the other day that I’ve also spent some time thinking about (if only because I’m not sure which chefs/cookbook authors are being called out here):
I don’t want to dumb anything down, but I know I don’t know enough to know if/when it is ok to simplify and say I made “the dish”. Lazy pierogi, sure. Amti? Not so much.
Given this, your work on this thread is quite remarkable. I’m not a hat-wearing man, but were I wearing one I’d doff it to you.
Preeti Mistry’s rant is a little over the top. She says “The most celebrated mainstream Indian cookbook of the current times is basically a joke to most Indians that actually know how to cook.” Which is that book?
She also says “If you see the recipe using olive oil instead of a neutral oil or ghee, swapping out curry leaves for makrut or bay leaves like it’s no big deal othen you know they don’t know what they are talking about.” That’s quite true (ditto turmeric for saffron), but, really, how often do you see this these days? The Internet is a vast cavern of dark and creepy things, but how often are bay leaves suggested as a sub for curry?
I do agree that Indian food is still broadly misunderstood and misinterpreted in the U.S., and the “Unapologetically Indian” schtick all the rage in NY these days isn’t helping (although, I guess, I offer two cheers to their understanding of the market), but things are not quite as bad as Mistry seems to suggest. The NYT Cooking site, mainstream if there is a mainstream left in America, has a lot of decent stuff, for example, mostly unobjectionable.
Thank you! I’m having fun with it (and BF reaps the benefits)! In a perfect world, I’d have the opportunity to travel a lot more and try things at their sources, but that is not feasible for my situation right now, so I have to make do with trying to find good recipes to follow. That’s why Preeti Mistry’s tweet caught my attention. Much of that tweet thread feels like a subtweet and shad directed at someone. I don’t really care about drama, but, if she is alluding to sources I might otherwise be using, I guess I am at least curious.
Is the “Unapologetically Indian” thing about particular restaurants that have opened? If it is, will that find its way to the Boston area? I might consider trekking down off my hill if that happens. You know, for science.
Also, just to get this back on the topic of Maharashtrian cuisine, here is a post about Marathi Kolambi Bhaat from Maunika Gowardhan’s website I made in November 2022. It’s a sort of shrimp pulao. I think I will revisit it soon and use one of the ground masala powders I’ve made from this quarter when I remake it.
The “unapologetic” description has spread beyond Dhamaka to a mini empire. Each of these restaurants has opened to much fanfare, and much praise from the NYT and suchlike. Here’s the latest. Sorry, this is extreme thread wander from Maharashtra to Bengal.
To return to Maharastra your Kolambi Bhaat brings back memories. It was a regular, if not frequent treat when I was growing up.
[Don’t know if it’s appropriate to bring up pronunciation on a cooking thread but Marathi has a couple of sounds unique to it, especially its Ns and its Ls.]
[[In Hindi “black” is kala. In Marathi it’s kaLa, where the “L” (as opposed to “l”) is expressed by curling your tongue to the back of the top of your mouth, then flicking it forward. The L in KoLambi is pronounced likewise. Just an FYI.]]
Thanks (also to @small_h ) - yes, I think I have seen some YouTube videos with vloggers visiting Dhamaka and Semma now that I think about it. Didn’t realize there was a whole branding thing involved!
I really enjoyed the Kolambi Bhaat. I love rice. I love shrimp. We did not have shrimp all that often when I was growing up (and my mom only bought Uncle Ben’s - it was the 70s and 80s). I can see where this particular dish would absolutely be a wonderful food memory!
And, I am always appreciative of pronunciation tips!
I’m really curious what brought this on (I’d wager that she’s talking about “Indian-ish”, though there are other contenders, but it’s been out for a while now — maybe that author’s new book was a trigger?)
(And I’m racking my brain to remember who wrote about the lasagna noodle-as-(dal) dhokli “hack” which I remember reading out to my mother, who couldn’t even – and she loves pasta AND hacks…)
I want to know too! Indian-ish calls for “ghee or olive oil” in SOME recipes. I don’t see bay leaves anywhere. But Indian-ish also bills itself as an Indian-American cookbook. Thus the “ish”. Surely no one is touting it as being authoritative on Indian cuisine.
I haven’t seen Britannia Cheese Block at local stores, but if you happen to be at Patel Bros. there’s no harm in asking. My memory is that the Britannia stuff is not similar to Velveeta, but it’s been many, many years since I’ve had either. Supposedly BCB is a blend of cheddar and mozzarella, and I guess you could try a half-and-half mixture of the two using a mild cheddar and supermarket mozzarella. I think what the recipe seems to need is something that will melt well.
ETA: The Marathi word for “gujiya” is karanji, and we’d have them at various festivals stuffed with coconut. None of this chocolate-cheese modernity for us.
Thanks! Yeah, I read the description (the combo of cheddar and mozzarella) and that’s what made me wonder if the product emulsified them together. I have cheddar and mozzarella in the house though. I have Maunika Gowardhan’s more traditional recipe in Thali, too.
Amul is the original, Britannia came much later (90s?), and eventually other smaller brands too. Amul >>>> all others
Oy. But I do get morbid curiosity.
(The rest of the Amul will make killer cheesetoast / grilled cheese — indeed there are emulsifiers that enable it to melt like a champ, and lots of black pepper plus dipping in copious ketchup helps “balance” the salt.)
I read the whole tweet thread, and she later says, “I mean the majority of South Asian identified authors out there are phoning it in, or they don’t really know how to cook in the first place. But they have the mainstream wht food media fooled.” The majority? It’s quite a statement, and yet she names not a one. I don’t know, I don’t have any data on this, but it seems to me we have more than ever books showcasing regional variations and sub-cuisines. And while there are also plenty of weeknight-oriented books they exist and are popular for all cuisines. Are there more for Indian food than others? No idea. But her statement that the “majority” of the authors don’t know how to cook seems like hyperbole to me. Maybe someone is disappointed in her book sales.
Apart from its name, unique I think to Maharashtra (but I may be wrong), this is essentially the same dish as the one called “bhurji” elsewhere in India and “akuri” by the Parsi community.
I threw into warm-hot ghee some chopped shallots and cooked till they softened, added a little fake ginger-garlic paste (used my finest microplane to grate in garlic and ginger), some chopped green chillies, stirred for thirty seconds, then added some halved grape tomatoes and stirred till they softened a bit. (At this stage you can add a bit of cumin-coriander powder, but I didn’t, nor did I add a pinch of garam masala at the end.) I added beaten, salted eggs with a large pinch of turmeric, then proceeded to scramble on medium heat. I like my regular scrambled eggs cooked on very low heat just to a custardy consistence (we’d call these “English scrambled” in my Bombay home), but I like my egg chutney cooked hard. A minute before they are done, I added some finely chopped coriander leaves and some more chopped chillies.
Ideally I’d have the eggs with chapatis but I wasn’t in the mood for the effort, so used packaged flour tortillas instead, heated till charred in spots on an open gas flame.
There’s a variant of this dish that involves grated boiled eggs added to the onion tomato mixture.
I was going to do a more simple pulao to go with saag paneer tonight (which itself was originally going to be some kind of keema, but then it turned out that I didn’t actually have minced lamb in the freezer like I thought). Since I had goda masala in the house now, this ended up coming together fairly quickly. You make a simple vegetable curry with browned onions, mustard seeds, and goda masala, cauliflower, carrot, and green beans (ok, so I subbed a bag of a frozen veg medley that was cauliflower, carrot, and broccoli). You fold in cooked rice and then garnish with cashews that have been toasted in ghee and some coconut. I served it with the saag paneer (Asma Khan recipe) and burani raita.