May 30, 2012

Saying It With Some Signs!

T
he rather long break between my last post and this one has been unintentional. This one lasted over 3 weeks, 24 days to be exact which means that I have posted only twice this month which should be a blogging record of sorts even for me!
This time the excuse isn’t the inevitable “Can’t seem to find anything to blog about…….” Or “Been hit by the blogging block” sort of thing. It’s because we have been busy trying to make some sense and order out of chaos surrounding us.
We shifted houses and then it took about 3 weeks to have our broadband shifted and reconnected at our new address. Our connection had to move a distance of less than 10km, but it turned out that the officer who had to authorize/ sign the transfer order was on leave and there was no one else in that department who could take on that responsibility in his absence!




Here's a place that offers you the option of "Chiniese", Continental, or Goan food with a common theme of Chicken running through all 3 cuisines. If you're vegetarian like me you're stuck with "Pasta" or "Spageti"!


Now that our internet is back, I’m back to posting though I’m still a little short of time to write out posts. Unpacking and settling things in the middle of everything else, seems to be taking up more of my time and effort than I expected.
That hasn’t stopped me from taking photographs whenever I could, and something new that fascinates me are the numerous signs and boards I see these days all around me, related to food or otherwise.



I found this rather eye-catching set of boards on the road from Calangute to Panaji, and am not sure exactly what they want to convey. Its outside an eatery called "A Piece of Pie from Pai" which is a rather clever take on the Goan surname of Pai. They offer "Smoothies, Shakes, Sandwiches and more...." and  maybe you would know what "more" was if you can read the Russian  written below!



Goa is an Indian state that has a largely tourism based economy, so a lot of what goes on here is designed to attract tourists and persuade them to enrich the local businesses. There are parts of Goa for example, where one can see plenty of signs in only 2 languages, English and Russian, because these places are very popular with tourists from there!
It also means that there are signs/ signboards everywhere advertising all manners of things from local or more exotic sounding food, rooms to rent, pubs, to conducted tours, clubbing/ partying hotspots and rave parties! Some of the signs are quite creative, while others would bring a smile to your face while the odd one will have you in splits thanks to mis-spelling or grammatical bloopers.  Many of the signs are of the run-of-the-mill variety but quite a few are worth capturing for posterity, in my opinion, and I have decided to collect as many of them as I can.




I've never seen a place here (not that I've seen them all, so don't take my word for it) that sells waffles, so this one in Anjuna caught my attention. Unfortunately for me, it was a Sunday, the end of the tourist season and the place was closed!

All the photographs in this post were taken in and around what we at home here like to refer to as the "beach belt" which are beaches and surrounding areas that are very popular with both foreign and Indian tourists alike. There are the occasional references to non-vegetarian stuff in some of these photographs and perhaps not material for a vegetarian blog, some might argue. But all's fair in photography........


Another signboard I came across in Anjuna which was actually offering vegetarian  (not very common) and vegan (very unusual) fare, but was also closed because the tourist season is over.

I'm sending off the B&W ones from this small collection to my friend Sravanthi of When My Soup Came Alive who is hosting this week's edition of Black & WhiteWednesday (BWW). BWW is the brainchild of another friend Susan, The Well-SeasonedCook and is a weekly showcase of black and white food photography from the world of food blogging.

For all my fish loving friends (I can call you all fishaholics now!) here's the stuff many of you come to Goa for, apart from the beaches and feni. You might want to think twice though, as the sign above this one (which you cannot see here) says "Authentic Delhi-style Food! This was taken in Saligao.





True Goan fare and it will be good, the chef seems to say. There's another board behind which says "Original Recipe Since 1806", but I'm not sure what the recipe is for. Yet another one from Saligao.





When you know you want simple and filling fare, Indian style, then "Thali Meals" are the way to go even as late as 5:30pm! I would caution vegetarians though, since you don't know what non-vegetarian stuff might have just made it into the Veg Thali, as the kitchens for vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is usually the same! The sign points to the right which is actually the road towards Panaji!




And some more fish to delight seafood lovers. The road to Panaji seems to be a "fishy" haven!  There's Chonak (White Snapper) and Shark and even some "Sqeeds" should you like to try them...........


Finally, before I end this post, I want to say a big “Thank You” to all those who joined me in my first food photography exercise. I shall be posting the next one on the 2nd of June so keep an eye out for that post if you would like to be a part of this series.
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May 5, 2012

Tinda Do Pyaza (Indian Apple Gourd With Double The Onions!)

I
t recently struck me that blogging has changed me in ways I never realised. For one thing, I have become a lot more adventurous in my forays into the world of food. Earlier, if I went to the market, it would take a lot of persuasion to make me even consider buying a vegetable or fruit I’d never seen before especially when it really had nothing much to recommend it appearance-wise. After all, it’s not for nothing that it is said that the first impression is the best impression, though some will argue that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But four years and some of blogging means that I’m willing to take a risk with vegetable/ fruit I haven’t eaten before.  I can always make it the “hero” or maybe have it share the credit line with another ingredient in some recipe, or else disguise it or give it an “under cover” role in some dish. And if nothing else works, I can always have it pose or model for a food photography shoot!
Take the example of “Tinda” or the Indian Apple Gourd (also known as the Indian Baby Pumpkin). It’s been cooked and eaten in North Indian homes for ages, but I didn’t know of its existence till I saw it at my vegetable/ fruit market last week. I have a vague feeling my mother might have cooked it at some point in my childhood because this would be something my father would have loved eating.  He had a love for unusual or odd tasting vegetables, and the more “exotic” they got the better he liked them.
Most vegetables in the “gourd” family are not favourites of mine with the exceptions bitter gourd, pumpkin and cucumber. My cousin refers to the Tinda as “yet another member of that despicable family -  cucurbitaceae!!”  




The Tinda/ Indian Apple Gourd is a rather unattractive vegetable the size of an apple, seemingly in an identity crisis. To my mind, it resembles a small green pumpkin that decided it wanted to be something else but couldn’t choose between being a tomato and a green apple!
I wasn’t too sure what to cook with this and went hunting for ideas on the net. All I could find were recipes for subzis (almost gravy less curries) or for stuffing the Tinda with masala, which I didn’t want to make. So I decided to cook them in a “do pyaaza” creation of my own to serve with chappathis for lunch.
“Do Pyaaza” is a North Indian way of cooking certain dishes using twice the amount of onions usually used (“do” meaning two and “pyaaza from pyaaz which means onions). This gives the “Do Pyaaza” a nice hint of sweetness from the caramelisation of so much onion. By and large, gourds tend to be tasteless or bland and usually take on the taste of whatever you cook them with, but I thought it would be a safe bet to use a large amount of onions with the Tinda, just in case it needed some “disguising”. I also added some frozen peas which were sitting in my freezer begging to be used.




We were quite surprised at how nice this dish turned out, especially because we’re not really great fans of the more bland variety of gourds which the Tinda seems to resemble. Seeing how good this dish turned out, I might be tempted to buy some more and see what else I can cook up with this vegetable next.

Tinda Do Pyaza (Indian Apple Gourd With Double The Onions!)



Ingredients:


8 to 10 tinda (Indian apple gourd)

3/4 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
4 medium sized onions, sliced
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste


Method:

Wash and cut the tinda/ gourds in half and scoop out the seeds if mature. If they’re very tender leave them in. Chop the gourds (each half into halves or slice them to 3 or 4 pieces) and then cook them till tender along with the peas in the microwave. This is how I cook my vegetables as it shortens my cooking time overall and also the vegetables keep their colour and do not turn mushy. If you don’t use the microwave, just keep them aside.
Heat the oil in a wok, and add the cumin seeds. Stir a couple of times and then add the onions and sauté them till they become soft and transparent but not brown. Now add the tomatoes and let them cook till soft, stirring occasionally.
Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander and cumin powder and stir fry well till the raw smell of the spices disappears. If it looks like the “masala” is turning dry in the wok, add a couple of tbsps. of water and cook for about 2 minutes.
Now add the microwaved vegetables and salt to taste and cook everything on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 5 minutes. If you’re adding the vegetables raw, also add about 1/2 a cup of water and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat to low and allow the vegetables to cook till done but not mushy, stirring when needed.
Take of the heat when done and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm as a side dish with chappathis, parathas or rice.
This recipe serves 4.


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