7/1/11


The following menu is for a gargantuan garden of green grazing goodness. It is dedicated to the movie star Bharati S. Kemraj. Cooky Cat first took notice of her when she was featured in a Bronx Flavor TV program, The Roti Express.

Here she is below in classic Bollywood style with that upstaging upstart himself, Baron Ambrosia. He does his best to steal the show, but Ms. Kemraj holds sway. (Sway… dancing… it’s a sort of a pun. Get it?)




But, be sure to come back because we have some rare treats for you, food-wise.

Bharati Kemraj is of Guyanese descent, with East Indian affinities. In homage to her we have put together a once-every-1,000-years, maha Indian style vegetarian meal. As rich as an Indian paisley. And, green, inspired by the verdant setting of her pas de deux with… ahem, HIM(!).

NB This is probably the longest post in blog history. So, first read through, then go back for each video. That's our recommendation; we want you to get to the end. DO NOT MISS THE END. Alright? But, do as you will. 

MENU


Paatra Gujarati Style
Aloo Methi
Bharwan Bhindi
Tamarind Chutney
Coriander Chutney
Cucumber Raita
Basmati Rice
Diced Summer Spoon Salad
Seviya Kheer
Gulab Jamun
Ras Malai
Chai Tea
Pan Daddu

Paatra: Also called Elephant Ears is made with the leaves of colocacia (taro) rolled with a spicy filling bound with besan (gram/chick pea) flour.

Aloo Methi: Potatoes and methi (fenugreek) leaves.

Bharwan Bhindi: Spice stuffed sautéed okra.

Tamarind Chutney: Sweet/piquant jammy condiment.

Coriander Chutney: Minced coriander leaves and spices.

Cucumber Raita: Shredded cucumber in spicy yogurt.

Basmati Rice: Simple basmati rice garnished with fresh parsley flakes and toasted cashews.

Diced Summer Spoon Salad: Iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and onions and a simple oil and lemon juice (or red wine vinegar) dressing.

Seviya Kheer: Indian vermicelli milk pudding.

Gulab Jamun: Dumplings in syrup.

Ras Malai: Paneer balls (farmer's type homemade cheese) in sweet milk. [Size matters.]

Chai Tea: Sweetened spiced milk tea. 

Pan Dadu: Borrow Grandma's stash. (After that you are on your own.)

We’re gonna cut right to the chase, as they say, folks. No written recipes. The videos that follow have saved Cooky Cat a lot of scratching; as in, scratching words on paper. Does anybody know what that even means? Think quill pen, ink bottle, parchment. For you of the recent generation, let’s just say the videos have saved a lot of thumb time on the digital device. (How are your thumbs, anyway?)

But, you will need a shopping list. Use it to note the amounts you will want as you watch the tutorial videos. Here it is… (If you don’t know where to get all that stuff, maybe this isn’t for you.) Don’t be put off by the number of (maybe for you) strange things you’ll have to buy. Nor, by the intricate steps in the preparation. DON’T, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PUT A PRICE ON LOVE. PUT IN THE EFFORT. We promise everyone who partakes of this plentitude will throw money at you. You will be famous!

If you are daunted by the complexties of this menu, ney, by the complexities of the world in general or any particular way, don't proceed until you have experienced the power of Lord Ganesha. Sit in a comfortable upright posture, close your eyes, listen, then join in... "Om Gung Ganapataye Namahah"!



SHOPPING LIST

Paatra leaves
Besan (gram/chickpea) flour
Cane Sugar (really, "cane". If it's that it's marked on the package. Other are beet sugar and don't have the taste.)

Jaggary (unrefined cane or date palm sugar)
Baking soda
Salt
Citric acid
Turmeric powder
Fresh green chili
Cooking oil
Black mustard seeds
Sesame seeds
Fresh curry leaves
Fresh lemon
Shredded fresh coconut
Coriander leaves
Potatoes
Methi (fenugreek) leaves, preferably fresh, or frozen
Sweet onion
Garlic
Vine ripe tomatoes
Chili powder (cayenne)
Fresh okra
Sambar powder
Amchur powder
Fresh lime
Tamarind pulp
Iceberg lettuce
Cucumber
Olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Red wine vigegar (substitute for lemon juice)
Pepper
Garam masala
Cumin seeds
Fennel seeds
Jalapenos
Green bell pepper
Fresh ginger
Chat masala
Yogurt
Black salt
White lentils (moong dahl—dehulled type)
Yellow mustard seeds
Flat leaf parsley

Chopped cashew nuts
Vermicelli, Indian variety only (very thin or handmade)
Ghee (clarified butter)
Powdered milk
Whole milk
Golden raisins
Almonds, slivered and chopped
Saffron (kesar)
Cardamom powder
Pistachios
All purpose flour
Rose essence
Oil for deep frying
Edible silver foil (Varakh)
Black tea (loose)

SPECIAL NOTES: Some of the above ingredients do double duty and are included in more than one recipe. For the Patras you can sweeten with jagary instead of sugar. A touch of tamarind in the patra mix is also an option. For the Aloo Methi we prefer to add the methi leaves directly, skipping the step to debitter with salt (full throttle methi). The salad is chopped small enough to be able to eat with a spoon. Don't demure on that, it's purrr-fect. Garnish the Seviya Kheer with crushed pistachios to be certain the green theme carries through in the dessert. For the Gulab Jamun syrup hold the rose essence and cardamom to the very last to keep flavor from boiling away. The Chai may be made with the sugar in the water/milk mixture before infusing the tea. Also, we recommend straining the whole batch of tea then pouring into the drinking cups from a height to develop some nice bubbles. (For a whole treatise on bubbles see Bubbles in My Soup.) Ginger in Chai in our opinion is a matter of taste. It is traditional, but sometimes overpowers the flavor balance. Proceed accordingly.

Now sit back and learn from the experts in preparing the best Indian foods… (The style of the presentations is as varied as the Indian cuisine.)

Paatra…



Aloo Methi…




Bharwan Bhindi…




Tamarind Chutney…





Coriander Chutney…



Cucumber Raita…



Seviya Kheer…



Gulab Jamun…



Ras Malai…



Chai Tea…



Pan Daddu…



PS You must know even from a casual search on The Google that there are as many different recipes for things as there are cooks. We have endeavored to bring the best we could find for this menu. If this article seems complex, well it is an essential taste of the complex essence of the Indian cuisine itself. Our great, great uncle Nigel used to regale the assembled family whenever he could with his wistful reminiscenses of his time in the sub-continent during the Raj. [Breezy monsoon nights, the scent of jasmine wafting in the gentle swaying night air, chilled Gin Gimlets on the veranda, the occasional bengal tiger strolling through the garden, impulsive midnight forays into the countryside in the Rolls Shooting Brake, shocking the staff with the whole crowd of them stripping naked and canonballing into the pool, hits off hastily made mango bongs, peeled grapes, awakened at the first of dawning and watching the day's rangoli being lovingly applied at the front gate with hand ground semi-precious gem powders while we relax with a hot cup of chai and a hand rolled bidi, the morning bath scented with rose water and exotic perfumes.] Those were the days.


The only thing more we would say is about the Paatra. The first time we tasted Paatra was at the Shree Muktananda Ashrama in Upstate New York. An Indian devotee made a whole batch of Paatras as prasad (Gift. In the hightest meaning, the true gift is from the Divine.) Now ,we like pepperoni; and that prasad was a gift of the taste of pepperoni in vegetarian form. If you are similarly afflicted with a taste for that spicy dry sausage make your Paatras with some hot pepper flakes. Then cut into thin slices and fry in oil to a nice crispy golden brown. Pair with some India Pale Ale and you have something to go along with the cricket match you're watching on the tele.

Last, Indian food is not just for special events. Indian folks eat like that on a daily basis. Celebrate! Get in the celebratory bav with this lively song... (play at full volume). Get that kundalini raising.




PPS Be sure to keep looking at Cooky Cat for his next Indian extravaganza: Chat, in all its variety at the Chit Chat Caboose, On The Chat Wagon Express. (Roti Express! Roti Express! I got your Roti Express! )

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