Let's Have a Chaat

Chaat is a very popular snack in India and thereabouts. Also, sometimes for breakfast.

The delicious example theretowith in the photo above is the creation — from scratch, mind you — of our dear friend and muse, one Michele T. Fillion of Montclair, New Jersey; and, thereabouts.

Chaat appeals to this Cat in terms of its variety. It's as varied as the culture of the Subcontinent itself. If you want to know what's in it, better to make of list of what's not in it.

In terms of what it is, imagine crispy, crunchy, spicy, tangy all mélanged together. There are five essential components [per Bon Appétit Magazine]. 

1. A crispy base of fried dough, or something like puffed Rice, or leftover fried foods like Samosas and Pakoras.

2. A tangy sauce of yogurt and/or chutney.

3. Crunchy from Masala Channa [fried spiced Chickpeas] and/or Sev [fried Besan flour noodles.]

4. Texturey from diced raw and/or cooked vegetables like Onions, Tomatoes, and/or Potatoes. 

5. Umami-y: Make that Chaat Masala.

But, just to confuse the issue further, Chaat might just be anything you want to mix together in a bowl. Like fruits and/or vegetables.

[Notice the liberal use of "and/or". As a way of intimating that, with Chaat ... anything seems to go.]

Or, if all that is too much fuss for your first time with Chaat, go to your neighborhood Indian food store and get some packaged Chaat Masala.

Here's a video showing a restaurant Chaat Bar. Watch it to grok the variety. It'll thoroughly confuse you if you don't know from Indian foods and ingredients. And, maybe it'll still confuse you, even if you do ...


Mystical Pizza

I've been on a spiritual quest. Many starts, and stops. Blind alleys. Mistaken ideas. Disabused illusions. Grandiose allusions. A few contusions. Ablutions. Absolutions. 

One thing that has been my touchstone on the material plane: Pizza Pie. In fact, I love Pizza so much, I have undertaken a separate quest to discover and share the perfect Pizza recipe. Read that here.

Now I live in New Jersey — where Pizza Parlors are as ubiquitous as Taquerias* in Phoenix.  

* [Funny thing, though. A Taqueria has just opened a block away from my house. Could it be a harbinger of an "invasion". But, let's not get into the current tendency to create word wars over verbalizations; especially so when we are raging progressives hard wired to oppose the current administration (Trump!) at any and all turns.]

So the perennial question regarding the trusty Pizza Pie is this: 

How come when it's round it comes in a square box, and cut into triangle slices? Really! How come?

Here we leave the world of concepts and verbal constructions. Merely gaze at the image with the revealed mystical insight and realize the ineffable TRUTH within yourself!



Got Kombucha?

First, do you know what is Kombucha?

For those very, very few who have not been paying attention let me explain ... so you be woke on this.

Kombucha — a.k.a. Kombucha Tea — is a health drink made from sweetened brewed tea cultured with bacteria and yeast. After fermentation it turns out slightly effervescent, with a small trace of alcohol and a vinegary sourness (how sour depends on how long you let the fermentation go).

It's supposed to go back maybe a couple of thousand years.

It's good for you. Probiotic. That means it promotes intestinal health. Antioxidant. Kills harmful bacteria. Alkalizing. Benefits for maintaining pH balance (similar to regularly drinking raw Apple Cider Vinegar). Here is a link to a source outlining several of the other health benefits.

You can buy it ready made. Better, make it at home. Especially if you take up drinking it daily. 

In the process of making Kobucha a Sponge ["Scoby", "Mushroom"] forms on top of the fermented liquid. This is reused as a starter for subsequent batches. Over time, it grows in size. Trim as desired and/or pass along to friends.

If you want to make Kombucha for the first time you can get a Scooby. From a friend, or an online source. 

Or ...

We bought a bottle of raw (unpasteurized) organic ready-made Kombucha and used that as a starter. It isn't as quick as if you started with a Scoby, but that's what we did to experiment with if and how well that approach works. Works fine.

Basic Recipe: (adjust proportions according to size.)

NOTE: Clean, clean fermentation vessel ... and, everything else. You don't want to ruin your Kombucha by letting it go too long or having it become contaminated due to improper handling.

— 1 Bottle raw (unpasteurized) organic Kombucha
— 3 1/2 Quarts filtered or Spring Water
— 1 Cup granulated Sugar. Recommend Cane Sugar for the flavor. 
— 8 bags of black and/or green Tea (can mix also) = 2 Tbsp. loose Tea.

Preparation: Brew Tea in half the Water, add Sugar to dissolve, add remaining water, let cool to room temperature. Place in glass jar (we use a 1 Gallon plastic pitcher). Add bottled Kombucha. Wait 2-4 weeks, tasting along the way. The longer you ferment, the more sour. 

Just for the first batch with the store-bought Kombucha as starter, wait until a thin Scoby forms. (The image below shows a mature Scoby.) It'll take longer than usual to get the first batch going starting with store bought organic raw Kombucha. After that a week of fermentation is enough for us. Longer, to taste, of course. The Scoby will continue to get thicker over time. It can be trimmed when it get too big ... peel off a layer or so. And, you can share with a like minded friend.

Then set aside the Scoby with a few cups of brewed Kombucha for the next batch. Bottle the remainder and refrigerate. 

Drink a small portion daily, regularly. Straight, or diluted with water or juice. Not more than 12 Ounces per day. We would recommend half that.

There are other recipes you can try also. Fruits/juices, honey and other sugars, herbs and spices, flavored teas (Hibiscus, Earl Grey). Here's a source to follow with more particulars.

To your health! 


Dad Always Ate the Chicken Neck

David D. Wronski writes ...

My Mother was a good scratch cook. Polish specialties, of course. Chicken any which way was a bird selected and fresh killed from the local poultry market.

A vivid memory around Chicken soup was how my Father would always take the neck. When I was a boy my heart bled for his seeming self sacrifice. In my mind he took that 5th quarter part of the bird so we, his beloveds, would get the more prime parts.

Only after doing a lot of cooking myself did I come to realize the hard truth of it. The neck meat of the Chicken is a delicacy. Tender, flavorful. Just that there's not much there after cooked into a soup.

So, as you have surmised, Dad took the BEST part for himself. I don't begrudge him one bit. Just chuckle at this anecdote every time at how I got it so wrong* as a boy.

I am my father's son. I just finished prepping a fresh Pineapple. You know who gets to feast on the core trimmings, don't you? Probably not the ripest part of the fruit, but I have a genetic urge to take that for myself. 

If Pineapples had necks, that would be what I'm talking about.

*PS Like so many other things.