One of my most eye-opening experiences after college was driving across the country. I’ve always been drawn to the beauty of nature and her landscapes, but the two thousand mile drive taught me something about what this California native had once taken for granted. It turns out, California does not have a monopoly on beauty. This became apparent within the first day. As Puja and I drove east, through the Mojave desert, across Arizona and into New Mexico where we stayed for the night. I had been to the desert many times in my life before, but I really saw it for the first time on that drive. Even while we were still in California, I was impressed by the vast open landscapes. (So vast and open that I almost got a speeding ticket before crossing the border in Arizona, somehow escaping with just a warning!)
Nearly two years ago, Puja and I started kicking around the idea for an Indian food and culture blog. We tossed back and forth ideas but they stayed off the page for a while. Finally I just sat down, set up some skeleton of a website that I barely remember. To really get it started, as our first post I put together a recipe for Chana Masala. I chose Chana Masala because it’s easy, it’s delicious and it’s the dish I’m always the one in our house to make. Can you believe we didn’t even take pictures for the post?
On a small boardwalk in San Diego, where locals run and tourists from nearby hotels stroll, sits a small but persistent piece of British Indian history. It is one of San Diego’s more underappreciated attractions, the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The Maritime Museum is comprised of a number of functioning ships, from the 1898 replica steamship Berkeley, to a decomissioned Russian submarine. But the real flagship, the one that got the museum started is this little piece of British-Indian history and is one of the oldest sailing ships left in the world, the Star of India.
The Bollywood system is quite powerful and moneyed, often relying on old formulas for the movies it produces for a pretty good guarantee of profit. However, in recent years there have been more and more attempts made to go beyond this, to present social messages in meaningful ways. Kai po che! makes a pretty heartfelt effort at doing this, without falling too deeply into melodrama.
The first year Puja and I lived together she asked me to make her Sticky Toffee Pudding for her birthday. What, I asked, is Sticky Toffee Pudding? She handed me a recipe and said this is what you are making.
I had done very little cooking or baking at this point in our relationship. But I went out and bought a bundt pan and all of the ingredients while she was at work. I believe I thoroughly trashed the kitchen, getting sticky caramel sauce and date splatters in various corners of the kitchen and stove. But the end result was amazing, and that’s what matters.
Every year since then, Puja has, let’s say requested, Sticky Toffee Pudding for her birthday. I’ve made some mistakes with it. One year I used Deglet dates and as a result I became a big champion of Medjool dates. Deglets just don’t compare in sweetness or depth of flavor. Another year I made the Sticky Toffee Pudding for a bonfire party and we didn’t have any way to warm the caramel sauce. That was disappointing. The warm caramel sauce soaking into the cake is what really makes it so delicious.
To me the perfect breakfast food is well-balanced but high on the protein side of things, and perhaps most importantly, quick and easy to make. Only on the rare weekend morning do I feel like putting in the work for anything complicated like an omelette before I’ve even had my morning coffee. There are so few foods that meet these restrictions. Eggs are wonderful but I get tired of them. Oatmeal is a little carb heavy and I don’t like it very much. Boxed cereals are pretty much all carbs, as are the great classics like pancakes, waffles, toast and bagels.
I was excited recently to have the opportunity to photograph our kitchen knives for our recent post on our five favorite kitchen tools. This presented an opportunity for me to do something new. I knew right away I wanted to photograph them on a black surface and have a nice, brightly lit blade. I also had in mind I wanted to use two lights. I did a quick internet search to get a better idea of how to go about it, and I came across this picture by Nick Wheeler. He even provided a demonstration of his lighting setup. I love his idea of using a whiteboard as a reflector, if I ever come across one of those kinds of whiteboards on the cheap I’m buying it.
In this post I will demonstrate a very simple 2 light lighting setup, my take on the lighting setup that Nick Wheeler used.
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback on my post about how I shoot the photos for Indiaphile. It isn’t the most read post on the site, but a lot of friends have mentioned it in conversation and asked me to do another. Even though see the hit counts, I can’t help but be surprised that people are actually reading the stuff I’m writing (Like you, for example :)
It’s been a while since I did that post, and my friend R was encouraging me to do another, so I decided I would. But those posts take lot of time and planning to write. As I was thinking about how to go about it, this idea popped in my head and I thought it would be fun. You might notice there are a lot of Amazon affiliate links here, but trust me that isn’t my motivation for doing this. That’s just a way for Puja and I to cross our fingers and hope for a little income. We haven’t seen any income from Amazon affiliates yet, so we definitely would not be motivated by it.
To do this post, Puja and I went in the kitchen and alternately picked up an item we love to cook with. It actually turned out to be pretty difficult to choose only five each. But surprisingly we had little to fight over in terms of tools. We had very separate favorites, with the possible exception of the pressure cooker and microplane, which we decided to swap in the end.
This post was exciting because I got a lot of product photography practice, something I hardly do at all. In the process, I shot the pictures I’m going to use for my next photo techniques post, so that will be coming very soon!
I can’t think of any kitchen tool used more than the chef’s knife. I use it to cut onions, mince garlic, chop cilantro, slice, dice, you name it. From the first time Puja and I bought knives I insisted on getting a good chef’s knife. Good doesn’t mean expensive. The first one we got probably cost $40. It was great, but one day Puja dropped it and the tip broke off. At least she was able to move out of the way or else she could have lost a toe too! After that happened, we went out to buy another and made the mistake of buying a big set of mediocre knives to replace it. What a waste of money.
Kulfi is the Indian version of ice cream. It’s made in a very similar way to ice cream, except you don’t churn it as you freeze it. Instead, you whip up your milk and cream mixture ahead of time and then just freeze it. It comes out a little more dense than ice cream. The nice thing about it is you don’t even need an ice cream maker to make it.
Puja and I were brainstorming ideas for Indiaphile a couple of weeeks ago when I came up with this one. I’ve heard of avocado ice cream before, but never tasted it. Although we’ve made ice cream many times before, we had never made kulfi.