Archive for February, 2007

The most powerful vegetable in the country is…

It’s here in our kitchens and on our tables only because the Mughals brought it here. But is the much-reviled but equally revered onion the only vegetable in the country which can pull down governments?

Madan Lal Khurana of the BJP had to pay the price for allowing its prices to shoot up to Rs 80 a kilogram. Now, it seems Amarinder Singh of the Congress has had to follow suit thanks to soaring inflation.

Not just humble cooks and chefs, even powerful netas, it seems, have to bow their heads (and wipe their tears) in front of the onion.

Read: Indians shed tears over onions

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If veg is so good, why doesn’t it show?

Nary a day passes without somebody or the other, somewhere or the other, extolling the virtues of vegetarianism. Good for the body. No, good for the mind. Wait, good for body and the mind. The debates are raging. But, if vegetarianism is so magical, why, in this largely vegetarian country, have its perceived benefits not been so visible? Why, for example, have we had the worst scourges course through our nation? And, hey, why have we produced just a couple of Nobel laureates?

Read: Meat vs Potatoes

Related link: Vegetable love

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Green Peace Fry could spark a war of words

Sunaad Raghuram wrote about Human Balls on Sale in Mysore not too long ago. Almost a year later, little seems to have changed at the Grand Maurya resort. Good food, moderate prices, and as Hari Krishna would attest, “chennagi kodthaare, sir”. But even a new menu card, with new rates, hasn’t ironed those delightful glitches.

For starters, “Veg Balls in Human Style” is still available in the Chinese category.

Paneer Sathy,” evokes images of—horror—Panneer flooding Sathyamangalam, but you only need to look at the following item to understand that it is “Panneer Satay” that they are referring to.”

Steamded Chicken” is a Freudian slip-up of the state of the poor bird. And there is “Prowns Chicken Hong Kong Chopsuiey” and “Mutton Dieced in Red Wine Sauce” and so on.


We are not complaining. Mistakes like these add to the colour of our restaurants. Send us some goof-ups you have spotted. Let not history say we did a poor job of documenting how our menu card writers were dictionary-challenged.

A nice book for the best entry.

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Oh, fish! Blame your mom for what she ate

It’s not who your parents were, or how rich or poor they were, but how much fish your mother ate while carrying you that accounts for how bright or weak you are today. That, in sum, is the conclusion of the largest study of its kind. The study published by Lancet last week of 14,541 babies born in 1991-92, shows that women who ate more than 340 gms of seafood had kids with signficantly higher Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

Read the full article here: Welcome to the fish fry, mom

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Yellow, yellow, brilliant fellow

It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has the potential to combat cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer‘s disease, and other chronic diseases. It’s biologically called curcumin, and scientists who work with it jokingly call themselves as curcuminologists. If you are a Tamilian, you would know it as manjal. If you are a Kannadiga, you would know it as haldi.

Read the full story here: Spice healer

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What if we told you Smirnoff is not Russian?

Putinka. Etalon. Veda. G8. Standard Imperia. Flagman Night Landing. Belaya Zolota. Parliament. Beluga. Rusky Brilliant. Yuri Dolgoruki.

Eleven premium brands of Russian vodka. And one man—Brett Forest—to taste and grade them all in one night. Only one of them got an A+

“Firewater is what vodka has always been, devoid of the oaken lineage of its darker cousins—and the high-nosed finery that can too easily get in the way of a good drunk. One does not inhale vodka’s bouquet, but one may use vodka to sterilize a wound on the knee, as familiar a sight to the serious vodka drinker as the shot glass and the handful of ibuprofen.”

Read the full story here: The great vodka taste test

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Tagolli, brother

The son of the son of the soil, H.D. Kumaraswamy, cocks a snook at the pesticide-in-cola controversy. Or shows he is one with grape farmers. Or.

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One man’s poison diet is another’s pleasure

The Ecclesiastes (18:5) said, “man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry.” But modern food science and research, much of it sponsored by vested industry interests, has reduced eating and drinking to a veritable crime.

Or as Barry Glassner, a University of Southern California sociologist and author of the forthcoming book The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know about Food Is Wrong)”, the gospel of food has become “the gospel of naught.”

“We have come to believe that ‘the worth of a meal lies principally in what it lacks. The less sugar, salt, fat, calories, carbs, preservatives, additives, or other suspect stuff, the better the meal’.”

Glassner quotes the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia Angell, who says: “Although we would all like to believe that changes in diet or lifestyle can greatly improve our health, the likelihood is that, with a few exceptions such as smoking cessation, many if not most such changes will produce only small effects. And the effects may not be consistent. A diet that is harmful to one person may be consumed with impunity by another.”

Read the full article here: Eat, drink and be merry

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Country cuisine crashlands in new airport

ARUN PADAKI writes: Sometime back, the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) announced a tie-up with famed dining outlets operating at many international airports the world over, and a few Indian new-age restaurants that sell burgers, pizzas, cappuccinos and choco-chip with sundaes on vanilla. That’s one too many to satiate any appetite.

As we all know, it is in Karnataka where the famous masala dosa originated. And, again, as we all know, it is on the hills of Karnataka in Coorg and Chikmagalur that the best coffee beans in this part of the world are grown, from which the most aromatic filter kaapi of South India is brewed.

Ironically, neither of these two and a host of other local delicacies seemingly have any place in the food courts at the upcoming international airport.

All the eateries, it seems, have been set up or are going to be set up with a Westerner’s (or a “globalised” Indian’s) palate in mind.

Well, we cannot expect to feast on a dosa or a crisp vada at Warsaw airport, but certainly, at Bangalore we should not be deprived of having jolada rotti with yengai or a simple South Indian thali?

Can one imagine Milan airport without pizzas or Johannesburg airport without biltong? No way!

BIAL should provide an outlet, of course airport-class, which sells the best of Karnataka cuisines from Udupi, Mysore, Karwar, Belgaum or Dharwad. I have a case for our own Nandini brand of milk products and savouries as well.

These are great local success stories and should be showcased at all levels. The best way to cherish the memories or savour the first taste of Karnataka can’t be without a piece of Mysore pak melting in the mouth or Belgaum-kundha at the new Bangalore International Airport. Yes, at the new Bangalore International airport!

Bidding adieu or according a warm welcome could not be any better with namma goodies. Even for the Westerner and the globalised Indian.

Cross-posted on churumuri

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Read all about it! The worst meal in my life!!

Vinod Mehta, editor-in-chief of Outlook magazine, has an item in his “Delhi Diary” this week, on his pet topic: food.

“We all remember outstanding meals, but what about the horrible? A renowned food critic once invited me to his house and served easily the worst meal I’ve had in my life; a close second was the “Bogart Special” I consumed in Casablanca. The renowned critic offered his piece de resistance, lobster, well past midnight. It was ghastly. But one had to be polite.

“Restaurant critics in India tend to be extra kind because most upmarket eateries are situated in 5-star hotels who are big advertisers. One offends at them at peril. So, I was intrigued to read that an Italian restaurant in Belfast had been awarded 25,000 pounds as damages for a “defamatory, damaging and hurtful” review. The culprit had called the Chicken Masala “so sweet as to be inedible”.

“Outside our food-crazy republic, food critics are treated as national treasures and their fame depends on how rude they can be. Restaurant reviewing is a form of bloodsport. Here is Michael Winner of The Sunday Times, London, tearing into a joint in Chelsea.

“‘I’ve had the worst meal I’ve ever eaten. Not by a small margin. I mean the worst! The most unrelievedly awful! You don’t need to be an atomic scientist to grill steaks. They arrived so raw you could have drowned swimming in the blood’.”

Also read: Can movie critics be sued for bad reviews?

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