Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Nostalgic Food Tour of Hyderabad

Specially we in India and connoisseurs of food all over the world have had a special corner for Hyderabadi food. In Hyderabad's 400 year history the Hyderabadi cuisine has, like its culture, stood high and quite unmatched by any other place in the Indian subcontinent. In fact, Hyderabad is known for the spectacular way its aristocracy entertained. The erstwhile rulers of Hyderabad were connoisseurs of food and insisted that their cooks lay out elaborate ten-course meals on a daily basis.

The Hyderabadis do have rather unusual ways of seasoning their food. Hyderabadi cuisine is a distinct dialogue in food, based on the traditional method of combining the sour and the sweet, the hot and the salty. Hyderabad has taken the highly developed and refined Mughal cuisine of the North and imbibed it with the zesty sauces and spices of the South to create a vast and seductive repertoire quite its own. Hyderabadi food, as it has come to be known, like the city's culture, heritage and language, is a mélange of several influences--Hindu, Muslim, North, South, Indian and foreign.

As they say here, food is best created with fursat and mohabbat -- that is with time and love. Being devoted to Hyderabad means being devoted to food. Here, food is not just something to fill the stomach; it is the very essence of life. The quintessential Hyderabadi is known for his nawabi lifestyle - a gracious but rather laid-back way of life. But when it comes to food, the Hyderabadis won't tolerate any laziness and have very exacting standards.

Welcome to the treasure trove of heritage Hyderabadi cuisine at its best, whether in the form ustaad’s legacy or nawab’s rendezvous.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful... !

Spectaculer dishes include Jhinga Talawa( a delicately pan-fried prawn), Khorme Ka Kebab( pounded meat kebabs served with til ki chutney), Dum Ka Keema( charcoal flavored minced meat with papaya and serve with garlic raita), Mutthi Ke Kebab( from old world muslim elegance a  with spicy gravy), Bina Masale Ka Murg ( a simple marination representing the true essence of the tender chicken ), Shami Kebab (Pan-fried kebab prepared with lamb and tastes best after you get to see the sacred moon of Eid ! ), Nizami Lukhmi( a traditional preparation), Kheemey ki Lukhmi, Tootak (The baked delicacy has rich semolina dough encasing a appetizing cottage cheese and potato filling), Aloo Ke Garlay( This is an ostentatious version of the popular batata wada )Boote Ke Samose (crispy samosa with spicy green gram filling) ,Hari Bhari Mirchi (stuffed chili with mint chutney ), Faluda( a refreshing dessert) and finally the Irani Chai( popular tea from a Charminar fete ! )

By : Devraj Halder

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Life and Career as a Chef..

“ .. Hi chef , can you tell me the recipe of… ”

“ …. egg less cakes ! how do you make them… ”

“ ……. am looking for some real low cal stuff, can you help.. ”

“ ………. how about some quick party snacks.. ”

…. Only a chef is familiar with these relentless, unavoidable questions the moment he steps out of his domain, trying to take time off his chefs jacket.. welcome to the social life of a chef .. off course he is a ladies man.. but to the extent of good food & recipes !

Nevertheless, life as a chef is highly interesting and varied. The package includes action packed days, tense moments, great ups and equally great lows, a lot of different people to meet and also a lot of riddles to solve. Overall, it is not as monotonous and routine as so many other professions.

A chef needs to have his creative juices flowing, it is a profession which needs skill as well as a lot of thought process. Results achievable are quite delicately balanced as the job involves coming out with the best, from the team. The job of the chef, incorporates most of the important management subjects; he needs to be a great organiser and planner, he is also a quality manager and materials manager and he needs to know his cost accountancy thoroughly. He also needs to understand the varied human resources aspect, as he works with so many different kind of people. He knows the best, as to how to market his food and he is also well versed with the technical angles and infrastructure of his kitchen. Overall the job is quite diverse. Added to this, leadership and charismatic skills go a long way, in making a great chef.

All these don’t come easy, a good chef is a product of years of toil and going through the grind, in understanding these finer aspects of his profession. It needs a lot of self motivation, self initiation and also a ‘go-getter’ attitude.

A fresher usually joins the kitchen brigade with the armoury of his love for food and cooking. He also finds it a lucrative profession. As he proceeds further, the diversity and magnitude of the operation , awes him. This is where it is most crucial. This is where he gets to see the realistic content of the profession , this either releases his ambitious nature and fuels his aspirations to get to the top and ignites his passion in true sense, to make a mark in the industry and go after his primary likeness, for food and cooking or it deflates his hopes as the going gets tough. This is where comes the saying, ‘when the going gets tough the tough gets going’ .

Once the young chef has decided and embarked on his journey in the culinary field, everyday becomes a myriad experience, he learns and becomes mature, he correlates his job with his own creativity and overcomes one hurdle after another. It is like a ‘mirage’ , each opportunity opens up newer challenges and the taste of success prompts to explore for newer and tougher challenges.

This profession does provide attainment of a high level of job satisfaction and the hard work and perseverance required, then looks quite worth it.

Just a word of caution though, fresh aspirants in the profession should understand that the foundation of the building needs to be strong for it to grow tall, any aspirations based on glamour does not last for long, it is the focused approach to learn the basics well, without shortcuts, and practise and perfect their skills, which take a chef a long way.

Life and career as a chef, is quite an experience. Go for it, if the words which describe you are, passionate, tenacious, creative, physically fit and you want to do something meaningful. In true sense, it is a profession for the brave yet warm hearted.
By : Devraj Halder

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Dark Foods !

Well there is a dark side to food too ! But strangely we are not discussing anything evil or negative in nature today. With food, the darker it is, the better it is for you. 

From cliched black rice to black tea, black is back. For many cultures, dark-hued foods have long been a diet staple. Like in Latin cooking, count on frijoles negros to be prominent on your plate. Pakchoi, kale and lollo rosso are popular. Well now, 'dark foods' is the hot, enticing culinary trend. Beyond the ever-changing food fads, dark food isn't just a novelty; it is a nutritional powerhouse that is part of a healthy diet.  Black food is in and has all to do with improved awarness.

For centuries, black food has been part of a traditional Asian diet. According to ancient Chinese medicine, dark foods nourish the blood and are considered a tonic for the kidneys that are tied to a person's energy channel. The consumption of black food is believed to revitalize the body, promote healthy organ function and balance and regulate the system. Today it has become a fashionable health food the world over. Upscale menus feature black mushrooms, black soy and black vinegar, having the most-nutritious-food title. In fact, deep pigments are known to pack antioxidants that help fight heart disease, inflammation and various cancers, just to name a few.

Few of these dark-colored foods may be a better option which experts recommend for healthier living :

  • Blackberries, Blueberries, Dark Cherries, Raspberry, Pomegranate – They boast antioxidants galore. The polyphenols have shown to reduce colon cancer cells and prevent chronic inflammatory diseases.
  • Black beans – They house more fiber and anti-disease nutrients than their lighter bean counterparts. Black bean skin contains 24 plant compounds that help slow the development of colon, liver and breast cancer cells.
  • Black rice – Brown rice is a great whole grain food but black rice packs disease-fighting vitamins in addition to good digestive properties. Red and purple rice have also been a long-time favorite throughout Asia,  the deep pigments help to reduce cardiovascular disease.
  • Black tea – Green and oolong teas are healthy favorites, but health experts have found that darker tea may help to protect the heart, in addition to lowering risk for cancer and neurological problems that often come hand-in-hand with age. 
Other great dark-colored foods include black mushrooms, red-potatoes, spinach, red beet, broccoli, edamame, asparagus, plums, dark chocolate, tomato, even carrots and red wine. Which also means in terms of plant-based foods those that fall on the darker end of the color spectrum tend to be the healthiest. The benefits come from anthocyanins, the pigments that give fruit and vegetables their deep color, like the blue in blueberries, the purple in eggplants and the near black in blackberries. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that protect the human cells. Many of the dark ingredients also find a place in  top 10 'Super Foods'.

Wearing black is known to make you look slimmer, but eating black food can actually help you lose weight. Making better food choices is the nutritional cornerstone to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. One way to do that is by choosing more dark colored food. Just by swapping out light for dark, like whole grain or rye bread for white, or pale lettuce for dark green, you will be adding nutrients and flavor without adding calories. 
People are discovering all kinds of black food like black carrots, black eel and black chicken. But if you are not up for a culinary adventure, you can still inject your daily diet with a healthy dose of black by choosing your foods with thought and tact. 

By : 
Devraj Halder