Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Bombay Kitchen: Three more days!

I continue to stumble with the food styling. And it may be worse when I make an effort, as I did just now with a my late grandmother's china saucer and a piece of Cardamom shortbread. That is a tragic picture, like a photograph an old B&B proprietress might take to advertise her property, and just looking at it you know exactly what kind place it is, crammed with mahogany Victorian reproductions, Gone with the Wind plates and Hummel figurines. The bedrooms smell like lavender sachets and you will never stay there because she only serves vanilla-hazelnut coffee and just won't stop talking. On and on she rattles. Kind of like the Tipsy Baker.

I woke up this morning still full from dinner last night. Disturbing. I had so much left over from previous nights, that I heated it all up, and added two fresh dishes: Eggplant stew and Cucumber raita.

All day, dreading the eggplant stew. Gray and soggy eggplant stew. Stew. Ew. The words alone are disconcerting, the images they call up, vile. I should have been thinking of it as the Parsis do: Buriyani. Much better, no?

The Buriyani was, in fact, delectable, but it was the raita that blew my mind. In her uncharacteristically brief headnote Niloufer Ichaporia King writes: "Cucumber raita needs no introduction. Is there anyone who doesn't love it?"

Well, yes, I thought sourly, there's me. But it is the traditional accompaniment to Buriyani, so I went forward with what is, essentially, cucumber grated into a bowl of yogurt. I've made raita several times before and it was acidic and thin. I think what I did right this time was buy Greek yogurt, which is rich and thick, more like sour cream.

This may be the point at which to introduce my theory of the characters of foods. I had previously pegged cucumber raita as a skinny prig -- a wispy, unattractive ascetic with a pale comb-over whom no one really wants to sit beside. But this raita was a lovely, sweet woman, voluptuous and kind and an excellent listener.

That said, there is still one person who does not love raita. Or, for that matter, anything else I put on the table last night.


  1. The Raita sounds great. But the eggplant stew---what was in it? What made you like it this time? As an eggplant lover, I want all the gory details! Was it complicated? Is there any left?

  2. The eggplant stew. . . like everything Parsi, it starts with chopping an onion. Then some spices, including Dhana Jiru, some ginger, some garlic, some water. Very, very simple. I love eggplant too, but doesn't eggplant stew sound blecch?
    Yes, there's some left, and if you want to come to dinner on Friday night for the end of Parsi blowout, I will save you some.

  3. Poor Owen. You really should cut the pictures with us hating the food! At least I ducked under the table soon enough, before you committed a crime of meanness!

  4. Greek yogurt is like the incredible, edible egg. It's great for a lot of things and at any time of day. Go, Greek yogurt, go!