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Muchlove's Profile

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coconut oil?

There was another thread on this recently, here:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/843528

If those options don't work for you, it's great for the hair! No, seriously, I massage my head with coconut oil several times a week.

Apr 16, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra suggestions

Lots of people eat out in India. There are tonnes of small restaurants, sweet shops (these often serve small meals), dhaba, bhojanalya and street stalls that do a roaring trade. I cannot agree with your statement at all.

The problem is that it is incorrect to think that the best food comes from the most expensive or "posh" restaurants. It is also incorrect to assume that the most hygenic food comes from these places. A lot of Indians cannot afford to eat at such places, or at least not often. Therefore it is the cheaper places that cater to a huge crowd of discerning locals on a daily basis that are really under pressure to maintain high standards.

I can promise you that there is tonnes of delicious food in India and it is not hard to find. I think many foreigners have a hard time because they know very little about Indian food and don't know what to look for. Also, they do not speak the language and are often afraid of becoming sick. These things combined can make it hard for them to take the courage to sit down in a small joint with no English menu and eat alongside locals.

If you came to my town I would never recommend you to eat in any of the hotels or even the most expensive restaurant in town - a hideous place called El Chico (don't ask about the name, it's a tedious story). But I would tell you the sweet shop with the best kachori sabzi, and the other with the best dahi and the most amazing gulab jamun you will ever eat. I can tell you where the best chaat wale are, how the chaat varies in different parts of the city and what time the most in demand guys start. I will encourage you to join a huge crowd to have a thali from a certain open air bhojanalya near a large and well known sabzi mandi. I can tell you which litti chokha stand by the bus station is my favourite, and where you can get the coolest, freshest and most delicious fruit juices in town. I can go on and on.

The point is, you would never find these places if you only went inside fancy buildings with AC and waiters in black tie. But that doesn't mean that the food is not safe, and that you will not have a great time.

I've been gorging myself all over India for several years and I've always found delicious food of all kinds (not just deep fried snacks but well balanced meals). I'm sorry you weren't blown away by the food you ate. It's possible that Indian food is not your thing of course, but it's also possible you just ate at the wrong places.

Apr 16, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra suggestions

Well, you have to know where to look and what to order. Certainly not all street food is fried dough or potato in pools of oil. I can easily share many photos with you from personal trips to Delhi and other Northern cities (plus Eastern, Western and Southern if you want) and also from the town I live in (Allahabad) that will show that it your statement is absolutely not true.

Many hotels and restaurants all over India have the same standard menu of Mughlai and Punjabi food with a few "Southern" dishes and "Chinese" thrown in to. This is what people expect to get at a restaurant, not home cooked or particularly local food. It is pretty non-exciting stuff.

However, there are also many dhaba, sweet shops, telawale (cart vendors) and small restaurants that serve exciting and varied local foods. If you go to these places, you will experience far more variety and unusual tastes. You will also tend to eat more "authentically" The best idea is to do a lot of research about what particular dishes are associated with a specific town and where you might find those dishes. Also look for crowded places and try to see what people are ordering.Try to make sure you don't accidently join a queue after seeing a crowd and find out they are all eatin...chowmein! Also, getting invited to someone's home is a definite must. Try to get them to cook you something everyday though, they may try to make something "special" - AKA restaurant style food!

Do also bear in mind that many Indians think that Westerners are afraid of Indian food and cannot eat it. Therefore, in both restaurants and homes, they may use different amounts of spices, chilli, salt and oil/ghee than they would when cooking for Indians. In addition, they might think you only want to eat chicken tikka, palak paneer, naan and all the other typical restaurant dishes. Don't get pressured into getting the same old boring stuff everytime.

Apr 16, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

Does anyone know what these are called? And do you have a recipe for it?

It looks like what in the UK is called chocolate tiffin, or just tiffin. They are indeed delicious. See google for more details, including pics and recipes.

Apr 15, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

Was it rude to assume I was invited?

Try not to worry too much if you get snarky or hostile replies. It's the internet! Also, sometimes it can be hard to read tone and people aren't necessarily trying to be rude, it just comes off that way.

In addition I will note that I have noticed many people on Chowhound have much stronger feelings about correct etiquette than I do. Generally I am a forgiving person and don't mind if other people don't do things exactly "right". But apparently there are lots of things which are considered "tacky" and certain posters seem to think that everyone in the world lives in exactly the same culture and should behave in exactly the same way. Personally, I believe in treating people like...well...people! Sometimes people make etiquette "mistakes", but this does not mean that they are rude and should be shunned.

Apr 14, 2012
Muchlove in Not About Food

Was it rude to assume I was invited?

I don't think it was rude of you, you were merely mistaken. It's not a big deal, and now you'll know for next time that you need to get clarification on the situation if it's not completely clear to you.

Apr 13, 2012
Muchlove in Not About Food

New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra suggestions

It's not all fried but I do agree with you. And by the way you should always take the freshly made food, do not accept anything sitting around. More than hygeine, think of the fresh taste! Delhi's street food is outstandingly good, it should be tried.

Actually all over India, the street food and the down-at-heel type places are almost uniformly better than the fancy and five star places. They are catering to the everyday normal people who are after proper local food at a reasonable price. The good places will have a faithful clientel and you will see a crowd - not only of people eating in, but also getting food packed to take home. So many times when I have splurged on an upmarket restaurant, I have found the food disappointing and felt deeply regretful at all those wasted Rs.

Apr 12, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

Who here can actually cook excellent authentic or close to it Chinese food?

Are you trying to replicate restaurant Chinese food or are you aiming to make home-style food, as ordinary Chinese people would in their homes?

Apr 12, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

my perennial garam masala problem

I make garam masala fresh almost every time. As in, when I make a dish, I make garam masala in a quantity just for that dish. Garam masala recipes vary from house to house an region to region, but the basic concept is warming, aromatic spices. My basic is cloves, green cardamom, peppercorns and cassia. I might use 2 cardamom, 2 cloves, 4 peppercorns and a smallish bit of cassia (broken up) that looks inline with the other ingredients to make about 1/2-1 tsp garam masala. I may double this if necessary. My method is to toast lightly and grind. This should be added near the end of cooking as the toasting makes a lot of cooking unnecssary.

I also have a more complex Punjabi style garam masala that I save for certain dishes. I make it about once a month. It has a lot more stuff in it (black cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cassia leaves, etc.) and is more aromatic. I do not toast it heavily, but simply either dry the spices out without toasting and then grind them.

A lot of commercial garam masala are full of filler spices like coriander in such large quantities as to completely ruin the flavour, IMO. Also, they don't have the fresh taste of homemade. I never buy such mixes.

Apr 12, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

Recipes for cooking with coconut oil?

Any South Indian recipe. Well, almost any. I like to use sesame oil for dishes with tamarind, and ghee for sweets and stuff like pongal, but otherwise it is coconut oil all the way!

Apr 12, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

ISO "dairy free" vegetarian quiche recipe.

Hopefully the OP will clarify the egg situation....

I am a vegetarian who doesn't eat eggs, and I was once served a "quiche" made with tofu that happened to be dairy free too. I can't say I really liked it, but then this just reflects my personal taste so it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing.

Apr 09, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

ISO "dairy free" vegetarian quiche recipe.

Er...OP said vegetarian. Lard is decidedly not vegetarian.

Apr 09, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

48 hours in Kolkata

Then you must definitely eat some Bengali food. A few suggestions:

Kewpies (Elgin Road) is a popularly talked about Bengali place. The first time I went (a few years ago) it was very good indeed. On my return visit this December just gone, the food was good but service had gone down a little. For some reason they had a loud, brash American waiter who had some strange idea about the dishes! Definitely have a thali. I don't know if you are veg or non-veg, but if you are non-veg, then concentrate on fish and seafood as these are very much loved in Bengal. It's a very nice looking place and the price tag is above average but not as high as some of the really posh places in town.

Bhojohori Manna (more than one location - we went to the original on Ekdalia Road) is a must try. I think this was my fav place in Kolkata. Don't bother about ambience here, it is all about the food. The menu is on the board but you can also just ask for a selection of dishes for either a veg or non-veg meal and they can talk you through some choices. Since you will not know what dishes are, this will be a good option for you to get their advice. Prices are low, except for some expensive sea food items like giant prawns, but this is in line with the quality of the food being served.

Kasturi (near Park Street) is a Bangladeshi restaurant that a friend recommended. Mostly had non-veg but there was plenty for me too (I am vegetarian). There is no menu, just a range of dishes in the display case downstairs which I guess changes each day. Do you speak Hindi? If you do, you will be fine here. Otherwise I guess you may have to just point lots! Very cheap place, again allowing for perhaps an expensive fish dish. Very casual place and not posh at all.

6 Ballygunge Place (no prizes for guessing the address!) is a place I visited a few years back. I remember the food was good, not as good as Kewpies though. Price range is quite high, nice looking place with a "proper" restaurant vibe.

Oh! Calcutta (in Forum Mall) is a raved about place. Our meal there was a tad disappointing and very very expensive. Mind you, I think some of their dishes are just much better than others, as I know friends who rave about some of the stuff. Sadly, I couldn't get my (non-veg) bro to order the dish I have heard most raves about! Even though it is in a mall so you may think it will be rubbish looking, it is a very posh looking restaurant - decor and waiting style match the high price.

I would also recommend you try out some of the street food. And that's a misleading term, because I don't just mean little snacks. You can get whole proper meals on the pavement in Kolkata! Chowringhee Road has lots of places, if you are interested. Look for crowded places, as this means it is good food and most likely hygenic as otherwise people would not go there. Also means quicker turnover. You must eat jhal moori for definite! This is snack made from puffed rice mixed with bits and pieces that may include potato, onion, peanuts, various crunchy bits, masala and seasoned with a good glug of mustard oil, chillies and fresh coriander. A perfect snack for when you are enjoying the afternoon in a park or something!

There's much more that could be said, but I am not expert enough to give more recs. So my final note is to say you must must must eat Bengali sweets! Definitely go to KC Dass and have ras malai and ras gulla there. Sandesh is also a must, and so is misthi doi. I don't know when you are going, but if you go in Winter you can sandesh and misthi doi made with gur and it is amazing, even though the sugar versions are great too!

Btw, you should also read up about Bengali food. It's good to know about how a traditional meal is served and a little bit about some popular dishes. You see, traditionally a Bengali meal is eaten in a specific order, and many people feel that it increases the pleasure derived from the meal if you follow this. There are plenty of websites online and also books available that can help you with this. It will increase your enjoyment of the meal if you know the shukto is supposed to be eaten first, can identify what bhaja you have, expect the chutney at the end to be sweet, etc. Plus you will know what to order!

Apr 08, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

Dried Beans - What's is the trick?

Pressure cook them. Then they don't take long at all. Chickpeas are done perfectly in about 20 minutes in mine, kidney beans in about 15 minutes.

Apr 08, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

48 hours in Kolkata

Ha ha, hello again!

I have a few questions:

Are you Indian? If not, will this be your first time in India? Have you ever eaten Indian food (not restaurant food outside of India, but real Indian food in a person's home) and did you like it? Are you adventurous with food or are you a picky eater? I ask because I'm trying to work out what sort of recs will be good for you.

I've only been to Kolkata twice, but I managed to eat a lot of amazing Bengali food there. If you are interested I can tell you a few restaurants that are worth it. Also I would recommend certain street food and also sweets. However, if you would prefer to eat Western food, I will be at a bit of a loss.

Apr 08, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

Bhubaneswar eats

Yes, it has four locations I think, all legit. I have only been to one but I am sure they are all good.

What I mean is that there are also a few "Dalema" and other misspelt places. Ignore!

Apr 08, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

Bhubaneswar eats

Dalma is a must visit restaurant for Oriya food. Beware of its mispelt copycats - there are even a couple of them right by it! We ate there ate least once a day for our stay in Bhubaneswar. Also, Bhubaneswar has great street food. The dahi bara aloo dum is great, the chaat is amazing, the ghugni is delicious , the jhal moori divine, etc. Also Hare Krishna restaurant near the train station is good quality, though it is slightly expensive.

Oh, and do not miss the delicious Oriya sweets here!

Chowhound is a food website so I won't talk about tourist attractions. But if you look online you will see that there is much to visit :)

Apr 07, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

Bangalore - Oh! Calcutta: the Best Bengali restaurant in town?

Interesting...you visited Bangalore and wanted to eat Bengali food?! Still, it sounds like you had a good time.

I have been to the Oh! Calcutta in Kolkata and was disappointed. It was very expensive and the food was just ok. Still, I have heard positive reviews from people I trust and it seems that they have certain dishes that are very good. There are other places I'd rather eat Bengali food in Kolkata though.

I hope you post some reviews of other places you ate in Bangalore.

Apr 07, 2012
Muchlove in India & South Asia

Maybe I should just eat buckwheat and tofu- New Food Allergies

Your tamari recommendation is good, but I hope that anyone with wheat problems checks the label carefully first as even some products that call themselves "tamari" have wheat in them. I found this out when I was shopping with a friend who had just been diagnosed with celiac disease. We had to check very carefully to make sure we were getting something she would be ok with.

Apr 04, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

"Cooking" with a toddler?

My Dad used to get me up on a high stool and let me have a go at kneading dough for bread. Of course, I made a big mess and also tried to eat quite a lot of the raw dough (even after I discovered that the yeast made it taste bad! It still looked so good!) but it had a positive enough effect on me that I can still remember it, and to this day I love kneading dough.

ETA: I was also put on the same high stool and left in charge of watching the porridge in the microwave. There wasn't a single time when I didn't let it boil over! My Dad still teases me about it!

Mar 31, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

Fresh chick peas

Fresh chickpeas are available at this time here in India too but in Uttar Pradesh at least we are lucky that the vendors sell them shelled! There are two kinds - one larger than the other. One is the young kabuli chana and one is the young kala chana.

I love them cooked simply in a North Indian style with potatoes, and also cooked with rice into a pulao - serve with a raita or plain yoghurt, plus papad and pickle and you are set for a tasty meal.

Another very easy dish is a raw salad, which at this time of the year is sold by many street vendors. They simply toss them with chopped onion, chopped tomato, grated mooli, grated beetroot, minced chillies, minced ginger, chopped green garlic or spring onions, chopped fresh coriander, some masala (varies from vendor to vendor but at home I just use chaat masala), lemon juice and salt. Delicious.

One thing I always liked eating in Winter in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh was the roasted fresh chickpeas that vendors sold. These were roasted still in there pods and the vendor simply puts it in a newspaper bundle with salt for you to take away. Then you can sit somewhere and leisurely shell and munch, preferably with a cup of chai to go with it! Ah, what a way to spend an afternoon. Sadly I have never seen the roasted hare chane vendors here in UP. :(

Mar 21, 2012
Muchlove in Greater Boston Area

Vegetarian accompaniment to leg of lamb?

What you are suggesting sounds reasonable, but why not ask the host if it sounds ok too? That way there's no guesswork. If she or he gives it the ok, you could also bring a simple yoghurt salad (something tzatziki-ish or maybe even just yoghurt with garlic and mint) to go with it (so you're not just eating dry couscous - of course couscous dishes are nice but they call out for a moist accompaniment, IMO!), which would also be nice for the others to have with lamb.

I definitely think you want something with some kind of pulse like chickpeas, white beans, etc. so that you have something a bit more substantial than just veg to eat.

Mar 21, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

What to do with too dry cake?

I wish I had leftover dry cake...

Mar 20, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking

"We're not ready for our entrees yet..."

I had this happen once. We ordered a (hot - not salad) starter each and a main and the main came about 30 seconds after the starter. Unfortunately it was just one of a string of crappy things so my dining partner and I did not have much patience left. We knew that if we told them we weren't ready, it would go to the kitchen and sit waiting until we had finished our starters, and then would either be brought out cold or reheated in the microwave. Still, I was so annoyed that I did ask them to take it back. Sure enough, after we had finished our starters the same plates came back looking a little bit congealed, and yep, they were cold. By this time I was basically fed up and would happily have left, but my dining partner was determined "to make the best of it" so he complained the dishes were cold. They were taken back and presumably reheated in the microwave. And it wasn't even good after all that. I kept telling my dining partner that the staff had almost certainly spat in our food or something similar and that he shouldn't have made a fuss! Since the food wasn't good anyway, we never went back.

I think we handled the situation completely wrong and should just have accepted the food when it came. Very few places are likely to make an entirely new dish in this situation, so you may as well just try and eat it whilst it's fresh.

Mar 20, 2012
Muchlove in Not About Food
1

Really Dumb Food...!

everything you just wrote made me laugh out loud, thank you!

Mar 19, 2012
Muchlove in General Topics

Upscale Summer Picnic Menu?

I second the stuffed grape leaves! Can't go wrong. Actually a nice array of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean salad and small bites type dishes would be great.

Mar 18, 2012
Muchlove in General Topics

Travel anywhere in the world to eat...where to go?

Showing a bias here but I think India is a top destination for any food lover. One thing though, as a tourist you will have to try hard. Most tourists eat in hotel restaurants and completely miss out on the really tasty stuff that the locals are eating. So do some research on the places you are going first!

Mar 18, 2012
Muchlove in General Topics

I Wish I Could....

I wish I was good enough with roti that my chapattis would rotate themselves as I roll like they do for my Mum! And I wish my stuffed paratha rolled out perfectly with no splits. And that my bhakri were thinner and yet still round, and also still in one piece! And that my ghadichi poli turned out round in the end...

Can you see a theme?! I am not the roti queen.

Mar 18, 2012
Muchlove in General Topics

Hard Sugar Remedy?

Pestle and mortar? Or shove it in the blender/food processor/etc. before use?

Mar 10, 2012
Muchlove in General Topics

Homemade Ricotta Failure

Isn't ricotta made from whey? It sounds like you made something like paneer.

It's pretty easy to make but I would not use the method Ina does. Here's a better way:

Put the milk (cream optional) in a pan on the stove and bring to a boil, turn heat to low then add lemon juice. Stir gently until milk curdles and whey is cloudy (it looks sort of greenish). Strain and rinse to get rid of lemon-y taste. Do not keep it on the heat longer than necessary as this can make the curds tough. By the way an even better way is to use slightly soured yoghurt (leave it out for a day) to curdle the milk. This increases the yield of paneer, makes it tastier and also leaves no lemon-y taste.

Mar 10, 2012
Muchlove in Home Cooking