Tag Archives: New York City

Pinch me and tell me this is for real!

If I rattle off the following words in no particular order – lucky, amazing, beautiful, incredible, unbelievable, memorable, special – does it conjure a certain visual imagery for you? For me, it is these words along with the Hindi word  “kismat” that sum up how I felt last Saturday night walking out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York City.  It was almost a “Cinderellaesque” moment, except I wanted the night to linger on as I descended the steps of the Met and got into my cab to head back home.

So what was it that led me to this happy, blissful state?  First and foremost it was clearing a wait list to take part in an event.  Not just any event, but one that brought together Madhur Jaffrey, the prolific actress, chef, and writer with Yotam Ottolenghi, the man whose recipes I’ve been creating joyfully in my kitchen since discovering him during our time in the UK.  These two stalwarts were coming together with Floyd Cardoz, yet another luminary on the Indian food scene to host a “Feast of India” at the Met.  Tickets had been sold out since April and yet through some magnificent stroke of luck, I cleared the waiting list a few days before the event.   Not only did I come beaming ear to ear, but lady luck blessed me with front row seats where I sat within arm’s length of my beloved chefs and next to their families and the curators of the event.  And that was just the kick off to a brilliant evening that had me pinching myself in disbelief at every turn.

Since the lavish evening banquet was in conjunction with the brilliant photography exhibit Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, the event was kicked off by the talented Mia Fineman, Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs at the Met who spoke eloquently about Raghubir Singh’s talents, a topic that was deftly woven into the discussion on vibrant  food and flavors throughout the evening.

As dishes from the north, south, east and west of India were brought out family style and the audience dug in, Yotam embarked on a Q&A with Madhur, asking questions about each dish and Madhur waxing eloquence in fluid prose with a little story and factoid on each dish followed by a video that demonstrated the dish being prepared.  Periods of audience silence were followed by animated chatter where each of us tried to pick our favorites.  Over the course of two hours, Yotam and Madhur paired up playfully to take the audience on a beautiful journey through the tastes of the Indian landscape. From bhelpuri to aloo parathas, pesarattu to jhalmuri, the food straddled the line between familiar and unfamiliar tastes.

As someone who can talk, eat, dream and cook food around the clock, I was just latching on to every word that came from Yotam and Madhur and truly had my fangirl moment when I got to speak to each of them and take pictures too! Floyd Cardoz who supervised the kitchen and was the vision behind the food served talked at the end about his experience creating bolder flavors for the American palate.  He affirmed that the world of bold, bright, deep flavors is here to stay and the world has shifted to a more adventurous mood in terms of food and eating habits.

It is incredibly hard to take a country like India with its kaleidoscope of colors, emotions, people, and flavors and bottle it into a two-hour experience, but the event curators at the Met really did a beautiful job of making the most of this enriching, informative, delicious event.

I’m still basking in the glow of happiness, recreating the evening in my head and trying to source the perfect green chickpeas that as a seasoned Indian and a decent cook I had never tasted in my life till the Met opened my eyes!

!

 

 

Fried Green Tomatoes – A dish of disputed origin that leaves you licking your fingers

By Lakshmi:

Fried Green Tomatoes – What images do those words conjure up? The namesake 1991 film set in Alabama?  The southern dish by the same name that leaves you drooling?  To me, it brings up memories of an amazing lunch at Friedmans in Chelsea Market in New York City.  Aaah – the perfect firm tomatoes, covered with seasoned panko, deep-fried and served with the perfect buttermilk sauce.  Each of us at that meal sat transfixed, a tad bit disappointed that we inhaled the plate so quickly!

And today after many months, I recreated this dish in my kitchen.  Take a look at the picture and let me know what you think. From a taste standpoint, the multiple testers in my household gave it a giant thumbs up!

While I had many recipes clipped out since that meal in New York City, I decided to wing this creation.  Here’s my easy how-to!

  • Sliced up some beautiful green tomatoes from the farmer’s market into thick slices and sprinkled them liberally with salt and pepper
  • Dredged the tomatoes in some flour seasoned with chilli pepper,
  • Dipped the flour covered tomatoes in two eggs whisked with a tablespoon of milk
  • Tossed the egg coated tomatoes into panko crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Deep fried the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes and drained them on paper towels.

Now, this beautiful creation needed an accompanying sauce.  And here’s what I did.

  • Mixed two tbsps non fat sour cream with a half a cup of buttermilk
  • Squirted in some Sriracha sauce into this mix along with some salt and pepper
  • Blended the mix well and served it!

And finally for a piece of trivia.  Most people believe that Fried Green Tomatoes are the quintessential southern dish.  But according to the Smithsonian magazine, the origins of this yummy dish can be traced back to Jewish and Midwestern cookbooks!!

If you have a love affair or a story with Fried Green Tomatoes, please do share!

The Book of Mormon: A Filthy Piece of Satire that We Can’t Help But Love

By Rohan:

The Book of Mormon is consistently sold out at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in New York City, and for good reason. Packing witty satire, great tunes, and the sharp (and filthy) writing from South Park ​creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, this musical has been able to fill seats better than any of its competitors in New York’s theater district. ​But is it worth the hype? Is it deserving of becoming part of the cultural zeitgeist? Is it worth the absurd ticket prices?

Hell yes.

Jon Stewart put it best. It’s a musical that’s so good, it’ll make you angry. As a college student, I was not inclined to dish out $200 for tickets to the Broadway production, but I did see it on tour when it came to the Landmark Theater in Syracuse (which I highly recommend if you’re on a budget). The touring cast was incredible, with amazing vocal talent and unparalleled comedic timing.

The play centers around a group of happy-go-lucky Mormons who are each sent to various locations to recruit more members to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Elder Price, an ambitious missionary, is disappointed at first when God sends him to a desolate village in Uganda rather than his ideal destination of Orlando, Florida. Joining Price is Elder Cunningham, a dimwitted companion who is easily the star of the production, with plenty of pop culture references and sharp satirical dialogue.

When they arrive in Uganda, they realize that the village is in danger after a military general has threatened to, well, we’ll spare you the details. Just keep in mind this is coming from the minds of South Park writers, so the play does get raunchier as it goes on. The soundtrack is incredible, straying away from the typical Broadway sounds and entering the realms of traditional African music, barbershop quartet, a cappella, and even heavy metal. It’ll keep your shoes tapping and your gut roaring to the amazing writing.

Overall, we could not recommend Book of Mormon more. Beneath its crass and filth, it has a charming story with a good lesson, however be warned that Trey Parker and Matt Stone do not hold anything back, and in doing so, allow for the musical to be an absolute triumph. We would say go see it while it lasts, but Mormon ​will not be leaving the stage anytime soon.