Monday, January 23, 2006

These are a few of my favorite things..

Aeons ago, Thalassa_Mikra had tagged me with the 10 favorite foods tag. I have been my usual indolent self and procrastinated. Truly though, it is a horrendously difficult task to list ten 'items of food', or is it ten 'kinds of food' that are my favorites. I'm wary of leaving out so much of what I love to eat. Instead I will be very very specific and list only things I do eat regularly - either because I can cook them or I have a favorite source (Mom, friend, store, restaurant and so on) that I can whine at or pay to feed me :) I apologise to those who do not understand Bengali in advance as I will not attempt to translate bengali phrases below.

1. Alu-posto and korai-er daal - as made by Ma. I can make a reasonable facsimile but for the real thing it has to be thin slivers of potato with dollops of posto cooked almost dry with watery korai-er dal which has mouri floating on the surface as made by Ma. To make it my idea of a feast from heaven, add papor (bhaja - not roasted!), (real) parshe machher jhal with lots of shorshe bata and kancha lonka. To Swati and Priya - I add - I know exactly how you feel about posto :)

2. Chingri Machher malaikari - again as made by Ma but there are various not-inferior versions made by a lot of the kakimas and mashimas I know!! Well balanced sweet and spice, with raisins and coconut milk. Big golda chingris with the heads on and bright orange roe!

3. Basil Chicken (Pad Ka Prow) - Spicy stir-fried ground chicken with (preferably Thai Holy Basil) basil and Thai chillis and garlic and shallots and dark soy sauce and fish sauce, finished up with a sprinkle of white pepper! Thank you Siam Square (long-departed), thank you Gayle and thank you Kasma! I can now make my own, what bliss!

4. Pantha'r mangsho (goat meat curry) - Homemade with big potato chunks and caramelized oniony meaty gravy. I could eat just the potatoes, so good! Usual source - Ma and various assorted Aunties, alternately - Kolkata'r biyebari! Preferably with ghee-bhaat or polao.

5. Hing-er Kochuri and chholar daal - The kochuris are tiny and the dal is sweet enough to substitute for payesh except its studded with deadly kancha lonkas. Oh my! Makes me want to emulate Meg Ryan in 'When Harry met Sally'. Source - Hindusthan Sweets in New Alipore, Putiram in College Square and various other typical mishti'r dokan.

6. Chicken Afghani from Sangu Valley / Fish Cutlet from Bijoli Grille and Chicken Cutlet from cafe - Thanks to Tumpa & Rajib for living in Bhowanipore and introducing me to these perfect specimens of er foodiness!! They HAVE to be accompanied by shredded cucumber, onion, carrots and beets and kashundi. At a pinch they can be substituted with homemade fish chop, and thanks to Ma I can make those myself.

7. Dim Sum - calorie and MSG laden bits of fried and steamed goodness. I mourn for my passing acquaintance with Monterey Park and Atlantic Boulevard in San Gabriel Valley - that is the true tragedy of having moved out of LA. The Bay area supposedly has great dim sum but I am yet to find that transcendental experience. The search goes on.

8. Tapas - Spanish bar food has taken over the urban bits of North America, with the small plates concept catching on like flu in a kindergarten. Whats not to like, Tortilla de patatas (Spanish Omelette), Patatas Bravas (potatoes in a spicy red sauce), manchego cheese with quince paste, spanish ham or Jamon, little Croquettes (so similar to the desi chop) and of course pitchers of Sangria. La Paella in L.A. is decent and so is Cafe Iberico in Chicago. Yet another option is that of Japanese Izakaya places which are similar in concept and type of food, slightly oily, greasy food in small portions to keep the bar-hoppers happy.

9. Dark chocolate - I have recently waxed eloquent on dark, semi-sweet chocolate. I do not have much more to add except to say, at least 60% cocoa, folks!

10. Mishti - Notun gurer sondesh, kheer kodombo, lyangcha and ledikeni. Chomchom and 'blush'ogolla (the pink ones made with gur), mishti doi and angti mishti (my name for gujiyas). Sigh - that is why I will keep going back to Calcutta and always call it home.

P.S. From the previous post: Cafe Colucci - check! Good stuff and ma loved it too, yay!
P.P.S Can't believe I forgot to mention phuchka, churmur and chicken roll, ufff.


Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Fantastic! I cannot think of anything on this list I do not adore, except perhaps chomchom which I don't really care for. I really, really need to get some panthar mangsho and make it at home. I can't get a satisfactory version anywhere in LA.

So everytime we visit my aunt in Howrah, I get dragged to Dakkhineshwar by my mother. My one consolation is that we also make a trip to Adyapith, where there is this shop that sells amazing luchi aar chholar daal.

January 23, 2006 4:12 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Swati, I just had this fabulous meal tonight at a place called Oliveto in Oakland - must blog about it. Anyway so I chose a braised pork belly dish for the main course and I tell you it tasted like really tender fatty panthar mangsho and even had the potatoes. Oh god, so good!
Oh oh and how did I not mention luchi!!!?

January 23, 2006 10:05 PM  
Blogger Priya said...

Honey, except for 6 & 8, I'll cook everything for you, just the way you like it. Just drop in for a meal, will u? And oh, I'll get the lyangchas esp. from Doshghara, how about that for a bait? Just gimme the date and time...

January 24, 2006 1:06 AM  
Blogger dear diary said...

You left me in a state of drool. I can totally imagine your cravings considering that you are timezones away from the land of food aplenty whereas i am just 2 hours south of my parents' home.

I never thought I would crave bong food this much.

January 24, 2006 3:41 AM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Priya Hon - the motherlode is sitting at home right now - so not enough bait - tell me after May ;-)

Dear Diary, thanks for dropping by :)

January 24, 2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

great list, but you missed one winner.

what price biriyani?

not the lucknow or hyderabad or heaven forbid bombay varieties, but REAL BONG biriyani.

the best i've ever tasted -- kashmere gate pujobari in delhi. ambar-da's been wafting them up for the last thirty years. biriyani, ghugni, ar shami kabab. makes you want to get religion, believe me.

great list again.

February 09, 2006 6:08 PM  
Blogger Urmea said...

Tabula Rasa, thank you for stopping by. The thing with biriyanis for me is I've never ever had that mindbendingly good one. Just my bad luck I guess!

February 09, 2006 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Arjun (bhaks) said...

Whoa am I surprised! Was looking for some sort of a recipe for good old chingri machher malaikari and google spews out your blog as a good place to go to...this only goes to show how prolific you have been. You probably have covered most things by now. Who knows! But way to go girl....YE YE!

May 17, 2006 6:55 PM  

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