Smell the Coffee

What does the land of Reggae have to do with a fine cup of coffee? For that matter, how does a weasel-like mammal improve the flavour of coffee? Or is it the musty winds of the south-western monsoon that I’m thinking of? The coffee bean grows in many countries – in fact, ever since a…

The Mystique of Mangoes

On my first visit to the Louvre in Paris, I was determined to look at the Mona Lisa in its original form. I was unprepared for the crowds in the Italian Art section of the museum, which were far greater than in any other part of the Louvre. After attaching myself to the longest line…

On a coffee estate in Coorg

The lunch that was hosted by Sagar and Kavita Muthappa at their well-appointed estate bungalow served as a house-warming for the Muthappa’s family and friends. Coorgs or Kodavas (“But please don’t go calling us Coorgis!” Sagar Muthappa warns me, mock-threateningly) are a close-knit community, with members of each extended family thinking up excuses for periodic…

Dying cuisines: Kashmir’s dried vegetables

Mughlai food (the real McCoy that is, not the upstart version you get in restaurants) started its decline because of the richness of its ingredients and the intricacy of the preparations. Bengali widows’ food is on its way out because society is becoming less and less traditional. Many of India’s micro-cuisines are in danger of…

Seafood

Understanding the top segment of the seafood market Farmed versus natural: there’s no doubt about it, wild seafood is in another class altogether. Wild fish (and other creatures of the deep) have specific habitats and feeding patterns. Some tuna, for instance, swim for hundreds of miles during their lifetime, often against the current. Not a…

With love, for Kashmir

I was delighted when a shopkeeper in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul called me Hema Malini. Not, I hasten to add, because I am a fan of that actress, nor indeed because I have any pretensions of looking like a star, but because it was one more point to chalk up on my ‘Kashmir’ board.…

Pizzeria Rossa

Cuisine: Italian Italian with an Indian sensibility The interiors are cramped, the service is affably clueless but it’s crowded through the day because of the pizzas. Atmospherics: You don’t have to navigate all the way down Hauz Khas Village because Pizzeria Rossa is the very first eatery as you enter and there are no steps…

Jaunpur’s Fading Cuisine

New Delhi’s Crowne Plaza has just had an irresistible food festival. It showcased the cuisine of Jaunpur in UP. I myself heard many guests asking the staff in the restaurant how Jaunpur was spelt. It was clear that this faded little town was not in the forefront of public memory: for one reason or another,…

The Mysteries of Japanese Food

Sa Shi Su Soy So are the five “vowels” of a Japanese meal. They refer respectively to sato (sugar), shio (salt), su (vinegar), shoyu (soya) and miso, the five most common flavours of Japanese food. The components of a kaiseki meal include Kobachi or appetizer, usually cold Sashimi or raw fish Mishimono or steamed custard-like…