Friday, September 24, 2010

Kashmira Kakaty : In Lost Land Of The Tiger

If you remember one of my most favourite post Kashmira Kakaty And Her Extraordinary Story Of .Discovering Wild Cats ,well ,my friends see her in this clip of the series Lost Land Of The Tiger (BBC),a new three part nature series ended on a high of more than 4.7 million peak viewers during the most important 9pm to 10 pm slot in U.K. .A rare leopard is photographed by a camera trap by this research team.Enjoy the clip and have a great weekend.Proud of you girl !

See this video 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Modern Cookery Illustrated And A Red Car


Our house in Shillong is being renovated .While clearing things out of  her old-bedroom my mom-in-law found a lot of old things - most of them were dumped but few were saved . Knowing that i love reading old books she gifted me this book named 'Modern Cookery Illustrated ' written by a British writer Lydia Chatterton.It was first published in 1938 .Mine one (proud owner ) is a 1946 reprint.It was in a pretty bad shape .Before sending it for binding i clicked a picture of in the exact condition it was found.Now a days i spend a lot of time reading it-the book is fascinating .It is a book written almost 72 years back .Most of the kitchen gadgets featured in this book which were the' most modern thing' then are no where in scene now a days.Here are few interesting pictures and infos that i would like to share .
( In the picture:A thermostatically -controlled gas cooker and automatic water heater which can be used alternatively with the domestic fired boiler).
The writer talks very passionately about cooking.These beautiful words from her caught my attention -she says-"As a small child the kitchen was to me Aladdin's cave,where just ordinary things were turned into beautiful dishes.How well i remember my first attempt at cooking when i was allowed a piece of dough to make a 'Bunny Rabbit'.When Mr. Bunny was ready for the oven he looked sad and grey.But Oh !when he emerged from that 'cavern of mystery' with his lovely brown coat and fierce currant eyes.Not one of the most successful dishes I have created since then has given me a greater thrill nor tasted quite so good."
(In the picture:High Pressure Cooker)
She sounds very excited about Pressure Cookers and thinks that they are 'too good to be true' and suggests for gifts for the 'house proud wife' or 'a bride to be'.The design of our modern day cooker looks a lot different than its 72 yrs old version .Today even i consider it as a good gift option for friends and they are not always women.
(In the picture:a container of the Vacuum Freezer )
She tells that how the Refrigerators-once only heard of in mansions and hotels ,are now installed as a fitting in many of the new flats.Also on how the milk and cream never go sour,butter can be served in hard slices,salads are crisp,drinks are cold.How refrigerators can be run on electricity,gas or oil.Vacuum freezers were an excellent choice then because electric/gas refrigerators were possibly not within reach of the majority of people.
I got interested as it was the first time that i came across the term Vacuum freezer.There is a long description in the book explaining it.What i understood was that there were two sections in a VF where the the dish to be frozen was kept in the center section and the outer section was filled with three parts ice and one part freezing salt.Sounds very tricky eh !
Here is a vegetables chart -it is included in Marketing Chapter which consists of 15 good pages.There are many great shopping tips which i found are still helpful in modern days.She advices forethought,judgment and common sense while shopping (hmmm....) .
Here comes another story of this red toy car- 'it was' oh sorry' it is 'my husband's.It was gifted by his aunt when he was 3 yrs old.As a newly wed when i visited our Shillong house for the first time -after a guided tour of the house while i was busy unpacking things i saw my hubby looking for something inside the chimney above the fireplace of our room.After few secs i saw a very happy man holding this red car in his hands.It was his hiding place which only both of us knew until ma found it while cleaning.Unaware of its importance to him she gifted 'The Car' to my son .I will never forget that  expression on my husband's face .It was hard to decide if the situation was funny or sad.After we came back ,one fine day the car was nowhere to be found-sooner my son forgot about it.I found it this morning when i was arranging ironed clothes in my hubby's wardrobe.
Have a great week my friends !

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fresh Bamboo Shoot

A bamboo shoot is a young culm harvested at the time, or shortly after it appears above the soil surface.Most bamboo species produce edible shoots. In many parts of North-East India, bamboo shoots are an integral part of traditional cuisine – fresh, dried, shredded or pickled.In Assam it is called BaahnGaaj (the fresh form) and Khorisa(fermented and dried form).Bamboo shoot when consumed fresh have a far superior taste and texture- it has a crunchy and subtle flavor.It is a purely seasonal thing .Though they have already made an appearance in the local markets of Guwahati (my city), i bought it from a roadside vegetable seller on National Highway (on my way to Shillong).Look at the picture above--they look very fresh and tender.I bought three shoots for 20 Rs. Let me share few things about the pre-cooking and preserving process of Fresh Bamboo shoots with you.
Bamboo shoots have high nutritional value,low fat and are a good source of Vitamins,cellulose and amino acids.To know more about its nutritional value click here.The shoots we get to buy here are already devoid of their hard peels (sellers do this job).Bamboo shoots are naturally bitter .Therefore to remove this bitterness and to make it easily digestible ,it is very important to parboil them before their consumption.I will show you how i do it in my kitchen.After washing it properly in running water,i slice them into rings of medium thickness .After immersing them completely in water i add two to three red chillies(as you see in the picture below) .It was a tip given to me by one of the shoot seller only,she said that this helps in loosing the bitterness and in retaining its natural color.I boil it uncovered for 20-25 minutes-if a skewer easily passes through the shoot,i consider it done.After putting off the flame i keep it aside for cooling down.Once it cools down ,i wash them once more with drinking water .
After that once again i immerse it in water and store in refrigerator in an air tight container.It is very important to change the water daily if you want to retain its freshness.This way it can be kept for two weeks.(see the picture below).It is now ready to be used in your meat/veg curries or for stir frying.
Here is Khorisa which is a fermented and dried form of bamboo shoot.It is pungent smelling and is a bit sour in taste.Tastes very good if added to mashed potatoes(aalu-pitika) or fish curries.
The very same day that i bought the shoots ,i used it for two different dishes .The first one was ' boneless chicken with vegetables and sliced bamboo shoots' (the picture below).I am a vegetarian so i don't know how it tasted...my kids and husband loved it though.
Second dish was almost same with the chicken replaced by Tofu (one can use paneer/cottage cheese too).If you don't get fresh ones you can use canned one which is more convenient but little less in taste and texture.Is Bamboo Shoot  a part of your cuisine too ?