The Cobwebs Have Been Dusted….


For a post that is being written after a gap of over two years, I had intended a different setting and a different topic. I was certain my come back post would be about Parathas, something I have been cooking a lot of over the past few days, and Phirni. Or it would be the review of that cozy wine bar where I tipsily laughed away at nothing. Or that brunch spot in a quaint little Brooklyn neighborhood. I would be typing up this post sitting at my perfectly set up desk, browsing through prettily Lightroomed pictures of a nicely plated dish or a nicely composed shot of a glass of wine. The ambiance would be inspiring. My walls would be adorned with the pop art print and NYC skyline collage that I recently picked up. My window sill would be decorated and my newly acquired Matryoshka dolls would shine in their new place. And oh, I would sip on Blaufrankisch. And, the said post would be live tomorrow. That was the perfectly laid out plan.

Instead, I am splayed on a bean bag on my living room floor. The plans I had for my perfectly set-up room haven’t quite materialized the way I wanted them to. I probably need a new DSLR, I don’t have a bed to sleep on, my art work is resting on the floor and I have locked the Matryoshka dolls away for their own safety. And forget about the wine, I need some instant Bru coffee stat. Such is the chaos.

Impatient that I am, I cannot wait for that perfect setting and that perfect post. Heck, that degree of perfection is something I run from. That, is for another day. Today, it is all about embracing chaos and declaring that my love affair with food and drink has been rekindled. Prosecco is now alive. There will be recipes and reviews. Experiments and experiences and lest we forget, there is no love sincerer than the love of food!

 

Easy Weeknight Dinner


No Rules Vegetable Noodles and On-the-fly Spicy Tofu

noodles

For the noodles:

1. As many different vegetables as you fancy. My usual are carrots, green beans, mushrooms (I add everything from portobello to wood ear, shiitake, and enoki), broccoli and yellow squash. For this time I used carrots, yellow squash, portobello mushrooms and asparagus. I also toss in a fried egg or two every once a while.

2. Boiled Noodles- Enough to feed two ravenous appetites for two meals

3. Seasonings- Salt, Soy Sauce, Chili Garlic Sauce, Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce and any other Asian sauce that you can lay your hands on

4. Finely chopped ginger and garlic

Procedure: Heat some oil, preferably sesame (not the Indian version but the Chinese version) and fry the chopped ginger and garlic for a couple minutes. Turn up the heat and flash-fry the harder vegetables first. Once they cook a little and turn brown, add the softer vegetables like squash and mushrooms. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the salt and sauces. Now here comes the fun part, you can add the sauces in varying permutations to get a different taste every time. Once you are done with the sauces, add the noodles and toss well to combine. Done!

 

On-the-fly Spicy Tofu:

1. A pack of tofu, either silken or firm

2. Finely chopped ginger and garlic

3. Coarsely chopped green peppers

4. All the sauces that were used for the noodles

5. Two tablespoons of miso paste

6. A tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in water

Procedure: Heat oil in a wok and fry the chopped ginger and garlic. After a minute or two, add the green peppers and sauté until they brown. Add the miso paster, salt, and all the sauces. Combine well. Add half a cup of water and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Then, add the cornstarch to thicken the mixture. Remove from heat after a couple minutes and garnish with scallion greens if you wish. As easy as that!

 

 

 

 

Singapura ($$)- NYC


Singapura

This post is more about Indo-Chinese food than it is about the restaurant Singapura. I find the need to ramble about the cuisine in order to do justice to the review itself. Now, Wikipedia has done a very good job of covering the technicalities of this cuisine. Do spend some time reading that and then come back to read this.

To me, when you say Indo-Chinese food, I get transported to the Indian town where I was an undergrad. I start hearing things. Loud automobile honks, the bustle of a street and some Bollywood or regional movie songs being played on a cheap stereo to be precise. Any self-respecting “Fast Food” joint or “Noodle Point” that serves this food must be very humble. Usually a street cart or a small, Spartan store thereby explaining the noise and the Indian immunity that doesn’t make you rush for an Aleve in spring. And then comes the sound of a metal ladle furiously tossing around a mélange of ingredients in a large, extremely hot wok. I am told that it is this high temperature that is responsible for the taste and texture, among other things. Something you cannot achieve on your stovetop. The menu in such a place is pretty standard. You have Noodles with vegetables, egg or chicken and Manchurian, either wet or dry made out of vegetables, cauliflower or chicken. You almost always go to this place as a group. Get one of each kind and pass the dishes around. The taste is consistently the same no matter how many times you go. Now the taste, spicy, soy saucy, green chili saucy, and so Indo-Chinese-y that there is no other description. Yes, let us settle for Indo-Chinese-y.

Now, there’s sit-down restaurants that serve this fare and do a very good job. Not as good as the street cart but good enough for your now thirty something self whose belly doesn’t take as much abuse as it did when you were in your late teens and early twenties. The spice is toned down, the grease is reduced but the taste remains Indo-Chinese-y.

Let us now proceed to Singapura shall we? To do well on a street which offers stiff competition, you must be very good. Neighbor Chinese Mirch has established itself in the Indo-Chinese food space. While the food at Singapura is not bad at all, it is nowhere close to either the food cart or the restaurant. In addition to Indo-Chinese they also offer other Asian food like Malaysian and Thai but we did not try those.

For that authentic Indo-Chinese food experience, head to Bombay Talk in Edison, NJ. Don’t say you weren’t warned about the heat!

 

P.S. Just found that this restaurant is closed!

New Toy!


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The thing about Italy is that you lose a tiny piece of your heart there. You return and try to compensate for that loss, but it doesn’t quite work. In our case, we did that by acquiring this first-timer friendly Breville BES870XL. Why this? because we sipped cup after robust cup of Espresso (standing at the counter like locals) and had to have a machine on hand to satiate the Espresso craving. If only bringing home some Rome was that easy……..

Oak + Almond ($$$)- Norwalk, CT


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A very welcoming ambiance, farm to table concept, a seasonal menu and an opportune location had me visit Oak + Almond three times. I will keep this one short and sweet. Go there and share some appetizers over wine or cocktails. Do not miss any of their flatbreads or the meatballs. Binge on their sweet and creamy butter. I haven’t been blown over by their main course. I will return nevertheless, because it is a convenient place to go to after work or during lunch hour.