0

The Culinary Quest with Supriya Anand (Founder, The Food Media Company), New Delhi, India

Supriya Anand, Founder - The Food Media Company (TFMC)

Supriya Anand, Founder – The Food Media Company (TFMC)

Supriya Anand is a Delhi-based entrepreneur who took her love for food to the boardroom, founding THE FOOD MEDIA COMPANY (TFMC), which ‘celebrates and showcases innovative food related ideas through brand designing campaigns, promoting creative and inventive chefs, food product innovators, food authors and food curators.’

Approaching food, eating and culinary culture both conceptually and visually, her Arts & Literature background allowed her to work with different forms of expression with reference to food. “The thought of creating and building TFMC was to reach out & explore Culinary & Cultural experiences from around the world and to share the same with the world”. Previously she has worked as a media professional at Mr. Siddhartha Basu’s Big Synergy Media Limited for seven years as a Senior Assistant Director & Associate Producer.

I caught up with her over delicious home-made Banoffee Pie and tea to undertake a Culinary Quest, the first in this freshly brewed new Q&A series on the blog.

A dish you can eat seven days a week

Tea & a light cake

A drink you can down with any meal

I’m good with water

A dish or drink from a movie/book/television series you’d love to taste

All of Donna Hay’s & Jamie Oliver’s preparations, absolutely love their method of cooking & how they love & treat their food

An unforgettable dish you’ve had. When and where?

For this I’d have say my mother’s cooking is the most unforgettable, I truly feel nourished and happy with what and how Mumma makes anything & everything for us, with all her love & soul.

A special dish you’d like to cook for a loved one

I’d like to prepare a whole meal for a loved one

The weirdest thing you’ve ever tasted

Snails in garlic butter, the taste was still alright, the texture was horrible!

Two people (real/fictional) you’d like to have dinner with

Real life, Curtis Stone & Jamie Oliver;  Fictional: Professor Henry Higgins (from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion); and Julia Child

A fruit or vegetable you detest

For some reason, musk melon

A fruit or vegetable you love

All, as long as they are clean & fresh

A chef (current or from history) whose preparations you’d love to taste

I’d have to say Donna Hay

If you’d like to participate in this series or nominate a wanderlust-afflicted friend, holler on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!

Advertisements
0

Rote Beete Suppe (Beet Root Soup)

It was 1975. Two Indian friends were visiting a common German friend in East Berlin, then capital of the German Democratic Republic. That friend’s parents had years ago left their Nazi occupied country and settled along the Polish-Ukraine border. She had found her way back to divided Germany. That evening she served them a pink, sour soup. It was something she’d learned from her mother.

It had enticed the taste buds of my Father-in-law, one of the visitors, so much that he learnt the recipe from her. Making it several times during his stay in the country, he eventually forgot all about it when he returned to India in the early 80s. That is, until recently, when the sight of Saure Sahne (sour cream), leftover from my mushroom soup experiment, brought back the unique flavour of the beetroot soup and he delighted us with blending it all together again.

The dish is a popular soup in Eastern Europe, finding its way into Poland and Germany, through people carrying stories and special recipes along as the settled in newer parts in the region, in the aftermath of the war. The elaborate version of this soup, with many vegetables and even meat, is referred to as borscht (in Russian) and by differing names as dialects change across borders. This is a red hot (or pink depending on how much sour cream you like in it) soup not only in its form but also in the debates surrounding its origin.

This dish has now travelled to me, sans borders and the limits names and places often impose on people, travelled like all good things do, free as stories from life should be. And now I’m sharing it with you.

Rote Beete Suppe (Beet Root Soup)

This recipe serves two.

Ingredients:

1 big bulb (or 2 medium or 3 small) of Beetroot

200 gm Saure Sahne (Sour Cream)

2 tsp Butter

Salt to taste

Method:

Peel, wash and clean the beetroot bulb. Chop it into small pieces, preferably squares.

In a grinder mix the chopped beet root and sour cream to make a paste.

In a pan heat 2 tsp butter, add a little salt to taste, add the beetroot & sour cream paste.

Stir for a minute and add water according to the consistency you want.

Once boiled, cool it.

Add Black pepper as per taste and coriander as garnish.

1

Apple, Carrot and Walnut Salad in Lemon & Honey Dressing

In the past, many a cooking experiment has resulted from my not having eaten the fruit of the day. First it was bananas, which I’ve more or less begun to eat religiously first thing in the morning. Apples by contrast are reserved for that post 5pm pang, which coincides with the let’s wrap up work & run home hour. Thus resulting in a guilty apple trudging home with me. On one such evening, I decided to give it some glory once I got back, dreaming up something pomegranate-y. Finding no pomegranates at home, I found an interesting recipe for a Carrot, Apple & Walnut Salad. While I like to have a recipe hanging before me as I experiment, I always end up going with instinct on measurements. So here’s what I did:

  • Chopped 1 Apple (you could ideally skin it & slice it thin. My excuse was laziness and hunger)
  • Sliced bits of 1 orange carrot
  • Roasted 1/2 cup walnuts for 3 minutes in the microwave
  • Mixed all three in a salad bowl
  • Doused & mixed them in 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • Topped off the salad with a separate mixture of 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil & 1/2 lemon
  • Sprinkled a little black pepper & salt

And Voila! My 10 minute (or less, depending on your chopping speed) crunchy, lemony, bittersweet salad was ready! Apple, Carrot & Walnut Salad Tip: Go easy on the walnuts since a little more could completely overpower the flavour. But mostly, even after a long day at work, this is an easy please & a great way to get kids (and grandparents) to eat their fruits and veggies!

1

The Mushroom Experiment (without an A-Bomb)

For those of you who know me, or have walked in here sometimes, the image of a ladle circling apron-clad mamacita does not come to mind. On my date with food, I mostly sit in the EATING ONLY section.

But a slow, aromatic change is coming.

After an end of the day banana fix experiment months ago, and nothing afterwards, I recently decided to graduate out of the baking comfort zone to ‘real’ food, or at least appetizers. Now, I personally love some steaming mushrooms, and so does the husband. And our little girl has been granted no food choice at the moment. So I got all excited about whipping up a steaming broth for my lovelies, especially since it played on the good side of healthy eating (with only a little butter, I promise).

Mushroom Soup IngredientsTo begin, I wanted to send everyone packing to a warm room around the TV, like good house inmates. But I soon realised there wasn’t enough cream to make my soup sexy. So off went Daddy and the girl while I brought out the magic mushrooms, garlic and onion over to the chopping board for some quick and tough love.

My cream party was back just as the last mushrooms came under the knife. And within minutes off went the pan with butter on board. A bay leaf began the play, and then it was all drop, drop, churn churn with a brief interruption by the husband trying to ensure that I hadn’t burnt harmless beings alive. I shooed him out.

After minutes that felt like months at the time, a sight resembling soup came through.

Isn’t there something delightful in the word simmer, even more so when it’s accompanied by a (visually) normal and naturally peppery scent of soup. It was done.

Cream of Mushroom SoupThough I had tasted the broth in motion to see that all was good, it was quite another treat to see the family lick it off their bowls (our furry pet included). The husband even licked the pan clean (though that’s usually undesirable behaviour in my books).

Within two days I had made it again, lots more this time. And it will probably happen again soon.

Until I find a new food road to travel, we can (if we have to) live on some soup and cake.

For your notebook: I used this recipe, strictly by the book, the first time around (without nutmeg). But the second time I increased the amount of water and milk with the same mushroom quantity and extra seasonings. It was thinner but swell.

0

Feasting on Friendship

Last Sunday, a dear friend and I met for lunch. Although we live less than ten kilometers from each other, we meet less than five times a year. Our last rendezvous was at a breakfast event earlier this year, which she was hosting. In between entertaining others and keeping things in check, we hardly got the time to ‘catch up’.

So this time, there was a lot we had to fill each other on, mostly her trials at running her own business, interpreting mixed signals from a certain gentleman of interest, dealing with her supportive but anxious parents with regard to her 30-year-old unmarried status and mutual exclamations at the horrors being inflicted by our ex-boss at a company we began working for right out of graduate school.

If I had to pick a best friend (among women), she would be it. In addition to being classmates at college, we had found a common interest, namely, commuting from the same location to our classroom nearly 20 kilometers away. When I wasn’t playing (and praying for) the empty bus lottery, I would hitch a ride in her cantankerous white car. Our adventures in that disheveled beast included water puddles at our feet from the leaky roof, lizards resting behind the steering wheel and a disruption in our philosophical ramblings by the sudden demise of the engine on a highway stretch with no help. The final straw was the shocking disappearance of that crippled metal mass from outside the office where we had begun our journey together into paid labor. The car was finally retrieved but by then my friend had fallen out of love with it. She gave it away to the plumber and got a swifter ride. And it has been so long since the fateful day that even the second car is being done in for a fancier ride this October.

Lunch at Cafe LotaShe and I were born in the same year, nineteen days apart. Being zodiac twins meant that over the years we had shared horoscope defined drivel that was supposed to explain our lives. To no one’s surprise, it never did. As we dug into a steaming Vegetable Stew with Appam and an aubergine curd dish with parathas, the conversation veered towards our present lives that couldn’t have been more dissimilar. Even though we spent two years at our first job together, the ensuing joys and sorrows have been uniquely our own. And yet we have been few dialed numbers away, hers being among the few that have been imprinted in my mind, unmarred by memories going digital.

Even though we haven’t been very regular with our correspondence, we ease into it when we do meet. There are no shields, pretenses or hidden cobwebs. It’s confession closet and more.

Nothing compares of course to the one time she called, nearly three years ago after a very long gap.

“Heyyyy (the long drawl is a must for our greeting)! How’ve you been? Lets meet soon. It’s been forever.”

The usual drill is for us to decide time and place, dependent mostly on which new restaurant we want to try, and then we meet soon after. This one time however, when she called I was lying flat on my back having given birth to my little girl a few hours before.

“Dude, you are not going to believe this, but I’ve just had a baby. So, yeah let’s meet soon. Come to the hospital maybe?”

And then we laughed and laughed.

Apple Jalebi at Cafe LotaSince then we’ve met several times, always with the little girl who addresses my friend as her own while distinct aromas pepper our ramblings. This time they posed and paired and shared a meal. And we parted having amassed stories until next time and after discovering that I could enjoy a sugary apple treat (with the right company) even if I’d never given it half a chance before.

For all our feelings of sisterhood, when we meet or call each other to spill all, there are portions of each other’s lives we’ve narrowly missed. That is the shape of things with us and this is how I know we’ll always be; without ceremonious chatter or forced smiles, but almost always with savory bites and hungry ears, waiting to devour the tales of lost time.

8

And Then There Was Cake

The last post ended with cinnamon sprinkled hope. Little did I know it would float so soon.

So here’s what happened.

IMG_20140522_220503

In case you’re interested, the recipe was loosely based on this.

But I mixed all ingredients together and went crazy-hand-circles on it. Plus, I used the microwave instead of the oven. On High for 10 minutes.

7 people tried it and came back for more. I’d like to believe they weren’t just being nice.

And to think it all started with not eating the banana of the day.

5

Sleight of Hand

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Melon and Tomatoes, 1903

I am not much of a cook. To be honest, I don’t cook at all. The kitchen has always been a space I have shunned for the (imagined) drudgery that must be carried out within its walls. Running my hands in repeat motions over a boiling broth has never defined my idea of time well spent.

And yet, I have watched enthralled as food masters and many a mistress of spices have created magic in a bowl. I have spent precious minutes devouring the choicest phrases describing a meal cooked with love. I have often led myself to imagine a life set amidst curious curries and painted pots.

The body has played its part. There is the scent sorcerer, the nose that dives for treasures unseen. Then there is the palette, which defies kitchen-hatred and is always a keen diary keeper of trusted tastes, with the oft surprise that gets a special note. The eyes linger on scrumptious sights while fingers turn crusaders.

Even as I’ve escaped daily cooking so far, there have been fluffy chocolate cake days over the years (“I don’t cook, I only bake” doesn’t look so bad), a lone sandwich or two and more recently ice-cold shakes. Many a dying banana and malfunctioning mango has been rescued by a magic swirl. Peanut Butter, Oreo Cookies, Instant Coffee have all met their milky match in these adventures.

There is hope then, for carrots and peas and crunchy beets, for onion in wine and sun-kissed lime, for hands to rise and practice each turn, for cinnamon dreams to perhaps ring true.

4

(O)h So Sweet

Addictions by nature are not the best thing to happen to people, especially when they’re related to items that are readily available. So if sweet stuff is your road to hell on account of gluttony, you’ve got yourself an addiction that’s truly remarkable and unbelievably irresistible.

Identifying addiction in its early stages is a feat few can master. But there are signs to look out for:

– When the phrase ‘Having a sweet tooth’ amounts to gross understatement of observations and facts.

– When making room in your stomach applies to the main course and not the dessert. (Apparently, Ayurveda advises dessert to be consumed before main meals. So I’m good.)

– When people who’re not too fond of sweets keep aside their share specially for you.

– When potentially disparaging comments like “Oh you girls and your ice-creams” don’t affect you one bit.

– When your grandmother says she’s proud of your love for sweets because you’ve probably ‘inherited’ it from her.

– When chocolate festivals sound like the best thing (with the exception of rock music and/or alcohol) to have happened to mankind.

– When diabetes is your enemy number one (only next to root canals).

All these ‘signs’ aside, this sweet obsession is the stuff fairy tales are made of (kindly refer to Hansel and Gretel or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Of course it becomes a little difficult to cultivate this addiction post-20. It is part of unwritten young adult rules: crave not for that sweet something or else care not for the demeaning looks that may fall upon you.

Few can appreciate the egalitarianism inherent in this addiction…after all, this sweet-love is all encompassing and encourages no bias for or against chocolates or any other particular kind of sugar heaven.

And only life-long addicts can understand how significant and difficult decisions can be, decisions that are never about what sweet stuff to eat but always about whether to eat it right now or later.

That’s what its about for all sugar-junkies. Life is one big dessert after another.

And as long as you’ve got that dream dessert in your heart (and the capacity for ever more in your stomach), you’ve got yourself one hell of an enviable addiction.

0

Newsflash: Witty repartee is the new Butter Chicken

reparteeA new revelation casts serious doubt on all previously held theories of male psychology. Recent conversations with members of the male species have brought up startling ideas, the central one being that sarcasm is the way to a man’s heart.

Until now it was a truth universally acknowledged that if you can please a bloke’s palate, everything else would fall into place. Mothers have tried to, sometimes even struggled to, pass on kitchen knowledge to their precocious daughters. But now if food has fallen from grace in the minds of men, kitchen knives might need to be replaced by sharp wit.

However, these revelations are based on certain assumptions that must be examined before we proceed any further. It has been empirically proven that to understand and appreciate sarcasm one must possess a nimble mind. But saying that all members of the male species are intelligent would amount to making a sweeping generalization. Therefore women must approach this subject with caution.

There are certain steps experts recommend to get the best results. First, women must ensure, after thorough examination, that the male-subject is more than a half-wit. Having satisfied themselves with that result, they must proceed to master the art of raillery. It would stand women in good stead to get in touch with their satiric side. A positive step in this direction would be to make contact with Mr. Wodehouse or Mr. Wilde. For a female perspective on the subject, Miss Austen would be a great help.

While borrowed wit can hardly be appreciated, originality will only come to the fore after diligent practice. It is advisable to continue the endeavors if the response is as desired. And if wit were reciprocated, be aware that you have greatness in your midst.

Practitioners of the art, both male and female, continue to vouch for its success. There have not been any reports of the mechanism failing at any stage. So perhaps it is time to reject old notions of seduction via Butter Chicken, and instead embrace the fine art of serving up delectable wit.