MEME: You are what you eat!
Rums tagged me for this latest meme on listing my ten favourite foods. I had a really hard time restricting my selections to just ten. It was also difficult to keep the list consistent in terms of produce, ingredients, dishes or types of cuisine. As a result, my list is a bit of a hodgepodge of all the above. Since this meme claims that you are what you eat, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of me in my kitchen, my favourite space in the world.
CHEESE. My love affair with cheese began with the Amul cheese that K (my parents' cook who has been with our family for over 30 years) used in my toasted cheese sandwiches, the perfect after school snack for a 10 year old. It continued through high school with Britannia cheese spread with jeera (cumin) that I was crazy about. Then it was Cheddar, Swiss, Monterrey and Pepper Jack at Davidson. And then my love for cheese was taken to an entirely new level when I lived in Paris and Tours my junior year in college. I must have tasted over a 100 types of French cheese and I loved every one of them, including some of the stinkiest varieties. My French host family served us a cheese plate after dinner every night and that's how my knowledge of cheese really improved. These days, I experiment with new cheeses from all over the world, including some fantastic artisinal ones frm the U.S. I hesitate to list just a few but my top faves are Brie, Manchego, Fontina, Jarlsberg, fresh Mozzarella, Tomme de Savoie, Reblochon, Chevre and Comte.
IYENGAR FOOD. I once read somewhere that Iyengar food is food for the brain. It combines all the elements in the right proportion. It is pure vegetarian and is based on a diet of rice, pulses, vegetables and yogurt. Garlic is strictly prohibited and onions are used sparingly in modern Iyengar households. This was my staple diet for the first eighteen years of my life. I probably didn't love it as much growing up as I do now. I prefer this cuisine to any other I've discovered since leaving home. This will make my dad and mom smile, I'm sure! I love vatral kuzhambu, aviyal, mysore rasam (spicier and tangier than tomato rasam), paruppu usili curry, manga pachadi, masala sundal, thenga thuvaiyal, puliodarai (tamarind rice), and the best of all, thair sadaam or yogurt rice.
CHAAT. I can never get enough of bhel puri, sevi puri, pani puri, dahi batata puri, samosa chaat, dahi vada, pavi bhaji, ragda patties, the list is endless. Indian street food as it is called these days is growing in popularity and I am thankful for that. I would go stir crazy without being able to satisfy by regular bhel cravings.
INDIAN CHINESE. Sweet Corn Vegetable Soup. Lemongrass Soup. Veg Manchurian. Chili Garlic Potato. Paneer Fry. Veg Chopsuey. You get the picture. I love the Indian version of Chinese food. Everything deep fried and drowned in lots of masalas with extra spicy sauces, vinegar and green chilies. Not sure my tummy loves Indian Chinese as much as I do!
INDIAN PICKLES. I am crazy about pickel given what a thair sadam gal I am. Eternal favourites are vadu manga, manga thokku, chunda, manga inji. H has gotten me into carrot pickle and garlic pickle, both of which are great with parathas at 3 am in the morning!
MEXICAN/SOUTHWESTERN. This is probably my favourite cuisine after South Indian and Chaat. My love for Mexican was nurtured in Northern California though I've heard that the food per se is better in Southern Cal and Texas. I'm crazy good quality pico de gallo and freshly baked tortilla chips. I also love tomatillo salsas and have been experimenting with different type of tomatillo and chili combos lately to create spectacular salsas. Vegetable burritos, cheese and bean burritos, mushroom quesadillass are regular selections of mine on any Mexican menu. I love corn, beans, cilantro, tomatoes, lime. So you know know why anything Mexican Southwestern is always enticing!
SPANISH TAPAS. An unusual choice for a vegetarian because authentic tapas at the bars and restaurants in Spain isn't exactly vegetarian (I learnt the hard way on our honeymoon in Andalusia!) but I love the flavours and have made this my number one party cuisine. Roasted red peppers. Patatas bravas. White bean salads. Marinated olives. Banderillos. Tostadas. Mushrooms in garlic and olive oil. Potato croquettes. Frittatas. All to be enjoyed with warm crusty bread, glugs of good quality extra virgin olive oil and lots of sangria.
BASIC ITALIAN. Fresh pasta, basil, tomato sauce and olive oil. My idea of a great Italian meal. Nothing too fancy, just the basics. I love Pizza Margherita for its simplicity. I've become a huge arugula fan thesedays so I enjoy simple Italian salads with arugula and freshly grated cheese. I also love homemade risotto, my favourite being a Wolf Gang Puck recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle Oil which you can find on the Food Network website. A terrifc dish for seduction - yes, it works every time!
FRUITS. I could live on fruits alone. And there's not a single fruit in the world I don't love. Banana, grape, mango and avocado are my favourites. I prefer enjoying fruits by themselves rather than in desserts, milkshakes, pies etc.
MY SWEET TOOTH. And finally a bit on which sweets I love the most. Jalebis. Mishti dhoi. Rasamalai. Turkish delights. Nutella. White chocolate fondue. Creme brulee. Sorbet.
What a long post! Hope you enjoyed it. Were you surprised at my selections? Do you love any of the same foods I do? Would love to hear your comments.
I'm tagging five new blog friends - Indira,VKN, Melissa, Sury and Meenakshi.