Monday, January 28, 2008

Tea and roti

Making parathas and chai on the streets of Calcutta

Tea stall on the streets of Calcutta

Making rumali roti

Rumali rotis are very nice to eat. At Bademiya restaurant (a street stall on a small street between Colaba Causway and The Taj in South Bombay) they make Rumali rotis late night on the street to go with all the wonderful kebabs. There are two guys who are constantly pulling, stretching, and tossing dough next to the long grill on the side of the road. They have big trash cans filled with fire topped with upside down woks (kadais). They cook the giant thin flatbread on top of these burners for seconds, and fold them up then toss them into a basket whose supply is constantly being depleted by the waiters serving kebabs to people on the street and to the people in the dining room across the road. I asked the chefs at the Cidade de Goa kitchen to show me how to make the dough. It is just like tossing pizza dough. In the video below, you will see rumali rotis being prepared in the Cidade de Goa kitchen
then out on the streets of Bombay and Calcutta. The kebabs on the grill are from Bademiya. Then you will see the making of other Indian breads like tandoori naan in the kitchen of Cidade de Goa and Malabari parathas (flatbread from Kerala that is stretched super thin and then rolled up with oil before being flattened out and cooked).

Rumali Roti
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
warm water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add milk and yogurt. Mix together with enough warm water to make a soft dough. Knead for ten minutes. Allow to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place, covered with a damp towel. Cut into small balls and allow to rest for another 10 minutes. Heat a wok upsidown over medium heat. Roll out into thin disks and pull, stretch and toss to form a super thin sheet. Lay the sheet on top of the inverted wok and cook until it begins to bubble. Flip over and cook second side breifly. Fold like a handkerchief.

Tea snacks on the streets of Calcutta

Making kati rolls on the streets of Calcutta

Tune: Uptown Top Rankink by Althea and Donna from Lightning Records 7"

Tune: Calico Suit is the Version on the backside of the Up Town Ranking record.

Tune: I'm Still In Love with You by Hortense Ellis from the Conflict records 7"

Tune: Still in Love with You by U-Roy alongside Alton Ellis

Tune: Tupac Rockin Steady finds Tupac alongside Mr Ellis on his hit Rock Steady.

Tune: Bam Bam by Sister Nancy

Tune: Original Badman by Gorilla Black and Beenie Man on the Stalag Riddim with Sister Nancy in the background.

Tune: Fed Up is a missive tune by Bounty Killer over Dead Prez's Hip Hop Beat.

Tune: Hip Freak Hop Riddim Beatwalla Mix is a Soul Cocina Sound System Mix from a while back that features Bounty Killer and ends with the Fed Up cut. You'll also find M.I.A. up in the mix. And my favorite crazy Jamaican diva Macka Diamond chats a few lines.

Tune: Killer in Tunisia has Elephant Man singing over a version Dizzie Gilespies classic Night in Tunisia done by La Sonora Poncena Elephant man was born on 9-11 in the wonderful year of 1975.

Tune: Sonaremos El Tambo by Celia Cruz y La Sonora Poncena from the LP La Ceiba from Vaya records

Tune: Night in Tunisia by Dexter Gordon who is Lars Ulrich's Godfather. Lars (along with John Bonham) was of course a huge influence on the drum maestro James "Jimmy" Schanz.

Tune: What Am I to Do by Nigger Butler and Barber Brown from the Record City Label 7" is based on the Staple Singer classic I'll Take You There

Tune: What Am I to Do Version by R Butler

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cashew Harvest in Sindhudurg


I was lucky to visit Mutt in Sindudurg, Maharashtra (home of Malvani Cuisine) with Sachen, one of the students from ACE during cashew season last year. The cashew fruit is a great treat when it is ripe. You can't eat too much though because they make your mouth tingle and sting a little. There are many theories about cutting one end or the other first, or just adding salt to the fruit to take away the sneaky astringency, but I didn't find it to make much of a difference. A small price to pay for such a treat.

Where the real damage comes is from the shell of the nut. When you break the shell it lets off a bitter juice that can burn your finger... or as I found out the hard way, your mouth and tongue. There are people in the village who specialize in opening the shells of cashews. They grow their fingernails specifically for the annual process, and it leaves the fingers stained for weeks. You can see in the video above how hard it is to open a single nut.
The young greener nuts are soft and vegetablelike, almost like a fresh pea or bean. But if picked too young, the nut is bitter. These young green cashews would make a great salad. But it is the fully matured ripe nut that is highly prized. As soon as the fruit is harvested the nut is seperated from the fruit by hand and the fruit is sold to makers of Feni, while the nut is taken back to the village to be opened by hand. Everyone knows the going rate for cashews and mangoes in Sindhudurg.
Seperating the fruit from the nut is a family affair.
Tune: Family Affair by Doctor L and Antibalas from Mind Records 2006 7"

Sachen cuts the cashew fruit for an afternoon snack in the shade.
Cashew nuts, attached to the fruit at a market in Goa

Next to the cashew orchard, which has hundreds of trees, is a mango orchard just as vast. I was visiting just a month too early for mango season. These are the trees of the mighty Alphonso mango.

Tune: Wylin Out (Kutmaster Kurt Remix) by the Mighty Mos Def and Chitown's Diverse from the BBC 12" EP vol 2 from Bobby Friction and Nihal

Tune: Botallan Sharab Diyan by Bally Sagoo also from the BBC 12" EP vol 2 from Bobby Friction and Nihal

Here is a view of the well behind Sachen's family's home seen through a mango tree.

Talking a break from the heat, a cup of water from the well can't be beat.

Tune: Water No Get Enemy by Fela Kuti from the LP Expensive Shit

Tune: I Thirst by Dillinger from the album Cup of Tea

Exclusive Mix: Estoy Seco After 12:12AM Thirsty MIX in the Soul Cocina
This mix starts off with Estoy Seco by Conjunto Los Bucucos off the Salson LP then moves on to more salsa dura with La Reina Celia Cruz backed by La Sonora Poncena from the Lp La Ceiba released in 1979, the year of Chicago's great blizzard. Then the mix moves on to two modern cuts, the first is Mi Swing es Tropical by Nicodemus and Quantic then onto a song called Julieta by Oreja remixed by Seiji from Bugz in the Attic on a Candela label 12". From here we move on to the big song Magalehna by Sergio Mendes from the Brasileiro LP as the triangle takes us to the opening triangle from Willie Colon's Ghana E from the Gran Fuga LP. Then we drop a fun 7" from the glorious year of 1975. This '75 gem is a cover of Fela's Shakalao by Lizandro Meza y Su Conjunto from Colombia. The African vibe gets stronger and stronger as we cross the Atlantic to Ghana for a song from the Hedzoleh Soundz LP produced by the mighty Hugh Masakela. Then Back to Brasil for some beats from Marcelo D2's instrumental LP of A Procura Da Batida Perfeita. Next up- More beats with flavor.. this time from Spain with a little vibraphone action for all the newborns from Zeta, off of the 1999 LP Guateque. next a tune from Orishas Emigrante LP before we move into Mala Rodriguez chatting on Jota mayuscula's LP Hombre Negro Soltero Busca. Then we step into some heavy duty old school hipi hopi from Brasil by Filosofia de Rua and Duck Jam with nacao Hip Hop. The mix ends nicely with a tune from the Nia LP by Blackalicious
There are also jackfruit trees in Mutt.Jackfruit for sale in Mumbai above, and below in a market in Goa

They got chiku too!
Bells on the road back to Goa

Tune: Road to Goa from Vijay Raghav Rao's LP Festival Time
This song is typically Goan. It has that friendly childlike sound that I associate with a lot of Goan music. Similar to the instrumentation that backs Lorna or the music of Alfred Rose.

But pt Vijay Raghav Rao's music on Festival Time is not all so soft and simple.
Check out this tune from the record:
Tune: Sarod Dhun also from Vijay Raghav Rao's LP Festival Time

Thursday, January 17, 2008


With all the great citrus available in the Bay Area in the winter, my kitchen counter fruit bowl always stays pretty full as I restock with new varieties of oranges, lemons, limes, and kumquats. Remember January '06 ?
Last month I bought keffir limes and yuzu from Monterey Market.
Last week Monterey Market had lots of Mandarinquats and Fukushu Kumquats to keep my snack bag full and my mouth puckered up all week long.

This week at the Alameny Farmer's market, I paid a visit to my Italian friends who grow lots of different citrus and always seem to surprise me with something new. There is always a crowd staring at the fruit from their buddah hand tree, but I always look under the table to see if they have brought any fresh keffir limes or keffir lime leaves. This week I found a wonderfull little fruit that the old Italian couple called Calamandini. The name sounded like an Italian version of the South East Asian Kalamansi that I grew to love in its canned juice version sold at Pacific Supermarket. I later got to meet Kalamansi face to face in Singapore in it's pure, fresh, raw version. And sure enough, the Calamandini is the same as the luscious, tangy, sour, sweet Kalamansi. It was like bumping into an old classmate from kindergarden somewhere half way around the world, randomly, decades later. The best way to enjoy kalamansi is to find the little ones that can be eaten in one big bite, skin and all, to enjoy the contrast of flavors and textures of the skin and fruit. At the stand at the Alameny market, they had a whole box of the little Calamandinis. The price was high, but I had to buy a big sack. They were very comfortable on my kitchen counter next to mandarins, honey tangerines (not as good this year, for some reason), cara cara oranges, kumquats, lemons.....
I also bought some sugar cane at the market. I baked a chocolate pot de creme with slices of calamandini baked into the custard with a stick of sugar cane to use as a spoon. Paying homage to the wonderful Italian citrus growers, I used Maglio 75% dark chocolate.
Chocolate Calamandini Pots De Creme

2 1/2 cups Heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 pound 75% dark chocolate, chopped
4 each Egg yolks
1/2 Vanilla bean
8 each Calamandinis or kumquats, sliced into 1/4" rings
1/2 teaspoon Orange liquor

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to 1/2 cup cream in a metal mixing bowl and chill. Bring the remaining cream with all the sugar to a simmer in a stainless steel sauce pan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Whisk to melt and disolve all chocolate. Let rest at room temperature for a minute. Whisk in the eggs and orange liquor. Pour into 6 ramekins and bake in a water bath for 15 minutes until partially set. Add the calamandini pieces and continue to bake until just set (about 35 minutes). The outside should be completely set and the inside a little "wobbley". Chill. Whip the cream and garnish with the vanilla cream and a thin stick of peeled sugar cane.

Tune: Le Radici Ca Tieni by Sud Sound System

Tune: Just to Get a Limb a Cutty Ranks dubplate for DJ Smoke One

Tune: San Antonio by Choc Quib Town from Colombia. This song is on repeat on the Soul Cocina Soundsystem this week. Peek the video too.

Tune: Orange Moon by Erykah Badu
We are patiently waiting for Badu's ne album to drop in February.

Tune: Nice Nice Paloma Cumbia Song by Unknown artist from a mix cd from Puebla, Mexico courtesy of Salvador the Savior

Tune: Shake Sugaree by Elizabeth Cotton sung by her granddaughter. Elizabeth Cotton was born in January 1895. Happy birthday.

Tune: The Chocolate Butterfly by dunkelbunt feat Raf MC & Fanfare Ciocarlia