April’s Recipes: A Poll


The recipes poll is back, baby! I didn’t post one for March, largely because I wanted to clear some of my backlog and partly because, headed to Delhi, I knew there’d be at least one recipe I’d post from the trip (that turned out to be this one). I now enter April with no backlog at all, no recipes already jotted down. Which is not to say that the recipes in the poll are things I’ve never cooked before. Well, one was learned in Delhi just over a week ago and my approach to another was overhauled then as well. The other four are things that I have made before but have not written down ingredients or steps for. I won’t be recreating them in April so much as riffing in the spirit/taste memory of the originals. Most of the pictures in the slideshow below are therefore indications rather than promises of what the new versions of these dishes will look and be like. Continue reading

Carnatic Cafe, Eight Years Later (Delhi, March 2022)


It has been eight years since our first meal at Carnatic Cafe—but that meal was not at this Carnatic Cafe exactly. Back in 2014 there was only one location of Carnatic Cafe, in the Friends Colony market. Now, as with almost every successful restaurant in Delhi, it has multiple locations all over the National Capital Region—including a new one at Terminal 3 in the international airport; indeed, I think that original location may no longer be in business, or may have moved into more upscale digs in some shiny new mall or the other. And it was at one of these newer, albeit not very shiny, locations—in Greater Kailash-II’s M block market—that I met up with a bunch of old friends for lunch a few days before returning to Minnesota last week. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: Jan 1-March 31, 2022


Well, it isn’t March 31 yet, but I’m not going to be eating out in the Twin Cities metro between now and then and so I may as well put this list up now. I got back from Delhi on Friday: 24 hours of travel, counting airport time, 16.5 hours of that one flight from Delhi to Chicago; all of it with a mask on. It was not fun. But it’s good to be back home (and it was very good to be at my other home as well). I ate out a fair bit in Delhi and will be posting all of those reports in the next few weeks (the first one already went up last week and the next will go up this Tuesday). In April I’ll get back to the usual weekly reports from the Twin Cities. Until then here are my favourite restaurant dishes eaten in the Twin Cities metro in the first quarter of 2022. As always, every restaurant I ate at is represented. I didn’t like every one of those meals equally—and there was one I did not care for much at all (saying so made me lots of new friends online)—but there were things I liked at every meal and so everyone gets a look in. That’s the kind of guy I am: generous of spirit. Continue reading

Lau with Milk


My last recipe post for the month comes to you from my mother’s kitchen in Delhi (well, Gurgaon technically). I am writing this up 12 hours before my scheduled departure. By the time it posts my plane will be approaching North America and I will be approaching an altogether healthier diet for the next few months. As I noted in my post on the Chittaranjan Park fish market, I have been eating a lot of my meals in Delhi at home but that’s not to say these have all been light meals. In the sea of richness, however, there has been one dish that I’ve asked to be made a number of times and it’s for a very simple preparation of lau (in Bengali) or lauki, doodhi, ghia etc. depending on where you are. In English it’s bottle gourd and in most East Asian markets you’ll see it called opo. I like it by any name and I particularly like this minimalist preparation with just a bit of kalonji and a couple of green chillies to accent the subtle flavour of the lau, and a bit of milk and sugar to enhance the texture and natural sweetness. The directions below may seem a bit imprecise—a hallmark of all my recipes, I suppose—but that’s home cooking. If you want to see an edited, abbreviated video of this being made, check out this reel on my Instagram (where I’ve also posted other cooking videos from this trip). Continue reading

Comorin (Delhi, March 2022)


Comorin flashed on my consciousness just as we were leaving Delhi in early February, 2020 (a month before you-know-what). It is the new-er, more casual restaurant from Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent. It opened late in 2018 in Gurgaon—at the swanky Horizon Centre, where it sits on the plaza level alongside a number of other flashy places aimed at Gurgaon’s young, professional elite. Given how much we loved our meal at Indian Accent in 2014 I was hellbent on eating at Comorin on this trip, especially as my parents have now moved from Noida to Gurgaon. As it happened I ate there twice in my first week here. Continue reading

A Lot of Fish and Some Vegetables at Chittaranjan Park Market (Delhi, March 2022)


I have been in Delhi for just over a week now (and will be here for just under another week). If you’ve been following my gluttony on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been eating rather a lot. Well, I suppose that wouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who reads this blog, even if you don’t follow me on Twitter. Most of my meals have been eaten at home and many of them feature a genre not easily replicable in the US: Bengali fish dishes. Yes, Bengali fish (mostly from Bangladesh) can be found frozen in desi stores but I stopped buying them a long time ago over concerns about sustainability etc. When in Delhi though I partake freely. Now, you may be wondering how I partake freely of Bengali fish in Delhi but you shouldn’t. There’s been a large Bengali population in the city for a long time (part of the larger Bengali diaspora). Bengalis are spread over the city but it is the neighbourhood of Chittaranjan Park in South Delhi that is the most iconic locus of Bengali life in the city. And it is in the Chittaranjan Park market that the best Bengali fish can be found. Or so my mother insists, anyway, having shopped here for several decades. Today I accompanied her to the market to buy some fish. We also bought some veg. Here is the pictorial evidence. Continue reading

Beef Curry


Another week, another beef curry. I made this slow-cooked curry the week before I left for Delhi (where I will be for another week) and the family instructed me in no uncertain terms to immediately write down exactly how I made it so that I can make it again. I think I may have mentioned before that when not cooking expressly for the blog I rarely make the same thing twice in the same way—mostly because, like most home cooks, I eyeball ingredients and don’t really care very much if one time there’s less cumin or more coriander seed in the masala than on another occasion. In fact, this kind of improvization has led to some of the dishes we like the most, as is the case with this curry. I made it with short ribs from the excellent Goette Farms in southern Minnesota. It was a large pack of ribs—4 lbs total—and I expected that we’d eat half of the curry and freeze the rest for later. But the boys loved it so much that it was all gone within 48 hours. I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it as much as they did but I’d be shocked if you didn’t like it at all. Give it a go. Continue reading

Owamni (Minneapolis, MN)


Owamni opened last July in Minneapolis and quickly became one of 2021’s most acclaimed restaurants, both locally and nationally. It has featured on a number of lists of the best/most exciting/most important restaurants in the country and so forth. And more recently the restaurant made the James Beard Awards long list for “Best New Restaurant” and the chef, Sean Sherman was likewise on the long list of nominees for “Best Chef, Midwest”. It is a restaurant helmed by a Native American chef, which aims to foreground/promote indigenous ingredients and to present what it calls a “decolonized dining experience”. All of this is urgent, important and exciting. And so it gives me no pleasure to say that we enjoyed very little of the food at our recent dinner there. Continue reading

Beef Curry with Red Wine


I improvised this beef curry back in December. I’d thawed a pack of what had been labeled soup bones by the meat locker through which we’d bought a quarter of a cow a while ago. The plan had been to make pho. But when I opened the packet they turned out instead to be highly meaty shanks. I pivoted to making a slow-cooked curry and decided to take this opportunity to also finally use up an open bottle of red wine that had been sitting in the fridge for god knows how long. Meat, spices, a long braise on low heat: what could go wrong. Absolutely nothing, you’re thinking, and you’re absolutely right. Nothing did go wrong. In fact, things went very, very right. And here is the recipe to prove it. Please keep in mind that even though the recipe makes it look like a fixed thing this was—as with almost all my cooking—made on the fly. Feel free to play with the proportions of spice and ratios of tomato, red wine and water. There happened to be roughly two cups of wine left in the bottle but I would have added whatever had been in there. Who’s to say it wouldn’t have been ever better if braised entirely in wine? If you do tinker let me know how it goes. Continue reading

Godavari, Finally in Person (Eden Prairie, MN)


I had Godavari at the top of my Twin Cities South Asian/Indian restaurant rankings in both 2020 and 2021. And that was based only on takeout meals brought home and reheated during the height of the pandemic. We’ve been looking forward to eating in there for a while and a week ago Saturday we finally managed it. It was just the four of us and one friend but we still managed to do quite a bit of damage. We mostly ordered things we hadn’t got from them before, including some things we hadn’t ordered because they hadn’t seemed like good bets to survive a long drive and reheating. I am pleased to say that if Indian Masala’s weekend buffet a week earlier had not impressed overmuch, this meal validated our already high opinion of Godavari. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Braised Pork with White Wine, Apples and Spices


Thanks to our habit of purchasing pork a half-pig at a time from local small farms, we usually have several pork roasts in our chest freezer at any time. I sometimes cube these up and use them to make pork curries of one kind or the other (for example); sometimes I marinate them with spices and stick ’em in the slow cooker (for example). And sometimes I experiment with hybrid preparations of one kind or the other (for example). Today’s recipe falls in the last category. It involves the use of Indian spices but also apples and white wine—which to my mind seems like something I would associate with cooking from somewhere between France and Germany. And there’s also fish sauce and Sichuan peppercorn in there. All of this may make it seem like a fusion dish—and, depending on how you define fusion cooking, it may well be one—but to me the end result seems very much like a curry variant anyway. Indeed, when I improvised this in January we enjoyed it alongside dal and Indian veg dishes with rice/quinoa; but it was also very good just mopped up with bread. No matter how you locate it on a map, however, it is very tasty. Continue reading

Masala-Fried Spare Ribs


I first improvised this dish of pork spare ribs with an Indian masala late last summer. I’ve been trying to post it on the blog ever since but you bastards kept shooting it down in the recipe selection poll. Finally, its time has come. I have to admit that a benefit of the delay is that I’ve made it a number of times since and have got the recipe tweaked now to a point that we all really like. Until I started making this I’d always assumed frying spare ribs was difficult. But it’s not and they cook up very quickly. The toughest thing may be finding spare ribs. Are they sold by themselves in the meat sections of grocery stores? I don’t remember  seeing them at our local Cub Foods, not that I’ve looked for some years. We buy our pork in bulk from small farms in the area and there’s always a pack or two of spare ribs in there. Anyway, if you can find spare ribs, give this a go. Continue reading

The Weekend Buffet at Indian Masala (Maplewood, MN)


I’ve had Indian Masala—along with Godavari—at the top of the 2020 and 2021 editions of my Twin Cities Indian restaurant rankings but until last weekend we had never eaten in the restaurant. We first ate their food in late 2020—during what we’d then naively thought was the height of the pandemic—and then again as takeout in 2021. On the first occasion I’d gone in to pay and the long-neglected interior had not looked very prepossessing. Once they opened back up I had reports of the dining room having been more or less redone and looking much shinier. I also heard lots of promising reports of the special buffets they’d begun to run. (Most of these reports came to me via Mike McGuinness—the man behind the excellent East Metro Foodies group on Facebook and almost certainly Indian Masala Fan #1.) They now have special vegetarian/vegan buffets during the week and occasional Indian Chinese buffets as well. And on Saturdays and Sundays they put out what they call their Grand Weekend Buffet. Given our high opinion of the food from their regular menu, this seemed like a promising situation and so—having made our return to in-person dining last weekend at Grand Szechuan—we showed up last Saturday to partake of it with a couple of friends. How was it? Read on. Continue reading

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Bhaja Moshla


We are of late trying both to reduce the amount of meat we eat during the week and to cut down dramatically on our intake of triglyceride-heavy carbs. Yes, growing old really is a lot of fun. As a result our meals both involve a lot of vegetables and require us to make things that don’t call for rice or chapatis/parathas/tortillas to eat them with. I’ve been making a lot of stews with beans (with and without small amounts of meat) and I’ve also been searing fish and serving it alongside Indian veg dishes in a non-Indian manner (think a piece of fish on a plate with some vegetables alongside). And I’ve been making this cauliflower soup. It uses many of the same spices I’d deploy in a traditional sabzi with gobi. It makes for a very nice meal by itself or with a slice of whole wheat toast. As with my recipe for khatta alu, I garnish it with a pinch of home-made bhaja moshla. If you don’t have any you can sub your favourite garam masala instead. Or you could leave the last bit of masala out completely and just call it roasted cauliflower soup. The main thing is that it is easy and tasty (and perfect in the Minnesota winter). Continue reading

Grand Szechuan: The Return


This past Saturday was a momentous day for our family. We went out to eat indoors at a restaurant in Minnesota for the first time since the pandemic began in early 2020. We’ve eaten outdoors at a number of places together; we’ve eaten indoors in Kansas City and Los Angeles; the missus and I have gone out to a few dine-in meals with friends; but we had not gone out, all four of us, to eat inside a restaurant in Minnesota. Before omicron happened we’d expected we’d be doing this as soon as the younger boy got his shots in November—but as it turned out, we needed to wait another two-and-a-half months to get comfortable with the idea. But now that things seem to be improving a fair bit in the state we felt—and feel—more comfortable with the prospect and indeed it seems now (with all of us double vaxxed and 3/4 of us boosted) that if we don’t begin to resume something more close to our old normal public life we might never do so. Hopefully, this decision will not come back to bite us in the rear: three days later we seem to all be fine and I pray it will stay that way. Continue reading

Sushi Takeda (Los Angeles, December 2021)


Here finally is my last meal report from our trip to Southern California in late-December. Somewhat improbably, I have wrapped up all these reports in less than two months from the end of the trip (you can find all the others here). We had a lot of good restaurant food on this trip but this dinner, eaten on our penultimate night, may have been the true highlight. In this I suppose it follows the pattern of most of our recent trips to Los Angeles: we typically eat one expensive sushi meal as the splurge on the trip. After this trip, however, I’m not sure that this will always be the norm for us going forward. This is not because our dinner at Sushi Takeda was bad; far from it—it was in fact excellent. But the rapidly intensifying price race in the high end of the sushi market in Los Angeles makes it unlikely we’ll be able to continue to partake of it. Continue reading

Rajma, Take 4


Yes, it’s true that all my rajma recipes are basically variations on each other. You’re welcome.

This is my fourth recipe for rajma, the Punjabi kidney bean dish that has become increasingly iconic in recent years in American foodie circles interested in Indian food (you can find the others here, here and here). This is a good thing. Rajma is a force for good, especially in cold climates. And it is a rather versatile dish, being very compatible with rice, with chapatis, with parathas etc. and also very amenable to being eaten by itself out of a bowl. I make it all the time here in Minnesota, varying—as is my annoying wont—the ratios of spices and other ingredients each time. And whenever I hit upon a version that I particularly like I share it with you. But do you thank me? No. Well, maybe you thank me, but do you send me money? No, you don’t, you shameless, ungrateful swine. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 74: On’s Kitchen in the New Year


It took till February but we finally made it to the Twin Cities for a meal in 2022. My first Minnesota report for the year was of Mexican lunch from a favourite in our town, El Triunfo. The next weekend I ventured a bit further north to Burnsville to pick up Indian food from India Palace. This past weekend we finally made it up to St. Paul for a Thai meal. The original plan had been to go back to Basil Cafe, whose food we quite enjoyed last spring. But they didn’t seem to be open: Google showed them closed all week except on Tuesday and I couldn’t raise them on the phone either. I hope this is a temporary situation. Well, it was with no reluctance or disappointment at all that we fell back on On’s Kitchen instead. We thought about eating in but in the end it was takeout again. This time, however, we didn’t bring the food back to our place, driving instead only a few minutes to the home of friends who often join us on our Twin Cities outings. Here’s how it went. Continue reading