Category Archives: Food

Pomegranate

I have something to confess: I’ve never deseeded a pomegranate. Some say it’s the easiest thing ever, others advise to make yourself comfortable as it will take a while.

So I decided to give it a try.

For those equally uninitiated into the ways of the pomegranate as me, it’s a fruit with a thick reddish skin and contains seeds. The seeds are in clusters, separated by membranes. The tricky part with peeling or deseeding a pomegranate is to do it without breaking the seeds, as they are quite juicy and will just make a red mess of everything. Don’t wear white.

One popular way of peeling or deseeding a pomegranate is to start by dividing the fruit into four sections. The cuts should go just a tad below the surface. After that, slice off the hat. It doesn’t contain seeds and will grant you easy access to the inside of the fruit. Then, using your fingers, lightly bend out the four sections. The cluster membranes should make sure that everything stays intact. After that it’s just a matter of picking out the seeds and separating them from the membranes in whichever way you see fit – some use a spoon, others pick by hand.

Enjoy.

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Update: I’ve been informed that there are at least these alternative ways of deseeding a pomegranate:

  • Slice it in half, put the halves on a plate with the inside down, and tap with a wooden spoon on the outside – the seeds will fall out
  • Just tear it open and pick out the seeds

An Introduction to Indian Cuisine

If you’re interested in Indian food then this is something for you. Indian cuisine is quite extensive and this will just scratch the surface, but should still be somewhat informative. You might want to check out the spices glossary as well.

The basics

The staples of Indian cuisine include, but are not limited to: paneer, gravy, rice, roti, onions, ghee and spices, such as cumin (jeera), garlic, capsicum and coriander.

Many meals come in veg or non-veg variants. The non-veg is usually chicken but it can be mutton too. Fish isn’t that popular, except for some parts of the country (Goa, Kerala). Beef or pork is usually served only in tourist resorts and almost always in non-Indian meals.

In the restaurant

When ordering food you usually have to combine different dishes; not all items on the menu are complete meals by themselves. If eating in company it is customary that everyone gets a little of everything, and this is how the waiter will serve the food, unless told otherwise. A basic paneer and rice meal is enough for two.

The serving dishes are, after the initial portioning, placed on the table. In some restaurants a waiter will hover by the table and eagerly put some more food on your plate when it starts looking empty. If they’re awkward with the portioning – many are – it gets awkward for everyone, kind of like being with a stranger in an elevator that is half the size it should be; you don’t know if you should look at the plate, the waiter, the ceiling or your phone. Oh look I got a message! Ah, no I didn’t. Remember to be silent and not to breathe, otherwise they might take offense. I might be exaggerating a bit.

If you have a meal which can be eaten without cutlery, remember to use your right hand, since the left is generally associated with something else than eating. Once done with the meal, you’ll be served a so called finger bowl; it’s a cup with warm water and a piece of lemon in it. Don’t drink it – it’s not dessert tea! Clean your fingers in it and press the lemon for some added citric freshness.

You should also get a bowl filled with different colored tiny bits. Those are jeera seeds – some coated with caramel, some with mint and some just plain. There might also be a few chunks of sugar in the mix. These are breath fresheners and are meant to round off the whole culinary experience. Put some in your right hand – not the left one – and flip the whole load in your mouth. Enjoy – and don’t forget to pay the bill. Tipping is optional but it’s always nicer for everyone if there’s a little extra.

Continue reading An Introduction to Indian Cuisine

Sugarcane Juice

I’ve heard these bell equipped hand or machine cranked gizmos all over the place ever since I got here, but haven’t really stopped to actually see what they do. Until today that is.

What they do is they press out juice from peeled sugarcanes by crushing them. Often some spices are added as well, such as lemon or ginger.

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The mix consists of a 50-50 mix of sugarcane juice and crushed ice. It’s actually really good. It even has these dark little bits floating around, reminding you that still a moment ago this was a sugarcane.

It is said that the juice contains a lot of nutrients, and although I was at first sure this would be diabetes in a cup, the sugar content isn’t actually that high. Someone spoke of a glycemic index of 43, but I can’t relate to that.

If you have some of this stuff make sure it’s fresh. Due to the sugar, and generally less than optimal hygienic conditions at the vendor, a lot of micro-organisms like to set up shop in this.

Dry Day

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As I was ordering dinner today and wanted a glass of the house red wine to go with it, I was informed that today was dry day. These occasionally occurring days usually conincide with national holidays or significant religious zeniths. This day was republic day.

What this means is that there is no alcohol available, the restaurants don’t serve it and the wine shops are closed. Or at least partially, sometimes you can buy stuff in the alley behind the shop – but don’t tell the authorities.

The reason for this practice is that alcohol and being intoxicated at any level is seen as an unpure thing, something that should be avoided when you’re supposed to be celebrating whatever it is that is being celebrated.

My tip? Stock up on some beers in the fridge and have one if the thirst is overwhelming, unless some personal conviction tells you otherwise.

Life of the Expat

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Not long ago I was contacted by JWT New York and asked to write something for their Worldwide Blog, something I agreed to do without hesitation. Finding a suitable topic for a potentially quite wide audience, while keeping it personal, was a bit tricky, but I ended up choosing the dramatic curve of the expat as my topic. It was a bit of a balancing act since I wanted to write about both what an expat goes through in general, and my experiences in particular. But I think it turned out ok.

You can find the post at the JWT Worldwide Blog, however I’ll post it here as well to include it in my journal.

Continue reading Life of the Expat