Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Kerala Fast Food, Aundh, Pune

One of the greatest blessings of my life has been that good friends materialise wherever I go, be it in faraway Malaysia or right here in Pune where I moved from Gurgaon some time back. I offer special thanks to my Pune Angel who speedily introduced me to those parts of Pune where I have consistently ever since had the most joy. 
Of these, Aundh Gaon remains the most frequented as it is nearest. I go there to soak in the atmosphere of another world, another time. It is a place worthy of the name gaon for its winding lanes house very rural lifestyles  and behaviours. One goes there to shop and to get things repaired: there are little shops where you can get bags and zips and other luggage related items repaired. We also use the Aundh Gaon butcher who provides quite decent mutton.
Just yesterday, in fact, we were there. My husband has a bit of a cold and sore throat and I decided that dinner would be pasta with mince and my version of a French onion soup. So we asked for 100 g of mutton mince and a soup bone. We had to wait a bit as the boy of about 14 who was lounging  around in the butcher shop was just there to babysit it. He called up the butcher who took some time to appear. as a matter of fact he came on the scene just as we were about to leave. 
He very kindly adjusted our requirements so that for Rs. 100 we could get a bit of mince and a soup bone. I was absolutely charmed that he made the mince there and then with his huge butcher's knife on the huge tree trunk which acted as table. And as his hands danced over the fresh soft meat he informed me that he had just received news that his sister-in-law had delivered a girl. 
Anyone could see his utter happiness! It was, no doubt, delightful to have someone born on Christmas but what was so engaging was that in this country where we are constantly told (those of us who can and do merrily lap up all manner of written word) that Indians hate daughters, etc, we were witness to the pure and simple joy of a man into whose family a girl had just been born.
So Aundh Gaon is, in a sense, where you will find the real India. And it is also there that we found some quite authentic and tasty Malayalee food.
We had seen Kerala Fast Food often enough and even gone there once although just to ask directions to a Kerala goods shop.It is really unprepossessing and not very inviting so far as looks go but given the fairly rave reviews on the Net, I decided to take my husband there for a birthday breakfast.
It turned out to be a most enchanting meal as when we went there the little space that constitutes this eatery was occupied by a merry group. They promptly suggested we pull up a table rather than sit alone facing the wall and went on to order for us!
And so we all feasted on appams and kadala curry. However, when the puttu came around I dug in my heels. Nothing on earth can force me to force puttu down my throat, thank you very much! Instead, we worked up the courage to order some meat curry to go with another round of appams and it was not bad at all. This feast was washed down with some nice black tea.
Now let me clarify why I had to be brave to order meat: our co-diners had already professed to be majorly vegetarian. And let me further surprise you by revealing that they were (at least the host couple) Christians!
So this was yet another face of India that Aundh Gaon exposed: vegetarian Christians, strangers sharing a meal...
Kerala Fast Food wins my vote but I need to explore their other dishes-perhaps this weekend? 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Points for Food Bloggers

Not a day goes by that I do not surf the Net for recipes. For almost any dish I can think of there are pages and pages on line.

Almost every second person I know, myself included, has a food blog.

However, in this jungle of availability, there are all kinds of recipe websites. Some like, like certain trees, hog all resources but are not really that rewarding in themselves. For a long time now any dish I sought on Google would vomit Yummly pages galore. Clicking on them just led to a Yummly page where you could search for your recipe! Time consuming and, more often than not, a futile quest. This is no longer so and I might have had something to do with it as I took a survey sent by YUmmly where I managed to voice this complaint.

Why would such a thing happen?

It is possible that some wise guy working for the website begins to use a specific tool: a Keyword generating tool... I'm glad that Yummly, at least, has, at least for me, stopped this hogging of search resources.

While a good blog can get swallowed up in this ocean of plenty, it is, always, in the long run, better to use common sense strategies. 

When you blog about a recipe, take shots of the commercial products used and, perhaps, provide links to local supermarkets where one can obtain them. Creating a link with brands is a good step. But that does not mean you can claim anything from them. Some more work is required so that the companies realise that you are, in fact, "reviewing" their products, perhaps even endorsing them.

Much subtlety is required for, even in cooking, it is rarely a good idea to use dollops of anything.

Another reason why one is more attracted to some food blogs rather than to others is the blog background, especially the background colour. Novice bloggers leap at the choices offered by blogspace providers and you get pages of every hue of the rainbow. A simple white page with black lettering wins hands down-a basic matter of readability. 

Keep it simple for content is, unquestionably, the criteria.
A overly fancy looking cake or ice cream or any dish renders us quite suspicious about the taste. Elegance is, most often, a question of simplicity.

Lastly, all too many food bloggers assume that all there is to sharing the making of a dish is to type, typos included, the basic steps. It's a problem with all those who seek to teach, impart, anything at all-the inability to see from the point of view of the other. All the person thinks is needed is to basically tell others" Yipee! I can do it!" A mere boast, in other words.
And I do not blame them for it's what recipe books, which are sold in large numbers, do-although, flip through any recipe book and you will find that if you follow the instructions blindly you're more than likely to land up with an unpalatable mess. So, Food Blogger, do you want to boast or do you want to share with us the secret to making such and such dish?

Thus, one finds oneself drawn more frequently to blogs where a recipe is explained in steps, where the blogger even confesses to messing things up, analyses what went wrong, etc.

Finally, space! Provide lots of space for the eye to relax and you will make reading so much the easier.

A word to the wise: many photos can slow down blog page loading by which time your reader has run off to a blog which loads faster: so use photos sparingly. Let a photo have a purpose. One can always provide a link to another blog page where you keep an album of recipe pictures. Perhaps each dish can have it's album and on the page where you provide instructions, keep photos to a minimum.

Take the time to provide links to books or items which have something to do with the recipe.