Inner Circle

The more sophisticated the dish, the more it hogs the spotlight.   It’s unavoidable.  Guests coo and admire: “You must have spent so much time making this!”  We bask in their admiration, glowing because the dish was in fact an effort: many steps, much time, and perhaps some anxiety.  A commitment.  But if the dish succeeds,…

The Perfect Couple

I occasionally disobey one of the cardinal rules of entertaining and try my hand at a dish that I’ve never quite made before.  It’s heresy, I know, and I’m either setting myself or my guests up for an experience we will never forget.  And not necessarily in a good way, either.  I admit there have…

All Mixed Up

The autumn puja season is officially over, the weather is now cold, and the leaves lie in crushed, swirling patterns on our lawns and streets.  As a follow up to my begun bhaja (fried eggplant) and mamlet (omelet) posts, I would like to blog about khichuri.  Loosely translated, it means “all mixed up” in Bengali  (Bengali: খিচুড়ী khichuri). …

It’s a Love/Hate Thing

We say that we have relationships with food and with cooking.  A friend would say she has a complicated relationship with dairy; she loves ice cream and cheese, but almost never eats it, and yet she  is always tempted.   The brie lies there quietly, in the depths of her subconscious, and taunts her a little…

Accompaniment

The Bengali meal, when allowed to  showboat in all its unabated complexity, is a grandiose, multi-course affair.  For very special occasions, one might be served 12 to 15 courses.  But for the less spectacular, everyday meal, one would be served at least four courses, with rice holding court as the queen, without which the other…

Summer Stuffed Peppers

Why is it impossible to find a good stuffed pepper?  I’ve tried a few at some of the popular Greek or Mediterranean restaurants in Chicago, and all are a sad, bland mess.  Unseasoned, tinny, soggy peppers, even sadder fillings that seem to be a throwaway combination of either undercooked or overcooked rice and sour tomato…

Who Knew?

Who knew the ubiquitous and mild zucchini could be so versatile?  They are everywhere now, piled high and on sale, and much is possible with this simple summer squash.  Anyone who has ever grown zucchini knows the plant is energetic and boisterous, with leaves the size of dinner plates, tendrils and yellow flowers thrusting willy-nilly…