Friday, November 9, 2007

Tartness, Diwali, and treats from the UK

It’s been a slow week in my kitchen. I actually did make some chole (aka chana masala) last night, but I’m not posting it here because I wasn’t completely enthralled with it. It was good, but it didn’t taste the same as my regular version, and I know why that is. I normally use this garam masala, but last night, I used this chana masala mix that I had bought a while back but had never used.

What's the difference? Here's the difference:

Garam masala: Cumin, Black pepper, Coriander, Cardamom seeds, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Dry Ginger, Bay leaf, Caraway, Mace.

Chana masala: Coriander, Salt, Dry Mango, Pomegranate seeds, Chilli, Cumin, Musk melon, Black Pepper, Black Salt, Fenugreek leaves, Cloves, Mint, Nutmeg, Dry Ginger, Cinnamon, Bay leaf, Cardamom seeds, Caraway, Mace.

Dry mango, pomegranate seeds, and musk melon all add tartness. (By the way, all of these things are dried and ground up and added to the mix; there aren't whole pomegranate seeds in there.) Black salt adds a salty and sulphuric taste. I'm not so concerned about the salt or chili because I add those ingredients to my chole so they would have ended up in the pot anyway.

I always add a bit of tamarind paste (which lends a bit of tartness) to my chole, but clearly I didn't need to do so, what with all the things in the chana masala mix that are tart. Furthermore, I’m not a huge fan of those spices, as they’re not used in South Indian cooking and so I’m not accustomed to them (nor do I really like them, unless they’re in chaat). I'm going to save this mix for making chaat that involves chickpeas. I have learned my lesson and will stick to good ol' garam masala for my chole. (I should have listened to you, mom.)
Anyway, I did manage to fix up the over-tart chole and it was actually really good, but it just wasn’t how I like it to be. Which means that you don’t get to see it.

My brother and I are going to NY this weekend for my mom’s birthday (happy birthday mommy!) and for Diwali, so you better believe that I’m not cooking this weekend, as my mom, who is an amazing cook, is cooking up a Diwali feast for the family. Although my mom is also making some Diwali sweets, I will be baking a birthday cake tomorrow (it’s a spin on my mango kulfi cupcake). I will definitely bring back photos of my mom's awesome food, and the recipe for the cake will go up next week.

In the meantime, here are some interesting confections I picked up in the UK.

I’m not a big fan of chocolate, so most of these things are going to my friends.
OK, I'll admit that I've tried almost all of these while in the UK. The bf and I shared a peppermint Aero bar or two (which I liked, but really couldn't eat more than two pieces of) and the Mars planets (of which I only liked the crunchy, of which there were far too few in the bag). I ripped open a Flake bar the other day, and I was disappointed - it's not all that flaky, but the dark chocolate is pretty good.
I saw these cookies in a convenience store in Edinburgh and I had to get them!
They're not that great - they're just chocolate chip cookies with hazelnuts - but they're good for fixing a cookie craving.
And here is the best purchase: Scotch Whiskey!
We picked these up at the Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. We didn't take the tour, but we did pick up one tiny bottle (50 ml) of each type of whiskey there is - Single Malt (of which there are four types - Lowland, Highland, Speyside, and Islands), Blended, Malt, Liqueur, and Cream. These are being saved for a rainy weekend, at which point we will sit down and have a proper whiskey tasting (and no we are not going to get drunk because each bottle is so tiny and we're splitting them over the course of a number of hours).

OK, back to work.

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