A Couple of Tarts

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf. ~ Epicurus

Friday, May 19, 2006

An Indian Treat

Mother's Day has come and gone and sadly my only contact with my own mom was a phone call to LA. Fortunately, I will be traveling to California next month for my baby brother's college graduation and will get to spend a week in the Bay Area! Then I will get some much anticipated time with the fam. And some time to visit with friends, drop by a few of my old haunts, eat Mission tacos, and pay a visit to the expensive but fabulous Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. But more on that in another post...

I did get some Mom-time via S.'s mom's visit from California. S. is Indian and her mom is an amazing cook of foods of all kinds. I have had the pleasure of eating numerous meals at her house when we were in college and later when we lived in SF. They have run the gamut from Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings to Indian dishes with a lot cheesecake and waffles in between. If you come over for dinner and are lucky, you'll leave with a few of her famed tin foil packets filled with good things to munch on at home.

S. had made a special request for her mother to make Indian food during her visit and so she came armed with an arsenal of spices. We were the lucky recipients of an Indian dinner of seasoned green beans, turkey kofka (meatballs) and rice with toasted cumin seeds. For dessert, there was chai and Indian sweets, penda and gulab jamun, straight from San Jose. I jotted down the recipes for the green beans and kofka and plan to attempt them myself. The green beans were flavored with all the usual Indian suspects, but was given an added crunch by the addition of urhad daal (white lentils) which had been toasted in oil with mustard seeds. The kofka was out of this world and it seems for me to recreate it, I will be taking a trip out to Jackson Heights to purchase something called asfoetida. From the little bit of research I have done, it is a root from which resin is extracted, dried and used in Indian cooking. It has some colorful names, including Devil's Dung, and can be used to cure flatulence!

Now, I love Indian sweets, which I think is not always the case for people who have not grown up eating them, partly because they are usually incredibly sweet. S.'s mom brought S. and her brother's favorites. S. loves penda to the point that she won't share with anyone. Penda (sometimes called peda) is made with khoya (which I think is akin to condensed milk) and sugar and then flavored with pistachios and cardamom seeds. They are shaped into small patties. S.'s brother's dessert of choice is gulab jamun, which are like donut holes soaked in a sugar syrup. I think I may just have to get my own assortment of treats when I go out to Queens.



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