Kampala Confidential

As loyal readers of our rice cooker mishaps may have anticipated, one of the most exciting aspects of having a real apartment here in Kampala is having a real kitchen. Making oatmeal using our plug-in kettle and gorging on raw fruits and vegetables worked out well enough in Thailand, especially as we were living in the land of delicious tropical fruits. But it’s also nice to be able to fire up the stove (even if it is an electric one) from time to time and cook something, even if that something is absurdly simple, like an egg.

We haven’t been experimenting with the local cuisine much here, as we did in India; I suppose I’m a bit less inspired by matooke and rice than I was by channa, dal, garam masala, and the mystical powers of the pressure cooker. But our huge Kenya-based grocery chain has locally-source versions of most of the Western-style conveniences we’re accustomed to, and a respectable array of Indian ingredients, thanks to the healthy Desi community here (although no channa to be found yet, oddly enough). Which means we’ve started revisiting many of our favorite recipes, most of which emphasize fresh vegetables, whole grains, and beans (with special thanks to Mark Bittman, who got us on into an almost-vegan-until-dinnertime routine late last summer). And our Indian kitchen experiences taught us a few special tricks, like making chapattis to use as tortillas for Mexican dishes.

We’ve also started baking bread again, using the same recipe we taught P Nik in Mae Hong Son. It’s easy to get whole wheat atta, semolina, and other fun flours here, so we’ll probably branch out and try a few different experiments next week.

Adiga’s

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In Malleswaram there are a large number of sagar shops where you can get quick, delicious south Indian fare. One of our favorites is Adiga’s, located just around the corner from Sean and Archana’s place.

The main floor is typical of a sagar shop (or “hotel”), if a bit larger than most. You order near the entrance from the cashier, pay, and receive a number of receipts. Each receipt needs to be taken to the appropriate station (e.g. dosa, meals, idly, roti), where a worker will  magically turn your receipt into the dishes listed. At both stages, it’s important to know how to deal with an IndiaQueue. Once you’ve obtained your meal, you grab a section of long, shared countertops and dig in while standing.

On this trip, Archana introduced us to the upstairs “restaurant” part of Adiga’s, which I didn’t even know existed. The upstairs experience is less busy – you are seated at your own table, given a menu, and served by a waiter. The choices are similar, though some smaller items such as roti curry are replaced with larger variations such as dal fry. Prices are higher since portions are bigger and you are getting table service, but it’s a nicer environment to linger in. I enjoyed the experience, though my favorite part of Adiga’s is still the ground floor with its communal feel.

Overall, Adiga’s is a great stop for a quick meal of south Indian favorites. In particular, their roti curry, rava idly, and special dosai are my favorites. I also like stealing a few bites of Sean’s ever-present channa batura.

Happy to be at Adigas
Enjoying an assortment of goodies for lunch

Sean with his channa batura Lauren and her roti curry
Sean with channa batura and south Indian coffee, Lauren with roti curry

Palak Dosa
Palak dosa

Rava idly
Rava idly

Adiga’s
Sampige Road at 15th Cross (+ other branches in the Bangalore area)
Bangalore, India 560003
+91 80 4153 5991

Daily: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Indian Christmas Eve in Seattle

We mentioned to Mike and Erin that we’ve been making a lot of Indian food lately. Erin said that mother cooks up some great Indian fare as well, so we decided to have an Indian potluck for Christmas eve. Lauren didn’t initially realize that the Arcuris were contributing half the menu, and so asked “will we have enough food?” with the four dishes we were bringing. There were indeed six adults and three children to feed, but they had to contend with:

  • Beef samosas
  • Spicy yellow dal
  • Channa masala
  • Palak paneer
  • Aloo gobi
  • Chicken kadai
  • Curried shrimp
  • Rotis
  • Dahi

It was like having an awesome Indian buffet in your own home; and since we weren’t holding back, chocolate torte for dessert!

Plate of Indian food
The full array of dishes…or so we thought

Lauren and Indian food
Lauren with the bonus curried shrimp – delicious!

Channa Masala

In the latest chapter of our Indian culinary experimentation, Kenny and I made our first attempt at channa masala last night. Incidentally, the recipe we decided to use came from a chef in Seattle (well, from her husband) who recently opened a pizza place called Delancey (haven’t been yet).

Mindful of the recipe’s explicit instructions, we took care to caramelize the onions for a very long time. We followed the recipe closely, although of course wherever it called for canned produce, we used fresh (you can’t buy cans of tomatoes or chickpeas in India). When we reached the end of the recipe, we basically had a pot full of chickpeas in tomato sauce with some spices mixed in. It was way too tomato-ey and tasted more Italian than Indian. But the recipe does say, “Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.” So we did. We kept adding more water and spices and reducing, adding more spices and reducing, until the sauce turned from red to brown and tasted more like channa masala than channa marinara.

The end result was delicious, but next time I may look for another recipe that offers a better approximation of the spice to tomato ratios. We served the channa with dahi and ragi pancakes, a variation on the ragi waffles recipe that we invented a few weeks back.

As the recipe predicted, the leftover channa tasted even better the next day as lunch in the office!

Channa masala, dahi, and ragi waffles

Channa masala, dahi, and ragi waffles

Vada Channa Stuffing

After perusing a few Thanksgiving stuffing recipes and feeling completely uninspired, Kenny and I decided to attempt an Indian stuffing. Here’s what we came up with. The end result actually tasted remarkably like a Thanksgiving stuffing, but with some Indian flavor.

IMG_0045

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of gobi (cauliflower)
  • 1/4 kg lady fingers (okra)
  • 2 small red onions
  • 1 package of MTR Channa Masala (or you can be less lazy than us and make it yourself; we were running out of time with all of our other Thanksgiving prep and decided to take a delicious shortcut)
  • 12 small vadas (we got frozen ones; fresh vadas from a local shop would probably be better)
  • 2 eggs
  • Coconut oil

Instructions
In a large skillet, warm 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion, cauliflower, and okra, and saute for 5 minutes or until tender. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Crumble the vadas into a large bowl. Add sauteed vegetables to the crumbs. Stir in the beaten eggs and mix well. Then add the channa and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a large pot, and cook covered on medium heat for about an hour (even better,  use an oven if you have one). Cut into pieces and garnish with curry leaves to serve.

Hummus

Over the years we’ve refined and evolved this hummus recipe into a favorite of ours.

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12oz cooked chickpeas (or 1 can chick-peas, drained and rinsed)
  • 3 Tbsp well stirred tahini
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, or to taste
  • 2 tsp pine nuts, toasted lightly

Instructions

On a cutting board mince and mash the garlic to a paste with the salt. In a food processor purée the chick-peas with the garlic paste, the tahini, the lemon juice, 1/2 the oil, and 1/4 cup water, scraping down the sides, until the hummus is smooth and add salt to taste. Add water, if necessary, to thin the hummus to the desired consistency and transfer the hummus to a bowl. In the food processor, cleaned, purée the remaining oil with the parsley until the oil is bright green and the parsley is minced transfer the parsley oil to a small jar. The hummus and the parsley oil may be made 3 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Divide the hummus between shallow serving dishes and smooth the tops. Drizzle the hummus with the parsley oil and sprinkle it with the pine nuts. Serve the hummus with the pita.

Makes about 2 cups, easily doubled.

Surguru

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On our last afternoon in Pondy, we took the local Heritage Walk tour. During the walk around the French quarter, we started discussing food and drink with the tour guide. He told us that Pondicherry was not very good at classic French food (in line with our observations), but had good continental food and amazing South Indian food. We asked what his favorite South Indian restaurant was, and he unhesitatingly recommended Surguru. He takes his family there when they want to go out for South Indian food. So how could we resist? Off we went for our final dinner in Pondy.

Surguru is set back from the busy Mission Street, in a converted Health Department office. The building reminded me a little of a bingo hall or a community center, with a bunch of larger tables, a cashier behind small bars, and a recessed upstairs loft.

Unfortunately our camera was stolen with the pictures from this meal still on the SD card. So text will have to suffice for this one (if anyone makes it here, send me pictures of the Tandoori Idly).

The menu at Surguru is enormous, with South Indian, North Indian, and South/North fusion dishes. We had a feast so that we could try even a small fraction of what looked intriguing:

  • Tandoori Idly – None of the Indians I’ve talked to have heard of this, but it was delicious. 3 Idlies cooked in the Tandoor with a tandoori masala sauce. The idlies were still nice and soft on the inside, with the addition of a unique smokiness and heft to the outside. I’m very sad to have lost my pictures of this special treat.
  • Channa Batura – We didn’t know what this was, but we like channa (chickpeas) and gave it a try. Turns out that a batura is a large, puffy fry bread (think poori but larger and with a thicker skin). Baturas are a bit too greasy for my taste, but it made for an impressive picture (oops), and the channa preparation was great. Spicy, complex, and perfectly cooked channa.
  • Mangalore Set Dosa with Vada Curry – Surguru has an entire section of their menu dedicated to dosai, and we asked the waiter for his recommendation. A Mangalore dosa is solely made of rice, which makes it lighter and lacier than your standard dosa. The “set” part of the dosa meant that it was cooked on one side and served in a set of two. It came out more like a medium-sized pancake than the paper-thin dosai I’ve had in the past. As advertised it was served with a vada curry, which was thick, brown, spicy and went well with the dosa.
  • 3 Taste Uttapam – I’d seen uttapam on a bunch of menus and didn’t know what they were. The “3 Taste Uttapam” seemed like a good way to try them out. The uttapam was pancake-ish (like the set dosa but cooked on both sides) with vegetables mixed in. The 3 tastes were onion, tomato, and parsley. The parsley was my favorite, the herbs mixed into the uttapam went very well with the assortment of chutneys. The onion and tomato were fine, but less exciting.

Overall, the food was fantastic and very cheap. Staff were friendly, and the ambience was entertaining. It was fun watching the food stream out of the kitchen. We’ll definitely be back next time we’re in the area, and I highly recommend checking out Surguru if you’re in Pondicherry.

Surguru
99 Mission Street (+ 2 other locations)
Pondicherry, India
+91 4308082

Daily: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner