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November 2010

New friends and Inventive dishes- Pumpkin Gnocchi and Kulfi with a pineapple compote

 

You may not make money writing a blog but you do make friends.

So many lovely people have written, telephoned or met me after reading the blog and it has always been a heartwarming experience.

Food and its preperation is of universal concern and interest and I have found that people tend to delve deeper into the subject when away from their own country or place of origin. It seems to give an instant connection to their own culture.

It also is a take off point for exploration of other cultures and so I have met several interesting people who have taken the opportunity of their stay in Pune to find out more about  local and Indian cuisine.

Eugeniop-making-Gnocchi

We had a wonderful evening cooking up a storm with Eugenio, a Brazilian theatre director who loves to cook, and Dirk, a German engineer working on an assignment in Pune, who is pretty proficient in the kitchen as well.

Eugenio and I worked out a menu before and bought the ingredients from around Pune.

There was space enough in my tiny kitchen for us all to work quite happily.My better half made his perfect basmati rice and so we all had a finger in the making of this feast.

With the minimum amount of fuss and much conversation Eugenio made a starter - pumpkin gnocchi and a dessert of kulfi.

Gnocchi-plated

The pumpkin gnocchi was superb, smooth and light. Paired with the piquant salty almond coriander pesto whizzed up by Dirk, it was a delight to eat.In fact we ate so much of it that I had little space for my prawn curry and rice.

The evening sped along with many things to share and copious amounts of red wine from Nasik ,which went very well with the meal.

Kerala Prawn curry and rice came next and  the dinner ended with a fabulous kulfi made earlier in the day by Eugenio from a rice pudding. What a great idea! Served on a bed of a flavourful pineapple compote, made with freshly cubed pineapple in an caramelised orange sauce, it was out of this world.

Rice-pudding-kulfi-with-a-p

It reminded me yet again of how creative cooking can be. Traditional recipes manipulated to incorporate unusual ingredients and great tastes that come out of using what is fresh and  at hand, rather than processed foods out of a box, that can only be a shadow of what they profess to be.( Please note the bottled sauces and packaged ready meals now available on every super market shelf.)

It reminded me also of how companionable cooking can be.The process becomes part of the entertainment.

Our meal with relative strangers became a family affair with friends.Yes-Making bread together is as important as breaking bread together.

P.S. Eugenio used this recipe for his Gnocchi. The only changes were that he used Nutmeg instead of orange zest and coriander instead of spinach.

The Kulfi was a basic recipe but he used a few spoons of rice when boiling the milk.

P.S. Eugenio and Dirk have a once a month cook up on a theme in their home in Munster. If you are lucky enough to live there or are visiting, you can make bookings in advance for a very special meal at a fraction of what it would cost in a restaurant. Do check out their blog to find out more about this.

 

 

 

 

 


Fishy Secret- The Best Seafood in Pune

 

This Sunday at the crack of dawn we were out and about. A short drive through the uncharacteristically  deserted lanes of the old city and then, turning the corner to Laxmi Road, we were in mayhem.Trucks line up on the side of the narrow roads , each spewing out blue, heavy duty crates, full to the brim with fish on ice. We follow the line of people, each with a bag under the arm) in a winding slushy tramp through a filthy street.The crowd goes from a trickle to a riot in the space of 200 yards and we can barely enter the gates where three wheelers, porters, vendors and buyers all jostle for space.

If we didnt know it before we know it now...the appropriateness of the term- fish market.

Crowd-at-fishmarket

This teeming crowd, shouting, yelling, ankle deep in mud and slime, smells of the sea, of garbage and sweat ,all mingling in the excitement of making a large bargain before the sun rises.

Mural-on-fishmarket

This is the wholesale market for fish  placed in the very heart of Pune, behind Alpana Cinema,at Dulya Maruti Chowk in Ganesh Peth, where shark and prawns, eels and bombli and a host of other fish lie gleaming in the early morning light .

Fish-on-ice

This is where fishmongers from the rest of the city come to pick up their catch of the day to resell at substantial profit to seafood lovers all across town.Buyers for five star hotels and local restaurant alike.

Prawns

We picked up two kilos of the very best large prawns after ascertaining the market price. It is at least 50% less than what I would pay at my local fishmonger.

Delighted with my haul I squeeze my way through the crowd in the general direction of the guys who clean and prepare your fish. They charge Rs 20 a kilo and its well worth it. Nobody there today and so I look forward to a morning of shelling and deveining prawns . Hmm...not so wonderful.

But the end result ,Kerala prawn curry with freshly ground pepper and just squeezed coconut milk, piled on plates and polished off by our guests was well worth it . Wonderfully fresh with a bite and sooo much better than the tasteless stuff that sells as "Prawns" in our fanciest supermarket's frozen food section !