Fast and Furious

Hyderabadi Chicken in 15 minutes- Murgh Hyderabadi

There is no Hyderabadi recipe I know of that takes less than an hour to prepare especially if it includes meat or poultry. While being, in principle, against fast food I have no problem with cooking a meal as fast as possible.

One secret is to keep the masala mixes ready or the curry base fried and frozen.The main ingredient remains fresh and all that is required is to simmer it with any other fresh ingredients till done. Another trick is to use a ready made masala paste.


Parampara makes an excellent Hyderabadi Chicken Paste among other good pastes. Everyone who has tasted this dish, loves it. It works best with chicken drumsticks as the masala permeates the chicken flesh in a very short while.

Wash 300-500 gms of chicken and place in a shallow pressure cooker with a cup of water. Mix a pack of Parampara paste into the water. Cover, put on  pressure weight and cook for two to three whistles. Turn off fire and allow to cool enough to remove the weight and open the cooker. You can garnish this with fried onions and fresh green coriander. Serve immediately with hot chapathis, naan or rice. Yummy.

Floyd on Indian Food- Forgettable


Watching 'Floyd on France' many years ago, as a rerun in India, was a revelation. That someone could make food so interesting and amusing was new to me and he was a partly responsible for my  greater involvement in the subject. All that tongue in cheek France bashing was in good humour and without bite.
Compare that enlightening experience of food on the box to 'Floyd's India', shot in 2001 for Channel 5 in the UK, but being shown in India for the first time. It is now running on the Discovery Travel and Living channel (before Kylie Kwong comes up with her 'French buttah' and 'say solt'), and it has been a catastrophic failure.
The nice thing about Keith Floyd in earlier BBC series was his joie de vivre, his obvious love of the food he presented and the relish with which he drank copious amounts of wine while cooking. His disregard for the politically correct and the documentary form was all part of the show and it WAS a show, but with significant things to say about a cuisine and ways of approaching it.
Floyd on India, is dismal. He looks miserable, hot and bothered. He cooks in the open air, to do away with the need for lights and keep production costs low, on ugly setups without the slightest regard for display. And the food! Oh my God, the food he cooks is ghastly.
Anyone who knows a little bit about Indian food will find the way in which he flings in the 'Tyumeric' horrifying. With an abandon which is uncalled for. He obviously knows nothing about the ingredient, its properties or taste. He never cooks the onions, he adds sour ingredients before the spices are cooked and he makes a hundred and one unforgiveable faux pas.  The food and the series make an altogether unappetising mash.
He never bothers to taste his concoctions and that is telling. Not even a little lick of the finger. And he is always in such a hurry. Can't blame him really. Who wouldn't want to get out of that burning sun.
He so obviously hates the whole venture from start to finish. He even looks as if he detests Indian food. I don't know if the recipes in the book which accompanies the series are any good. But a word of caution to all those who hope to pick up something about Indian cuisine by watching this series...forget it. Nobody I know uses spices in the way he does. Nor can you possibly savour any of the food the way he cooks it. "Ugh" is my honest opinion.

Hurda, Sweet Sorghum kernels and Bhimsen Joshi



Whenever I listen to Raga Megh Malhar I am reminded of two wonderful occasions. One, when I was introduced to the Raga, during a monsoon many years ago, with the sound of heavy rain on corrugated tin, since this sheet of metal served as the roof of our music room at the Film Institute. The other was a summer evening at Nishat Gardens in Srinagar. We had driven down from Gulmarg especially to hear Bhimsen Joshi sing in this lovely outdoor setting . He began the alaap in a leisurely way , slowly and easily impressing the notes of the raag on our minds. As he progressed into the raga, slight rain clouds seem to gather out of the blue. A gentle breeze stirred the brilliantly coloured cloth of the pandal under which he sat.We all sat still, crosslegged on dhurries placed on the grass of the lovely Mughal garden, mesmerised as he began to weave the tapestry of his song. As he sang, the skies became grey and tiny drops of rain began to fall. He continued undisturbed, gathering pace . Soon the cloth of the pandal lost its moorings to the bamboo poles and flew wildly about in the strong winds that spun about. The rain came thundering down. Nobody moved for cover. Bhimsen sang undisturbed. It was as if the heavens had taken inspiration from his wonderful voice and played a jugalbandhi with the sound of the wind in the tall walnut trees and the drum of the rain drenching the earth.

It was a hair raising experience . Nature and art had come together in front of our grateful eyes.We were all aware of something transcendental in that moment.

The onset of the rains has always been greeted with joy by earth and animals and humans. It stuns the awful dry heat into a bearable temper. It brings the vision of a full harvest to the farmer everywhere and the joy of greenery to a brown land.
Not so in the last two years though. Some days I lift up mine eyes with something approaching dread when the rivers are already in spate and the land satiated. Every evening the news brings more stories of floods and damage to crops, loss of life and pictures of vast areas under water. Then I cannot hear Megh Malhar. A tiny ditty runs over and over in my head like a broken record..Rain rain go away, Come again another day.

Yet we don't have enough water, at least not in the right places. An article by Sonu Jain in The Indian Express today gave a clear picture of those parts of India which have an excess of rainfall right now and those which are still deficient. Policies till now have been inadequate in addressing the needs of farmers across the country. Irrigation methods are wasteful and make too much use of ground water without clear means of replenishment. Obviously something has to change. Capturing rainwater in environmentally friendly ways is part of the answer. The government struggles to set up various authorities and bodies to cope with the problem while coming up with feasible ideas for the future...quickly.
Central Maharashtra has had too much rain. Now we hope for a continuation which is closer to the norm in September and October.

This decides the future of the jowar crop which is sown in October as a rabi crop in western India. By November the planting is generally over. With a growing period of approximately 100-110 days, in January, around Republic Day , we can expect one of the delights of the mild winter we have here...hurda.That is the local name for young green jowar kernels.

Hurda / Young Sorghum kernels

Cut from the plant and roasted over a coal fire it is sheer succulent sweetness . If removed from the cob I often make a delicate flavoured snack very simply. Saute some ginger garlic paste in a teaspoon of butter or ghee, add the hurda and a pinch of salt. Mix well and cook for a minute or two. Eat immediately.

My mouth is watering as I think of the good things to come.