Recipe and The Ingredients

Discussion in 'Recipe Central' started by varalotti, Oct 24, 2005.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Recipe and The Ingredients

    In order to make delicious food good ingredients are no doubt essential. But the right recipe is even more important. Many are obsessed with materials and fail to recognise the fact that recipe is more important than the ingredients. Good cooks swear that you can manage with not so good ingredients provided the recipe is good. But if the recipe is bad even the worlds best ingredients will fail to produce tasty dishes.

    I have a friend who is sucessfully running a small restaurant which is noted for its tasty idlies, dosas and other South Indian delicacies. One fine morning he casually mentioned that tandoori dishes like Nan, Roti will also be available in his joint.

    I asked him, "That's great. How could you pull that one? Have you employed any north Indian cooks for making tandoori dishes?"

    "No. Looks like you do not know much about the hotel trade. It is the south Indian dishes that are difficult to make and require experienced chefs. But these northern items are very easy to make. You make your chapathis a little harder and put some butter over them. You get butter nan. You put cheese and masala items in the oven and you end up with cheese masala. You fry potatoes and tomatoes to-gether and boom! you get another side dish."

    The North Indian Section had to be closed down within a few months.

    "I have been offering north Indian dishes at almost half their cost. Still no one buys it. I am surprised."

    But I would have been surprised only if the North Indian section had thrived. What he did was violating something fundamental like the law of gravitation.

    At times people mess up and accidentally land in new recipes. But that is besides the point.

    There is a straight contrast to this incident. A group of South Indians were once staying in Taj at Udaipur. They had been eating north-indian dishes all along and they longed for some south Indian food - atleast the curd rice. They expressed their longing to the Chef. The Chef said that he could give rice and curd separately and they could do whatever they want with that. "Instead of serving them separately why don't you mix them up throw in some cut mangoes or cucumber add a good measure of chillies for taste and serve as 'curd-rice'?"

    "When one ingredient and another is mixed it becomes a dish. We cannot risk our reputation by serving some random mixture as you like. Taj has a rule. Without an approved recipe we cannot serve a dish."

    The parleys continued for a while. Finally the exasperated Chef called his counterpart at Chennai Taj and asked for the recipe for making curd rice. Chennai Taj faxed a page and a half recipe which the Udaipur Taj religiously followed to the last letter.

    Within an hour Curd Rice was served with fresh mango pickles on the side.

    The customers swore that they had never tasted such a delicious curd rice in their lives.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 24, 2005
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  2. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    A reply to your observation, Sir.

    Dear Sir,
    I saw your posting in I L about recipes. I wonder what made you write that ! But you have put it very right. I always wondered why there are not many S Indian recipes on the net - I mean, the traditional ones , like athirasam etc in detail. When I am now writing them, I realise that there are too many nuances in our Indian cooking, which cannot be made out easily just by reading the recipe.
    That is why my tips thread is getting my maximum contribution! If somebody asks me for the recipe of idli & if I send it also, it is difficult for an amateur to make it just by reading the recipe !I hope nobody asks ! It is not easy to find a correct equivalent to some of our terms in Indian cooking - my limited knowledge of the English language is really posing me problems. Ulundu vadai for ex: was a tough nut to crack !
    Anyway, feedbacks about my contribution or your opinion, if any, about my postings are always welcome.
    Regards,
    Chithra.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2006
  3. rathi

    rathi Bronze IL'ite

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    Good one!

    Hello Varalotti,

    That was good one about recipes and the ingredients. That too from a male writer, makes it more interesting. I remember you mentioned in response to one of Chitvish recipe earlier that you are not a good cook. But your article makes me you think you know beyond cooking!

    Very true that whatever be the ingredients, if the recipe - the procedure of making a dish if not perfect, would not turn out to be a tasty dish. But you know what, most of the ladies here in IndusLadies have very less of this problem since they started getting Chitvish recipes - I'm sure most of them would agree with me.

    My husband always use to tease me whenever I used to look up any website for recipes. He used to wonder why I should look into different versions of a recipe for the same dish, when I already know how to do it and have done a couple of times. I tell him that ladies always want to improve the way of making a particular dish by referring to various versions of same recipes and would finally settle with an improved version. He barely agrees to accept this logic!

    Anyway, once again that was a good article and I enjoyed reading it.

    Rgds,
    Rathi
     
  4. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Rathi!

    Sorry, Rathi. I was on a borrowed system and there was a hurry to finish. Hence I addressed the message to Prathi instead of Rathi.
    I apologise for the mistake. Please forgive me.
    sridhar
    My cooking knowledge is so abysmal that my wife doesn't even trust me with making hotwater. The divide between recipe and the ingredients is the classic divide between service and materials, between hardware and software, or to go one step higher between knowledge and wealth. Recipe is knowledge and ingredients are the wealth. A little wealth and a large body of knowledge will make way for happiness. But the other way round, it's the recipe for disaster.
    I have a client who got a computer for one and a half lakhs. He wanted me to write a software that will take care of his accounts and office administration. I told him that it will cost him about 10000 bucks, he said, why should I pay that much money for something I can't even see? I left it at that. You know, Rathi, he never bought a software and kept his computer idle for almost a year. Then when he attempted to sell it the asking price was less than 10000. He learnt his lesson the hard way. For me the computer is the ingredients and the software is the recipe.
    thanks for the warm response, Rathi
    sridhar
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2005
  5. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    Right balance

    Most women learn cooking through trial and error. Once you get your basics right it's easy to be innovative and try new dishes. Like in your field - if you know the taxation laws of the state you can advice your clients. But if your knowledge is scanty/superficial your clients will suffer. Both software and hardware have to be balanced - whether in recipes or in our lives. Your friend who ran a successful eatery should have stuck to his area of expertise. If he wanted to try making North Indian dishes, he should have learnt from a chef/friend's wife who made those dishes well.
    When I'd gone to Rajasthan last year I fell sick. So in one hotel I asked for curd rice. Even in that the chef had mixed so much cream and dry fruits that I couldn't eat it! When I went to the kitchen and told him how I wanted it made he was surprised and said "food without malai and kaju is so unappetising! You are so nazuk (meaning delicate)."
    Chitvish, I've been reading the recipes you have sent in - will write to you after I try them out.
    This may not be relevant here - but it appealed to me. "Life is like an onion. You peel it layer by layer and then find that there is nothing in it."
    To cook one must have interest, enthusiasm to learn and not consider it a drudgery. Women sometimes feel tied to the kitchen - we must learn to plan the menu in advance, keep the ingredients ready and complete the work efficiently.
    P.S.Varalotti, it's time you learnt to cook! - just joking.
    sharada
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2005
  6. ambika ananth

    ambika ananth Bronze IL'ite

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    A good start

    Dear Sridhar

    Interesting people are those who are interested in everything....you have proved time and again that you are an interesting man, by showing your interest not only in creating your unique 'Lakshmis', but in writing poetry, in writing about recipes and ingredients. Actually all these interests are the ingredients which make life into a tasty savoury..

    But I don't agree with your view that
    "recipe is more important than the ingredients" Actually they go hand in hand and are interdependent for the final outcome.

    A good start...keep sending such pieces
    ambika
     
  7. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Ambika, Again and Again!

    Thanks for the nice words and accepting me as an interesting person. I would rather like that you make it into a proper certificate so that I can display it with pride to my wife.
    I agree ingredients and recipe go hand in hand. But I had to use those strong words because people have always overemphasised the value of ingredients. Even now if the vegetable and groceries become 30% costlier we don't mind buying them. But if the cook asks for just 5% more, we hesitate. It's a general Indian pre-disposition to value service less than the materials.
    A few years back I was in a star hotel in Madurai. A group of Americans who were staying in the hotel had returned from the temple. Some of them came by brand-new taxies while some of them opted for pedalled cycle rickshaws. Normally in our place the cost of taxi for the trip would be around Rs 100 whereas the rickshaw-charge would be around Rs.15/. But these Americans - they paid Rs.100/- each to the taxi drivers an lo! paid Rs.200/- each to the rickshaw-wallahs. They explained that rickshaw being a highly personalised service they deserve better.
    Actually Ambika Recipe is more important. There was a scene in a Tamil movie. The heroine would have married her poor lover. Her rich father would come to visit her. She wants to give something to her father to eat as he is visiting her for the first time. There would be virtually nothing in the house. There would be ony 3 idlies - very cold - left over from the morning break-fast. She would have a flash. She would cut the idlies into pieces, add some spices and stir it for a while in the tawa. (Let me not go into any more in detail for I don't want to compete with the great master-chefs of this site - Chitra and Mano) Her father would relish that item (she would name it as idly-upma).
    Since she had the right recipes in her mind even left over idlies became a delicious dish. Don't you agree that recipe is more important than the ingredients?
     
  8. Varloo

    Varloo Gold IL'ite

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    Dear varalotti,
    This was a good one. Such people always learn the hard way. There is a saying in Tamil, you must be knowing, yannai vanguvaar, angusam vangamattar. One will buy an elephant (which is costly) but will not buy the metal stick( which is cheaper and is a must to tend an elephant). Nowadays, it has become a habit with many of us to keep some things, for which we have no further use, for long periods of time. It is more conveneint to throw them out and buy a fresh one later than maintain it.
    I read your story in last week's issue of Vikatan. It is very nice. There is another article in the same issue about 'karpu'. I really liked that article also and am of the same opinion. Being loyal, both in soul and body, to one's spouse is 'karpu'. I find that it is stressed more in Tamil community than in any other community. Is that true?
    varloo
     
  9. Kamla

    Kamla Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Once again, a very good observation from you sir:) That is why the popularity of Chitvish recipes are growing by the hour. How many satisfied households is it creating is anybody's guess!
    Talking about restraunts, though I live in NJ where a high concentration of indians are supposed to live, I am yet to find a satisfying indian restraunt in the neighbourhood. There are a few in Iselin which is like India with it's shops and restraunts and indian population. But not everyone in NJ are close enough to this place nor the hectic life here allows for frequent drive up to there. Even there, only a handful of restraunts enjoy a good reputation.
    But the above predicament is understandable atleast considering I am talking about US. Some years ago, during our visit to India, the family decided to take a south trip upto Kanyakumari and we drove through Salem, Madurai and also Kodaikanal. Besides enjoying the beauties and temples of these places, our palate too was excited looking forward to gourmet south indian feast at their local restraunts. But lo behold, we were utterly disappointed! We could not believe when hotels there only offered a list of naan, kulchas, curries and other north indian varieties where as we were dying to eat pongal, puliyodharai, idli, dosai and chutneys and other local delicacies. I still cannot believe this happened to us in the heart of tamil nadu. Only at Madurai, that too, at this one place, did we find good dosa and idli for breakfast where as the hygiene in the hotel was much to be desired. The local five star hotels and state owned comfortable resorts were serving omlettes and toast for breakfast!!! I do not know if we had a unique misfortune befalling us or if this is the state of things in our arumai tamil nadu!
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Varloo!

    Dear Varloo, You have quoted the apt proverb.Yanai-angusam. The same is the case with computer-software and here in this thread the ingredients-recipe. There are those who do not respect the recipe. I know a few elderly women relatives of mine. These people know the recipe but will not respect it. They will improvise it or try to lessen their work. The result is invariably a disaster. I am dealing with software and softskills that make the hardware worth the while. To paraphrase the proverb I am the angusam dealer. I know how people neglect angusam to their own peril.
    Thanks for the nice words about my story in Vikatan. Yes the article in karpu was also good. It's a coincidence that both the story and the article should deal with the same central issue.
    What I feel bad about Tamilnadu is we impose/enforce chastity on women. But men have loose morals. Such a thing cannot be sustained for long. Slowly women are now waking up to the realities. You know the famous actor/writer Cho (editor of Thuglak magazine) A few years back he directed a film Yarukkum Vetkam Illai in which the heroine would be a prostitute. In a scene in that film there will be a punch dialogue. One character would say "Men can be immoral. That's not a problem. But women have to be moral." Another character will retort "If you let men to be immoral then they won't allow women to be moral."
    In this case I am in full agreement with Bharathiyar:
    karpu nilai enru solla vandal adhai iru palaarukkum podhuvil vaippom'
    We have still a long way to go for that.
    Varloo, I have posted a snippet on Lakshmi 'A Bold Lakshmi Again Can you accept her'. That snippet deals with a similar topic. Please read that and give your views.
    regards,
    sridhar
     

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