Red. Hot. Spicy.

MY TOWN (JAIPUR)

Our ongoing series in which we look at various Indian cities through the eyes of SpiceJet staffers. This month,Khushboo Gautam, Cabin Crew, holds forth on Jaipur. Connection to the city:…

Our ongoing series in which we look at various Indian cities through the eyes of SpiceJet staffers. This month,Khushboo Gautam, Cabin Crew, holds forth on Jaipur.

Connection to the city: I have stayed in many Indian cities but my best memories are associated with the Pink City – my family hails from here and I have spend considerable time in Jaipur.

Best thing about Jaipur: The city is very rich in culture and heritage. It is one of the few cities of India which is a feast to the eyes with its wellpreserved glimpses of history. Jaipur was among the first planned cities in the country. The world’s largest free literary festival takes place here. Jawahar Circle is claimed to be the biggest circular park in India. Great metro connectivity, amazing food, shopping and tourist attractions are other wonderful things about my city.

Favourite eating place: My personal favourite eating place is Bar Palladio Jaipur located within the beautiful NarainNiwas Palace Hotel. Out here, I love the dish for which Jaipur is famous — DaalBaatiChurma.

SPICEJET - Places to TravelBest places to hang out: There is an open air restaurant called Padao in Nahargarh. When the weather is perfect, you can get an amazing view of Jaipur city from here, especially during the night time. Local attractions: The best tourist attractions in Jaipur that I can reel off right away are HawaMahal, City Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Sisodia Rani Garden, JalMahal, Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Nahargarh Sanctuary. Each is unique in its own way and has made a mark on the world tourism map.

Recommended places nearby: Among the interesting places nearby is the Neemrana Fort-Palace, a 15th century wonder on the Delhi-Jaipur highway. India’s largest inland salt lake, the Sambhar Salt Lake, is located only 96 km from Jaipur. At a similar distance is Abhaneri village, famous for its Chand Baoristepwell and Harshat Mata temple.

SPICEJET - Places to TravelThe people of Jaipur: There’s still a lot of bonding between neighbours — you can catch up with them over evening tea. Children help out during weddings, festivals and family functions. Overall, people here are helpful and down-toearth. Jaipur when compared to other cities: I come from a defence background, and hence have visited and stayed in a lot of places like Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Pune and Kota. But Jaipur is the gem of India

No Comments on MY TOWN (JAIPUR)

THE BALANCING ACT

Fish Curry with mixed spices including gamboge. IT’S WHAT KOKUM is to Konkani cuisine, aamchur to north India and tamarind to the rest; and yet, the role of gambooge or…

Fish Curry with mixed spices including gamboge.

SpiceJet - Hot Meals

IT’S WHAT KOKUM is to Konkani cuisine, aamchur to north India and tamarind to the rest; and yet, the role of gambooge or kodampulli, which is perhaps one of the oldest known spices of the culinary world, both as a herb and a spice, is much complicated than its peers. Part of its exception comes from its own properties – rich in hydroxycitric acid and garcinia, it can treat a slew of conditions that range from obesity to oedema. Much like its medicinal peers, triphila or even kokum (with which it is often confused because of the similar taste profile), gambooge cannot be consumed in its fruit avatar, which looks like a beautiful pumpkin but is far sour than any human palate can tolerate and needs to be manipulated by first sun drying and then smoking. This, says Chef SabyasachiGorai (FabricaBySaby), gives the spice not only its unique taste character and complication, but also that bitterness with an extra hint of tanginess, which makes it an amazing choice to balance out dishes. Concurs Chef SandeepSreedharan, who uses gambooge in a variety of ways but is rather fond of the cocktail he prepares as a palate cleanser for his special sit-down menus. “The beauty of this rather not-sopretty ingredient,” he says “is its complicated flavour profile. You have to really work more with this spice to understand how beautifully it can lend itself to the dish — be it fish or otherwise — along with the back of the palate smokiness.” An excellent example of how differently it can influence a dish taste, while balancing all its flavours is the Pandi Curry and the famous Kerala Red Fish Curry, even sambar and rasam. No surprise then that kodumpulli is one of the essentials in any Kerala home, especially, says Deccan cuisine specialist Chef Arun Kumar TR (Zeaside), “in Syrian Christian cooking, where it is used to make all kinds of fish and pork dishes, and even sweet coconut milk-based beverages too. The Hindu community of Kerala also is fond of this smoky spice, and pairs it with tomatoes or tamarind to maximize the taste.” Tamarind in fact, add experts, was once a substitute for thisspice, which is considered a close cousin of kokum and can be as versatile. In fact, according to old trade ledgers and Ayurvedic cooking practices, kodampulli was used across meals and sweet beverages served in the port stations to traders arriving and departing to their country. It was then, say historians, “considered to be the magical pill that could cure everything and work the body’s immunity system to take on the vagaries of the sea.” Of course, its popularity back then was not always for its healing properties, but also the smokiness that made every dish breathtaking. Folklore has it that dishes and beverages made of kodampulli were so appealing to the visiting traders that many merchants staying back decided to take it up as one of the main ingredients in their cooking, the Syrian Christian community being chief among them. Kodumpulli’s versatility, adds Chef Gorai, “especially when it was paired with tamarind, kokum, coconut milk or even fragrant herbs and later chillies too, was one of the main reasons that it was so widely used across coastal plains. And good kodampulli, like any other herb, was considered a prize possession.” After all, it could treat any form of intestinal infections and even help lose weight. The recent rediscovery and realization of its properties has also made it a darling of the medicine world, where it is now widely used. Even today, the making of a good kodampulli, adds Chef Kumar, “depends on how well you have smoked the berry fragments. Done well, one can actually bite into a sliver of the spice-herb without cringing and can taste the bitterness and the smokiness quite well.” Interestingly, smoking herbs was a technique used in Ayurveda and Rasayana (the art of cooking) developed on the lines of creating dishes that work to heal and rejuvenate the body. However, kodampulli was an exception since its addition, when and how, made a lot of difference. If you leave it longer for instance, says Chef Kumar, “or in a larger quantity than required, there is a good chance that the food can turn bitter, even unpalatable. And what’s interesting is that the dish is not really repairable, unlike tamarind, which is a malleable flavourant.” This could explain why most dishes that are cooked with gambooge follow a strict guideline and it is advised, says Chef Kumar, “to start by using the juice instead of the cured fruit directly to get a good understanding of how the flavours work.”

SpiceJet - Hot Meals

MEEN CURRY
Recipe and image courtesy Curry Tales/SandeepShreedharan

INGREDIENTS

  • Surmai/Rawas 400 gm
  • Coconut oil 4 tbsp
  • Onion, chopped 2 tbsp
  • Ginger, chopped 2 tsp
  • Garlic, chopped 2 tsp
  • Green chillies, slit in half 4 nos
  • Tomatoes 2 nos
  • Red chilli powder 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder 1 tsp
  • Kodumpulli 4 nos
  • Curry leaf 1 sprig
  • Salt To taste

FOR THE PASTE:

  • Coconut, grated 1 cup
  • Whole cumin 1 tsp

METHOD

  • Saute onion, ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Once the ingredients start sweating, add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, the coconut paste and tomatoes.
  • Cook for a minute or two, and then add two cups of water and add salt.
  • Once the ingredients are well incorporated, add the kodumpuli. and let it simmer for five minutes.
  • Add the fish pieces and slow cook for another five minutes.
  • Before turning off the heat, drizzle the coconut oil and a few curry leaves. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving it with rice.
No Comments on THE BALANCING ACT

10 SECRETS OF DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY

Dance performances happen in every religion, culture and in places all over India. These are great opportunities to make good pictures and to hone your skills. There are a variety…

Dance performances happen in every religion, culture and in places all over India.

These are great opportunities to make good pictures and to hone your skills. There are a variety of situational problems that you are bound to encounter. Yet, following a few simple practices can ensure that even your first attempt gets you some fantastic results.

1. KNOW THE DANCE FORM : Practised, repeated movements and expressions are a part of any dance performance. In a dance, fluid motion often ends in static, momentary poses. If you know when and how the action will occur, you will be better prepared to capture it. It always helps to have seen the dance form on television, at other live shows, or during the onstage dress rehearsals.
2. GET PERMISSIONS WELL IN ADVANCE: Dress rehearsals give you the chance to shoot without the constraints that accompany the actual performance. After the rehearsal, you can request the dancer to enact a posture or an expression. Backstage, the drama before the dress rehearsals is not just exciting, but offers an unlimited variety of pictures.
3. MASTER YOUR EQUIPMENT: Inside an auditorium, the dim lights will not allow you to see the camera controls. You need to preset your camera according to the expected conditions and know your gear well enough to change settings quickly, in the dark.
4. KNOW THE CAPABILITIES OF YOUR LENS: A standard zoom lens is great for capturing group performances. You will need focal lengths of 200mm for fulllength shots. You may require lenses up to 300mm for capturing facial expressions. Be prepared for problems associated with the kind of lenses that you have, from shallow depth-of-field to non-availability of large apertures, to camera shake caused by the weight of your lens. A light tripod or a monopod is always a great help.
5. THE VANTAGE POINT IS CRUCIAL: Choose your position well to avoid distractions like banners and stage lights entering your lens, which may happen despite the use of a lens hood. A low vantage point from the foot of the stage can help avoid these distractions and heighten the mood in your pictures. If you can get permission to shoot from the wings of the stage, it will give your pictures a perspective that none in the audience would have seen.

SpiceJet - Places to Travel
6. COPING WITH LOW LIGHT: Flash photography is usually prohibited because it disturbs the artistes. In this situation, large aperture lenses are useful. Do not be afraid to boost the ISO to get the required shutter speed. Even images shot at ISO 3200 can give you good-looking, medium-sized prints.
7.  SHOOT IN RAW, USE SHUTTER PRIORITY: It is more important to time yourself and release the shutter at the perfect moment rather than bother about technicalities. In the Shutter Priority mode, you only need to control the shutter speed. Use Center Weighted or Spot Metering, if your camera allows you to. Leave settings like ISO and WB to Auto. Shoot in RAW to recover details while post-processing.
8. POETIC BLURS OR FROZEN ACTION?: Sharpness is vital in pictures in which you want to show the delicacy of an expression or a posture, or the energy of a dancer in mid-air. Shutter speeds of 1/250sec or faster can help freeze the action. On the other hand, you can use shutter speeds from 1–1/20sec for creative blurs that capture the sheer beauty of the dancer’s movement. Blurs work better if the performers are wearing colourful costumes and if the background is dark.
9. MOVEMENT, EXPRESSIONS AND FORM: Great dancers experience moments of truth. As a photographer, keep in mind the three cornerstones of dance – movement, expressions and form, while you concentrate on capturing these moments of sheer joy and abandon.
10. MORE THAN APPRECIATE, KNOW: Finally, the best photographs come from knowing and feeling the passion and obsession that drives the artistes to spend decades in perfecting their art. Almost any camera can do a good job if you use it well. Dance photography sharpens your sense of timing and the speed with which you react. More than this, it teaches you to appreciate the poetry of the human body.

SpiceJet - Places to Travel

SHOOTING TIPS:
• Rapturous moments of expression lend themselves naturally to telling pictures.
• Coloured gelatines used on spotlights sometimes lend accents to postures and costumes.
• Go for the moments of truth. Statuesque poses are passé. Body language and expressions convey so much more.
• Lighting situations can continuously keep changing. Watch out for distracting shadows and wait for the dancers to turn towards the light.
• One may reach the soul of the dancer when your lens meets the dancer’s eye. Look for these opportunities.
• Look for moments when the ecstasy of the dancer is projected through their body posture and movement.
• Capture billowing costumes and drapes to show off the dancer’s energy and motion.
• Get your pictures to bring out the power of the dancer’s movement. Do not kill the tonal values with flash or WB settings.
• The rendition of mood depends on how you capture and convey the spirit of the performer.

94 Comments on 10 SECRETS OF DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY

MY TOWN (PUNE)

Connection to the city: I am originally from Pune and have been brought up in the city. Best thing about Pune: Its pleasant climate, greenery all around and cool breezy…

Connection to the city: I am originally from Pune and have been brought up in the city. Best thing about Pune: Its pleasant climate, greenery all around and cool breezy evenings. Life here is peaceful. It is a small city so you don’t have to commute much for work. You get plenty of time to spend with your family or to visit close friends and relatives. Pune is a major educational centre. In addition, there are plenty of job opportunities here thanks to its many IT and BPO companies.
Favourite eating place: I am a big foodie. My favourite eating place is Cafe 1730 located in Serene Bay, Koregaon Park. I like the place for its amazing food, great service and live music. It is famous for Continental and Goan food. My favourite here is Mix Meat Lasagne. The dish is made with several layers of lasagne sheets and exciting sauces.
Best places to hang out: There is an active night scene here. The best places are Mi-a-Mi at JW Marriot in West Pune, as well as Swig and [email protected], both in Koregaon Park.
Local attractions: I would recommend the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum, a three-storey structure housing rare artifacts; the 125-year-old palatial Aga Khan Palace, where Mahatma Gandhi was incarcerated by the British; the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park (popularly known as Pune Zoo), spread over 130 acres and home to 362 species of animals, of which 147 are endangered; and the Osho Garden, a beautiful 12-acre park created from former wasteland.

SpiceJet - Places to Travel
Recommended places nearby: There are many well-known hill stations near Pune like Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani and Lonavala-Khandala.
Pune when compared to other cities: I have stayed in Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru but Pune is a much better place because of its bracing climate, especially during the monsoons. Pune is the cultural capital of Maharashtra. The tree cover here is extensive and I will have no hesitation in calling Pune the Green Capital of India. That alone makes it a lovely place to stay in.

No Comments on MY TOWN (PUNE)

AT THE HEART OF INDIAN CUISINES

THERE IS AN AMAZING VARIETY OF RED CHILLIES AVAILABLE LOCALLY AND THEIR TASTE AND SPICE LEVEL VARY, MAKING THIS EASILY ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING SPICES TO WORK WITH IN…

THERE IS AN AMAZING VARIETY OF RED CHILLIES AVAILABLE LOCALLY AND THEIR TASTE AND SPICE LEVEL VARY, MAKING THIS EASILY ONE OF THE MOST EXCITING SPICES TO WORK WITH IN THE INDIAN KITCHEN.
WHAT IS COMMON TO BHUT JOLOKIA, Byadagi, Bird Eye, Jwala, Guntur and Kanthari? All of them are varieties of red chilli – the spice you may love or hate but can never ignore. “Chillies are integral to Indian cooking and most of us Indians have developed stomachs of steel having grown up eating chillies. Used in almost every dish, it’s a major commercial cash crop in our nation and though the chilli arrived in India only in the 16th century, it has now become synonymous with our cuisines,” says Swadeep Popli, Owner, The Chatter House, New Delhi.
Red Chilli is mostly used in three forms: fresh red, dried red and powdered red. Kashmiri chillies are mild and therefore one of the most popularly used variants across the country. “Guntur chillies from Andhra Pradesh add heat due to their high spice quotient. Dhani or Bird Eye chillies from North India are commonly used for cooking, pickling and in the preparation of chutneys. Naga chillies are one of the hottest in the world. Mundu chillies from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh enhance flavour. Jwala chillies from Gujarat are a very popular variant and are used extensively in home-style cooking. The unique and flavoursome Kanthari chillies from Kerala are pale when ripe and mature. Karnataka’s Byadagi dry chillies are long and thin, and are very similar to paprika,” says Chef Subrata Debnath, Executive Chef, Vivanta by Taj – Gurgaon. Sunil Agarwal, Director, Kraft Appliances, adds, “Punjabi and Rajasthani cuisines are well-known for their spicy food and using red chillies in abundance. Red chillies are dried or pickled in order to store them for a longer period of time. They are also used extensively for making sauces which are used to add spice to other dishes.”

India is the largest producer of red chillies in the world besides being the largest exporter and consumer of the same. “Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of chillies in India with more than five of the 18 to 20 chilli types in India as identified by The Spices Board of India. Our country boasts of multiple regional cuisines and the food taste varies literally from one state to the other. So, depending on the state cuisine, the chillies are used accordingly,” says Chef Ravi Saxena, Corporate Chef, Dhaba By Claridges, which operates restaurants in Bengaluru, Gurgaon and Hyderabad.
Apart from being used as a tempering, there are several dishes that use red chillies as the main ingredient like Rajasthani Lal Maas, Awadhi Mirchi Korma and Goan Pork Vindaloo. Satyajit Kotwal, GM, The Resort Hotel, Mumbai, explains, “Chillies are used widely for pickling purpose. Whole/chopped red as well as green chillies are used along with other spices to make them into delicious pickles. Also, dishes are made using whole chillies – it could be Mirch ka Salan or Mirch ka Pakoda.”
India cooks with chillies that have always been known as ingredients that add spice to Indian food. “In ready-to-eat salads, chaats or chutneys, fresh red chillies give a great aroma and taste. However if my recipe calls for cooking chillies then I prefer using powdered option when I need velvety texture in my curries and crushed dry chillies when using for tempering or making a dry preparation,” says Chef Akshay Nayyar, Co-owner, Kopper Kadai, Bengaluru.

SpiceJet hot meal
Most of them are fiery in nature but chillies score high on their health benefits. This is primarily due to a chemical called capsaicin. This chemical is well-known for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and heart-healthy benefits. “Also, chillies are rich in antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids – they have about twice the amount of vitamin C found in most citrus fruits. The heating nature of chillies is associated with their ability to stoke the digestive fire so chilli powder is often added to buttermilk and consumed to boost appetite and strengthen digestion. They are great for speeding up the metabolism and thus, would be really helpful to those trying to lose weight,” says Shivangi Chatterji, an Ayurvedic Expert at AllAyurveda.com.
If you have a headache due to cold, mix a little chilli paste with sandalwood paste to make a fast-acting, pain relieving poultice. Diabetics can benefit from this spice by mixing a few drops of chilli oil with isabgol (psyllium husk) and consuming it twice a day. This also helps those with bacterial infections such as UTIs. Navin Kacherla, owner of The Charcoal Kitchen, Mumbai, avers, “A good quantity of red chillies added to food can be a good source of Vitamin C. However, an excess of it can cause acidity and heart burn. Indian food without red chilli often misses the essence of flavours required.” Tanu Arora, Head of Department, Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Aakash Healthcare, adds, “Red chillies have rich contents like Vitamin C and Provitamin A. It also helps in clearing the congestion of stuffed noses and congested lungs.”
Chillies are the heart and soul of different cuisines across India – they are cultivated in different parts of the country, and are one of the most important ingredients in Indian recipes. “Fresh green or red chillies are used in salads and pickles and are also ground to a paste, for various marinades. Dried and roasted red chillies are commonly used for tempering curries while the ground red chili powder is used to enhance flavours of curries,” says Chef Saurabh Udinia, Chef de Cuisine – Modern Indian, Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd.
Chillies are known as the queen of spices and have a lot more to offer apart from just adding spices. Executive Chef Anil Dahiya, The Bristol Hotel, Gurgaon, advises, “Each palate has a distinct level of tolerance for spice; use your judgment to increase or reduce the quantity of chilli pepper in your food as suited to you and your family. Children don’t have a well-developed spice palate; like all other foods, it helps to introduce spices in small amounts from a young age to build their liking for flavours.”
Excessive usage of red chillies can not only make a dish unfit but can also become bitter and excessively spicy if overused. Chef Paul Kinny, Shizusan Shophouse & Bar, Mumbai, advises, “While making red chilli paste, add vinegar instead of water as this will increase the shelf life and add a tangy taste to the paste. While tempering the chilli be careful not to burn it as it could ruin the entire dish.”
Vikas Kumar, Executive chef, Flurys, Park Street, Kolkata, adds, “One of the most important things to understand about red chilli is the fact that it can vary a lot in its hotness/ spiciness and must be used with extreme care and restraint. There really is no way to balance a dish that has turned to be too spicy due to the use of the chilli and there is also no way to add extra chilli once a dish is ready, since it requires a certain cooking technique.”
Chef Milan Gupta, Cafe Haqq Se, Mumbai, has the final word when he says, “Never add too much chilli in the beginning in the recipe as the oil released from it will take some time before it permeates evenly through the dish.”

No Comments on AT THE HEART OF INDIAN CUISINES

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search