The whole world on your plate


The history of Singapore stands testimony to the fact that this city is truly a ‘melting pot’ of various cultures from all over the world. Some of the earliest people to invade this city were the Cholas from South India in the 11th century. It therefore follows that the invaders would have surely brought with them their culinary habits involving spicy sauces to the city. Over the course of the 15th and 16th centuries, travelers, explorers and invaders from European nations such as Portugal and Netherlands made this city their home and therefore the European influences on the uniquely Singaporean cuisine would have probably developed in this era.

However, it was the arrival of the British in the first few years of the 19th century and their subsequent occupation which forever changed the face of Singapore. The population of the place itself exploded from around 1000 people to more than 80,000 people and rubber plantations were very prevalent in Singapore under the British occupation. Considering that most of the population consisted of Chinese migrants from the mainland, it goes without saying that Singaporean cuisine was introduced to Chinese culinary influences in every way possible. And this unique combination of South Indian, European and Chinese cuisines is what makes Singaporean cuisine unique and truly one of a kind in the world today. In fact the current government of Singapore touts its culinary diversity as one of the main reasons to visit this country today.

Along with the North Indian and South Indian thalis which are very popular here today due to the large Indian immigrant population, Chinese cuisine remains the mainstay of Singaporean cuisine today. Known for its varied street-food culture, dim-sums, roasted meats and various soups make up for regular day to day dishes that the locals consume. The wonderful dosas served in street corners with an assortment of chutneys and spicy sauces are worth dying for. And the best part is that fusion cuisine involving a combination of Indian and Malay ingredients, Chinese and Thai ingredients and various other eclectic combinations truly make Singapore a gastronome’s delight.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try a Singapore meal. As the picture below reads you will surely have the whole world on your plate!!!

SingaporeTakeAway

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This post has been written for Takeaway Level: Singapore, the Far East Hospitality blogging contest in association with Indiblogger, India’s largest association of bloggers.

Aviyal – A possible origin story


Ask any true-blue Malayali and he/she will tell you that the festival of Onam is not complete without the traditional Onam Sadhya (the Onam feast) and the Onam Sadhya is not complete without the addition of Aviyal to the menu.

sadhya

So in true Malayali tradition and on the occasion of Onam, here go a couple of links to the recipe of preparing the delectable Aviyal. Not one, but two links, one a Malayali version and another a Tam Brahm version.

Malayali version of Aviyal

Tam Brahm version of Aviyal

avial

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Now that all of you readers, especially the ones with an inclination to cooking and enjoying good food have had your exposure to this lovely dish, courtesy Padhu’s Kitchen who provided both recipes, let me tell you one version of how this awesome dish came into being.

Legend has it that Bhima, the second Pandava prince liked troubling his traditional rivals, the Kauravas quite a bit when he was young. He often bullied them, picking them up and throwing them to the ground, shaking the trees on which they were perched upon until they fell off the tree and other such juvenile stunts.

One day, tired of Bhima bullying them ever so often, the Kauravas decided to poison him. They offered him sweets laced with poison and when he fell unconscious after eating them, they tied big stones to his feet and threw him into the river.

Little did they know that the river was populated by the Nagas. They rescued Bhima and took them to their king Vasuki, who lived in their underwater city. The Nagas then hosted a banquet in honor of their royal guest and also gave him a potion which rendered him immune to any poisons known by humans so far.

Back in Hastinapur, the remaining Pandavas had already assumed Bhima as dead and had organized a funeral feast in his honor to mark the end of the official mourning period. On that day, all the vegetables had been cut and spices prepared to be cooked for the feast.

It was in this melee that Bhima appeared from the river, alive, hale and hearty, to the great relief of his mother Kunti and his brothers.

Being the gourmand that he was, Bhima did not want the cut vegetables and spices to be wasted. He therefore offered to cook a special meal putting them all together which went against conventional cooking conventions of the day, which prevented multiple vegetables from being part of the same dish. The dish that he cooked that day with all the vegetables and spices came to be called Aviyal.

Little did he know that this dish would then go on to become staple fare for all Malayalis during most of their festive days including Onam.

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Story Courtesy : Dr Devdutt Pattanaik’s “Jaya : An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata

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While some of you readers might be surprised at the inclusion of a food recipe on the blog or the introduction of mythology and Mahabharata in a food recipe post, seasoned readers of Mahabore’s Mumblings will know my penchant, both for good food as well as for the Mahabharata.

And I couldn’t resist combining both these passions into one post, could I? Do leave behind your comments on the post and let me know whether you liked the Aviyal, the story behind its origins, or both.

The Confession – Chapter 2 – Food


WTFood
Image courtesy : Google image search

This is the second part of a novella “The Confession”.

Read the rest of the novella here – [Chapter 1 – Memories].

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It had been a couple of days since David had regained consciousness, and in these two days, the doctor had suggested some tests to be run on him. Based on the results of these tests and the way he interacted with Ram, it was quite clear that David had suffered from some form of temporary memory loss.

While he was able to remember basic facts about himself, his childhood, his parents, his schooling, his college, his memories started getting fuzzier from around 4-5 yrs ago after his graduation. David had done his graduation in journalism and had joined one of the leading newspapers as part of their campus placement program. While he remembered this part, the rest of the events after this were more than a little fuzzy for him.

Ram, being a good friend and a colleague of his who worked for the same newspaper, decided to help him out. Ram didn’t know of any family that David had given that his parents had died in a car accident around 15 yrs ago, and in the three years that they had been room-mates and friends, David had never even mentioned any other relative even in passing. He therefore took it upon himself to take David home, and gently ease him into his normal life.

The doctor had clearly instructed Ram to go easy as far as trying to bring David back to normal was concerned. Anybody who experienced such temporary memory losses would find it hard to live normally especially when events related to the timeframe or people that they had forgotten about would be involved. While the rest of the world would move on based on these events and people, the person who had forgotten about these would need to re-learn and if possible re-experience these events which would cause a great deal of anxiety in them.

Ram therefore approached Senior Management at office and requested them to give David a six month sabbatical during which time he would hopefully recover his memory and be back to work. Given that David was a star performer and a valuable asset to the newspaper, the management acceded to the request.

Four days after the accident, the doctor declared David fit to be discharged from the hospital, but he once again reminded Ram to handle David with kid-gloves especially given the fact that none of them knew the extent of memory loss that he had suffered. The doctor also advised Ram to try out a few things which might help David get back his memories. He instructed Ram to take David to all the places that they frequently hung out together, do things that they normally did, and try to lead a normal everyday life so that David could gradually get back to his old routine, which would hopefully ease the memories back into his mind.

Ram therefore took David straight to the MTR Restaurant on Lalbagh Road which was on the way back home from the NIMHANS hospital from where he was being discharged. MTR had been the duo’s favorite haunt for breakfast on most days and invariably they would head there at least 4 days a week.

Walking into the restaurant David did feel a little nostalgic inside. And when the rava idlies that Ram ordered arrived on the table, he did feel a rush of euphoria inside him. The piping hot idlies served with the lovely vegetable sagoo whose smell wafted up him did kindle something massively familiar within David. And when David immediately pushed the coconut chutney aside and asked the waiter for an additional bowl of the sagoo, Ram knew that his initial experiment had proved to be a success.

In the last three years that they had been coming to MTR, not once had David eaten the coconut chutney that was served with these idlies, he would always return it and ask for an additional bowl of sagoo. Ram smiled quietly, happy with the knowledge that the foodie inside David was alive and kicking and this would prove to be helpful in the journey of rediscovering his memories.

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This post has been written for the Write Tribe Festival of Words 2 where today’s prompt had to be about food.

vecchio libro con stilograficaThis is the second post in a novella “The Confession” that I am writing trying to correlate the same to the Write Tribe Festival of Words 2.

Read the rest of the novella here – [Chapter 1 – Memories]