Seoul Food

One of my favorite aspects of the Korean culture in relation to food is that we have certain dishes associated with different holidays and other special occasions. For example, 미역국 (miyeokguk), which is a flavorful soup made with seaweed and beef, is usually eaten on someone’s birthday as it is traditionally associated with birth; women who have just given birth eat this dish often, as it contains a high level of calcium, which is an important nutrient for nursing mothers. Another example of this is that during 추석 (chuseok, a national holiday that is nicknamed as the “Korean Thanksgiving” as we show respect to our ancestors), we eat 송편 (songpyeon), which is a sweet, Korean rice cake filled with sesame seeds and honey. Traditionally, we use newly harvested rice from the year’s harvest used to make the 송편. We also eat 떡국 (tteokguk), a rich, savory rice cake soup, to celebrate the Lunar New Year, with the idea that you become one year older by eating the soup. By eating these foods during the holidays, I have been able to learn a great deal about Korea’s traditions and culture. I am always amazed at how the core values of my culture continue to persist despite the many lifestyle changes that have occurred over time, like transitioning to a more modern society. For example, in the past, family members would thank their ancestors for the successful harvest during 추석 (the Korean Thanksgiving) as a sign of respect and gratitude. Even though most of Korea’s population are no longer farmers, we continue to carry out the traditional rituals during the holiday every year to show respect for our ancestors and pass this tradition down generations (as respect for elders is one of the core values of Korean culture).

credit: https://bit.ly/2s2X0Ia

traditional 미역국 (miyeokguk, birthday soup)

credit: https://bit.ly/2Lm4EVT

송편 (songpyeon, rice cake eaten on Korean Thanksgiving)

I made this for the first time last winter!

떡국 (tteokguk, Korean rice cake soup eaten on Lunar New Year)

Ever since I immigrated to the United States, I have made more of an effort to learn more about my heritage and where my family comes from. My father was born in 제주도 (Jeju Island), an island that is just off the coast of the Korean peninsula, and I have always loved the island’s food for its rich flavor due to the fresh ingredients. When I was little, my family would fly from Seoul, my hometown, to visit my grandparents in Jeju Island, and we would always look forward to eating my grandmother’s cooking, especially when we visited during the Lunar New Year, 설날 (seolnal). My cousins and I would watch from outside the kitchen as our mothers and our grandmother diligently worked to prepare all sorts of food, from 떡국 (tteokguk, the traditional Korean rice cake soup) to 전 (jeon, savory Korean traditional pancakes filled with fish, meat and or veggies). The holidays were always something to look forward to when I was younger, as I loved that all of my family members on my father’s side came to share this meal together, regardless of how busy everyone was. Thus, I have really grown to cherish the food of this holiday in particular due to all of the heartwarming memories that I have from my childhood. Fortunately, even after we immigrated to the States, we have continued to celebrate this holiday at our home. Although it is not quite the same as it used to be when we had celebrated in Korea, we always try our best to observe the holiday as if we were there. As a result of this, I always attempt to learn how to cook from my grandmother every time I go back to Korea, so I can help my mother with the holiday preparations back home. However, through these lessons, I have ended up learning about so much more than I originally expected, including the rituals that occur during the holiday, my family’s background, and my country’s culture. One of the dishes that I have learned to make from my grandmother includes 미역국 (miyeokguk, the seaweed soup we typically eat on someone’s birthday). It has become a dish that is very important to my family background because we cook it “Jeju Island style,” by adding sea urchins instead of beef which enhances the soup’s rich flavors; Jeju Island is extremely famous for its fresh seafood so the people always love to put it into their dishes. I really enjoy eating this dish because it truly celebrates my heritage (on my father’s side of the family) and always tastes the best when I am back home in Korea. Thus, I love eating these foods that are such an integral part of my culture when I am living in America, because it helps me feel more connected to my roots, even when I am more than seven-thousand miles away from home.

credit: https://bit.ly/2s9Fy3E

전 (Jeon, Korean Style Pancake eaten on Lunar New Year)

credit: https://bit.ly/2s2loJQ

미역국 (Miyeokguk Jeju Style — special to my family’s background)

Unfortunately, although I have lived in Atlanta for more than ten years, I have limited knowledge about the different ethnic communities in Atlanta. I believe that Atlanta is a very diverse city and is home to many different ethnic communities, but I have not had the opportunity to personally engage with many of these communities. One community that I am familiar with is the “Korea-town” in Duluth, Georgia that has a large population of Korean residents, and thus, has become filled with many Korean restaurants and supermarkets, which my family likes to go to as it has many foods that remind us of home. Unfortunately, this is quite far from where I live, and as a result, I do not have the opportunity to visit the area often. However, Buford Highway is an area of Atlanta that I visit often and I have fortunately been able to try many different types of cuisine with my friends, including Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Thai and Japanese food. It has played a large role in my college experience in particular, as my friends and I often go out to eat at the restaurants on Buford Highway in our free time. Through these meals, I have been able to learn more about other cultures and their relationships with food, which has become one of my favorite aspects about college. I hope to learn more about the ethnic communities of Atlanta through this class, especially the Italian community in Atlanta, as I have not had the opportunity to learn about it yet.

Blog #1: Food, our identities

Blog #1: Food, our identities

Eunho Seo

Kimchi

Across different nationalities and their customs, food is one of the major representatives of a country’s cultural background. For instance, Kimchi is the most emblematic cuisine of my home country, South Korea. Kimchi is a combination of salted and fermented cabbage or radish with a spicy sauce made out of pepper powder, garlic and other distinctive ingredients according to different regions. It is interesting to see that Koreans in different regions use differentiated sauce from one another. For an example, in the coastal portion of South Korea, people use sea resources such as oysters and calamaries in their Kimchi sauce. This provides an insight into the Korean cultural background about how people tried to use their accessible resources to specialize their traditional side-dish. Furthermore, there are lots of cultural events related to Kimchi. ‘Kimjang’ is what we call a process of making Kimchi. As it is very time consuming and hard labored task to make Kimchi, relatives or neighbors come over to a home and help the family to ‘Kimjang’ and they share the outcomes. This is still an ongoing cultural custom and I’m always excited about my family’s Kimjang day since it gives a precious opportunity of family gathering in an extremely busy 21st century. I remember how my uncle used to bring his huge truck filled with cabbages over to our home and we had a huge family dinner only with rice and Kimchi made on the day. This also shows how our ancestors tried to keep the bond between relatives through making Kimchi.

 

Kimchi Pancake

Likewise, Kimchi became a huge part of my families’ dining table and I can barely remember the very last time we had meals without it. For a long period of time, Kimchi has not only become the most common side-dish in Korea, but also used as an ingredient of other food. We put it into a soup, noodle, fried rice and Koreans even make a pancake out of Kimchi. Whenever I go back to Korea after interminable semesters at Emory, I ask my mom to cook me Kimchi stew and bacon-Kimchi fried rice. The food itself makes me realize that I am finally back home and free from all the exams and assignments. The variety of transformations of Kimchi is the reason why we can constantly eat Kimchi without being cloy and allowed it to be designated as a Korea’s trademark. And recently, many foreigners became interested in Korean food using Kimchi. The taste of Kimchi might be pungent for people who didn’t try Kimchi before but when they become used to the savory smell and crunchy texture, they will be ready to enjoy the rich taste in Kimchi and ultimately understand Korean culture. Food made with Kimchi always bring the warmth of nostalgia and comfort to our family and probably this is why most of the Koreans can’t live without it.

 

Kimchi stew

Hence, I had to constantly eat Kimchi in Atlanta whenever I missed my home country. One day, I was looking for a restaurant in Atlanta where I can have Kimchi stew and found out that there is a huge Korean community in Duluth, Atlanta. Korean characters were all over the signboards and most of the people I encountered in the street of Duluth were Koreans. This alleviated my stress from education with second language and homesickness. The Kimchi stew was not as good as my mom’s, but it was good enough to reenergize me to cope through entangled economics graphs and puzzling mathematical equations. It was so fortunate that there was a Korean community near Emory and I can speak my mother tongue in a store or a restaurant. Once I met a waiter at a restaurant at Duluth who seemed to be around my age and we talked for 30 minutes about how difficult it is to study abroad and empathized each other. This reminded me the significance of our ethnic origins and how we are tacitly influenced by our culture in daily life. Kimchi for me is a food that contains meaning far beyond merely being a daily side-dish as it is what I am, what my family is, and what my country is.

Blog 1

Beef noodle soup (牛肉粿条)and oyster omelette (蚝烙/蚵仔煎/海蛎煎)are two of the most common Teochew/Chaoshan (潮汕)dishes in Teochew/Chaoshan cuisine, which originated from the Chaoshan region in China’s eastern Guangdong province. Although these two are not the most sophisticated and well-known, the locals love them, and they are also gaining popularity in other parts of Guangdong province, even in the rest of the country. Beef noodle soup is a perfect kickoff of a day for my family. It might sound and look familiar to you because it is very similar to Vietnamese Pho. Chaoshan beef noodle soup was brought to Southeast Asia by Chaoshan people. It has a great influence on rice noodle soup there. On the other hand, Oyster omelets with beer is always my top choice of late night food in a social gathering setting because each plate is for sharing.

Beef noodle soup has rice noodle, broth and beef three components. They are all equally important. However, beef has a wider variety of choices, such as beef meatball, sliced beef, beef entrails etc. Tender sliced beef and thin sliced beef tongue are always my family’s favourite. Slipping those thin rice noodles with the aromatic marrow bone broth is pure enjoyment. In my perspective, beef noodle soup is perfect for breakfast and lunch because it is both flavourful and refreshing at the same time. Most restaurants don’t serve it after lunch since it is sold up quickly in the late morning. My family and I often have it for brunch but if you aim for the good parts of beef then you probably should go earlier. I cherish the experience so much not only because it is a feast for my sensations but also a refreshing and memorable start of a day with my family. I would not feel in this way if I have not been studying abroad for almost three years. I have only gone back home four times during my time abroad. When I’m abroad and craving for food, I think of that bowl of noodle soup with a hint of the restaurant’s special homemade spicy sauce. Oyster omelette, on the other hand, is destined to be shared among friends. You order a few plates at a time. Then the chopsticks go in the plates and they are emptied right away. It really connects people when you share amazing food while chatting.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to immerse in food cultures of ethnic communities in Atlanta because I have only stayed in Atlanta for a year.

The Cultural Significance of Our Food

 

Coming from a blended family with everyone spread across the globe and also having immigrant parents who have lived in at least 5 different countries combined means having different cultural influences in my life. These influences are mostly shared with me through food. My family has made food an important and exciting part of my life. The few times when every member in my extended family gather for a celebration are my favorite moments because I know that there will always be food and there will always be different dishes that I haven’t tried before.

Understandably, most of my introduction to different dishes comes from my parents, grandfather and my aunt since they are the ones I have lived with. My mother and father were born in Ghana where they spent most of their youth. My father lived in Libya for about 8 years, then both my parents moved to Italy and lived here for about 10 years. They then lived in the UK for a little while and then finally settled in the United States. Because of the extensive time they spent in each place and their roots in Ghana, they were able to come to appreciate each country’s culture and their food along with it.

A staple in my house is Jollof rice. Jollof rice is made from plain white rice that is stewed in a tomato-based broth. It is a staple in most West African nations. It is known for its vibrant color and its flavorful spicy taste. Another staple and a somewhat revered dish in the Boamah household is lasagna. Lasagna is highly respected in my household especially by my father. He is the only one allowed to make it. About five years ago, I remember my dad calling my little brothers and I in the kitchen to give us step-by-step instructions on how to make his famous lasagna. I found this whole situation funny because my brothers were 7 and 9 at the time and my dad was so intent on sharing his recipe with his kids. Since I now had the recipe, I decided to make my dad some lasagna as a thoughtful act about two years ago. When I presented it to him, I could see the apprehension in his eyes. He thanked me for my thoughtfulness, but I could tell he was not impressed by my lasagna which is why, till this day, he is the only person allowed to make lasagna in our house. Another dish that I love to eat is an English breakfast. An English breakfast consists of toast, eggs, baked beans, sausages, bacon and tomatoes served with tea. It is a heavy and filling breakfast that will have you energized throughout the day.  I remember mentioning in my 10th grade English class the different components to this breakfast dish and the shock on everyone’s faces when I mentioned that baked beans were a component. A fellow student said, “baked beans is only eaten as a side with barbeque and not as a breakfast item.” I did not argue with him because I knew he had a different cultural experience with food being a 100% American.

Image result for jollof rice Jollof Rice

I believe that Jollof rice is in every West Africans’ top five favorite dishes. It is the food I request the most from home since starting college. It is a dish I never grow tired of due to its variety. The broth base can be flavored with many different veggies or meats that will change the overall taste of the rice. These include chicken, beef, sausage, or carrots. In most Western cultures, rice is seen as a side dish, however Jollof rice a meal on its own- just add some fried chicken to the side and you are set!  Jollof rice is a dish that instills national pride for West African people. This is because there is a huge debate going on about which country has the best Jollof rice. The main rivals in this debate is Ghanaian Jollof vs. Nigerian Jollof. There aren’t many types of dishes that can emotionally charge people and lead to a debate that spans generations.

Image result for english breakfastEnglish Breakfast

I enjoy a full English breakfast because it is the best way to get your day started. It is a fulfilling and long-lasting meal. It is the main breakfast item I have had since a was a kid. Even my little brothers who have not been directly exposed to the Britain and its culture will always choose an English breakfast when my mom asks them what they want for breakfast. Everyone in my family enjoys this meal. I remember one summer, most of the family members from my mother’s side took a vacation to Ghana to spend time with our family there and each morning, we would all have an English breakfast to start our day. We would sit in the living room, eat and just enjoy one another. I find this extremely interesting because everyone, even those who had never been to Britain. enjoyed this meal This is because Ghana was a colony of Britain, so the older generation were introduced to this meal, and it got passed down through generations even though my family spread wide across the globe with each generation.  This breakfast is something that connects all of us and brings as all together

 

Since Atlanta is such a hub of diverse people with diverse cultures, I have been able to explore the different foods other cultures have. I was introduced to Tuk Tuk Thai which is a Thai restaurant downtown and I absolutely fell in love with it and the flavors in their food. I love how they balance sweet and savory in each dish. This is a difference from the flavors I am used to at home from the Ghanaian dishes which do not include much sweetness unless in desserts. I also love exploring the African restaurants here in Atlanta. This is because they infuse traditional African dishes with Caribbean flavors to create different delicious dishes. There are also traditional Ghanaian restaurants in Atlanta I enjoy, but at the end of the day, Nothing competes with my mother’s home cooking.

 

Here are recipes for Jollof rice and English breakfast  for anyone who wants to try

 

 

 

Blog 1: A New Classic

Food is a powerful tool. It is around the dinner table that many meetings take place, around the lunch table that stories are shared and around the breakfast table that plans are made. It is something that brings people from around the world together, a common desire to enjoy and savor great food. Having been born and raised in Franklin Lakes, NJ, I have always been exposed to a wide variety of culture and foods. As an Indian family, Indian food is the cuisine of choice in our household but it encompasses more than just the average rice and curry. Of course, the classics of my mother’s fish curry and rice are what I immediately think of when I think of home cooked food. This fish curry (Chapala pulusu) dates back to my family’s roots on the Godavari River of Andhra Pradesh. However other dishes such as tamarind glazed ribs, represent my family in the present as an American family that enjoys American traditions while adding our own Indian twist. Last but certainly not least is chicken biryani which represents a true Indian classic with the potential to be endlessly customized. All these dishes have molded me into the person I am today through their broad backgrounds and influences.

Fish Curry

When I look at myself and the qualities that I possess, I can see a bit of each of these dishes in who I am. That may sound a bit far-fetched, but this food really represents me. For starters, the fish curry represents my heritage. When I go away to college for months and come back home, it is the first thing that I want to eat. It is something that provides me with a sense of familiarity and security that is rooted in hundreds of years culture and heritage. Growing up, this was always my favorite dish as the flavors felt authentic and connected me back to their origin. The curry has a tangy almost sour taste that is supported by classic Indian heat. Put together, this unique combination creates a dish that is second to none in my opinion. Whenever I come home from college, there is always warm fish curry and rice waiting for me, which is a tradition I hope never ends.

Tamarind Glazed Baby-Back Ribs

Meanwhile, the tamarind glazed ribs represent a different side of me. Growing up in America and having friends from all different cultures, I was always introduced to many different kinds of food. An American classic that I fell in love with was BBQ glazed baby-back ribs. Ribs are not a staple in the average Indian diet, in fact they are quite a rare occurrence. However, in my family those ribs became a favorite. But these are not your average ribs that you get in any restaurant, as they have an Indian twist. Tamarind is common ingredient in many Indian dishes and its addition to the ribs took them to the next level. This take on an American classic truly represents my family at its core as a group of people who proudly enjoy our Indian culture while embracing other cultures and putting them altogether in the ‘Melting Pot’ that is America. We are not afraid to venture outside of our comfort zone and gladly try new things while adding our own personal touch along the way.

Chicken Biryani

Chicken biryani is a dish that has no comparison in my opinion. The dish itself is made up of rice, chicken, onions, and a multitude of spices that flow perfectly with each other. It is a relatively simple dish, but this simplicity allows for great creativity. There is no singular way to make chicken biryani, there is a difference in each and every one that you try. This dish reminds me of my dad and my cousins as we can all agree that chicken biryani is one of our favorite dishes. While I was growing up we would drive all over looking for the best biryani we could find. No distance was too far and we would not stop until we found the perfect one. To this day, we continue those journeys looking for the next best one. The time we have all shared together along the way has been priceless but more importantly it has all been tied to this dish. Lastly this dish represents a multicultural influence that can been seen as biryani is not solely an Indian dish. There are versions of it across the world. For example, last year I ate African biryani in Zanzibar. The different takes on this dish are unifying as it illustrates that no matter the different perspectives on the dish, in the end it is still same at the core.

Atlanta is a very diverse city. On any given street, you have access to several different cuisines from around the world. One ethnic community that I am familiar with is the Indian community that is actually quite close to Emory’s campus. This Indian community mirrors my family background as it has a combination of classics and new age variants. There is no shortage of classic Indian cuisine where one can find the staples in Indian diets. However, there are also up and coming new age restaurants that have modern takes on classic dishes, much like the tamarind glazed ribs. One example is Masti, a restaurant that serves “Indian Street Food”. They serve dishes such as “Masala Fries” which are a spicy new take on an American classic. This dish and many more serve to illustrate that the Indian community of Atlanta is filled with both food and people that have classic roots from which they are branching out to reach new levels. While the Indian community is the one that I am the most familiar with, I know that there are many different ethnic communities that are thriving all over the city. Perhaps one of the best representations of this is Ponce City Market (PCM). The food hall within PCM has almost every single cuisine you can think of and serves to illustrate that Atlanta has a basis for many different ethnic communities. This diversity is unparalleled and provides a unique opportunity for people to have an appetizer in one part of the world, entrée in another, and dessert in yet another. It has been a goal of mine to try something from every single restaurant in PCM and hopefully I will complete it this year.

My family and Atlanta are very similar, two groups that have a strong classic core but at the same time are not afraid to branch out and try new things.

Here are some recipes for the dishes I mentioned above:

Tamarind Glazed Ribs: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/nagaland-house-ribs-with-tamarind-glaze

Fish Curry (this is just one of many different recipes): https://indianhealthyrecipes.com/fish-curry-recipe/

Chicken Biryani (this is just one of many different recipes): https://dinnerthendessert.com/chicken-biryani/

Here are the links to some of the restaurants I mentioned above:

Masti: http://www.mastiatlanta.com/

Ponce City Market: http://poncecitymarket.com/

Blog Post 1: Roots

Many South Asians tie their cultural experience to the food that they’ve grown up with, and I am no different. While my cultural identity is definitely represented in the foods that I’ve eaten, my family’s own very unique expressions are also shown in specific dishes that we choose to enjoy. Like many South Indians, I enjoyed unique foods that were filled with spice – some of these included dahi vada (lentils soaked in yogurt), puchidi (a type of pounded and often pickled food, ground into a paste), and pesarattu (similar to green crepes). Eating these foods always enabled me to connect back to my culture – whenever I travelled to India, I would see these dishes being made on the streets, cooked in homes, and generally being enjoyed by people everywhere. While my family did make all of these dishes, there were a few that I ate almost everyday. These included sambar (lentil stew) and rice, dosa (crepe), and perrugu (yogurt) rice. These dishes are not uncommon at all in South India, however my family ate them with every meal, which is unique. I found that while eating South Indian food in general at home let me connect back to my culture and my experience as a South Asian American, the foods that I ate specifically with my parents on a regular basis allowed me to stay close to my familial roots.

 

Similarly to many students in college, I continue to eat South Asian (specifically South Indian food) because it reminds me of my home and experiences that I had while growing up. Perhaps what I find most interesting is that when I eat food that I would usually eat with my parents, it makes me reflect not only on gastronomic experiences, but a wide variety of events that I’ve had and been through that involved food! For example, whenever I eat chicken tikka masala (a north Indian food), I am reminded of the same delicious dish that was served at my cousin’s wedding in 2010. While this dish is often prepared similarly from home to home, most families add a special touch. At the wedding, a secret family recipe was used (to this day, I’m not sure what went into the dish!), but it was delicious, and all the guests who were in attendance continue to rave about it. Similarly, eating dosas (similar to crepes) reminds me of the summers that I would spend in India. Waking up early to avoid the heat, I would go along with my grandfather to pick up foods at them market. My parents never wanted me to eat outside of the house at India, but not realizing the risks, I would always beg my grandfather for a fresh dosa on the way home. By continuing to eat all these different foods, I am not only staying in touch with my familial and cultural roots – I am also connecting with experiences, moments, and people that have shaped me.

Chicken Tikka Masala

The ethnic community that I am most familiar with in the Atlanta area is the Indian community. Atlanta is a sprawling city, and therefore, Indian families are often spread miles and miles apart. While it is rare to see most of the Indian population in the city at any one given event, several events put on by regional Indian groups (such as the Telugu Association of Atlanta, for example) draw thousands of Indians that hail from specific parts of India. Atlanta is also a great city to explore the diversity that exists within India itself; families in the area hail from all over India. While all of these families share a common thread in their cultural heritage, they each have individual traditions and regionally-based traditions that shape them, their practices, and the food they cook. This is especially demonstrated by the Indian restaurants in the Atlanta area. Restaurants such as Madras Mantra showcase South Indian food. Cafe Bombay and others cook mostly North Indian food, while locations such as Masti focus on a fusion. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to interact with the peoples and foods of so many different Indian communities around the Atlanta area, and I’ve learned so much about myself and my roots through the process!

dosa

 

Links to recipes/photos of mentioned foods:

Dahi Vada: https://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/dahi-vada-recipe/

Puchidi: https://food.ndtv.com/recipe-pineapple-pachadi-260471

Pesarattu: https://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/moong-dal-dosa-pesarattu-a-cripsy-dosa-made-from-moong-dal/

Sambar: https://indianhealthyrecipes.com/andhra-sambar-recipe-how-to-make-south-indian-sambar/

Dosa:

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017153-classic-masala-dosa

Perrugu: https://indianhealthyrecipes.com/curd-rice-recipe/

Chicken Tikka Masala: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/45736/chicken-tikka-masala/

 

Inspired by the King of the Kitchen

I firmly believe that my dad is the king of the kitchen. My strong bond with my father came from our shared love for food and his passion for cooking whatever I asked for each and every night. He adored the fact that I had a good appetite, or in our class we would say I had a “buona bocca.” He would always try to cook up something new in order to teach me about not only our own Indian culture, but various cultures across the world. If you ask me what my favorite food is, I’ll probably just say, “Anything my dad cooks.” Anyways, I feel that it is only appropriate to start off my writing journey in this class with his impact on my fascination of diverse foods. Three dishes that have become vital to my growth as an individual and to my family are dosas with unique chutneys, mutton biriyani, and mangai pachadi. Each one of these dishes play a specific role in how my family celebrates and shares our culture with one another. 

Dosa and chutney is a staple dish in India. It is a comfort food across the nation and something that can be eaten at any time of the day. Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of this dish, but it plays an extremely important factor in how I display my pride about my country, and I continue to cherish every bite. When I was seven years old, my father decided to singlehandedly run a dosa stand at a street food fair in New York City, NY. I remember standing outside the stand in a white apron, raising my finger up, yelling, “One dollar dosas! Enjoy some one dollar dosas!” It was the first time that I displayed my pride for my culture and heritage. That has been something that I struggled with my whole life, until I came to college and fully embraced my identity as Emory’s Indian Cultural Exchange President. 

Image result for dosa and chutney

Mutton biriyani is a dish that combines many different flavors and aromas from various places across India and Pakistan. It is collectively my family’s favorite dish to make and eat. I know that every time I come home from college, I’ll walk into the kitchen filled with the yummy smells of the mustard, saffron, and marinated meat. My love for biriyani also taught me to explore the different ways a dish can be made. Since biriyani has so many influences, different people make it with their own twist. My family loves to explore the unique flavors because it shares each individual’s story. I continue to eat and savor this dish, because I never know exactly what to expect depending who made the dish and that definitely keeps me excited. 

Image result for mutton biryani

Finally, mangai pachadi is a sweet, Tamilian meal that my father is known for being the best at making. All our family friends come to our home just to eat this amazing platter. It is actually quite a rare dish, but that makes it even more special to me. My father always packs me bottles of this mango delicacy every semester for college. I eat so much of it, especially during times when I need to be comforted. This is a true representation of my Tamil background, but more importantly it reminds me of my supportive family back home. 

Image result for mangai pachadi

I have not yet had the opportunity to explored the ethnic communities in Atlanta, but I am extremely involved with the Indian students across campus through both ICE and my Bollywood a cappella group, Suri. We all bond together through trips to Patel Plaza in Decatur for chaat or heading over to Zyka for some warm naans and butter chicken. It is our way of staying connected to our culture, but also each other. Food plays the important role of bringing people together and this is only the beginning to my journey. All these family run Indian restaurants and stores deliver a small piece of home and familiarity to students like me. They were like my aunties and uncles, always trying to feed me and it was comforting having food similar to home. I even brought this part of me to campus to cater ICE events and to share a part of my culture and tradition to Emory University. I hope that through this class I will be able to explore more about Chinese and Italian culture, and I am so excited to discover more about myself and others through food. 

Blog Post 1: I am what I eat.

‘A woman’s place is in the kitchen’ this saying holds true in my household, but what’s also true is that all the men are right there cooking alongside them. Every three months we have a family tradition where my grandparents come over to our house and bring copious amounts of food along with them, we call it ‘The Potluck Sunday Brunch’. My paternal grandmother brings her famous butter gravy, a dish she learnt to make from her father in the culinary capital of India- Amritsar. My maternal grandfather cooks his famous fish curry, macher jhol, a dish he cooked for his family when his job took him to the seafood hub that is the city of Kolkata. My father and sister prepare their innovative take on the Indo-Chinese dish chili chicken. Finally, my maternal grandmother and uncle, who have a mutual love for anything and everything sweet, put together an exquisite dessert which is more often than not bread pudding. I on the other hand always create a new dish, which reflects my label ‘the adventurous eater’ in the family. These dishes are more than just food to my relatives and me, they reflect our history and culture.

 बटर ग्रेवी (Butter Gravy with Chicken)

I remember before coming to college I pestered my grandmother to teach me how to make butter gravy, so she told me to observe her while she prepared the meal. First she browned off garlic, onions, green chilies and tomatoes in a pan. She then thickened the curry by adding cream, and finally finished the dish by throwing in a plethora of Indian spices into the sizzling pot. The aromas in the kitchen transported me to the streets of Punjab and the smile on my grandmothers’ face made me suspicious that she was right there with me. I inquired “Why do you look so happy?” she laughed and told me that every time she made this dish it took her back to her childhood, she felt like a little girl running through the cornfields of her fathers’ estate. Further this was a way for her to fondly remember my great-grandfather, who passed away a few years ago. By the time the dish was ready both my grandmother and I were wiping tears from our eyes, but we blamed it on the spices.

 मछेर झोल (Macher Jhol)

The next dish on my culinary journey was the turmeric yellow, mustard fish curry my grandfather would make. While collecting the recipe from him, my curious nature got the best of me, and I asked him what made the dish so special for him. He hesitated at first, but succumbed to my questions and told me that during his primitive days of working in a new state he wasn’t the most prosperous man. He couldn’t afford the simple luxury of nourishing his family, and was consequently forced to feed them macher jhol and rice for weeks at a time because of its inexpensive nature. He recalled how much he detested the dish at the time, however when his business began flourishing he craved that very plate of food. It was a way for him to connect to his roots and be reminded of his simple background. I left his house that day not just with a recipe for fish curry, but with a great appreciation for my grandfather and his struggles and a deeper connection with my humble ancestry.

 ब्रेड पुडिंग (Bread Pudding)

Later in the year, my uncle and his mother asked me to serve everyone the bread pudding they had baked earlier in the day. As I cut into to the dish I was surprised to find a note attached to a frayed piece of paper, on further discovery I realized that it was the recipe for the bread pudding. The accompanying letter explained how this recipe had been in the family for generations and that it had started of simply with bread, eggs, milk and sugar. It further read that every time the recipe was passed down to someone they had the opportunity to add a new ingredient to it. This was evident through the different inks and handwritings of the names of the ingredients; my sister had added the most recent element, her favorite, toasted almond shavings. After numerous hours of pondering I took the bold decision of adding peppers to the dessert much to the dismay of my sweet toothed grandmother. By the simple action of jotting down the words ‘Red Chili Powder’ on a tattered piece of paper I felt united with a lineage of people, relatives like my great-grandmother who I hadn’t even met in the course of my life.

 चिली चिकन (Chilli Chicken)

These may unassumingly be dishes for some people, but for me they define who I am as a person. I’m an amalgamation of North and West India represented by the Punjabi butter gravy from my father’s side and Bengali fish curry from my maternal pedigree. I feel a connection to my grandmother every time I taste the robust crimson tomato gravy and to my grandfather when I gather the produce to cook his notoriously spicy yellow rohu curry. It also helps me internalize all the knowledge they passed on to me throughout the formative years of my life. They provide a means for me to connect to my roots and my culture even when I am a thousand miles away from my homeland. Dishes like the Indo-Chinese chicken my father makes impart some more implicit knowledge, by helping me embrace two different cultures at once; My inherited Indianity and my adopted Americanness. When I feel lost, I read the recipe of the bread pudding and am reminded that I’m a part of a bigger whole. The sweet dessert with a dash of spices is also a reflection of who I am as a person and just as the pudding is altered by the individuals they are passed down to, I am shaped by the people I meet throughout my life. There’s also the fact that they are delicious and full of spices which make them easy and enjoyable to eat.

When it comes to ethnic communities in Atlanta I don’t have an abundance of experience, but I have been to Patel Plaza a Gujrati dominated market in Church Street, Decatur. While the people in this community are generous and play a vital role in alleviating the feeling of homesickness, I can’t say the same about the food. The food is inherently sweet and, in their defense, I’m a picky eater who loves spicy food. The combination of the two puts me in a disposition to dislike the food. However, I am open to new experiences and discovering more communities and foods to fall in love with in the metropolitan city of Atlanta. If that fails, I can always fall back on the option of carrying hot sauce to these restaurants.

 Patel Plaza

 Chai Patti (Indian restaurant)

I’m attaching a video of a step by step guide on making butter chicken. You can remove the chicken if you want to eat butter gravy (it’s way better in my opinion). Also add some more red peppers if you like spicy food!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a03U45jFxOI

Blog 1: The Significance of Food in my Life

I spent most of my childhood in Bangalore, India, and the first type of cuisine I was introduced to was South Indian. I used to wake up every morning around 6:30 to the sounds of birds chirping and my mother soft voice telling me it’s time to get up. Once I got out of bed and got ready, I would go downstairs and say a short prayer before going to the kitchen for breakfast. I would greet my grandparents, who would be drinking their morning cup of coffee. Then I would eat breakfast while talking to them. The usual breakfast would a dosa – a thin savory pancake that is often served with sambar, a vegetable stew, chutney, and potatoes. 

dosa

Then I would catch the bus and head to school. When my parents got home from work, we would usually have a family meal that my mom would have prepared. My favorite meal that my mom cooks for dinner is peas pulao – a rice dish that is similar to a rice pilaf. Unlike dosas, peas pulao is a North Indian dish.

Peas Pulao

I am South Indian, and the food that my family eats is usually lentil based stews and rice. Compared to south Indian food, North Indian cuisine usually consists of bread, curry, and rice with vegetables called pulao or biryani. When I moved to Georgia, I was exposed to many different kinds of food and would not eat a lot of Indian food; however, whenever I missed India my mom would make me a good Indian meal. Eating dosas or peas pulao took me back to the time I spent in India and provided me with a rich sense of culture and made me feel connected to my family heritage.

I eat traditional South Indian dishes such as dosas  because it gives me a strong sense of of oneness with my culture, and it takes me back to the time where I was living with my family and I was a carefree child. Eating Indian food growing up gave me a sense of identity. When I went to school in India, people would bring food similar to mine, but when I came here the food I brought to school was different than what other people would bring. This introduced me to the idea of how the food you eat connects you to other people. In high school, I invited my friends to my house and cooked peas pulao using my mother’s recipe with them. It was one of my best days because I could share a part of my culture with someone who hadn’t been exposed to it. Eating dosa and peas pulao is very significant for me because it takes me back to my time in India wherever in the world I am, and it reminds me of time when I was with my family. It also is food that I come back to, like soul food. These foods not only have cultural significance, they also have personal significance. Since my family is vegetarian, our options for food is more limited. For us, my mom’s peas pulao has become a thanksgiving tradition. Therefore, food that are connected to my culture, such as dosas and peas pulao have become our connection to India even though we live in the United States now.

Even though I have lived in the Georgia for about nine years, I haven’t really gone into the city and explored the ethnic communities in Atlanta. Before coming to Emory, I wasn’t really exposed to the different cultures and ethnicity around me as I was in a very small school. After coming to Emory and making friends with people of many cultures and backgrounds,  I have learned more about the different foods around me. When my friends and I visited Ponce City Market, we were amazed with all the food options there was and we were eager to eat foods from different cultures. I tried Ramen noodles for the first time with my best friend, and we enjoyed it thoroughly.  I remember last semester in my Italian 102 class, my professor, Gary Waters, spoke about the large Italian community in Atlanta. Since then, I have wanted to go to some authentic Italian restaurants in the Atlanta area, but I haven’t gotten the chance to do so yet. Whenever I miss Indian food and am tried of the DUCling, my friends and I make a trip to Patel Plaza that has many Indian Vegetarian options.  During my first year at Emory, I didn’t get the chance to explore the ethnic communities in Atlanta as much, but I hope to visit many more restaurants during my sophomore year at Emory. 

Here are the recipes if you are interested in making Dosa or Peas Pulao

Thank you for reading!

Food as a Shield and a Weapon

Food is an extremely important of my own personal life because it has always represented something more meaningful than the nourishing physical effect that it has on my body. Despite the fact that food is one of the basic necessities that humans need to continue operating their body, there are symbolic and emotional meanings that have slowly developed over the course of my life and have ultimately attached them to the meals that I eat. They ultimately have become a part of who I am as a person, drawing me closer to the people that I call my family and friends, while also contributing to both my cultural background and my personal interpretations of that culture. Choosing to eat the food ultimately impacts my life by first reinforcing the identity that my collective experiences and relationships have defined for myself and second by allowing me to continue a process of growth and development as I gain more of these experiences and relationships.

My life is one that is characterised by a large amount of travel and exposure to new and exciting cultures, all of which possess different types and classes of food. The idea of remaining static in a single location is not one that appeals to me, due to the immeasurable opportunities that remain unexplored. As a result of this, the foods that are important to me closely mirror this dynamic nature, pulling heavily from the various cultural experiences and unique relationships that I have slowly accrued throughout my life. The very foundation of my experience and identity is closely tied to my Indian upbringing, having been born and raised there and having parents that are both from the country. The stereotypical understanding of foods originating from this area is limited to the idea of a spicy curry paired with the most famous of rotis, the naan. However, to simply apply this broad brush to the multitude of gravies and sauces that constitute the food that I ate at home, a significant number of which did not even incorporate the curry leaf ingredient from which curry receives its name, fails to do justice to the food. The rich creaminess of a perfectly cooked palak paneer (homemade farmer cheese stewed in spinach-based gravy) or the interplay between the sweetness, nuttiness, and bitterness of methi malai mutter (fenugreek-flavoured green pea stew) showcase just how complex and intricate the flavours can be, contradicting the diluted cultural representation of Indian food present outside the country. These are supplemented by rotis of every size and shape, ranging from the layered and oily paratha to the oversized crepe-like dosa, all of which put the simple naan to shame. However, despite the special place that these foods hold in my heart, they do not successfully represent the entirety of my identity. One cannot deny the special importance that I place on foods like takeout pizza and burritos, simply because being a college student in the United States is such an important aspect of my current identity and personal culture. Overall, it is the unique combination of foods from cultures all over the world that I have visited and absorbed that represent my friends, family, and personal identity.

Foods that are important to me achieve this status because they hearken back to certain experiences, emotions, friends, or family that are an integral part of who I am as a person. The ability to draw on this unique characteristic associated with the food that I am consuming is the main reason that I choose to eat them. Depending on what sort of experience I am attempting to draw out, I might choose to look for a place that serves a truly authentic palak paneer in the hopes of establishing a connection to my home and family, during the times that I am feeling down or homesick. This reinforcement helps me stay true to the identity that I have developed for myself, maintaining the connections to people and values I care about. However, my decision to eat certain foods also stems from a supplementary impact that the act of consumption can have on my collective identity. The desire to push boundaries and grow is one that can be achieved through a similar process, due to the tight hold that eating food has on how I define myself. This two-fold ability to either reinforce certain aspects of my identity during times of strife by consuming the familiar or to push myself outside my comfort zone to promote growth by exploring different foods and the cultures that are responsible for them is the main significance of these foods for me. Additionally, the constant redefinition of what foods are important to me that comes about as a result is reflective of the constant changes in my life as I face new experiences and build new relationships.

My most recent set of experiences have revolved heavily around the time that I have spent here in Atlanta, which has resulted in an entirely new set of foods that have developed an importance to me and contributed to my identity. The two main sets of ethnic cuisines and communities that have made a significant impact on me whilst in Atlanta are Korean and Ethiopian. Korean food is currently experiencing an explosion in the United States, which in turn has caused the community to spread out throughout the entire nation. The experiences that I have had with these individuals has been extremely eye-opening because of the unique way KBBQ is served and consumed. Furthermore, the times that I have spent at these restaurants, along with the interactions throughout the university with Korean international students, have given me glimpses into their culture that help provide context towards the food that I am eating. The new experiences that I had while eating these foods are examples of times when the food I eat pushes me outside my comfort zone so as to promote development in my identity. An interesting note that I have to make regarding this specific community has to do with the way that the Korean food that has gained popularity in the US, especially the KBBQ restaurants that I visit all the time, does not represent the actual food consumed back in Korea. There is a clear parallel to my own experiences with the Indian curries that individuals outside of India believe constitutes the cuisine. On the other hand, the connection to Ethiopian cuisine and community instead focuses on the long-standing relationship that has always existed between their foods and the foods of my homeland. It is hard to describe the elation that I felt when I realised that I could order injera, a floppy cake barely distinguishable from the dosas I ordered back home, at a corner restaurant. This ethnic community and my experiences with them are examples of a time where foods instead reinforce the identity that I have already established, providing me with support whenever I need it.

 

Recipes

Palak Paneer

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spinach (fresh or frozen), chopped
  • 2 cups paneer cubed
  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot green chili minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger minced
  • 15 cashews
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Add cashews to milk and blend together to make a smooth paste. Keep aside.
  2. Add ghee after heating the pot up.
  3. Add cumin seeds, ginger, garlic and green chili. Saute for 1 minute. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring a few times.
  4. Add chopped spinach, salt and 1 cup of water. Close Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing.
  5. For frozen spinach – Manual on high pressure for 1 minute, For fresh spinach – Manual on high pressure for 0 minutes
  6. Quick release the pressure when time is up. Turn Instant Pot to Saute and adjust to “less”, this will stop the spinach puree from splattering all over.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of water (optional) and blend to make smooth paste using immersion blender.
  8. Add cashew paste, garam masala and paneer. Gently stir everything together.
  9. Serve hot with rice or parathas. Enjoy!

Recipe by Archana Mundhe at https://recipes.instantpot.com/recipe/palak-paneer/

 

Methi Malai Mutter

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chopped fenugreek (methi) leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 cup green peas
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • oil
  • salt to taste
  • To be ground into a paste
  • 4 green chillies
  • 2 tbsp cashewnuts (kaju)
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds (khus-khus)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

Instructions

  1. Make a paste out of green chillies,cashewnuts,poppy seeds and ginger garlic paste by adding some water.
  2. Wash the methi leaves, chop them and add salt. Keep them aside.
  3. In a pan heat oil.
  4. Add cumin seeds and onions. Sauté onions till translucent.
  5. Make puree of tomatoes and add to the onions. Let it cook for 5 mins.
  6. Add the poppy seeds & cashewnuts paste.
  7. Mix well and add garam masala and salt powder.
  8. Now add fenugreek leaves and green peas.
  9. Mix everything well.
  10. Finally add cream and let it cook for 10 mins.
  11. Serve with hot rotis.

Recipe by Anita Mokashi at http://honestcooking.com/methi-matar-malai-recipe/

 

Paratha

 

Ingredients

  • 2 1⁄2 cups whole wheat flour (Whole meal flour or Chapati Atta)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • lukewarm water, to knead the dough

Instructions

  1. Take a mixing bowl, add flour 2 cups of flour. keep 1/2 cup aside for mixing the dough.
  2. Put salt and mix it well with flour.
  3. Knead the dough with lukewarm water. Make a soft dough.
  4. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.
  5. Take little dough. Make a ball same size as golf ball.
  6. Take a rolling pin. Make a small dough arounf 2″ diameter.
  7. Apply butter, fold it, apply butter again and then fold it again to form a triangle shape.
  8. Roll the dough to make it around 5″ diameter.
  9. Heat griddle and cook the dough for about a minute.
  10. Take some oil in spoon and spread on edges of pratha on griddle.
  11. Flip the paratha and cook other side. Cook for about a minute.
  12. Flip it again, apply some oil on top. Flip again and cook for about 30 seconds.
  13. Serve hot yogurt and mango pickle or with any main course dish.

From GeniusKitchen by cook334446 at http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/simple-plain-paratha-369771

 

Dosa

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cup rice (chawal)
  • 1 cup split black gram lentil (urad ki dhuli dal)
  • 1 tsp salt (namak)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (dana methi)
  • oil as required

Instructions

  1. Soak rice, dal and dana methi for 6 hours.
  2. Then grind them to a fine thin batter by adding little water.
  3. Add salt to it and leave it covered for 12 hours for fermentation.
  4. Now heat a non-stick tawa (fry pan) and spread 1 tbsp of the batter on the whole of the pan.
  5. Grease all the corners and then cook it on the other side also.
  6. Put little water on the tawa and wipe it with a clean cloth before making each dosa.
  7. Serve them hot with hot sambhar and chutney.

From Indian Food Forever at http://www.indianfoodforever.com/indian-breakfast/plain-dosa.html