Author Topic: Nirmal’s Is Cooking 1,000-Year-Old Indian Recipes The Indian restaurant collabor  (Read 685 times)

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Offline tempest63

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I saw this article on Apple News and thought it may be of interest to some of those here. Indian with no chilli or potatoes? Makes you think.

Since it opened in 2015, Nirmal’s has been trying to expand what Seattleites imagine when they think of “Indian food.” Every two months the Pioneer Square restaurant rotates its menu to highlight a different Indian state, and in that process owner Oliver Bangera winds up doing a fair amount of research into not just the composition of dishes, but the history behind them. For instance, the Kashmiri dish rogan josh has no onion or garlic because it was served to the king of Kashmir, who as a Kashmiri Brahman did not eat onion or garlic, Bangera says. So much of Indian cuisine contains lineages like that, stretching back through the country’s millennia-long history.

On Monday, March 18, Nirmal’s will make its first attempt at excavating some of that history with Pangat, a dinner that features dishes that would have been eaten 1,000 years ago, or at least the restaurant’s best attempt at replicating them.

To achieve this, Bangera worked with culinary historian Andrea Gutiérrez, a professor at the University of Austin, who spent hours translating recipes in Sanskrit and other old languages into recipes Nirmal’s team could use. Sometimes, Bangera says, this meant turning something that was more like a “description of a dish” into a recipe; it also meant converting whatever units of measurement the 11th-century chefs were using into the metric system.

Bangera tells Eater Seattle that he wasn’t sure if the dining public would share his interest in history, but the response was overwhelming — 100 tickets to Pangat sold out in a day, prompting Nirmal’s to release 20 more tickets, which also got snapped up. “I was floored,” the owner says.

Diners will be encountering an unfamiliar version of Indian food, one that predates contact with the Americas and therefore doesn’t have a lot of ingredients that are now central to the cuisine. “One thousand years ago we did not have chilies in India. And we didn’t have potatoes in India. We didn’t have tomatoes in India. No cauliflower, no cabbage, no carrots, no peas, no peanuts. No cashew nuts,” Bangera says. “None of those existed 1,000 years ago [in India]. Imagine Indian food without chiles!” Samosas, which today are often filled with vegetables like potatoes and peas, “were strictly a meat dish” in the 11th century, he says.

“There’s this illusion today that so much Indian food is vegetarian,” Gutiérrez tells Eater Seattle. In fact, a lot of the food at the time was marinated in yogurt and fried in ghee; because of this, Pangat will not be able to accomadate vegans. There will be a lot of vegetables used for this meal, however, like eggplant, pumpkin, unripe mango, and unripe jackfruit, all of which are native to India. Cumin, coriander, and long pepper — fruitier than its cousin black pepper — will provide spice.

Gutiérrez says that in India, it’s relatively common for high-end restaurants to do “popular renditions” of historical dishes. “But nobody who prepares that stuff is actually a historian,” she says. “They’re just kind of making it up as they go along.” It’s not possible to completely replicate the food that would have been eaten 1,000 years ago, especially on an entirely different continent where the vegetables will inevitably taste different, but Nirmal’s is making a good-faith effort, she says.

Bangera plans to continue putting on events that highlight historical dishes. He’d love to do a “palace dinner” based on what would have been eaten by Indian royalty, or a dinner focusing on what soldiers on military campaigns would have eaten, or what an Ayurvedic diet would have looked like in the 11th century. Nirmal’s will also reproduce this dinner when Gutiérrez’s book comes out in a couple of years.
“The goal is not to stop here but to keep exploring,” Bangera says.

By Harry Cheadle | March 5, 2024 3:43 pm

Offline Peripatetic Phil

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Quote
it also meant converting whatever units of measurement the 11th-century chefs were using into the metric system.

Now that is a surprise — I thought that Americans were inextricably wedded to measuring ingredients in cups (etc) and had no idea what a millilitre (sorry, Americans — milliliter) or gram was ...
« Last Edit: March 25, 2024, 05:25 PM by Peripatetic Phil »


Offline tempest63

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I must admit that when I copy a recipe that is not metric into Pages, I usually convert everything into metric as I go, though there are a few exceptions.
This way when I share a recipe with friends and family it saves them the trouble of converting it themselves.

Offline Peripatetic Phil

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Would you do that even for something as commonplace as (e.g.,) "a pint of milk", T63 ?  And if so, would you approximate it as [570 ml], or be as exact as you can [568.26125 ml] ?


Offline tempest63

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Would you do that even for something as commonplace as (e.g.,) "a pint of milk", T63 ?  And if so, would you approximate it as [570 ml], or be as exact as you can [568.26125 ml] ?

No I wouldn’t for a pint. Neither would I convert an inch of root ginger into CM. Both of those measures are still commonly used in the U.K.
Weights I would convert into metric and cup quantities I would convert into ml etc.

Online Robbo141

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I’m a covert to some of the US measures, purely for convenience. The cup, 1/2 cup etc is so easy to use.  Not keen on the use of ounces though. And don’t get me started on water freezing at 32 degrees…

Robbo


 

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