indian street food

19 Jun

At the cookbook fair in the beautiful 104 (once Paris’ state morgue!) there were a mix of heavily mediatised chefs, modest cookbook authors, talented photographers and nervous Cordon Bleu students as demonstration helpers.

One Finnish photographer was promoting her stunning concept of “visual recipes”: a wide shot of all the ingredients and different steps laid out in the same frame. Creme brulee, hand rolled pasta, houmous, she made classic recipes into a careful design piece. There was an English chap who makes landscapes out of broccoli and smoked salmon most famous for his panoramic view of London, a watermelon St Paul’s. (He said only the Brits recognised the Curly Wurlys on his Eiffel Tower.)

Around lunchtime we found a spot at the demonstrations. Two Indians – the equivalent of the Hairy Bikers – were tossing large handfuls of puffed rice and cucumber, sharp chili sauce and mustard oil. They threw everything together with their hands, piled it into newspaper cones to serve and stressed the importance of making a MESS while cooking as well as involving all the senses. It was certainly a performance and a half. I scribbled down:

  • puffed rice
  • diced onion and boiled potato
  • tamarind chutney
  • jaggery (sugar cane juice)
  • green curry paste (made with coriander and mint)
  • cumin, red chili powder, rock salt
  • papri (wheatbread crackers deep fried with cumin)
  • lemon juice
  • coriander

Mixed together in generous handfuls with huge spoonfuls of spices, it was unlike any Indian food I had tried – light and sweet and clear burning hot, all with a satisfying crunch. No recipe, just trial and error. To finish, a cashew and condensed milk sweet to relieve the taste buds from the fierce chili. (They said they only used a fifth of normal Indian quantities!)

Now to hunt down some papri and jaggery…

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