Chicken tandori masala

22 Jul

I just had my first experience with Indian food, on a restaurant called Raja Rani (Friedrichstrasse, 15, Heidelberg/Germany) and, although I don’t have any parameter for a fair comparison, I enjoyed it. The chosen dish to start this experience was the famous chicken tandori masala.

Raji Rani, place of my first experience with India food

Raji Rani, place of my first experience with Indian food

I’m quite sure everyone knows what a chicken is, although I can’t even imagine how many do know that it’s a member of the Phasianidae family of the species Gallus gallus.  Anyway, I’ll not waste my time (or yours) talking about that. On the other hand, I’m also not sure of how many of you do know the meaning of either “tandori” or “masala”.

Tandori refers to a traditional way of preparing food in several Middle East countries, as well as in India and Bangladesh.  It’s based on the “tandoor”, a cylindrical vertical clay oven where the heat is generated by charcoal or wood fire. That’s where the traditional chicken tandori is cooked.

Masala is a mixture of spices, with variations throughout India, usually containing cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, chili and turmeric (curcuma) yellow.  In this case it’s a mixture used to cook in the tandoor, hence, “tandori masala”.

For this dish, typical of the Punjabi cuisine, the chicken is covered with a mixture of yogurt and the tandoori masala, and then slowly roasted in the tandoor.

It’s usually served with Basmati rice, a long grain delicate rice grown mainly in India and Pakistan.

Chicken tandori masala over Basmati rice

Chicken tandori masala over Basmati rice

I really enjoyed the dish, the chicken was tender and the sauce full of taste.  It mixed quite well with the Basmati rice, kind of breaking its natural delicate taste.  The price was also quite interesting, around US$ 5,00 for a small portion, which was more than enough for a single person.

Tandoori Chicken on Foodista
Indian Masala on Foodista
Tandoor Cooking on FoodistaTandoor Cooking

Das bier

21 Jul

It seems there’s no agreement concerning where or when beer was created.  Most evidence points towards the Sumerians, in the Iraq region, some 6,000 years ago, but some historians place the beginning of this history in China, around 1,000 years later. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of agreement concerning one point, the Germans are the modern kings of beer.

Beer is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea (take a look at Wikipedia). Basically, beer resembles bread, as it’s a product of cereal grains starch fermentation.  Any cereal?  Yes, virtually any cereal can be used, like wheat, corn, rice or barley (the most common one). Other agents and herbs, like the flowers of the hop vine (Humulus lupulus), may be used as preservatives and flavouring agents (H. lupulus adds a distinctive bitterness).  Want some additional and nutritional information?  Take a look at “Beer is liquid bread?“.

I’m not much of a beer drinker, but while in Germany I just can’t resist the temptation.  My favorite type of beer is based on wheat as the starch source (“weiss bier” or “weizen”), and I prefer it with the yeast (“hefe”).  I also don’t enjoy it too bitter, thus a little extra malt makes sense for me (the beer becomes darker though – “dunkel”).  In conclusion, when I order a beer in Germany I usually ask for a “dunkel Hefeweissbier”. Alles klar?

Two of the best ones I had in Heidelberg are produced by Vetter (Brauhaus Vetter, Steingasse, 9) and Sanwald, which I had in a place called Bierkrug (Hauptstrasse, 147).

Brauhaus Veter

Brauhaus Vetter

Dunkel Hefeweissbier

Vetter Dunkel Hefeweissbier

Bierkrug on Heidelberg main street (Hauptstrasse)

Bierkrug on Heidelberg main street (Hauptstrasse)

Sanwald dunkel Hefeweizen

Sanwald dunkel Hefeweizen

A few things might go together well with these beers, among them the original German “bratwurst”, from brät meaning “finely chopped” and wurst meaning “sausage” (no, it’s not related to the German verb “braten”, meaning to roast or to grill, although even most Germans think it does – take a look at “Brät” ). Pork is a traditional meat in bratwurst, although beef and veal may also be used. It is heavily spiced with things like marjoran, cardamon, nutmeg, pepper, and other regional ingredients, what makes it perfect to be followed by a nice beer.

"Bratwurst mit Senf" (Bratwurst with mustard)

"Bratwurst mit Senf" (Bratwurst with mustard)

Beer on Foodista

Gyros or döner kebab?

20 Jul

Around 17 years ago, when I had the opportunity of working in Germany as a guest Professor, one of the most popular fast foods in the Bonn area was “gyrus”, a Greek specialty which literally translates as  turning, served with “tzatiziki”, a wonderful fresh cucumber and yogurt sauce.

Well, I arrived in Heidelberg this morning and was quite amazed to see that “gyrus” is almost unknown and that the Turkish “döner kebap” (or kebab) has taken its place (Interested in kebap? Take a look at the post on Adana Kebap).  Not that the Turkish variation may not be as good as the Greek one (I tried the one served at Charisma, Bergheimstr., 35 – GPS 49.408557 Lat. N, 8.688898 Long. E), but it’s surelly different, as it never contains pork for religious reasons (I personally prefer pork to chicken).

Preparing Döner

Preparing Döner (sorry, but the picture I took was completely dark, as I don't like to use flash and employ a Nokia phone camera)

Charisma, Bergheimerstrasse, 35, Heidelberg, Germany

Charisma, Bergheimerstrasse, 35, Heidelberg, Germany

I had my döner with an Erdinger Weissbier, and I’m aware that a chikcken döner with Erdinger is not the most wonderful start for Germany, but it was what could be done at the prevailing conditions.  I don’t intend to visit this place again, as the meat (chicken) was a bit dry and the sauce (which was not really tzatiziki – was it intended to be?) almost tasteless.  The ambiance was acceptable, an outside table on a bright summer day, and the price friendly (around US$ 8,00 with the beer)

Chicken and lamb doener kebap

Chicken and lamb döner kebap

Let me cross my fingers and see what dinner will bring.  Will try to stick to a more typical of German meal, something like a Bratwurst, for example.

P.S.:  I have just been informed by my son that, luckily, the Greek specialty has kept its place in the most northern parts of the country.

Gyros on Foodista
Döner Kebab on Foodista

Just a snack – Away for a couple of weeks

17 Jul

Next week I’m leaving on vacation, finaly.  From the “little snack” below try to guess in which two countries I’m planning to spend most of the time .

Black pudding (blood sausage) and Gorgozola cheese

Black pudding (blutwurst, blood sausage) and Gorgozola cheese

We had that on a cold night, a few days ago, with a bottle of red wine and some fresh bread, and although it was really nice we decided to run towards summer with a couple of friends (Renan and Leila).


17 Jul

Last Wednesday I was walking around a shopping mall (Brasilia Shopping, Asa Norte) in Brasilia (the capital of Brazil, around 2,500 km from home) and saw “Fuji Sushi“, a sushi bar.

Although usually associated to Japan, sushi has a Chinese origin, where it developed basically as a fish fermentation and preservation method.  Around 2,000 year ago the method arrived in Japan and besides rice vinegar and probably sugar, sake was added to the recipe.

Presentations was not bad, but the taste was disappointing.  Believe it or not almost every sushi had cream cheese in it (I don’t have the slightest idea why they spoil fresh tuna and salmon with that).  The only thing that was not bad (although it looked so) was a caramelized ginger.  It was relatively cheap (around US$ 0,50/piece) but I’m not willing to repeat the experience.

Smoked fish "Nigiri" sushi tied with pieces of nori (a type of algae)

Smoked fish "Nigiri sushi" tied with pieces of "nori" (a type of dried algae)

Salmon "Nigiri" sushi.  On the back a tuna "Uramaki" plenty of cream cheese (Urghh!!!)

Salmon "Nigiri sushi". On the back a tuna "Uramaki" plenty of cream cheese (Urghh!!!)

Homemade Sushi on Foodista
Sushi Rice on Foodista
Nigiri-Sushi on Foodista

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