|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 7, Issue 11, Tuesday, March 13, 2012|
FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD
A Mexican wave
By Kaniska Chakraborty
I have faithfully documented my attempt at many different cuisines -- Italian, Thai, Bengali, British, American, Lebanese, Moroccan et al.
But Mexican is one that slipped my radar till now.
I wonder why…
If I look at some of the quintessential ingredients of Mexican cooking, I find tomato, cumin, onion, chicken, sour cream, beans, rice, tortilla, lime… not too different from us, I say.
Even the sour cream is as close to hung yogurt as you can get (did I just commit blasphemy?). And tortilla is just good old chapatti.
So, when we called my childhood friend for dinner, I decided to give Mexico a shot.
This being my first time, I decided to go easy on a number of items.
An audit of the fridge told me that I should do something with ground meat, something with boneless chicken and something with corn.
I had green olives, which to me was very Mexican, don't ask me why.
I, wanting to stay within my comfort zone, decided to create a meat sauce with a Mexican accent to go with spaghetti. My adaptation of spaghetti Bolognese. Spaghetti Vera Cruz?
I also wanted to do the famed chicken fajita. I'm told that is proper Mexican street food. And popular TV food shows have lent credibility to that notion. I have seen Bourdain and Zimmern devouring fajitas out of a cart while in Mexico.
The ground lamb was browned off to get rid of the moisture and take a bit of the gamy smell. Then I added a whole lot of sliced garlic, chopped onion and chopped tomato. Bulked up the sauce with chopped mushroom and scattered some chopped green chillies. I let it simmer for the next hour. After an hour, I rinsed and threw in sliced green olives. Rinsed to get rid of the excess brine.
I went on to slice the boneless chicken in thin strips and matched the shape with strips of colourful bell peppers and onion. Then I marinated the whole thing in olive oil (Mexican?), Worcestershire sauce (not Mexican), toasted cumin powder (I'm told, very Mexican), salt and pepper. A good squeeze of lime juice nicely rounded off the Mexican-ness. I let it rest for the better part of the day.
For an easy side, I put together a quick corn salsa. Packaged corn, sliced shallots, coriander leaves, lime juice, salt and pepper created a crunchy, tangy, sharp bowlful of flavour. I cannot call it the health angle as authorities say that corn is actually known for lack of nutritional value.
Out came my grill pan for the grilling of the chicken mixture.
Tong full of chicken and veggies got seared really fast. The kitchen smelled wonderfully familiar, yet exotic. The aroma of toasted cumin coupled with the top note of lime transformed my humble abode to distant Cancun.
The meat sauce by then was bubbling away to incorporate every iota of tomato, garlic, and green olive goodness. Compared to a Bolognese, it was a little light on tomato, but plenty heavy on meat.
For dessert, I made caramel pudding out of a packet. My only touch, the caramel at the bottom, which I patiently made, and the real vanilla extract that went in to make this an almost authentic flan.
The evening went off like a dream. Good friends, great conversation and not too shabby food.
And a bottle of Chilean merlot to finish things off.
Photo: Kaniska Charaborty
For your eyes only
Butterfly bright eyes:
Make-up: By Farnaz Alam
Aesthetic Clinic - respite from skin problems
The dust and the pollution of Dhaka city take quite a toll on our skin. The result: you either lose your self-confidence or run up huge dermatology-bills in an attempt to retain good skin.
What many of us are unaware of is that a dermatologist is not the professional to visit for the cure for your skin's beauty-related problems. A dermatologist is a skin disease expert while the professional in charge of curing your skin's outer beauty problems is an aesthetician.
Enter Farnaz Alam, who has opened her aesthetics clinic in both Dhanmondi and Gulshan under the banner of Woman's World. Her aesthetic clinic provides non-clinical solutions to skin beauty problems, hence drastically reducing chances of side effects related to conventional pills.
According to Farnaz, every woman should visit an aesthetician once every six months to ensure flawless skin and those with skin problems should consult an aesthetician once every three months.
An aesthetician uses medical skin care products, which can provide instant results. Even the basic task of cleansing, toning and moisturising needs to be customised according to one's skin type and these skin care tips are what an aesthetician specialises in.
Farnaz Alam will also be launching her own range of fragrance-free, bleach-free, medical skin care products, both for everyday use and for treatment purposes. All these products are based on tried and tested formulas and do not have any side effects.
Farnaz provides the following general advice to everyone looking to maintain healthy skin:
Remember that the day is for protection and night for repair. Thus, during daytime use sunscreen. If you have oily skin, apply a layer of astringent to soak up the extra oil and then apply the sun screen and if your skin is dry than moisturise prior to using sun screen. Sun screen is a must in Dhaka weather.
For the night, everyone should use night repair creams suited to their individual skin type. At night your skin allows 70 percent penetration; it actually breathes, and hence this is when the skin repair products are most efficient.
Going to a dermatologist for skin beauty problems is synonymous to going to the eye specialist for an eyebrow pluck. Without an aesthetician in the picture the dermatologists of the country had to shoulder this burden for so long but the real experts have now set up their shops.
Please contact Farnaz Alam at 01730427207 to set up your appointment.
By Raisaa Tashnova
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