Monday, November 13, 2017

Cups and mugs !

I know most of the food blog readers know 'how to prepare a tea' and this post is not about a recipe....but about drinkware and traditions. For very long , I just wanted to write a post on various sized mugs, cups and saucers I see here and hope it would be useful for some like me 😀  . Recently I discussed with my friend Malar about buying a perfect tea set. Then I realized much more and started writing this.

My experience :
Only after coming to USA , I realized that there exists something called a coffee mug (may be that became popular in India too nowadays, but I was unaware of it then).
We  grew up drinking coffee or tea out of a stainless steel tumbler (or a dabara set - a tumbler sitting on a SS cup).  Amma would make n number of coffees everyday for our big joint family and also for appa's clients. After marriage I started my tea legacy with a lot of cheer.  If there is a guest, I would take out my pretty China tea set (a porcelain one, not too expensive but cute) , which we had bought fondly from a T.Nagar Saravana stores and would enjoy that moment. Carrying those tea cups and saucers here was not an option at all (and so my tea times would be achieved with some regular coffee mug). Anyways having some coffee is a must everywhere and so I too got introduced to all kinds of Walmart / Target /  dollar tree mugs. (Trust me, they are good enough for regular household usage). Then after some years I convinced Xavier to buy me a cute tea cup and saucer set and that's how I got that cute little set (see below).

If you are more interested in knowing about English formal tea , you will find this link interesting. .

Indian Serveware:
Traditional stainless steel coffee dabara set and a  porcelain tea cup and saucer set.
The traditional South Indian filter coffee should be served in this kind of stainless steel dabara set. Sometimes these dabara sets come in golden color (brass) too. The tumblers should be of capacity between 150 ml - 200 ml. Just like that the tea should be served in a small porcelain cup and saucer set preferably of 6.5 oz (190 ml) - 8 oz (235 ml).  Nowadays these serving sizes come in much smaller sizes too, but I prefer these sizes, as we can vary the servings as per need.

My teas are more of a typical Indian style ones (my masala tea recipe).
Indian style spicy masala tea

Coffee cups, tea sets and tumblers (India)
When it comes to comparing the various coffee mugs and tea cups, sky is the limit. But my article would surely give a rough idea for a novice.
200 ml tumbler coffee set, 6 oz (180 ml) tea cup and saucer set along with a 12 oz Walmart coffee mug. That 12 oz coffee mug is called a medium size mug. More bigger mugs (14 oz) can be used for having black coffee.

Indian stainless steel tumblers :Buttermilk tumbler 600 ml,  lassi tumbler 350 ml, measuring tumbler or water tumbler 200 ml, coffee tumbler 180 ml

Cups : 6 oz,  12 oz , 14 oz

A BIG cup for fun on display in Shoprite.  I think this would be used as a candy serveware.

Various sizes (USA) :
*The easily available , 12 oz (350 ml) mug is often called as standard mug or medium .
(They are not considered as formal tea cups, but giving a hot cup of tea in any cup with love is adorable in my view).
Walmart's Mainstays brand (the blue band mugs and white ones) are quite popular to start with.
Corelle brands are more worthy and unbreakable. So it is a good choice (IMO) if we want our mugs to last long. There are more expensive brands like Lenox, pfaltzgraff etc.....the list is endless.

* When it comes to fine dining (tea parties), a formal tea cup and saucer set is necessary. which varies from 6 oz to 8 oz.
* A formal tea serving session requires : A serving tray, napkins (small), cup and saucers, spoon, tea pots, sugar and creamer pots, sugar handling tongs. An afternoon tea in English style should be served with some sweets and savory snacks of small servings. In some novel I read that English ladies (people) would reserve some fine topics (without hurting anyone) to talk while having tea in their parlor....some would knit, some would share a recipe , some would read a book loudly lovely . That's a distant dream !

*One of the most beautiful thing most of us have enjoyed in the past is the 'little girl's tea set'.  I can only imagine an Alice in wonderland kind of tea party I used to enjoy in my childhood with my toy tea set :) . Nothing can replace those memories.

* One more version is : The Cappuccino cups (Demitasse cups / tasting cups) range between 2 oz to 5 oz.

* I am sure there exists much more varieties of tea / coffee / hot drink traditions all over the world. I would say that the tea in chaya shops of  Tamilnadu and Kerala are the best  along with a vadai ,bajji pakora:)

But cooking with love and serving with smile is much important than these fancy pots and pans and traditions. Nowadays we can buy any kind of tea set from internet, but the hardest part is finding a friend  / moment to share this tea :) I always love my morning tea time with my husband.   I guess tea traditions were invented by our ancestors to improve our socializing skills.  So let's make use of every opportunity to take out our fine dining ware and cherish those moments !

Happy tea time!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Indian curd yogurt

What is that , 'an Indian yogurt' ? . It is simply called as curd,  dahi , thayir (தயிர்) and by many many words in Indian languages. But however it is called, it is one of the major food items in an Indian household. Even in abroad, we all take pride and enjoy making this yogurt at home in surplus quantities, because store bought Indian curd is comparatively expensive than the homemade versions and it is needed in all of our houses for everyday consumption.

Indian curd is very easy to prepare, if and only if we are having a starter fermentation curd. Not all store bought yogurts have the same culture as Indian curd. But we have to look for labels like 'live culture'  'probiotic culture' in yogurts in Indian stores. I found that DEEP BRAND is the one of the best as a starter. That too for first two or three times, the yogurt may look little different, but we have to proceed with the same homemade yogurt  everytime (and the base culture improvises after a few times). So a good cook would be very cautious in preserving the basic culture by keeping at least a few tbsp of curd at fridge all the time.

There are a few rules to make good curd and here I am listing what I follow.
Boiling the milk

Let it ferment.

creamy Indian curd is ready !

Whole milk  - 1 cup
starter curd with active cultures - 1 tbsp for every cup of milk

Boil the milk until frothy. My mom would say 'let it rise 5 times to remove the raw smell ' 😄. So I too do like that.
While boiling the milk stir well using a whisk to make it little more creamy and frothy (secret of more yumminess).
Let it cool. The perfect cooled temperature should be something like lukewarm.
Add 1 tbsp curd for 1 cup of milk.
Whisk well or pour it back and forth between two cups (like making Indian tea) till frothy.
Close and keep in warm place.
🌷(Sometimes a casserole / hot box or an Indian cooker with warm water, can give necessary warmth if we are in cold countries. And also by this way we can get the fermented curd within 4 hours).
🌷(During colder weather , I preheat oven to 200 for 10 minutes and keep the milk for fermentation inside warm oven. It takes almost 10 hours for me to get a good quality curd by this oven method).
🌷(During summer the room temperature is enough to prepare curd. While in Chennai I used to start making curd / உறை ஊற்றுவது only after preparing morning tea and the curd would be ready for lunch ).
After serving the curd, always save a few tbsp of curd (culture) for next day's fermentation. This is the key for perfect homemade curd.

Indian yogurt is poured over rice to make curd rice.
It is also consumed as dipping along with some parathas.
Plain yogurt (dahi / thayir) is used to prepare many kinds of raithas, used in marinations in popular recipes like tandoori chicken , chiken 65 and in most chicken recipes.
It is also used in Indian cooldrinks like lassi, spicy buttermilk.
Indian platter meals would always include a cup for dahi (it is very good for health).

Most of the store bought Indian yogurts are more yummier and creamier than homemade versions in reality. The creamy texture is got by adding some corn starch and/or cream while manufacturing it.
So it is a good idea to buy those curds when we want something more special or for preparing a thick quick raitha.
I use fat-free milk to prepare curd on most days. But whole milk yogurt tastes more delicious.