South Indian Cooking

by Richa Chaturvedi ’18 and Caroline Gentile ‘17

It’s always fun to venture to the other side of the table are cook rather than consume. For Caroline and me, the Food Literacy Project’s South Indian Cooking Class was definitely a voyage into the unknown. South Indian cuisine always reminds me of color, flavor, and, above all, danger. The dishes were classic: chapatti, raita, all of the makings of a good South Indian meal. Our only mistake?  Forgetting to always watch your back in the kitchen – constant vigilance.

The cooking class was divided into teams, each one tasked with making coconut chutney and sambar.  The coconut chutney was made with no complications.  My main task was to cut up green chilies, which is something I have seen people in my family do since I was a little kid. I carefully replicated the proper technique: cut the top off, use the back of the knife to slide the seeds out, and then cut into smaller pieces.  Caroline helped with the chutney itself, slowly stirring it over a low simmer until the coconut smell filled the room.

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Coconut Chutney

Up next was the sambar, a classic South Indian lentil dish that’s infused with spices and vegetables.  Now experts at our crafts, Caroline and I cut up the onions, bell peppers, and chilies that were cooked in an oil with spices, which really enhances the flavor of the dish.  I took a break to brag to my parents about my killer chef skills and, a split second later, heard an unusual shriek – Caroline had gotten green chili in her eye, which is literally so painful.

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PSA: do not handle green chilis (pictured) and subsequently touch your eyes…

After a quick Google search, we had Caroline pouring milk in her eye (it actually works, something about neutralizing the chemicals in the chili – check out this sick Life Hack if you don’t believe me) and she recovered gracefully.  Now having really earned our meals, we returned to the class to finish what we started.

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A heaping plate of sambar and coconut chutney

The food turned out great, mostly due to our friends that really carried the team during our little crisis.  We made plates of rice, sambar, chapattis, raita, and fried chickpea snacks.  People always say that it’s more satisfying to cook a meal than to just eat one.  In this case, I would have to agree.  We fought with sweat, milk, and tears for our food.  And it really was worth it.

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Heart-shaped chapati

 

The Elvis

by Emily Brother ’19
IMG_0212Elvis Presley was famous for many reasons including his odd affinity for Fool’s Gold Sandwiches. This sandwich was originally made from a piece of French bread that is coated in butter, baked, and hollowed out. It was then filled with a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly in addition to slices of bacon and pieces of banana. Here is how you can make your own slightly smaller version of the meal that was fit for The King:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bagel
  • 5 Strips of Bacon
  • 1/2c Peanut butter
  • 1/3c Jelly
  • ½ Banana

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Steps:

  1. Toast the bagel.
  2. Smear the peanut butter on one half of the bagel.
  3. Smear jelly on the other half of the bagel.
  4. Lay the strips of bacon on the half of the bagel with peanut butter.
  5. Slice ½ banana into thin, half-inch pieces and place them on the half of the bagel with jelly.
  6. Put the two-bagel halves together.

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HUDS Does Diwali

by Richa Chaturvedi ’18

When I was a kid, Diwali was all about the sweets. My sister and I would fill up on just about anything we could get our hands on. I would always go light on dinner because I about the delicious treats that awaited me.

Growing up, Diwali became more and more about the Indian dishes. There’s food as far as the eye can see. Diwali dinner lasts for hours – you just keep eating. The colorful food brightened up the table and made you feel warm inside.

Coming to Harvard, I’ve realized that Diwali is mostly about being with your family. It’s like any other holiday; the food brings people together, sitting and talking in one place. The rest of the world is paused.

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HUDS created that feeling for students missing home on Diwali this year. While nothing quite beats a home-cooked Indian meal, standing in the dining hall and smiling at familiar names of dishes created a place for me where time stood still. I told my friends what to get. I showed them which dishes tasted best together, but ended up mixing everything together because that’s what I always do. I was so excited to be able to share things from home with them. It felt like Diwali.

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Props to HUDS, because I was pretty impressed with the Indian selection tonight. The daal was on point and the basmati rice with peas was a nice touch. The vegetables in the coconut curry and idlis also deserve an honorable mention. It’s probably also important to note that my friends who have never had Indian food before ate it and liked it – I’m not saying that this was authentic or anything, but HUDS did good work as an introduction, a transition piece if you will. While I’ll end the night at brain break eating a classic PB&J, it was nice to be reminded of home. So thank you HUDS, you did good.

Just Quad Things: an Exploration of the Quad Grille

by Richa Chaturvedi ’18

image1Evolutionarily, humans weren’t meant to stay up past sunset. In a largely agrarian society, people’s schedules revolved around sunlight – the workable hours. With the advent of electricity, people began staying up later and later, culminating in one single event: you, last night, staying up to finish your pset. It’s late and you’re hungry. If only there was somewhere to go!

But there is! It’s called Quad Grille, and it has everything your tired and sleep deprived heart could want! Their best dish by far are the mozzarella sticks, which taste like pieces of fried heaven. A good mozzarella stick is hard to do – you have to have the perfect temperature for the cheese and the ideal crispiness on the outside – so hats off to Quad Grille for doing it well.

My blockmates love the chicken fingers, claiming that they may even be better than the HUDS version (how could that be?).  The Grille is even nice enough to provide you with everything from barbeque sauce to ketchup – the selection of sauces is almost as varied as the food itself.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the curly fries. I don’t know if there’s much more to say about them, except that you need them in your life.

And it takes board plus! In my honest (and perhaps unsolicited) opinion, this is the best way to spend that free cash. That’s right, I said it. It’s even better than Greenhouse. So next time you find yourself in the Quad, sad, tired, hungry, or just bored, make your way to the Quad Grille. You will leave with more mozzarella sticks you had when you entered, so it’s obviously a win.

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