A young coconut ©Nandita Godbole, 2020

Come summer and everyone is talking about ways to cool down — from iced drinks to frozen beverages. Fruit based drinks have always been very popular in India, as fruits are plentiful and the weather is generally on the warmer side.

One of the early mentions of Lassi, a diluted yogurt-based drink is in the Artharvaveda. But more importantly, it mentions drinks made from local fruits like pomegranate, coconut, local berries, dates, tamarind as well as sour berries like gooseberry etc.

An essential and much loved part of Indian cuisine is Sarbat. But when the word Sarbat comes around, it…


A rural road outside of Charleston, SC. © Nandita Godbole, 2019.

We’ve all had a very unsettled 2020 so far, and it isn’t over yet. Our normal has changed. Our lives have adjusted to some extent, but not in all the ways that make this time OK. Every day we talk about this — that no one is OK, and yet, we continue because we remain hopeful for what may come next.

Some days ago, I was on a check-in call with fellow journalists — and we shared and listened to each other, and how the news cycle had affected us — personally, mentally, emotionally. Many journalists were close to the…


Masaleydaar, for #Masaladay

Many spices make a ‘masala’

I was all geared up to wax poetic about the hundreds of unique masalas from India to celebrate the regional flavor nuances, gastronomic delights from its many gastronomic regions — spices and flavors that respectfully represent hyper-local crops, religious, cultural and personal taste preferences.

However, before I entice you with the flavor exploration of any of these masala’s, I realize that the education of a cooking enthusiast must start elsewhere. It must start outside the glossy, white-space heavy, graphically composed spreads with carefully placed ‘scattered’ spots of spices. I understand design tricks. …


Many spices make ‘Masaley’.

I was all geared up to wax poetic about the hundreds of unique masalas from India to celebrate the regional flavor nuances, gastronomic delights from its many gastronomic regions — spices and flavors that respectfully represent hyper-local crops, religious, cultural and personal taste preferences.

However, before I entice you with the flavor exploration of any of these masala’s, I realize that the education of a cooking enthusiast must start elsewhere. It must start outside the glossy, white-space heavy, graphically composed spreads with carefully placed ‘scattered’ spots of spices. I understand design tricks. …


Chaat Masala Dusted Watermelon, from ‘Treasured Indian Comfort Foods’ (2019)

One of the many ubiquitous spice blends in India with a versatile range of applications, is Chaat Masala. This blend includes all six tastes of Ayurveda — sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, pungent and salty — to create a balanced set of tastes.

Chaat Masala is frequently used as a dusting powder on freshly cut fruit, as a flavor enhancer on grilled preparations, in lemonade, as well as in the savory Indian buttermilk, chaas, among applications.

Ingredients

3 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 ½ tbsp fennel seeds
4 tbsp amchur or raw mango powder
2–3 tbsp rock salt…


Group of pink, magenta and blush pink roses on black background
Group of pink, magenta and blush pink roses on black background
Fragrant garden roses

Summer gardens are often filled with colorful and fragrant flowers. In contrast, grocery stores include a comparatively dismal set of edible flowers. Their packaged versions of ‘edible’ flowers may include a few petals of marigold, a decorative orchid, a few rose petals, perhaps a sprig of lavender, a few pansies (violets), and nasturtium. Zucchini blossoms are also very popular and desirable — and conventional cooks seldom look past these offerings.

Where do flowers feature in Indian cuisine?

Indian cuisine is often seen as a flamboyant display of hot and pungent spices. However, this versatile cuisine has long shared a loving relationship with its local flora and fauna…


© Nandita Godbole

Chai and ‘Butter’, tiny cumin flavored savory dunking cookies. ©Nandita Godbole, 2020.

I have been a tea drinker for decades now, from the time I had permission to drink caffeinated beverages like tea or coffee as a teenager. Most of us would think that chai is inherently Indian, I did too. Until I started working on my book, ‘Seven Pots of Tea’.

Just about a century ago, locals in India did not even like tea, the black steeped version that was so heavily favored by the British, coveted by the Anglophiles in India! It was considered elitist and capitalist by those who supported an independent India.

I was also…


A few weeks ago, I was excited to learn that the poet Rumi would be coming to a bookstore a few miles from my home. So, we cleared our calendar and made plans to attend. Our neighborhood was preparing for a summer of fun — planning to build a ‘little library’ for the kids, near the pool. We picked out books to donate. But everything came to a standstill as the pandemic unfolded. Rumi’s event was cancelled, and kids are now home for what looks like an indefinite time. …


Prasad K’Sheera

Within the name of this dish, the word ‘Prasad’ implies it is suitable for a Hindu religious offering, whereas K’sheera refers to the preparation itself.

However, this does not limit its preparation to a specific event. The flavors most prominent here are of cardamom, saffron if using, and essential — banana. Ghee becomes a luscious and essential undertone.

Prasad K’Sheera: Stovetop Semolina Pudding with Bananas

Makes: 8, ½-cup servings
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 tbsp ghee, plus one tbsp extra
3–4 green cardamom pods
2 cups medium grain semolina
1½ cups boiling water
1½ cups whole milk
2–3 strands of saffron (optional)
⅓ cup sugar, adjust to taste
¼ cup almonds…


Fresh coconut flesh, with a serving of jaggery — a traditional offering at Hindu religious events.

Āsvāda: verb, meaning ‘to taste’

Welcome to Āsvāda, a place to explore the taste of Indian cuisine.

I am excited to share this digital publication in hopes that it becomes a repository of all things that make the Indian cuisine what it is — a frequently misunderstood but delightfully complex and finely nuanced essential part of global cuisines.

The flavors, the taste of Indian cuisine can be bold. Its preparations can be demure and delicate. The spices can be strong and potent, they can be tender. The cuisine is evocative of people and place. It can unite communities. It is…

Nandita Godbole

Author. CEO, Curry Cravings (TM) LLC. www.currycravingskitchen.com

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