At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Monday, June 30, 2008

DRECKY BRIT NEWS REPORTING

Is the esteemed BBC guilty of supressio veri and suggestio falsi?
Well, that depends.
On whether or not you are a critical reader.


This article on the BBC website details the prisoner swap:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7480044.stm



Quote:
" --- One of these is said to be Samir Qantar, who has been in jail since 1979 for his part in a deadly guerrilla raid. "

Calling it a guerilla raid suggests a legitimacy that the action did not have - it was the equivalent of a headhunting attack by savages, with no other purpose than to kill civilians. This is glided over by the BBC's bland text.



Quote:
" --- Qantar is serving several life sentences for murder after attacking a civilian apartment block in Nahariya in 1979. A policeman, another man and his four-year-old daughter were killed. A baby girl was accidentally smothered by her mother as she hid in a cupboard. "

Notice how studiously neutral this is. The BBC does not mention the most pertinent details, namely that Samir Kuntar was actually the one who did the killing. Instead they use a passive phrasing - "another man and his four-year old daughter WERE killed". Not what it should have been: 'Samir Kuntar murdered a man and his four-year old daughter'.


Samir Kuntar deliberately shot the 'other man' (Danny Haran, who was a civilian), then held him under water to make sure he did not survive, and also deliberately murdered the four-year old daughter (Eynat Haran). Samir Kuntar slammed the little girl's head against a rock, and then bashed in her brains with his rifle.


" --- another man and his four-year-old daughter were killed"


Another pertinent detail is that the mother (the wife of Danny Haran) was hiding only feet away from Samir Kuntar and his companions. Her fear that she and her other child would be killed was very real. She was terrified with good reason. It was under those frightful circumstances that she accidentally stifled her child.


Nope, the BBC instead mentions the deaths of these Israelis as if they were merely incidental to something else. As, indeed, to too many typical Brits and Europeans, such Israeli deaths are. It is the function of Jews to be killed. The BBC finds it hard to see them in any other role. It was an accident, surely, but not something for which Samir Kuntar was entirely to blame - those Jews were in the wrong place, and Mr. Kuntar was involved in a cause. Had the Jews not started it (in 1973, 1967, 1948, 1929, 1290, 1255, 1217, 1144, 33), those deaths would not have happened.


The facts are that Samir Kuntar and his gang infiltrated with the intent to murder Israelis, they did not accidentally stray across the border, they were not combatants in a war zone, they were not fighting invading forces, they were not attacked first.
They were not engaged in some great act of derring-do. They were terrorists, plain and simple. Yet to the BBC these are unimportant details.

One suspects that the BBC deliberately bagatellizes. As indeed one also suspected that they did during the 2006 war. One rather wonders whether the BBC wouldn't be more comfortable moving their offices to some Arab capital. Someplace nearer the partisans to whom they pander.

Just because the BBC is better than many other news sources on the old-world side of the pond does not mean that they are good. Just glib.

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THREE POINTS OF BLOG

Adding three new links to the blogroll. Two of them are worth reading.


The first one is M. Junaid Khan, who writes a blog called 'Pakistan - The Land of the Pure'.
http://thelandofpure.blogspot.com/
Like many Pakistanis, he has opinions that do not agree with mine. On some points I disagree with him utterly. But his blog is not about America or Israel, although it does touch much upon those touchy subjects. It is the point of view of a gentleman living in Pakistan, writing about things of concern to Pakistanis - local and international politics, primarily. He is irascible. And capable of eloquence.


The second blog is Fresno Zionism - a blog I should have added a long time ago.
http://fresnozionism.org/
Again, not a blog I agree with all the time. But sometimes it is spot on, and often I both understand and am fully in accord with the point of view expressed. A good blog, well worth reading.
Note also the very usefull blogroll.


The third blog, Cooking with a Lizard, is not particularly worth reading.
http://cookingwithalizard.blogspot.com/
It's a warehouse for the recipes from this blog, without all that other stuff. Just the recipes. One post per recipe. No backstory, no context, no narrative, no whys and wherefores. With clickable tags.

Recipes posted sofar: Bheja fry, Mirchi ka salan, Hyderabadi mirchi ka salan, Ananas ka muzaffar, Mutanjan, Kabili Pilaw, Saka saka, Zebra myembwe, Zebra stampot, Mabokay, Braised zebra, Alu makhni, Dhansak masala (3x), Paya nahari, Kheer, Cholent, Ambakalio, Haleem, Dhansak (2x), Kolmi no patio. There will be more. Some of the recipes that will be posted in future might not be featured here first.

ANOTHER GREAT VICTORY, OH ARABS!

Our side is getting two bodies, in return for which you get five of your people back. Indeed, this is a tremendous victory. You get to stage triumphant returns, to the bosoms of their families, of five of your heroes. And we get to bury two of ours.

We get the bodies of two young men (Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev) who were killed for no reason, whose deaths were pointless murders.

You get four criminals and a psychopath.


Lets review, shall we?


On April 22, 1979, Samir Kuntar and some friends infiltrated Israel intending to commit murder. They succeeded.

Samir Kuntar, the psychopath, first shot Danny Haran (28 years old) in the back, then held him under water to make sure he was dead. After which Samir Kuntar smashed four-year old Eynat's head against a rock, and pounded her skull in with the butt of his rifle.
These murders are celebrated as noble acts by members of the Muslim Umma. Samir Kuntar is a hero in Lebanon. And the Lebanese have for three decades demanded the release of this paragon from Israel's jails.

Israel has agreed to swap the bodies of two dead soldiers for four live Hezbollah operatives and an unrepentant child-killer. In a sense, there is an equivalency.


Two dead Israeli soldiers are as valuable to Jews as four violent deviants and an aging maniac are to the Arabs.
Indeed, if you assume that Arabs have much lower standards in comparison to Jews (which you probably must - the Arabs tend to glorify homicide and insane killers, and regularly make a pig's breakfast out of their own affairs), and if you regretfully conclude that their standards come from a much lower level of civilization than anyone else, then yes, I suppose there is an exact equivalency.


Congratulations, oh Arabs - you may welcome back your hero, the brave Samir Kuntar, whose most noble act was smashing the skull of an infant. This tells us what your values are, and informs us precisely about your natures and your ideals.


Truly, you Arabs are an example to the rest of us. We are much impressed.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

MEH, A GLOSSARY

At the moment I am at a loss for material. Yet I crave your attention, and hence need to post. So here is a fragmentary glossary, derived from recent studies. I will let you try to guess what I have been reading based on the word-hoard below. And perhaps you'll find something in it that you did not know before.

Go ahead. Explore.


AMHAARETZ = Earth person, peasant, and hence not a scholar. Thus coming to mean an ignoramus.

ANTI-SEMITE = Bad Goy! No bagel!

APIKORSUS = Heresy, and selectivity in one's studies and beliefs, which is considered deviation.

ARGAMON = A sea-snail dye coloured yarn, which the Rambam (Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon) avers is red, while by Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Ben Yitzhak) it is purple. But the Raavad (Rabbi Abraham Ben David HaLevi, Toledo, approx 1110 - 1180) describes different colored strands of wool twisted together.

ARIZAL = The holy Ari (Alef Reish Yod = Eloki Rabbi Yitzhak, the divine Rabbi Isaac), kabbalist of Safed (Tzfat, Tzfas). Rabi Yitzhak (רבי יצחק) Ben Shlomo Luria (1534 – 1572).

ASKONIM = Functionaries, whether really appointed or self-designated.

ASSUR = Prohibited.

AVODA ZARA = Idolatry (literally: odd or foreign service).

AVODAS HASHEM = Service of Hashem; piety.

BAHAIMA = Animal, beast. Cow.

BATALA = Negation; hence a waste of time, especially activities which take away time from Torah study.

BEDIKAS CHOMETZ = Maseches Pesachim, the third tractate in Mo'ed, in the first part, Pesach Rishon, goes into excruciating detail on ridding chometz from our abodes and our lives, in every conceivable way in preparation for the chag. You really don't want to know all the details, trust me! Gross! I'm not even going to mention where we're supposed to hunt for chometz with that feather! And I'm not touching wooden spoons ever again!

BEIS HILLEL = The house of Hillel, being one of two schools of thought in the decade or two ending around 15 C.E., centered on the sage Hillel and his students and followers. Hillel veered towards interpretations that took man’s frailties and essential goodness into account, whereas Shammai and his school insisted on stricter, more rigid interpretations. Hillel was humble, Shammai was passionate.

To follow Hillel is to be humane, but to follow Shammai often is to be utterly correct.
Halacha generally agrees with Hillel, while holding that Shammai is also right – Elu va elu divrei Elokim chayim (this and that, both are the words of the living G_d; Talmud Bavli, Eruvin 13b).

Hillel and Shammai were the final pair of leaders (zugos) in the period following the death (273 BCE) of Shimon HaTzaddik, Simon the righteous, last member of the Great Assembly (Knesses HaGadol).

BEIS YOSEF = A book by Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488 – 1575), which is a commentary on the Arba Turim (The Four Rows; a bawuste compendium of Halacha by Rabbeinu Yakov Ben Asher, 1275 – 1349, son of the Rosh), based on a variety of Halachic opinions, primarily drawing from Rabbi Yitzhak Alfassi (the Rif), Rabbeinu Asher (the Rosh) and Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (the Rambam).

BEZALEL = In the shadow of El; name of the master workman divinely chosen to design the mishkan, a descendant of Yudah.

BIRCHAS HA TORAH = The blessing over the Torah, recited before reading an Aliya. It is customary that the first Aliya be read by a Kohen (if available), the second be a Levite (also if available).

The blessing for the Torah is as follows: "Baruch Adonai Hamevorach l'olam va-ed; Baruch Atta Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha olam, Asher bachar b'anu mikol ha'amim, Ve natan lanu et Torato, Baruch ata Adonai, Notein ha Torah." (Blessed are you Lord that blesses the world forever; Blessed are you, Lord our God master of the universe, That selected us from among all of the peoples, And gave to us your Torah. Blessed are you Lord, giver of the Torah.).

Ashkenazim read it thus: "Boruch ata Adonoi HaMevoruch l'olom va-ed; Boruch ata Adonoi, Eloheinu melech ha olom, Asher bochar bonu mikol hoamim, venoson lonu es toraso boruch atoh Adonoi, Nosein hatorah."

CHAZAL = Chachmeinu zichronam livracha (our sages whose memory is a blessing); the sages of the past.

DAAS TORAH = Accepted mainstream views in the Talmud,as well as the writings of great rabbis.

EDAH = A modern orthodox organization that seeks to reshape the concepts that collectively define orthodox Judaism - it is considered dangerously liberal, even new age, by some.

EFOD = The decorated smock of the high-priest, being precisely that garment which the evil scientist wore in Raiders Of The Lost Ark when preparing to open the ark. It has a breastplate containing twelve semiprecious stones - one for each tribe.

FRUM = Observant, pious.

GEDOLIM = The greats - Torah scholars past and present whose wisdom guides and instructs; in the modern day they are the rabbis whose decisions are seen as binding, whose opinions are normative and formative.

IN THE PARSHA = Within the same division or section as oneself, and thus both vouched for and possessed of the requisite ahavas yisroel is to be cleanminded.

ISSUR D’ORAISA = A prohibition that is in the Torah, rather than one determined by the Talmud.

ISSUR D’ORAISA OF BORER = A prohibited process of selection, sorting, or separating on the Sabbath, because it is work, and, additionally, suggestive of commerce.

KABBALA = Received' - Jewish mysticism; everything from the 'chariot' through the 'Zohar', not including Madonna.

KEFIRA = Disbelief. Hence rejectionism, utter heresy.

KILAYIM = There were two disputes which Rabbeinu Tam initiated - one over mezuzot, the other over tefillin. Rabbeinu Tam defined Shaatnez as including cloth spun and woven separately, then sewn together, whereas his grandfather (Rashi, 1040 – 1105) opined that it is shaatnez only if the wool and linen are spun and woven together, his argument being that the prohibition against shaatnez is specifically against garments of mixed materials (Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam lived in France; this explains, probably, their neurotic interest in clothes).

But concerning kilayim, the point they disputed has to do with the prohibition against mingling of things which it is inappropriate to mix. It says in Parshas Shoftim (Judges) in Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:19 "Et chukotai tishmoru behemteicha; lo tarbiya kilayim sadcha, lo tizra kilayim u veged kilayim shaatnez lo ya'ale aleicha" (My statutes you shall guard; do not let your cattle mix-breed, do not sow your field with mixed seeds, and do not wear a garment of mingled cloth.).

Hence there are four categories of things which should not be mingled: plowing by cattle and asses in the same furrow, grapes and other crops in the same arbor, wool and linen in the same garment, and Jews and Midianites in the same world. According to the Mishneh Toreh, these prohibitions promote peace.

LEHACHIS = Annoyance; to annoy, to irritate, to rebel. Hence an act of rebellion or defiance, such as Jews reading the Talmud was to Gentiles for several centuries (during most of which time, reading by itself was also an act of defiance).

LIFNEI IYVER = Parshas Kedoshim, Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:14 "Lo tekalel cheresh ve lifnei iver lo titen michshol ve yareta me'Eloheicha Ani Adonai" (You shall not curse the deaf, nor place a stumbling-block before the blind; you shall fear your God - I am the Lord.).

The word blind is interpreted to mean anyone who is ignorant, or unsuspecting, or even morally dense; one is not permitted to take advantage of them, or to tempt them to do wrong.

The rule against this type of error is referred to as 'lifnei iver, lo titen michshol' (before the blind, do not place a stumbling block - in short, 'lifnei iver').

A necessary corollary is 'Lo telech rachil b'ameicha' (do not go as a gossip among your companions), which urges one to be truthful, or silent.

MACHMIR = Strict, stringent.

MAKOM TUMAH = A place which conveys its pollution; Makom = place; Tumah = both ritual and spiritual pollution and filth. Makom Tumah: Europe or Washington DC, depending on your weltanschauung. Kansas.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483 – 1546), an Augustinian monk after whom a sect is named, who nailed a screed to a church-door (October 31st. 1517), got excommunicated (cherem, xtian style, January 3rd. 1521), and became one more notable member in a long line of farbissene Taytshe anti-semitn. A rich full life. Pope Leo the tenth (1475 – 1521; the 217th occupant of the throne of Peter) characterized him as "a drunken Teuton who writes objectionable tracts; when he’s sober, he’ll change his mind".

In a book Luther published three years before his death, he recommended that Jewish synagogues, schools, and homes be destroyed, Jewish writings be seized, Jewish teachings be outlawed, and Jews be forced to become farmers or be expelled.

MIDRASHIM = Derivational lessons or interpretive narrative.

NISHTANU HATEVA = "Nature has changed" – an attempted explanation of why chazal's science is now clearly wrong, and why cures mentioned in Talmudic literature are obvious mumbo-jumbo.

PARSHAS KORACH = bald, bald fellow. Bamidbar (Numbers) 16:1 - 18:32.
From psook 16:32 "Va tiftach ha arets et piha, va tivla otam, ve et bateihem, ve et kol ha adam asher le korach ve et kol harchush" (And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men sided with Korach, and all their stuff).

PARNASSA = Livelihood; earning one's living.

PESACHDIKKE PANCAKE MIX = Like Rashi, I do not know what this means. Perhaps it is a Gentile sawdust compound.

RABBEINU NISIM GAON = A native of Keruwan in North Africa, died 1050. Authored the Sefer Ha Mafteach, which is printed in the margins of the Vilna Shas – a backgrounder on concepts discussed.

RABBEINU TAM = Rabbi Yakov Ben Meier (1100 – 1170), a mediaeval French Torah exegete from a family of exegetes. He was the grandson of Rashi (1040 - 1105). Tam, which means straightforward or righteous in this context, was the characteristic ascribed to Yaacov the brother of Esav, so Rabbeinu Tam translates as 'our righteous rabbi'.

RABBI YAKOV BEIRAV (1474 or 1475 – 1546), a Talmudic authority from Northern Africa who moved to Tzfat. After disputes over smicha, he was forced to return to Morocco. He had tried to reinstitute the stages leading up to a Sanhedrin, of which smicha (ordination) was to be the first step. The intent was to continue the chain of transmission established by Moses, in preparation of the expected coming of the Moshiach. But there was much opposition.

According to some sources, he ordained only one person (Yosef Karo), according to others, four rabbis were ordained by him; in addition to Yosef Karo, they were Rabbi Moshe Ben Yosef Mi-Trani (Ha Mabit, chief rabbi of Tzfat, b. 1505 – d. 1560, author of the Kiryat Sefer, which is a commentary on the Yad Chazaka of Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon), Rabbi Shlomo AlKabetz (who wrote Lecha Dodi (Come, o beloved), a famous song to welcome the Sabbath), and Rabbi Yosef Sagis (b. ? – d. 1573).

RESHAIM = The wicked, the guilty

REISHIT TZMICHAT GEULATEINU = "The beginning of the flowering of our redemption" (the beginning of the end of exile and dispersion

SEGULAS = Spiritual remedies and talismans.

SELF-HATING JEW = A member of JVP, Bay Area Women In Black, or Een Ander Joods Geluid, among others.

Jews for Jesus, however, are not necessarily self-hating - merely very confused (see Amhaaretz and Apikorsus).

SITRA ACHRA = The Other Side - the dark side, evil, the world of pollution and temptation. That party whose candidates we do not support.

TAIKU = Leave it till Elijah comes - there is no answer until the end of times.

TZITZ ELIEZER = Rav Eliezer Waldenberg, a modern day posseik, known after his great collection of responsa, the Teshuves Tzitz Eliezer.
The tzitz was a golden headplate with an inscription (kodesh l’Hashem) worn by the kohain hagadol on the forepart of the migba’as (turban).

TZNIUS / TZENUA = Proper modest dress code and the sensitivity and frumkeit that go along with that. Sheitels and streimels, yes. Chains and leather, no. Wearing only whipped cream is right out.

YECHEZKEL RABBAH = Literally, ‘Great Ezekiel’; an early commentary on the Sefer Yechezkel (Book of Ezekiel), which is a part of Tanach dealing with the prophet so named, a contemporary of Tsefaniah and Uriah, and the son of Yirimayu.

The Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi, grammarian and Talmud commentator, 1160 - 1235), commenting on Ezekiel's agitation, observes that Ezekiel insisted upon a fair wage structure to the point of obsession, "midah keneged midah" (measure for measure).

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

DISROBING FOR THE CAMERA

In the comment string on a Dovbearian posting, commenter and chaveir Bray (the Bray of Fundie, aka Chaim G.) said something that made me think of him naked.

Consequently, it is with considerable pleasure that I boast of having tracked down a video of him in his birthday suit, in his home environment to boot.

Dare I keep it from you, my loyal readers?
Of course not!
Chasvesholom and shomayim forefend.


See this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7wHMg5Yjg
And don't worry, it is completely work safe. I guarantee.


Further, let me quote from the wikipedia article about him:
"The Bray is among the fiercest hunters in its range, with prey including earthworms, termites, scorpions, porcupines, hares, and even larger prey such as tortoises, crocodiles up to one metre in size, and snakes, including pythons and other venomous species. Its ferocious reputation extends to attacks on creatures much larger than itself.
Bray is also very intelligent
[cut] (and) capable of using tools. In the 1997 documentary series Land of the Tiger, Bray was caught on film making use of a log to reach a kingfisher fledgling stuck up in the roots coming from the ceiling in an underground cave."
This, of course, explains why Bray is a frequent visitor of the bear. Whose blog is here: http://dovbear.blogspot.com/


In other news, sheitels may cause crime - the theory is that the bad karma of the crackwhore wot shore her locks for drugmoney causes the wearer of the wig to commit welfare fraud or otherwise lose her moral bearings. Kinda like pornography and other temptations of the frei world corrupting the mind. I am crusading against wigs for this reason, and suggesting that you wear clogs and baggy pants instead. Really. It's all made clear in the comment string on Dovbear.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

YOU COOK LIKE A WHITE MAN!

Apparently I cook dhansak like it was cholent, or sumpin'!
A person whom I shall identify by the nickname Bawi wrote about dhansak recipes in general: "Just so you all understand - every single one of these recipes stinks. The method is wrong, and there is no ginger=garlic paste in a truly authentic Parsi Dhansak. All the recipes in Indian cookery books are written by pretenders."
[True enough - a lovely cookbook by a female author whom I shall not name has a dhansak recipe listing the weirdest substitution for dhansak masala. And some cookbooks written for Englishmen add pineapple chunks, apples, or potato. ]


This was in follow-up to the recipe here: http://atthebackofthehill.blogspot.com/2008/06/dhansak-or-this-is-why-you-should-never.html and the comments appended thereto, plus an e-mail discussion among several of us.

Bawi is a Parsi. I am not. Her words must outweigh mine on this issue.


So, for comparison's sake, I present the recipe that she uses.


BAWI'S MOM'S DHANSAK

Masala - grind to a fine paste:
One teaspoon Methi (Fenugreek) seeds
Half teaspoon Cumin seeds
4 Cloves
2 Cardamoms (green)
Half inch stick cinnamon
Six to seven dry red chilies (more like chile d'arbol than other)
One clove garlic

One and a half to two teaspoons dhana-jeera masala (add when frying paste)

Dal:
One and a half cups toovar dal
One onion, halved or quartered
Two and a half cups cubed red pumpkin
One eggplant (med - small) - no seeds if possible
One tomato
Half cup cilantro (not chopped)
Three to four sprigs mint (must!)
Four to five green chilies
Salt

Boil all vegetables and dal together until dal is done. Put dal and vegetables through sieve. Heat oil and fry ground masala paste. Add dhana-jeera masala and fry on low heat till done (clarification: the fragrance has changed and the oil has come out). Add dal and bring to boil. Simmer a while longer - about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with brown rice (she means Parsi style rice - gilded with some onion and sugar).


Note that there is no meat in this recipe - it is just the lentil gravy. Many cook it with meat (NOT chased through the sieve), and some prefer chicken over mutton, for reasons that are entirely their own. I would add about a pound of mutton, goat, or lamb, in chunks, to this quantity of dal. Browned in onion and spices first.

[Refer back to my recipe for the meat.]

The main difference is that whereas I, cholent-like, leave the vegetables in distinct chunks and the dal slightly textural, she insists that vegetables and dal should be chased through a sieve to yield a smooth puree.
[Hence leaving the cilantro as whole sprigs - it will stay behind in the sieve and not make the finished puree spotty.]
To her, dhansak is meat in thick dal gravy (with the pumpkin and brinjal smoothly incorporated in the gravy). No problem. That works for me too.

Another major difference between her recipe and mine is the absence in her recipe of any souring agent. Nor is there any gol-mirch or tej patta, and here I must somewhat differ of opinion with her, as I consider tej patta an essential (though minor) component, along with a spot of imli.

Where we absolutely come together, with no reservations, is her insistence that there should be ambakalio on the side (she insisted, I looked it up, and it sounds delish).


AMBAKALIO

One pound small green mangoes (or in any case, NOT squishy ripe mangoes)
Half a pound jaggery (palm sugar in big chunks)
A fragment of stick cinnamon
Chopped onion (about a quarter to a half) optional (some recipes leave it out, as would I also).
A green cardamom or two, a whole clove or two.
Water - two to four tablespoons.


Break jaggery apart, put in an enamel saucepan with water, the cardamom, and the cloves. Plus the onion, if despite my better judgment you decided to use it. Cook till the jaggery is dissolved.

Peel, cut, and de-seed the mangoes. Note that very nicely green mangoes will have a tender seed and the flesh will not have become all fibrous around it. Nor will juice and pulp cascade over your hands at this stage of unripeness, and the flesh is firm and fragrant, albeit pleasingly tart.

Add the sliced mango to the jaggery water, and simmer till the mango has softened and the liquid has become stroppy. Serve with the dhansak.


Note re dhana-jeera masala mentioned in the dhansak recipe: I believe this would be roasted and ground coriander and cumin, in the proportions that are fairly standard in almost all cuisines that use these spices in combination: two parts coriander, one part cumin.

Jaggery is palm sugar, rarely coarse molasses (cane) sugar. Somewhat over a cup should do it.

============================================

I posted about cholent (tsholnt) sometime last year. For your convenience, here's the recipe again:


CHOLENT
[Genig tshernt for sechs oder acht mentshen.]

Three quarters of a cup white beans (navy).
Three quarters of a cup red beans (kidney).
Half a cup pearl barley.
One and half pounds brisket or beef shortribs, attacked with a cleaver.
One and a half pounds potatoes, cut into large chunks.
One large onion, or two small - large chunks.
One large tomato, or two small, chopped.
Three to five cloves garlic, chopped.
One and a half TBS paprika.
Two or three bayleaves.
Salt, pepper, sugar, splash of sherry, jigger of Louisiana hotsauce.
Pinches ground cumin, turmeric, and dry ginger.
Olive oil.
Vinegar, to dash if wished.
Six or eight hardboiled eggs, rolled to crack the shells.

[Bonenkruid (Satureiea Hortensis, or Summer Savoury), if you have it in your larder, is an excellent addition - a sprig or goodly pinch added to the pot of beans has a salutary effect. Add it to all bean dishes.]


Soak beans overnight. Cast out the soaking water, and remove any grit or stones. Place in a large enamel stewpot with enough water to cover by an inch. Heat up the oil in a skillet, gild the onion and garlic, remove to the bean pot. Set the skillet aside for use in another hour or so for the meat. Bring the beans and onion to a boil, turn low, simmer for about three hours.

Salt and pepper the meat, and sprinkle just a pinch of sugar over, to facilitate browning. Put the meat in the skillet, brown a bit, stir in paprika and seethe with sherry before it burns, then transfer this also into the bean pot and scrape in the pan-crunchies after the beans have already simmered for about three hours. Add the pearl barley and everything else, burying the eggs and potatoes in the beans. Add a dash of vinegar also, and simmer on a backburner for an hour longer. Judge the liquid level and adjust (probably not necessary), then cover the pot and place it on the blech till Saturday afternoon, when you will serve it.


According to Resh Lakish, you have an extra degree of soul on the sabbath. For that extra soul's sake, please swallow some beano before eating.

============================================

Final rather silly note: If you combine the dhansak and cholent recipes, are you cooking for Parshews?

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

HOW TO MEET GIRLS

Someone asked me recently how Savage Kitten and I got together. Seeing as we've been an item for nearly two decades, to a certain extent I can grasp why this is such a subject of curiosity. After all, we're an unlikely couple - people can thoroughly understand what I see in her, but it seems, and I don't know why, they are totally baffled by her seeing anything at all in me.

She is an intelligent, petite, Cantonese American female, with extremely slender hands, about a decade younger than myself. By any rational standard, she is extremely attractive.
I am a pudgy middle-aged man who drinks and smokes, and writes a blog. So, by any rational standard except evidently yours, also extremely attractive.

She is incredibly shy, and I am socially somewhat inept.

How come we are together?

One word: CANDY


No, I didn't hang around the girls' playground with a bag of all-day suckers. I am upset that you would even think that. You are a pervert. I was on my way to the movies, and stopped at the store for something sweet. While paying I accidentally broke one of the items on the counter. The conversation that ensued was riveting enough to keep me from ever getting to the movie theatre that night.

[Sample of that conversation: Me, in heavily accented Cantonese: "Nei sik m-sik gong kwantung hwa" ('do you speak Cantonese')? She, haughtily and insulted, in English: "I'm sorry, I don't speak Japanese, I'm Cantonese!!!!"]


Pizzazz. Spark. Snapp, crackle, and pop.


I've been very happy since then. Nearly two decades.


Having been lured in by the snappy title of this post, you probably wish to duplicate that experience. My guess is that you're a forty-five-year old kollelnik with too much time on your hands, or the kollelnik's eighteen year old son, desperately seeking to avoid the dreary stultifying life of the previous generation.
Either way, you want zest. That explains why you're reading the blog of a man who keeps talking about little Catholic Schoolgirls, Japanese High School Girls, girls in short short skirts, pantsu, shapely thighs and fine perfume, and The Lowell High School Female Student Body, which is luscious, very feminine, and primarily smallish Chinese-American brainiac.

Indeed, how can you duplicate that experience?

First, you should understand that likely young ladies do not appreciate shverre discussions about the things that interest men. Which is very disappointing - we all want to find someone who shares our interests.......
You will have to develop conversational abilities outside the realm of Talmud or pipe-tobacco, or the search for medicated foot-powder (especially useful if you visit the tropics, the deep south, or even New Jersey).

Secondly, girls also like frequent gifts. Not expensive gifts, just little somethings that show you were thinking of her. Think in terms of flowers, candy, a new Glock 19 nine millimeter.

And thirdly, learn to listen. Sweet young things will pretty much throw themselves at any man who can remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while listening to an hour-long dramatic retelling of her last jaunt buying a pair of shoes - one and half inch heels, absolutely adorable, arch support and good leather stitching, a particular shade of red, not burgundy but more like red blood drying on the pavement red, dark-brick red, purply wine crimson red, that sour-looking Philippina that was eyeing the pair speculatively down at Footwear Pavilions or the carnivorous white chick with the tiger tattoo on her lower back who nearly grabbed them, they're mine bitch mine mine mine I saw them first back off, mine! And see, don't they look pretty?

Ferevvins sake don't say anything about how utterly bored you are. Complement the shoes. Praise how they fit. Admire her well-shod feet. Smile.
It's not about shoes, or even the feet; it's about communicating - women do that differently than men.

If you must, dream about Talmud, or pipe tobacco, or medicated footpowder while she's talking. Anything. As long as you don't think out loud, no one gets hurt.

And they really are exceptionally nice feet. You want to hold them, and feel how delightfully they fit into the palms of your hands, and curve so temptingly between the heel and ball of the foot, pale peach skin with barely visible blue veining, velvety to touch, cute little toes..........



Those three things will get you most of the way there. And as long as you also brush your hair and teeth, and act like a gentleman, your chances are excellent.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

SMELLING THE HAIR OF A YOUNG LADY

No, this post is not about halacha. Nor shall I speculate on the contortions a yeshiva bocher on the bus would have to perform in order to get a whiff of a sweet young thing's fragrant head-hair....... Given the sheitels and tichels that would have to be "accidentally" knocked aside or disarrayed, who knows what absurd motions and pretexts would be required. Besides, as you can imagine, on a mehadrin bus our bocher would also need to experiment with cross-dressing in order to even get near the young lady, and that begs the question: 'Are his tzitzis showing?' Siz a shverre shailoh, as of course even desperate perverts must remain shomer mitzvos.

Or at least, we hope they remain so. Personally we do not know any desperate perverts, nor expect to ever meet any, so their shomeric status is purely academic.


Onwards to better things.

[There's a recipe at the end of this post, if you're impatient.]

Instead, this post will touch upon the intellectual (meaning that I've hardly ever had the experience) conceit of being on a San Francisco bus filled with brilliant teenage females after class at Lowell High School has let out. For those new to this blog I should explain that years ago Lowell High School was nicknamed 'The Finishing School For Nice Intellectual Jewish Girls', but because of the changing demographic in the city, it is now known as 'The Finishing School For Nice Intellectual Chinese Girls'. It has extremely high academic standards, and students struggle mightily to get admitted.

[As an aside, let me kvell - Savage Kitten is a Lowell girl, and has not one but TWO university degrees (graduated magna cum laude). In addition to several gold and silver medals for martial arts (which the stuffed animals tend to steal and wear - they think the things are bling, and I must admit that the vampyre hamster looks like a stylish gangsta rapper wearing them).]

Imagine yourself on the number one California heading home to Chinatown. The back of the vehicle is filled with four-foot-six inch tall female seventeen year olds, squealing and screeching. School is out, adults are at work (which is why the experience is hardly familiar to me), the afternoon is still young; these girls are full of piss and vinegar, feisty, spirited, high octane, and they must vent.
They are, because of their energy level, 'delicately' bedewed with sweat - their hair wafts a heady blend of aromas and perfumes. Is that Alfred Sung I smell? Joy by Jean Patou? A whiff of lime and tangerine? Jessamine from Himalayan foothills? Hmmmmmmm!

Inhale deeply. Hold. Let an imaginary tongue taste the roundness of the smells in your nasal cavity.
Now slide to the floor of the bus as your knees give way.


Yes, some of them are wearing Hello Kitty Perfume. It does not matter.


Please contrast the above with the disgusting perversion which is chocolate sauce. Some people cover their lovers (one hesitates to use the word lover - victim may be more appropriate) with such things as chocolate sauce. Or raspberry syrup. It boggles the mind. How can they even notice the fragrance of clean hair under those circumstances? Is the hair itself even clean under the chocolate sauce or raspberry syrup? And then adding whipped cream. That's insult to injury. All of these degenerate behaviours negate the exquisite whuft of fine clean hair, soft and raven hued. Sauce trolls, we must have none of these. We have no fetishes. Mmmmmmmmmh, perfume.


Heh heh heh.


Now, having thoroughly awakened your minds, I wish to mention two things:

1. One out of sixteen (one million) Dutch people are diabetic. I suspect I know why. I'm guessing chocolate sauce or raspberry syrup.

2. Several years ago, the nasty South Indian woman who worked at the Indian restaurant where I was the cashier-bookkeeper got into a screaming match with the Punjabi headwaiter. Not unusual. Except that this time she grabbed a bucket of rice pudding and dumped it over his head. In front of a full house - it was a busy evening. Over a hundred and fifty people stared, mesmerized, at what appeared to be a yeti made out of creamy white goo. The headwaiter clearly did not know what to do - "should I ice her? Should I throw her against the wall? Smack her? Which of these?".
He stood immobilized.

While he tried to figure out his next move, I noticed, over the general spice fragrance of the restaurant, the distinct aroma of the saffron in the rice pudding, mixed with the faint musky perfume of his hair oil..........

Had I been female, it could have turned me on no end.


I now rather wonder if any of the women customers wanted to lick him.


Chocolate sauce, or raspberry syrup, would've spoiled the moment.


----------------------------

NOTE: Went to an Indian restaurant with Savage Kitten yesterday evening. It was very good. We did NOT have any rice pudding.

CHAWAL KI KHEER

[Indian Rice pudding]

One cup milk.
One cup heavy cream.
One cup cooked rice.
Half a cup cane sugar.
Four or five green cardamom, seeds only.
A generous pinch of saffron.
Sliced almonds and golden raisins as you see fit.

Gently heat rice and milk to a barely boiling state. Add sugar, turn low and simmer, stirring, till much thickened. Now add the cream, cardamom seeds, the saffron, and the almonds and raisins. Simmer stirring till again thickened. Cool.

Serve garnished with a sprinkling of crushed pistachio.

A few fresh rose petals on top are also a nice edible touch of colour.


The term 'kheer' refers to the thickened sweetened milk preparation. One can also have sevian (fried thin vermicelli) in kheer, or Sabudana (tapioca) ki kheer. But most often it will be long-grain rice. It is a dish with many affectionate and ritualistic connotations.
None of which involve soggy Punjabis.


No chocolate or raspberries were harmed in the making of this post.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

THE HALACHA OF NI

Under a post about statuesque nudity, large photogenic untzniusdikke parts, and the marble charms of Venus (or Lady Justicia holding scales, in her more 'accepted' public persona) on Dovbear's blog, serious issues have been hashed out.


From the comment-string:

TBOTH wrote:
"Oh Knight who still says ni - you must be Jewish, that would explain why, when everyone else in your shul is saying "ecky ecky ecky ecky pikang zoop boing goodemzoo owli zhiv", you stubbornly insist that "ecky ecky ecky ecky pikang zoop boing goodemzoo owli zhiv" is NOT the minhag of the old country, and you don't care what these Gallitzianers or Rumanians do, you will still, like you were taught, in a mesorah all the way from the mountain, say 'ni'.
Kudos. Minhag has the weight of halacha. And the minhag says 'ni'. Punkt.
"Ecky ecky ecky ecky pikang zoop boing goodemzoo owli zhiv" is merely a ridiculous chumrah
."


To which TKwhoSN responded:
"TBOTH - Yes, I'm sticking with "Ni". Not only is ""ecky ecky ecky ecky pikang zoop boing goodemzoo owli zhiv"" a recent innovation with no basis in tradition, it's way too long to fit in the "Name" field.
Plus, if you need to pass, I only require one shrubbery. A nice one. Not too expensive. So, it saves you that whole getting a two and placing it beside the first one, only slightly higher so we get the two level effect, etc. Not to mention avoiding having to chop down the tallest tree in the forest with a herring.
Ni really is the best minhag - for everyone, knight or not
."


As you can tell, TKwhoSN is a traditionalist, and resists hiddur mitzva.

This stand is supported by Rabban Gamliel, who held that the cost of TWO shrubberies put such a terrible burden on a family that they would abandon (the individual required to present a shrubbery) and flee. Rabban Gamliel says: "Ein zaken b'Cheshvan" [ 'nobody (harvests) a mature shrubbery in (the month of) Cheshvan' ]. Because it is a hardship.

But this is not necessarily a barrier to performing a commandment, and further, when his (Rabban Gamliel’s) children came home after chatzos, they asked their father whether they could recite krias shema. Now, though one cannot gain a kiyum mitzvah d’oraysa, done knowingly in contravention of standards set by Chazal, the children missed the proper time of chatzos only b'ones (unintentionally). And it is suggested that violating a d'rabbanan b'ones should not negate a kiyum d'oraysa.


Rav zeira opines (regarding hiddur mitzva), "by as much as a third".


Rashi explains as follows: 'if a man finds two shrubberies and acquires the nicer one, he should go that third further for the nicer one' - "today we do the mitzva, tomorrow we may be rewarded". What is added on will be repaid (al pi Rashi, Bava Kama 9b).

The Rishonim disagree as to the correct way of fulfilling the mitzva mehadrin min hamehadrin. The Rambam avers that it is supplemental to the preceding level (mehadrin): one should acquire an additional shrubbery for each person, for each occasion that a shrubbery is required. He states that we use the best that we can afford - and this implies a comparative, and hence, it might be argued, TWO (or more) shrubberies!


That presents a machlokes: how many shrubberies are required, and are more (than the basic requirement) permitted?


The Rema also allows one for each person like the Rambam, which is the Ashkenazic minhag (a shrubbery per person) but differs from the Rambam, who held that it was enough if the head of the household presented the shrubberies on behalf of each member of the family - the Rema states that each individual should present his own. The Maharil agrees.

So whereas one point of view holds that there should also be a shrubbery for the person presenting the shrubbery (and a minimum of one additional shrubbery for the household), the practise has been one shrubbery per person.

As is written: "Two is one too many, and three is right out. No more. No less. One shall be the count of your shrubbery, and the number of the shrubbery shall be one. Two shall you not present, nor either present naught, excepting that you then proceed to one. Three is right out. Once the number one, being the first number, be reached, present you then the shrubbery towards the knights".
[Rambam, Sefer Netachim]


Other readers also weighed in.

Yossi said:
"I would have to say that I lean towards "Ni" however there is a lot of persuasive reasoning to the machlokes disputing "Ni" and suggesting that the proper minhag is, in fact, "It!"
One only needs consider the knights' response to that holy word to understand the strong foundation to that contention
."

Abe said:
"About 5 years ago, I went to a fundie relative's wedding, much against my better judgement. It took place in a very fancy and expensive catering hall. After the valet took my car, I walked through a gardened walkway to the entrance and noted 2 shrouded figures on both sides of the entrance doors. I was puzzled and took a closer look. I peeked under the shroud and I laughed when I realized that the licentious display was nothing more than a nude statue of Venus in all her feminine charms.
I surmised that the sight of a nude Venus might have deleterious effects on the choson's frame of mind for future kolel study.
On the other hand, the dopey fundies didn't understand that this was also an ancient kabalistic segula for a more productive romp in the bedroom on the happy couple's wedding night
. "



The Internet is for Porn said:
" "I surmised that the sight of a nude Venus might have deleterious effects on the choson's frame of mind for future kolel study. "But on the other hand, it might have done wonders for the choson's frame of mind regarding the mitzva of pru urvu!"



We see that the obligation (d'oraisa) of the shrubbery is linked to the mitzva of pru urvu, and while our fathers (may have) had two wives (Yakov, with Rachel and Leah, for instance), it has long been customary for us to have only one spouse. Hence the exactation of TWO shrubberies clearly constitutes a hardship.

No matter your (understandably) keen desire to 'beautify the commandment', you should limit yourself to one.

Ni.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

DHANSAK ! OR, THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER TRUST A DABBAWALLA TO DO A PERSONJI'S JOB

This past Sunday I had the worst excuse for dhansak ever. It was miserable. Horrid. Nasty in the extreme. A vile and debased concoction. A thoroughly repulsive squogg-dreck mess, off-putting and up-setting. Blah. And gxtvxrdxmmx-nxndxjx!
[06/20/08 FOUL CURSING OBSCURED BY REQUEST OF A READER]I should have known better - what Indian restaurant in the United States actually serves Indian food? More specifically, what Indian restaurant in the United States does anything other than dabba cuisine?

Much as I love Punjabi truck drivers and their rich greasy eats, it was probably too much to expect them to understand dhansak.

What I wanted was mutton chunks in a mixture of various lentils and vegetables, thick and nicely spiced, with chicken croquettes and a chunky cucumber salad. And Parsi brown rice.

What I got was standard steam table curried lamb and uninspired yellow lentils hotchpotted together.


Dudes, that's not dhansak. That's muck. You guys must think I'm white.


Oh wait, I am.

Eliding over the minor matter of my hereditary skin-hue, let me explain how to make dhansak.


DHANSAK
Enough for eight people.

[Made with lamb. As it should be. Chicken dhansak (dhansak ni margi) is for wussies.]


Two pounds of chunked lamb on the bone.
One cup of oiled toovar dal (telwalla toor dal).
Half a cup of masoor dal.
Half a cup of moong dal (or urad dal).
A pound of red pumpkin, large chunks (substitute regular pumpkin, or a batata, if no red pumpkin is to be had).
Two or three Chinese eggplants
Three or four tomatoes - peeled, seed, chopped.
Two or three large onions, chopped.
Several cloves of garlic, minced.
A large thumb of ginger, also minced.
A small bunch of methi leaves, plus a handful of cilantro, nicely minced.
A few tablespoons of tamarind water (equal parts hot water and mashed tamarind pulp).
Godrej Ghee or Olive Oil.

Mint leaves - enough to make their presence known, but not an excess.
[06/20/08 - Mistri-bhen alerted me to the omission this morning. And note: actual quantity depends on pungency.]
One batch of Dhansak masala (see below).

Soak the dals for the requisite length of time - overnight, or according to the instructions on the package. Drain, rinse, drain again. Then put in a pan with a teaspoon of turmeric and plenty water to cover, and cook till quite done - about an hour or so. Use a wooden spoon to break up and mash the lentils - the lentils should be gloopy, and semi-smooth; most of the lentils should be broken or mushed.
[06/20/08 - oh go ahead; add a goodly pinch of fried ground cumin to the dals - I know you want to.]


Brown the onions in an enameled stew-pan. Add the ground spices plus the garlic and ginger, sauté till fragrant, add the meat and tomato, plus a brisk jigger tamarind water (or substitute a squeeze of lemon and a dash of vinegar), and cook, stirring, till the meat is well coloured and the oil separates. Add water to cover, pinch of salt, cook for about an hour.

Now combine the meat and lentils, add the remaining vegetables, and cook till the eggplant and pumpkin chunks are tender - the finished dish will be a medium ruddy brown, with lumps. Adjust the flavours - pinches salt or sugar, dash more hot stuff, another squeeze of lime. Plus a pinch of garam masala for aroma, and a small amount freshly chopped cilantro or parsley for visual appeal.


Serve with kachumber and Parsi brown rice, plus quartered lime for squeezing. And croquettes or pattice.



DHANSAK MASALA
[Parsi spice mixture used primarily for dhansak]

Ten Dry chilies - Guajillo or New Mexico chiles secos.
Three TBS coriander seed.
One and a half TBS cumin seed.
One TBS whole peppercorns.
Half a TBS fennel seed.
Half a TBS black mustard seed.
Half a TBS fenugreek seed.
Four Tej Patta (cassia leaves - bay leaf may be substituted, but it isn't really the same).

Four green cardamom pods, seeds only.
One black cardamom pod, seeds only.
One three-inch stick of cinnamon.
One star-anise pod.
Eight whole cloves.
One Tsp. mace.

Toast all spices except the mace. Cool and grind. Add the mace and regrind, sift. If you double the recipe to have some for future use, store the excess in a brown or blue glass jar in a cool place. Use within a month.


-------------------------------------

GLOSSARY

Guajillo chile: A nice winey dry chile that yields a lovely simmered salsa for New Mexicans, but which also makes a superior chile powder. One Guajillo is roughly equivalent to between two teaspoons and one tablespoon of powder.
[I like to up the ante by also adding a spoonful or two of sambal oelek (simple hot red pepper mash available from Vietnamese, Chinese, or Dutch manufacturers - the Vietnamese brands from Southern California are best), plus a jigger of Louisiana hot sauce to the cooking dhansak.]
Tuvar dal, Toor dal: Pigeon pea, Cajanus Cajan,
Masoor dal: Regular salmon coloured lentil, commonly available. Lens culinaris. Takes less than an hour to cook.
Moong dal: mung beans, (lok dau in Cantonese, 綠豆). Vigna Radiata.
Urad dal: Black gram, vigna mungo.
Red pumpkin: Same as the regular types of pumpkin, different cultivar, different flavour. Cucurbit.
Kachumber: The typical Indian restaurant salad composed of chopped cucumber, tomato, onion, salt, pepper, fried mustard seeds, and cilantro, dressed with a little vinegar, salt, and sugar. Think chunky salsa with cucumber, not wet.
Parsi brown rice: Combine a few tablespoons of sugar with a little water. Heat in a cheap enamel pan till the sugar has melted and started to redden, remove from heat immediately. Carefully add water (beware of savage splattering), and reheat. Add this dark red syrup with a pinch or two of cinnamon to three or four fried onions, add parboiled rice sufficient for the eight people, mix and stir-fry a bit to imbue the rice with the flavours, then add water to cover, place a lid on the pan, and cook on low heat for about twenty minutes. Parsi brown rice is not an exact science. More or less sugar as you wish - it should be slightly sweet, taste of fried onions, the cinnamon should aromatize but not dominate, and it should still be mostly just cooked rice.
Pattice: This is the accepted spelling of 'patties' in descriptions of Parsi food - do not quibble with the spelling. Pattice are similar to Indonesian perkedel - minced chicken held together with a little mashed potato plus flour and spices, kneaded and formed into "patties", and fried brown. The key thing is that they are crispy-flaky, savoury-spicy. You don't need a recipe, just experiment. Serve with a glob of hot (!) green chutney.

-------------------------------------

Now, what better to delay your after-lunch nap than dessert?

[Errrm, if you keep kosher, postpone the dessert till after your nap. At least three hours.]


SHIR BERINJ
[Rice in sweetened cream.]

Two cups heavy cream, and a dash extra.
One cup rice.
One cup cane sugar.
One cup plump golden raisins.
Four Tablespoons rosewater (Arabic: ma'-ward, moit el warda).
Four Tablespoons crumbled pistachios.
A pinch of saffron.

Wash the rice well, spread it out to dry on a tray for a day. Then pound with a brass mortar and pestle until the grains are about one quarter their original size.
Add the saffron to the cream and bring to a boil, add the rice and bring back to boiling, turn low, stir, and add the sugar and raisins. Keep stirring till it has become thick and custardy (meh, takes about ten minutes or so). Remove from heat, and when it has cooled add the rose water and pistachio. Serve semi-chilled.

Shortcuts are possible: one is to dry the rice in the oven on a very low heat (which, if you live in a boggy climate, is better than relying on the weather), another is to use a coffee grinder and pulse the dried rice. The reason why you wash the rice and re-dry it is obvious - you do not want all the powdery crap that normally coats even the best rice, and washing the rice dissolves some of the starches. Redrying it afterwards makes it easier to pound, too.


Of course, instead of pudding, you could simply retire to that long chair on the veranda and doze till sunset. Make sure that the net is down to keep out the flying things and the slats are lowered to keep out the sun.


-------------------------------------

AFTERWORD

It is customary to have dhansak for the Sunday noon meal among the Parsees of Bombay. And because lunch is heavy, the household turns quiet afterwards, as the various diners sleep, for their digestion's sake - naught but the occasional borborigmus breaks the silence and disturbs their slumber........... entirely aside from the antiquated air-conditioning system, which sounds like heavy machinery.

I like dhansak. Perhaps you could tell. I was consequently overjoyed to see it on the menu, and bitterly disappointed with the actual dish when it came out of the kitchen. I shall avoid lashon hara by not naming the restaurant that produced that ghastly mess.

Savage Kitten, on the other hand, was happy as a clam. She had Tandoori Murghi. Did you know that a petite Cantonese female can devour an entire Tandoori chicken all by herself? Along with poori, rice, and raita.

Savage Kitten went to sleep promptly upon our return home. I did not.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TIME TO REMIND Y'ALL OF SOME THINGS THE DUTCH WOULD RATHER YOU FORGET

At this point you are probably already familiar with the abysmal record of the Dutch, particularly their bureaucracy, police forces, banks, and railways, during WWII.
[Spoiler alert: this post is a rant, and is somewhat lengthy. Nor will I claim that it is entirely rational - some pettiness may have crept in.]


No?


WWII
Quick refresher: Collectively the above mentioned were responsible for enabling the Germans to efficiently and expeditiously exterminate eighty percent of Dutch Jewry. After the war all the above pointed fingers at the Germans, denied any and all intimate knowledge of the details of what had happened or how, and conspired to obfuscate their role in the events. The banks, in particular, profited from the German organized despoliation of Dutch Jews - after the war, much that had been confiscated was never returned, and the state made itself the official owner of whatever it had not the energy to find heirs to.

[Key search criteria for a representative overview: Pieter Menten (Dutch war criminal protected by his contacts in the post-war establishment); Jacques Goudstikker (whose art collection was finally given to his heirs after more than six decades of Dutch government denials and obduracy); Maror gelden (bitter money - the paltry recompense offered to the survivors after much sniping and pettiness by the Dutch government); NSB (National-Socialistische Beweging - the Dutch Nazis, many of whom occupied prominent places before the war, some of whom occupied prominent places after the war); Dutch SS (the various volunteer legions raised in the Netherlands to fight alongside the Germans on the Eastern Front).]


Anyhow, now that that is out of the way, how about some Dutch East-Indies history?
Just a sampler - there is far too much to illuminate everything.


BANDA: 1621
Let's start with the extermination of the native population of Banda. The Dutch, under their great military commander Jan Pieterszoon Coen (later made governor of the East Indies) were determined to enforce their trade monopoly in mace, nutmeg, and cloves, and decided that as the natives of Banda did not agree with them on this issue, it would be profitable to exterminate them utterly. They were right; it was profitable. Over fifteen thousand people were slaughtered.


DJALAN RAYA POS: 1808
The Great Post Road (Groote Postweg) across Java was a military road which was constructed by order of governor Daendels in 1808. Native rulers along the route of the road were commanded to provide workers from the local populations - if their portion of the road was not completed on schedule, the rulers and their workers were killed and their heads displayed along portions yet being built. Thousands died because of the harsh conditions, thousands more perished because of hardships created by the mobilization of so large a proportion of the population. Certainly Daendels qualifies as a tyrant and a criminal. He is lauded as one of the Netherlands greatest men.


COMPULSORY PLANTING: 1830 to 1870
The Kultuurstelsel (Culture System / Cultivation System) forced millions of natives into poverty and starvation with its exactations - food crops took a backseat to required cash crop planting, harvests going to the government. It was extremely profitable - mansions in Amsterdam are still occupied by the heirs of men who benefited by that tyranny.
Along with enforced trade monopolies it enriched Holland while gutting the victims of empire. A splendid achievement.


THE ATJEH WAR: 1873 to 1910
For over a generation, the Dutch colonial army engaged in savage repression of a former ally and friend. Initially the aim was to assert control and so keep the other powers (particularly the Americans) from involving themselves in one of the last independent territories of the archipelago, but after the ignoble defeat of the first expeditionary force the Dutch ramped up their efforts. In a scorched-earth campaign they leveled villages, destroyed crops, imprisoned native leaders, and massacred thousands. The war was so savage that returning soldiers carried the sobriquets 'kaki mera' (red feet, from wading in blood) or 'tangan mera' (red arms, from being in gore up to their elbows).
The Dutch colonial army at that time, in addition to professional soldiers and Moluccan mercenaries, included the dregs of Europe - murderers, thieves, brigands, and rapists - who sought safety and anonymity by enlisting for Holland and leaving Europe.
The list of heroes on the Atjenese side is endless, that of the Dutch, short. This war was not marked by gallantry.


BALI: 1906, 1908
The royal courts of Sanur and Kelungkung, realizing that they stood no chance against the superior might of the Dutch, deliberately marched out against the invading army and met their end. Thousands perished rather than surrender - princes, nobles, commoners; men, women, children. These events are known as the Puputan of Badung (1906) and the Puputan of Klungkung (1908) respectively.
[A puputan is a defiant and suicidal final battle. It is the last resort of those facing certain defeat.]


TURK WESTERLING: 1946 to 1950
Let's also mention Raymond (Turk) Westerling. This gentleman, in the employ of the KNIL (Koninklijke Nederlands-Indisch Leger - the Royal Dutch East-Indies Army), commanded special forces in Sulawesi (Celebes), and engaged in a relentless reign of terror against the Nationalists and native villages sympathetic to their cause. Tactics employed by Turk and his men were later echoed much more modestly by Americans in Vietnam - what happened in MyLai had already happened several times over in Sulawesi. After 1949 he went awol, and attempted to overthrow the republican government of Indonesia. Despite his blood-drenched past, he was welcomed back to the Netherland where many considered him a hero. He died peacefully in 1987, having never stood trial for his crimes.


POLICE ACTIONS IN JAVA: 1947 & 1949
And further, consider the first and second Politionele Acties (Police Actions) in Java during the Indonesian war of independence - what the Americans later did to the Northern Vietnamese with airplanes and napalm, the Dutch Marines managed to do entirely by hand. They were just as effective - the enemy was steeled in its resolve and despite horrendous losses continued the struggle.
What is truly remarkable is that if the Dutch had resisted the Japanese with even only a fraction of the fury of their fight against the Nationalists, it is extremely likely that the Dutch East-Indies would never have fallen to Emperor Hirohito's forces.


Had enough?

How about just a little more, in brief:

South Africa - Cape Dutch (Boers/Afrikaners), Apartheid.
Ceylon - Brutal exploitation and mass bloodshed.
Brazil - Profitably exploiting the slave-society stolen from the Portuguese.
Suriname - A brutal colonial economy created on the backs and blood of hundreds of thousands.
The African Slave Coast - Major player, manifestly not a civilizing role.
Malabar - Extortion, bloodshed, and trade in spices.
Etc.





--- --- --- --- ---

SREBRENICA

Now, why am I highlighting all this?
Because it looks like those canny, mercantile, subtle Dutch are going to weasel out of admitting any responsibility for Srebrenica.

See this article (in Dutch) in the Algemeen Dagblad:
http://www.ad.nl/buitenland/2379724/Nabestaanden_vangen_bot.html

And this article (in English) on the BBC site:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7461310.stm


Frankly, this is not surprising. The Dutch have a talent for denying responsibility, and often take delight in leaving someone else holding the bag. Having lived there for several years, I am more than familiar with their penchant for casting blame while steadfastly refusing to acknowledge fault.
Dutch law, furthermore, is the Napoleonic Code with modifications - a legal system which absolves the authorities and hampers acknowledgement of governmental culpability.

I am rather disgusted with this turn of events. But again, I am not particularly surprised - I lived there for sixteen years (1962 - 1978). While I personally like many Dutch, and would trust those that I like on an individual basis, as a group and institutionally I prefer to keep them at much more than arms length.


PERSONAL NOTE
There is a certain pleasure in exposing all this juicy dirt - my ancestors were effectively sold to the English when the Dutch West-Indies Company divested themselves of New Amsterdam in 1664. The history my family shares with other Netherlanders actually ends in 1635, when Isaac Abrahamsen van Deursen (my first New-World ancestor) was born in Kings County; my lineage is in no way implicated or complicit in subsequent Netherlands-Dutch events - we and the other New York Dutch were left to our own devices and solved our own problems (teaching natives how to scalp, manufacturing soupy ale and cheap gin, and putting up with Presbyterians, among other things).

We (all of us Americans) may indeed be co-guilty of all the sins of America, as my beloved classmates in Valkenswaard averred; we may also be horrid barbaric Yanks (see previously mentioned averring); and we may be co-responsible for ending WWII (atom bombs, also under the rubric of previously mentioned averring); and certainly too Vietnam was one of our country's errors (again, that averring biz)..........

But Srebrenica, boys, is all yours. You did something incredibly nasty there. You handed unarmed men, women, and children over to murderers. You stood by while the men and boys were marched off to be slaughtered. You 'observed' as women were gangraped, and children were violated or had their throats slit. You did all this, not us. Your officers ordered it, it was their authority that made it happen. Your men, in your country's uniforms, and representing your nation, saved their own hides by sacrificing those who were entrusted to your care.
You did it. You bear responsibility for Srebrenica.
You.

And now your legal system may miscarry justice in this matter.

Nice.

You 'Ollanders often claim to be the Acme of the enlightened First World, and represent the best of Western Civilization.
We wish that you wouldn't. You make us look no better than do the rest of that lot on the other side of the Atlantic, and if they know their history, they too may have some questions about the appropriateness of your claims.

Judging from your history, it might be best if the Netherlands-Dutch stayed out of the rest of the world for a while.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NEW TAGS

For the benefit of my readers I have created some new tags which now show up under the relevant posts - food related tags. I figgered you might be more picky than the previous two catch-alls ('FOOD', 'Recipes') implied.

[Yeah, I know. Took me a while to grasp your complexity, didn't it? Sorry.]


The new tags are:
Chinese food, Dutch food, Indian food, Indo food, Jewish food.


Explanation: Chinese food includes the dishes of Chinese origin that are actually in the Indo category as well as pure Chinese; Indian food also applies to Parsee and Pakistani dishes but not to Gujerati muck, as that is well-nigh inedible; Indo food is both common Indonesian as well as regional; Jewish food may include some Dutch food; and all of it consists of stuff that I consider particular to my life and my table.
Dutch food is Dutch food.

[As yet there are no tags for Gujerati food (so far that subject has not been discussed), Surinamese food (only one or two recipes noted at this point), or African food - I assume you already know how to cook a zebra (I wrote about it a while back), and nyembe and saka saka were mentioned here a long time ago too (search this blog for saka saka if you are curious). With the exception of Gujerati food, there will be tags for these categories in the future.]


Mutanjan and Muzaffar are under Indian food, along with Haleem, Nahari, and Dhansak Masala. Roast duck is under Chinese food, but also under My food, along with oil balls and a lot of herring - which you will also find under Dutch food and Jewish food. Sweet soy sauce can be found in Indo food, along with some strange fish. It's all one happy Venn diagram.


I encourage you to happily click on the tags to find everything in that category.


THE BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS

Yesterday ended as one of the most miserable days in San Francisco that we've had since winter. A cold biting wind came off the ocean, tourists huddled inside the cablecar too blue to speak (instead of hanging on the outside hooting and hollering), and the few street people still out in the frigid dusk muttered their spare-a-dimes through clenched teeth.

It would've been the perfect time for a Muslim breakfast, such as sheep's trotters in broth (nahari / nihari). Warm and comforting, splendid just before either heading out into the chill predawn, or settling in for a long nap ere heading to the masjid around noon (if you live in Delhi or Lahore).
It would also be perfect for shabbes morning, but you might be replete and far too sluggish for shacharis afterwards. Still, I heartily recommend it. You can even prepare it ahead, keeping it warm overnight.


PAYA NAHARI ( نہاری )

Eight sheep's trotters, well-scrubbed.
Eight marrow bones.
Two large or three medium onions, chopped.
Three or four cloves garlic, minced.
A generous thumb of ginger, minced.
One Tablespoon ground coriander.
Half a Tablespoon cayenne.
One teaspoon ground cumin.
Half a teaspoon turmeric.

One teaspoon garam masala (Sindhi style - it is more fragrant).
Half a teaspoon salt.
Three or four whole black cardamom pods (bari elaichi).
Three or four whole star anise.
Three or four Jalapeňos, left whole.
A generous handful or two of chopped cilantro, or cilantro and parsley mixed.


Brown the onions in ghee or oil. Add the garlic and ginger, gild, then add the ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Stir till fragrant. Stir in the remaining spices and salt, put the trotters and marrow bones in the pan along with the whole green chilies, cover with plenty of water or meat broth, and simmer for several hours. Put in the chopped herbs to wilt with a little extra garam masala for fragrance. Serve with wedges of lime on the side for squeezing over, plus chopped green chili for heat.


It should be soupy. Feel free to slurp the soft meat off the bones.

Freshly baked sourdough baguette is a splendid accompaniment, as well as hot cardamom coffee.


Note I: Like tsholnt, it benefits from a long period on low heat. You could place it in the oven or on the blech overnight and have it for breakfast.

Note II: The Jalapeňos are left whole, so that they may impart their fragrance. You could eat them alongside the nahari - they will have mellowed considerably after cooking.

Note III: For broth or stock, added in lieu of water, I like to take shank bones, rub 'em with a little olive oil, and roast them dark in the oven, then simmer them with scrap mutton for a few hours. It yields a flavourful browned-bone broth which combines nicely with spices.


I should mention that while it would've been a perfect evening for a Muslim breakfast, I didn't have any; I didn't feel like going over to the Queen of Sheba Market (near Masjid At-Tawhid, Polk and Bush) and negotiating with the Yemeni woman for odd sheep bits. Instead I climbed under the comforter with Savage Kitten, and a cup of strong tea, and read for several hours. It was just as good.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

IN WHICH I SPEAK UNFAVOURABLY OF THE DUTCH, THE EUROPEANS, AND THE UNITED NATIONS

No, this has naught to do with Israel. Or Jews. I have in the past slammed the Dutch, Europeans, and United Nations several times for their abysmal two-facedness and reprehensible record regarding Jews and Israel. Not this time.

This time I speak of their abysmal two-facedness and reprehensible record regarding Muslims and the Balkans.


SREBENICA

In 1993 General Morillon (a Frenchman, currently member of the Euro parliament) told the besieged town of Srebrenica that they were under the protection of the UN, and he would never, never (!) abandon them. He left the army within the year.

In April of that year, the UN Security Council officially declared that Srebrenica was a UN safe area, and that it would be safeguarded from attack.

By spring of 1995 the situation was desperate: the Serb terrorists were determined to capture Srebenica and expunge the Muslim inhabitants, the UN had done nearly nothing to ensure the safety of the sixty thousand people in the town despite looming disaster, supplies were running low, and the Dutch peacekeepers were becoming keenly aware of the apathy of their NATO colleagues about the situation.


NOTE: I should mention at this point that the Dutch had become overly friendly with the Serbians during their time in the Balkans - Lieutenant Colonel Karremans (now hiding out in Spain, where no one particularly cares about his role in the debacle), in command of the Dutch at Srebenica, seems to have had a drinking-buddy relationship with Serb terrorist commander Ratko Mladic, to whom he looked up, and from whom he accepted favours.

There have also been well-attested incidents of ethnic Dutch soldiers hazing (abusing) fellow soldiers of Moroccan and Turkish ancestry in the Dutch army - including one incident in which they poured gasoline over a companion and threatened to burn the damn' heathen. Certainly they did not look upon the Muslim Bosniaks in an overly kind fashion, and an argument can well be made that the bigotries of small town Holland affected their concern for their charges in Bosnia.


JULY 1995

Between July tenth and July twenty first, Dutch forces witnessed several incidents which indicated that Serbs neither respected the inviolability of people in the UN safe area, nor intended to honour the assurances of safety and civilized treatment of the refugees that they had given the Dutch - there were numerous murders, rapes, and incidents of brutal torture. There is consequently no way that any of the Dutchbat soldiers and officers could then, or can since, claim ignorance of what was going to happen.

On the 21st of July 1995, after surrendering the Bosniaks to the Serbian terrorists, Karremans and company left the area of Srebrenica for safer climes. Apparently the four hundred Dutch soldiers did not develop any psychological problems despite what befell the refugees they abandoned, as not long after they were happily carousing in Sarajevo. Since their return to the Netherlands, however, the Dutch government has kept them mostly under wraps, claiming that they are 'traumatized'.
Which conveniently keeps them out of the light, and away from the somewhat disinterested eyes of the Dutch press.


Now the survivors of their compassion are seeking justice. And suing the Dutch government.


Article from the BBC:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7457239.stm

Quote: "They allege the Dutch state was liable for its troops' failure to protect some 8,000 Muslim civilians killed when Bosnian-Serb forces overran the town."

And: "Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that the UN Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) allowed the killings by handing over Muslims to the Bosnian-Serb forces, and that the Dutch state was liable because it had command of the military."



It took the Dutch seven years to conclude that perhaps something went disastrously wrong. Now let us see how the Dutch courts deal with the issue, and who will get splattered - there is more than enough blame to pass around.
The Dutch, the Europeans, and the United Nations; all bear guilt for the slaughter of eight thousand Bosniaks.


On a related note, if it weren't for the US, the Serbians and their Greek and Russky volunteers would've pogrommed Bosnia and Kosovo right off the map. The Europeans were ready to sit back and watch it happen, the UN would've done nothing more than pass the usual resolutions, and a majority of the international community would've ignored the issue in return for their own flaws being overlooked.

I sometimes think that when we bombed Belgrado in 1999 we should've dropped a couple of stray thousand-pounders on the other European capitals.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

GLOATING, GLOATING, GLOATING FAIRY PRINCES

You know, I really should be a gentleman, and not gloat about the French soccer defeat several hours ago. They fought manfully, and delivered a splendid game.


On the other hand, I am extremely petty (!), and schadenfreude is a talent.
So here goes:


Netherlands trounces France
http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/sports/story.html?id=2a90e588-ec02-47e0-a249-d41da0a90e3b
Quote: "The dazzling Dutch qualified for the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 with a 4-1 destruction of France that left the World Cup runners-up hovering over the tournament trapdoor on Friday. Four days after crushing world champions Italy 3-0, Marco van Basten's side ripped the French apart with another superb performance "


Brilliant Robben underlines value and leaves fragile French reeling
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/internationals/netherlands-4-france-1-brilliant-robben-underlines-value-and-leaves-fragile-french-reeling-846999.html
Quote: "There is no team that has proved itself more emphatically in Euro 2008 thus far than Marco van Basten's Dutch team who have dispatched Italy and France within the space of five days "


Netherlands Beats France
http://poligazette.com/2008/06/13/european-championships-football-netherlands-beats-france/
Quote: "Ever since the Netherlands beat Italy (the world champion) with ease, the Netherlands is considered a favorite to win this year’s tournament. The French, on the other hand......"


Deadly Dutch turn on style to thump France
http://uk.reuters.com/article/worldFootballNews/idUKL1300242020080613
Quote: "Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder scored for Netherlands, with Thierry Henry replying as France slid to their heaviest defeat in a major tournament finals since losing 5-2 to Brazil at the 1958 World Cup."


Dutch beat France 4-1 to win group
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hwNpPwBMIrRJnNQ4xPV17TLzfviAD919DO481
Quote: "The Dutch romped past both 2006 World Cup finalists in Group C, beating Italy 3-0 before outclassing the French. "


Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener. Neener, neener, neener.

Brief recap, so that you can really appreciate the situation: On Monday, the Dutch beat the stuffing out of the Italians. Today, the Dutch slaughtered the French.

Neener.
Heh.

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MAD CHEESE WHACKS FROMAGE PERFIDE!

In another masterful display of spectacular soccer, the Dutch team beat the French. Whupped them. Hacked them to pieces. Slaughtered them. Spat upon their aspirations, cut them off at the knees, stamped upon their unborn, and destroyed any and all hope of French honour.
Massacred 'em, decimated 'em, utterly smashed 'em.


Final score Netherlands - France: 4 - 1.

To repeat: The Dutch beat the French by four to one.

Neener, neener, neener.


Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's look forward. There are sixty thousand ecstatic Dutch soccer fans in Berne, it's the middle of summer, and the weekend is just starting.
Did anyone mention beer?

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

THE SWEETNESS OF THE LAMB

Several years ago I stopped purchasing Ahmed's pickles, which came from Pakistan, and switched to Patak's, which are made in England. The reason has nothing to do with taste (Ahmed's Pickles are truly excellent), price, or politics. It is not because I despise Pakis, or object to the average Pakistani's reprehensible political views. By no means.

[I do not boycott, by and large. Even if Pakistan despises Americans, Jews, and Israel, that is immaterial. Malaysia does the same, and Malays are fairly unpleasant arrogant little turds to boot, but I still purchase blatjan (blachan: stinky prawn paste) made in that abysmal dreck of a place. A pox on Mahathir Muhammad and all his kin. But their blatjan is fine.]


It is a quality control issue. I simply do not trust foods made in places like Pakistan, Spain, Eastern Europe, or Texas.

I could put up such pickles myself, but manufactured Indian-style pickles are better than most of us have the time or talent to make, and it's just so much easier to rely on someone else's mom - especially as regards nimboo ka achar or am ka achar.

[Achar (pronounced 'ah-tjar' - the 'ch' is English rather than Yiddish or Ivrit): meaning 'pickle' in most Indian languages and in much of the Indonesian archipelago. An essential part of a well-stocked larder, a benefit to the dinner table.]


Not all Indian and Pakistani preparations are mom-work, however.
Haleem (حليم) needs a man's input. A strong vigorous male hand, to beat it into shape. Fiercely.


GENTLE, FORBEARING, KIND


The word 'haleem' means gentle, forbearing, kind. It is one of the names of the divine (Al-Halim: G-d), as well as a descriptive of patient and understanding persons, and a popular name for men.

As applied to food, it becomes a comforting and nutritious meat-grain-lentil porridge. Spiced, of course, in the Indian manner (in this case meaning Muslim style, as it is not associated with Hindus, and is a traditional dish for breaking the Ramadan fast).

[Haleem is also an excellent breakfast dish, especially if one has grown tired of sheep's trotters in broth.]


HALEEM

Two cups wheat (whole grains).
Two cups masoor dal.
One cup dry chickpeas.
One and half pounds of lamb, cut into small chunks.
Three large onions, chopped fine.
Three to six cloves garlic, slivered.
A thumb of ginger, minced.
One Tablespoon cayenne.
Half a Tablespoon sweet paprika.
Half a Tablespoon cumin seeds (toast and grind).
Half a Tablespoon garam masala (Sindhi style - very fragrant).
One teaspoon turmeric.
One teaspoon salt.
Pinches of sugar (accentuates browning of ingredients).
Olive oil, samin, or ghee - your choice.
Juice of two or three lemons.
Generous handfuls of cilantro and parsley, plus a pluck of mint leaves. Finely minced.


Soak the grain, lentils, and chickpeas separately overnight. Drain, and cook separately with water to cover for an hour or so. Turn off heat and let cool.

Fry the onions golden (add a pinch sugar if needed), remove to a plate. Fry the garlic and ginger in the same pan, remove to a plate. Now decant most of the onion plus all of the fried garlic and ginger to the blender and pulp them (this is where the vigorously thrashing man came into play, in the days before blenders). Do the same with the lentils. And the chickpeas.

Put the spices in the pan with the onion puree and fry fragrant. Add the meat and turn to coat and brown well (again, pinch of sugar if needed). Add the grain, lentils, chickpeas, plus water to cover if necessary. Simmer for an hour or more on low, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. At this point the grains should be mushy enough that a wooden spoon held by a strong hand will break them apart; do so (this also is the work of male muscles). If some of the meat also breaks apart, excellent. The result should be a meaty porridge. Simmer a bit longer, then add the herbs to wilt, salt to taste, some fresh garam masala for aroma, and the lemon juice for tang. Garnish with the remaining fried onion and serve.

[UPDATE 06/13/08: I usually add a few tablespoons of minced green chili on top for my own pleasure. You may think twice about doing so.]


Note I:
In order to smoothen the mouth-feel or thicken the porridge, some corn-flour paste may be used. Add a few minutes before turning off the heat, at the same time as the herbs, and stir.

Note II:
If the grain is omitted, it will be a type of kichri. That isn't what you wanted.

Note: III:
This is also a great dish to come home to after a night of carousing. That may be at odds with the personal habits of most of the traditional consumers of this dish. Savour the frisson.

Note IV:
Our neighbors in Valkenswaard were a large yeti-woman and her shrimp of a husband. In their case, the man would've been useless as far as making haleem is concerned. But he knew his fish, and trimmed seafood with a master's hand. In retrospect it is a pity that she did not make haleem.

Note V:
The amount of cayenne given above is mostly hypothetical, seeing as Savage Kitten has not even half the taste for chilies as a normal person (meaning: me). So I do not cook much with cayenne, and add the heat later to what I myself will eat. She will hardly touch a chili, and only if it is a Jalapeňo - never a Serrano, D'Arbol, or Thai. Savage Kitten does not touch nimboo ka achar or am ka achar either - too hot, too bitter, too salty. What is wrong with that woman?

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A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

Tomorrow the Dutch and the French soccer teams face each other in the European Championships. North and South; two types of Franks against each other. But this is not the Battle of the Golden Spurs, and will not decide the fate of Flanders, nor will it decide the supremacy of herring over snails.


It is, rather, a sporting contest between the 'Mad Cheese' and the 'Fromage Perfide'.


If you support the Dutch, play this anthem:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6xhRN5zz4g
[The national anthem of The Netherlands performed by all bands at the Netherlands Militairy Tattoo in 2006. ]

If you favour the French, play this anthem:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K1q9Ntcr5g
[Long, rousing version - nearly five minutes long.]


I like both teams. The Dutch finally have their act together, the French play well. May the best Franks win.

-------------------------------------

NOTE: For the words to the Dutch anthem, go here:
http://theothersideofthelizard.blogspot.com/2008/06/dutch-national-anthem.html

If you feel like singing along, please do. I assume you already know the words to the French anthem, and in any case they will show on screen when you click the youtube link above.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

GOOD ADVICE

I am usually fairly certain that my employers are happy that I am not in customer service. They should be especially happy today.

This morning our customer-service telephone person told an end-user: "If you can't touch the water, don't pour it on your child."


IF YOU CAN'T TOUCH THE WATER, DON'T POUR IT ON YOUR CHILD


Overhearing this brought two things to mind:
1. "No no, you should hold it under till the skin peels off easily. Then dip it in cold water to maintain the nice red colour."
2. Yad soledet bo ("the hand recoils from it"). One does not violate the rule against melacha on shabbes if one does not heat something to the temperature at which, upon touching it (or the vessel containing it) one instinctively pulls away one's hand.
So, as the main example, and not veering into maachal ben Drosai, one may make tea with water poured ('irui') from the primary vessel ('kli rishon') in which one kept the water hot into the second vessel (('kli sheini')), which will decrease the temperature (yet further), whereupon one places the teabag in the warm water of the second vessel. Or, if the water is too hot to touch, one pours it yet again - into a third vessel ((('kli shlishi'))). Note that the water-heater (primary vessel, the kli rishon) has to be either plugged in or placed on the blech before shabbes.

But this is natural - surely the customer would've grasped this?


The skin of a child is more sensitive than that of an adult, and even among adults, sensitivity to heat varies. Wherefore yad soledet bo is relative, and you clearly shouldn't have your brat make tea on Saturday.

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