Saturday was a great day for a group of New Jersey Food Geeks like me. I was joined by fellow Food Bloggers (who I will list below) on an Indian Market tour and lunch conducted by Chef Elizabeth Stelling from Cook Appeal.
I had read a blog post of Elizabeth’s a while ago about her tours and thought they sounded like so much fun, so I asked her if she would host one for a group of crazy Food Bloggers. As it turns out, we were her largest group to date and barely fit in the grocery. Elizabeth, or Chef E, started off the tour by giving us her background in Indian cooking and some basics on the differences in rices and spices. Then we were let loose to explore the isles and ask questions, and we had a million of them.
I came home with a big bag of Extra Hot chili powder, a big bag of cumin, ginger paste and an Indian version of peanut brittle. Chef E also gave us all goody bags filled with Sambar masala and small packets of Black Mustard Seeds, Turmeric, and Coriander Seeds. She also included a recipe for Sambar Garden Vegetable Soup which I can’t wait to try.
After we were all done with our shopping, we headed over to the Indian Restaurant Chef E recommended called Flavor of India (formerly Swagat) in Plainsboro. We were set up at a large table in the back and Chef E put in an order for a vast array of foods to try.
Papadam- crisps with mint chutney and Tamarind chutney
Dosai crepes filled with grilled veggies
Aloo Papdi Chat (Chat is snack/crunch snacks)
Vegetable Platter- Paneer Pakora (chickpea flour battered Indian Cheese)
Samosa (fried triangles with peas and potato), Vegetable Pakora (chickpea flour battered veggies), Raita (yogurt and cucumbers, mint), Mango Chutney, Bread Basket- Garlic and regular naan, Tandoori roti (whole wheat), aloo paratha (bread infused with potato)
Chicken Achari (redish sauce with peppers, onions)
Malai Kofta (vegetable balls in sauce)
Palak Paneer (spinach/Indian cheese)
Chana (chickpeas) Masala and Dal Makhani (black lentils in tomato/garlic curry)
As you can see, it was a lot of food but we managed to polish our plates. One of the funnier moments of the lunch came when we all realized how crazy a group of food bloggers look while eating lunch. This photo is a little blurry but I hope you can make out the cameras in everyone’s hands. It was great swapping tips on photography and blogging with other geeks like myself.
Chef E did a wonderful job of describing each dish and what went into them. I’m not a vegetarian, but if I were, I think Indian cooking would be a huge part of my diet. The chickpeas and Nan and all the chutneys were absolutely delicious. I learned so much about the different flavors and textures of Indian cuisine. I am ready to start getting more adventurous with my cooking with the goodies I brought home. And, you know, I’ll be writing about my adventures in the kitchen right here.
Here’s a shot of all of us after our wonderful meal. Those bloggers in attendance were Robin from Caviar and Codfish, Melissa from Sable Minded, Alex from A Food Coma, John & Lisa from John and Lisa are Eating in South Jersey, Vanessa from ChefDruck Musings, and Lisa from Jersey Girl Cooks and of course, yours truly. Everyone had such a great time, we will be planning some more events throughout the year. JerseyBites is open to suggestions and invitations from restaurants, farms, specialty stores etc. If you’ve got a great idea for a Food Blogging event, we’d love to hear about it.
Chef E of Cook Appeal conducts a number of different culinary tours in the Princeton area that are not only fun but very informative. You can read her post on our day here: Cook Appeal.Blogspot.com.
Flavor of India
10 Schalks Crossing Road
Plainsboro, NJ 08536