Friday, September 07, 2007

Weekend Stuff

Dale staring intently at a cookie, willing it to jump into his mouth...

Dale and I had a little adventure last Sunday. I was taking him down for an early-morning walk at 6.30 am when the elevator sunk a foot below ground-floor level in the shaft and the doors would not open. After 45 minutes of ringing a feeble "alarm" bell, a kind neighbor finally heard us, then called the fire department. They sent THREE fire trucks, complete with blaring sirens (to my utter embarrassment) and we were extracted from the elevator a short while later. Throughout the hour-long wait, Dale sat down patiently, with not a single whine. AND demonstrated superior bladder control, I might add! Anyway, when I related this incident to my parents, my mother had the last word as usual: "I have always thought elevators are nothing but trouble and this incident only proves it". OK, then :D

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A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Anjali, the owner of Supreme Spice (a small business dealing in premium spice extracts) asking if I would like to try out some of her products. Now, the concept of using a spice extract instead of the spice itself was a little alien to me and I hesistated, and then finally requested some ginger, cardamom and tea masala extracts, thinking that I could try all of these in my morning cup of tea.

Well, I am *so* glad that I got over my initial hesitation and decided to give these spice extracts a try, because in the last few weeks, I have thoroughly enjoying using them in a dozen different ways. For starters, I am amazed at the potent and "fresh" fragrance of the extracts. Each extract comes in a little bottle with a dropper for convenient use, and is thick and concentrated. 1-2 drops are more than enough to infuse a dish with incredible flavor. Indian-style Tea (chai), of course, is a wonderful way to use these three extracts that I have- I have been drinking ginger tea as a wake-me-up in the morning, cardamom tea as a relaxing after-work treat, and tea with spicy (yes, it is potent and spicy!) tea masala as an accompaniment to a good book on the weekends.

But the other wonderful use of these spice extracts is in baking and cooking. I used the ginger extract in many different ways- including some ice-cold refreshing ginger lemonade (Indian-style nimbu pani with a drop of ginger extract in each glass), gingery dal, and in some Asian-inspired food: ginger-scallion fried rice (to use up some left-over rice), in dipping sauce for Chinese-style dumplings (recipe coming up next week). In each case, I was amazed at the freshness and potency of the ginger flavor.

I used the cardamom extract in banana-cardamom pancakes and in a mango-soymilk smoothie, making it an instant dessert treat. It is excellent for use in drinks, where powdered cardamom may not dissolve and end up giving a gritty texture to the drink. I know I will be using this extract in all my Indian desserts, certainly.

I used some of the tea masala extract in place of vanilla extract in carrot cake (vanilla can get so "vanilla" sometimes, isn't it?) and it gave the cake a subtle exotic "spicy" taste. I am looking forward to using these extracts in other ways. Thank you for letting me try them, Anjali!

My suggestions for other spice extracts: I would love to see lemongrass extract, to add to tea, and to Thai curries and stir-fries. Fresh lemongrass is not very easy to find. Also, curry leaf extract would be wonderful for adding some extra fresh curry leaf flavor to my favorite Southern Indian dishes. For use in desserts and baking, rose extract would be unusual and delicious. The rose extracts on the market smell so "artificial" and I would be delighted to find a pure additive-free rose extract from a trusted source.

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Updated post: For an all-vegetable version of korma, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

I'll be back on Sunday, with a bowl of soup to share. Enjoy your weekend!


  1. What an Adventurous walk that must have been!and i can imagine how u must have felt with those fire trucks!cheers Dale boy!he deserves a treat for his patience!

  2. You couldn't have asked for better company while waiting in that elevator! Dale's picture is absolutely priceless. As is your blog!


  3. such incidents in lift is quite scary...good of Dale to keep up the brave front!...and your not on the extracts is quite informative...thanks for sharing..

  4. what a sweet doggie he is!!! that experience sounds scary. glad it turned out fine in the end.

  5. good to hear that Dale was with you during those panicy moments! i too use chai masala,home made. will post it sometime.

  6. That was a good read!! :)

    I made your M/W version of sabudana khichdi and I am never gonna make the stove top version ever! Its the best I have ever made till now....... next day i took it for lunch and shared it with my colleagues...... they all loved it and I have forwarded your link to them all!! :D

  7. Heheh... Dale looks so cute! I love how dogs look when concentrating on something, dont you :)

    As for your lift experience - eek! It's one of my nightmares, to be stuck in a stuck lift! Good thing you had Dale with you, Nupur.

  8. That must have been very scary & as you said, embarrassing.
    I love ginger-tea. It is so comforting on a cold winter day.
    And I am so glad you didn't say " chai-tea" ;-)

  9. lucky that your neighbor came over to rescue...thanks for the spice info...and your sueggestions are definitely more kadipatta and limgrass going bad!

  10. 45 minutes stuck in elevator and u re commenting on ur doggie's superior bladder control !!!! Liked your cool and light attitude :)


  11. That is what i call a EVENT that too early in the morning.
    Good that Dale was there with you.
    I do make sometimes spicy chai, but with fresh ingridients.
    Hope the fire guys were HUNKS :;))))

  12. what a good buddy you have. I am hesitant to use extracts as well, since I feel it not well balanced,for ex cardamom overpowers ginger,but since looking at your post,might be worth trying again

  13. 45 minutes tsuck in an elevator !!!!
    My college in India had an elevator which would sometime stop a few inches above or below a floor, but resuce was much quicker with people being around always

  14. Madhuli, yes, Dale got a lot of treats and pats on the head for his patience :)

    Kamini, so true...he was terrific company! It is always good to see you, Kamini :)

    Srivalli, well, the fire dept. was really excellent in the way they responded, so I was not scared at any point.

    Bee, he is the sweetest, esp in situations where his co-operation is required. If he had started whining/ barking, it would have been a mess!

    Lissie, yes, we were there for each other :)

    Coffee, so thrilled that the M/W khichdi worked for you!!! And thanks for sharing the recipe :)

    Shyam, true, it is such a cute intense look :D

    TBC, If I had said chai-tea, I would have to duck, because I would have rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at me for sure :D Ginger tea is such a treat in the morning...really wakes me up!

    Supriya, If you get a chance to try these extracts, I think you will love them.

    Shn, of all of life's sticky situations, being stuck in an elevator is the best, right? :)

    Happy Cook, the whole point of these extracts is: they are made from the freshest ingredients. Just that they are in a convenient liquid form that is easy to use and stays fresh for a long time.
    Hunks! I am laughing out are soooo funny! :D

    Sreelu, It is hard to find good quality extracts but I really loved using these. Like you said, the chai masala mix is hard to get right, but I was impressed with the delicious balance of flavors in this brand.

  15. Hi Nupur, I found you through Cathy (my little kitchen). I've actually been reading your blog from time to time - it's wonderful! This morning, however, I felt compelled to leave a comment, because: a)Dale is irresistible and b)I had been thinking the other day about things to add to my coffee or switching coffee. These extracts sound interesting. I'm going to look into them.

    Have an excellent weekend!

  16. Hi Nupur,

    It is always a pleasure to see and read about Dale. I'm glad the the elevator incident had a happy ending. And I smiled when I read what your mom said, my aai would have said the exact same thing. The spice extracts sound interesting, I will try them out. Have a good weekend and an extra cookie for our dear Dale!


  17. Stuck in an elevator? Yikes! I would have fainted with claustrophobia! :)

    I have been eyeing these extracts since I saw them on Indira's blog..time to try it! Nothing like ginger tea first thing in the morning!

  18. Dale!! u Brave Dog!!! BIIIIIIG HUG!!!
    Glad u both are safe!
    I have used extracts I had from kerala, those were pretty good too, and strong!! Time I tried these !!

  19. You had quite an adventure there. And reading about your mom's reaction, i was reminded of my mom, who would have said the exact same thing...she is so scared of elevators! :)

  20. Dalu-dada (I still think of him as that after seeing his picture with that scarf around his neck) is such a shahana-bhubhu!
    I had spice extracts (cardamon and garam masala) for the first time almost 8-9 years ago and were they bad!
    Fotunately a lot seems to have changed since then. I'm going to given them another shot.

  21. Even though I am a cat person, Dale is one sweetie pie. He is handsome, sweet and has a "poor me" expression all the time :). Wanna hug and give him a kissie...

  22. That was quite an adventure! I am glad your neighbour finally found you and helped you guys out of it!

    Love that picture of Dale <3.

    I would vote for Rose, kewra and lemongrass extracts :).

  23. Well, Dale handled it better than I would have!

  24. Spice extracts sound interesting, Nupur -- nice review and suggestions for using them! And very glad to hear you were *extracted* from the elevator as well - my goodness!!

    Dale deserves that cookie, after that experience. He looks sweet as usual :)

  25. Sandeepa, yes, it would have been much easier with people around...on early Sunday morning, our whole building was in the land of zzzz :)

    Mari, I've seen you often on Cathy's blog :) Welcome! Dale is blushing :D and he says thanks. The extracts would indeed be wonderful for instantly making flavored coffee. I imagine the cardamom would be especially delicious in coffee...Wishing you a wonderful weekend too!

    Namita, moms always have the last word, right? :) Dale says thanks for the extra cookie and wishes there were more people like you in the world, who understand his need for more cookies :D

    Roopa, No, this was a big elevator (a service/ freight elevator) so there was no danger of claustrophobia :) The extracts are totally worth trying!

    Manasi, Dale is bristling with pride at your words! :)
    These extracts say "Made in India" too, and as far as I know, they are made by traditional Ayurvedic methods.

    Tee, yup, it was the most exciting thing that happened to me all week :) You can see what an eventful life I lead :D

    TheCooker, yes, after his shahana behavior, we are going to forgive him the next couple of times he does something naughty :)
    I think you will be pleasantly suprised with these extracts. I certainly was.

    Suganya, yes, his "poor me" expression is his marketing gimmick for extracting all kinds of things from unsuspecting folks! :) you know, in many ways, he almost behaves like a cat! You would get along with him :)

    Musical, Dale is such a model, right? :D kewra extract would be wonderful!

    Susan, yes, he is a stoic creature :)

    Linda, "extracted" LOL I never even thought of that! :D Hope you are enjoying this weekend!

  26. that was a lovely post. BTW where did you get those tea cups? looks lovely!!

  27. Oh dear - not a fun way to spend the morning! I'm glad Dale was with you to keep you company - such a good boy!

  28. Aiii, elevators! Glad you both held up and your Mum nailed the situation. I've got some extracts in my cupboard, coconut, hmm, what else ... untouched ... so I really appreciate the inspiration to tap into them!

  29. Hi Nupur,
    I come by your blog occasionally when I am in need of unique but reliable recipes and you never dissapoint. I also love reading about your dog Dale who looks like such a sweetheart, very much like my Daisy. Labs are wonderful aren't they.

  30. Hi Nuour,
    I was gonna say poor you and what a great ´clean´ dog you have, but sorry for saying that, your mum IS right. I hate elevators myself for exactly the same reason :0)

    Extracts, eh?... I also have mixed feelings about it. Prefer the real stuff, unless it is something utterly unavailable here, such as pandan or jasmine essence...

  31. Aww I am glad you and Dale are okay. Dale is a cutie! Our office elavators do that everyday. Thank god they don't get stuck for a long time like that though. One of thesedays, it's not going to be quite so amusing to be riding the distempered elevators!!!

  32. Sharmi, I had the hardest time finding "normal-sized" tea cups in the US...I seem to find only huge mugs around here. Finally found these on Craigslist (an online garage sale) :)

    Raaga, thank you, my dear :)

    Cathy, he is such a good boy when he wants to be! :)

    Alanna, keep the extracts where you can spot them and I think you will think of a dozen different ways to use them. Coconut extract sounds interesting!

    Bulbul, Dale is not a pure-bred lab, he is a mutt with definitely some lab genes in him as far as we can tell. Hugs to your Daisy! Thank you for stopping by :)

    Zlamushka, well, I for one am not excited about walking up and down multiple floors several times a day :) so I don't mind elevators!

    this little mainyacha, yes, ill-tempered elevators can really mess up with day :) Dale says thanks :D

  33. About being extracted from an elavator to all about extracts. Quite a link there.

    I've been making sabudana khichdi the usual way and the microwave method piqued my interest. I'm going to try it someday.

    Keep your wonderful food blog going. Jabardast aahe.

    - Shailesh


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