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Aug 26, 2002 09:22 AM

'hidden india: the kerala spicelands' on PBS thursday

  • j

big news for those interested in india. bruce kraig, president of the chicago culinary historians recently completed another of his tremendously informative shows about world food. his programs called 'hidden mexico' and 'hidden korea' have already been shown on PBS stations around the country. this thursday, august 29, at 8pm, WTTW-channel 11 will broadcast his newest, 'hidden india-the kerala spicelands'. he previewed clips it at our last culinary historians meeting last saturday, and we had some terrific food to go along with it. he also talked about the difficulties filming it. kerala is the southwest corner of india, famous of its spices (first made rich as the home of black pepper). it has an extraordinarily high rate of literacy, low infant mortality and a reputation as the indian province with the least caste and religious problems. all in all, someplace i'd like to visit.
please make a date with your Tv on thursday, or 2:30am friday/saturday and catch this fascinating glimpse into another culture and lifestyle. i hope this will also prompt more chowhounds to attend CHC meetings in the future. joan

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  1. "we had some terrific food to go along with it"

    who made it?

    5 Replies
    1. re: zim

      hi zim, sorry, i was in a hurry earlier. i knew you'd want to know what we ate. usual 2 of our members made some of the food, this time from recipes bruce supplied. he's promised me to put them on the CHC website; havent checked yet. one was a fantastic, cabbage stew, yellow, probably from turmeric. they also made the kerala style rice, which is white, missing only the outer layer, parboiled. cant say it appealed to me.they made a watery looking stew of eggplant with vertical slices of zucchini (i didnt eat it). i think tiffin restaurant made the chicken stew, unnamed, but served with a fantastic coconut chutney. they also supplied some excellent chappatis which in kerala are crumbled in the rice. there was wonderful spinach chutney for, i think, the rice. we werent given the names of the dishes, and i know i'm forgetting several dishes. the big excitement for me was tasting the 'black salt' which was supposed to be part of the table decorations. it tastes mildly sulphurous, really delicious. my first thought was devilled eggs. not bad like rotten eggs. we arent given a meal at our meeting, its just supposed to be a 'taste', but sometimes, like this meeting, it suffices as lunch, depending on how much food you can safely pile up on a very small, wobbly, paper plate. i'll look for the website for CHC and post it later. joan

      1. re: joan

        hey joan, thanks for the info

        kala namak aka black salt is a big ingredient in most chaat recipes and you can find it at any indian grocery (they also often have pre-mixed chaat masala which includes it as well aother spices) Its often sprinkled on top of a fruit salad (if you see chaat without any other modifier it usually refers to this) with very tasty effects, Also a common use is to sprinkle it on boiled taro's either plain or in raita.

        I'm not surprised by the tiffin folks involvement as i think they are actually from the south (even though the food at tiffin's from the north) I'm pretty sure they also are behind udupi palace.

        1. re: zim


          I was not at the CHC meeting last week, though I met our members at the CHC event yesterday. All the food was made by CHC member Barbara, not by Tiffins.

          Sometimes, the speaker will supply food but more often than not it is Barbara and Dawn. What I like about Barbara and Dawn is they follow recipes exactly. Several months ago, there was a lecture on peanuts which included historically correct peanut recipes. They may have been historically correct, but they didn't taste very good. They kept it as-is whereas I would have been tempted to amend the recipes to my liking.

          I am responsible for the e-mail list for Culinary Historians. You can either e-mail me directly or I will simply post events as they are announced, which Joan has suggested to me before.

          My first meeting years ago the topic was 'Ketchup.' I felt rather silly getting up early on a Saturday to drive to Chicago for a lecture on 'Ketchup.' Did you know that Fish Sauce is really the origin of Ketchup? The two spellings of Ketchup/Catsup evolved because they are a transliteration from Chinese. You always come away from a Culinary Historians meeting with some new bit of wisdom.

          Culinary Historians website also features a periodic newsletter.


          1. re: Cathy2

            hi cathy, bruce announced that some of the dishes at our last meeting were from tiffin???? are you sure that barb and dawn made all of them?

            it would be great if you could keep posting our meetings on chowhound. thanks

      2. re: zim

        for more information on the culinary historians (and hopefully some kerala recipes soon) please look at our website at anybody interested in food culture should be attending our monthly meetings, they are fantastic. i think (not positive) that if you contact susan ridgeway at, you can get on the email list to be notified of upcoming meetings without joining. they are always at 10am. saturdays at the historical society. joan

      3. I wonder if it would be productive for your culinary history group to meet with the Chicago Beer Society. If you want to explore this, I'll get you a contact.

        1. Thank you for the tip on the show. Very interesting and informative.