Tuesday, May 1, 2007


"Dum" or "dum pukht" is a style of Awadhi cooking.

Patience is not just expected; it is demanded. This is slow cooking, and by slow, the CC means very, very slow.

Hours are expected; half-days are demanded; and real connoisseurs (not that there are many left) scoff at the very notion of time.

We are talking "Americans-need-not-apply"-slow, "screw-making-money-let's-be-hedonistic-bastards"-slow, "life-is-sex-food-games-and-music-preferably-in-excess"-slow.

The CC hopes that the lack of subtlety is being felt in rather unsubtle ways.

Which brings us to the second point -- the spices. This is not a "subtle" cuisine; this is a cuisine of kings where excess is celebrated. More is actually too little, and a hell-of-a-lot-more is barely getting your foot in the door.

If there were a cuisine that were to be diametrically opposed to classical French cuisine, this would be it. The irony, of course, is they share far too many of the grammatical and functional traits that make cooking a science (except subtlety.)

Well, the two traits of "slow cooking" and "over-the-top spices" cannot interact, right?

The art of spices is in the smell, and long cooking would dissipate the volatile aromatic compounds that make up what's so desirable about them.

That brings us to the technique.

There is a pot; the pot is filled with stuff (spices and all); the pot is sealed with dough (more on this later,) and put over a very, very low flame (or alternately in an oven at a very low heat.) Ideally, it would be buried in coals, but us moderns, must do as best we can with our pathetic little kitchens.

(On a side note, these modern kitchens are considered progress? By whom exactly?)

Hours/days later, the pot is brought (with the seal) to the table; the king had the pleasure of breaking the dough, which brings us to the "dum" (literally, the "breath" but figuratively, the "first smell".)

Why use dough?

Dough is flexible but impermeable. If made correctly, it will expand but not break; nor will it release the volatile smells that make up the "dum" until the seal is broken.

(You can approximate this with aluminum foil in a pinch but the CC considers it cheating. The CC has cheated before but the CC is aware that he is cheating, and is not exactly proud of himself.)

Well, as for the recipes, you'll just have to keep reading the blog.

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