Bhonda and Curry Goat in Athens
Catching up here on a few food-related stories published in the last month in the Athens Banner- Herald. First up was a story on Sanvi's Sweets and Savories, a family-run operation making south Indian comfort food. Stuff like bhonda, a mash of veggies and potatoes fried in a chickpea batter:
Rathinam, a chemist by trade, often handles bhonda production. He’s a natural cook, said Anna, even though he never prepared a thing growing up. He learned out of necessity: When Anna was in graduate school at the University of Georgia, spending free time in laboratories readying herself for her current career in mammalian protein research, Rathinam cooked all the family’s meals. Now, Anna handles the sweets, specializing in her buttery, layered croissant dough that becomes home to everything from local blueberries to Hershey’s.
Rathinam sets potatoes to boil and pots up a mix of green peas, red onion, cilantro, turmeric and red chili powder, cooking it all down to a fragrant mash. In a wide mixing bowl he gathers chickpea flour, water and asafoetida powder, the dried gum of the ferula genus of perennial herbs. Described by some as unpleasant, the powder works as a super-aromatic with onion qualities. When cooked, asafoetida aids digestion, or so it is believed. Either way, its smell entices and offers peculiar hints for a Western palate.
The boiled potatoes are peeled by hand then combined with the mashed pea mix. The mixture is then scooped into balls, dipped into the chickpea batter and fried to a golden brown, the cross-cultural, global good food hue.
The resulting mashed-and-fried snack is filling, yet is unsatisfying because, well, it’s difficult to stop eating them.
There was also the story about Rashe's Cuisine, a new-ish health focused Jamaican restaurant owned, it turned out, by parents at my daughter's school (their kid is 1.5 years older so I hadn't met them. Mostly, though, all I care about is goat:
There’s plenty to not like about goat, especially if you have a thing against picking bones from your meat. The taste isn’t too far from beef. When stewed, it’s hard to tell the difference. But there’s enough gamey flavor to remind one of either venison or lamb. Goat’s tenderness, especially when cooked forever in curry powder, is why it’s my go-to at restaurants like Rashe’s.
Malcolm grew up all over the world as part of a military family, but her roots are in Jamaica, and spent many years of her life there. In Jamaica, she said, eating goat is a necessity.
“At Rashe’s, we cook poor people food,” she said. “In Jamaica, you can afford goat. And if you had a goat, and you killed your goat, you made it stretch.”
Malcolm and Ramsey continue that working class tradition with Rashe’s. They consider their venture a community restaurant, a place where anyone can come.
“I don’t like to serve things I would have to charge a lot for,” Malcolm said, pointing to her menu with specials at $7-8.
Tune in this Friday. I hope to have a post up about career news that will mean, for one thing, more attention being paid to this here blog.