PTPI Blog


Discussion Questions for The Hundred Foot Journey – Food for Thought

July 29th, 2014

Reflection prepared by Jerri Miller, PTPI’s Membership Services Coordinator

Onion Bhaji, prepared by Jerri Miller

Onion Bhaji, prepared by Jerri Miller

The Hundred-Foot Journey: Food for Thought

When reading The Hundred-Foot Journey, a particular Indian dish is referenced when discussing a character in the story: Onion Bhaji. Richard C. Morais graciously included the recipe in the back of my copy of the book, courtesy of Chef Floyd Cardoz, so I thought I would give it a try. Before you read further, perhaps I should offer my apologies to Chef Cardoz, Mr. Morais, and everyone else who knows how this dish should actually look and taste.

My experience starts in the grocery store as I am trying to locate the ingredients needed for this recipe. As I am walking the aisles searching for gram flour without success, I am reminded of the scene where Abbas only locates a very slim selection of Indian foods and spices at Harrods Food Hall. When I read it I thought about how disheartening it might be to people of other cultures who would like to find something, anything familiar in their new neighborhood grocery. It is frustrating for me and my only goal is to try a new recipe, not find a little something of home.

I bring my groceries home sans gram flour and get started. As the name implies, onions are the main ingredient. Through onion-induced tears I julienned two, but I wimped out on the third, and mixed all the other ingredients and spices together. Because I could not find gram flour, I used wheat flour to create the batter, then mixed it in with the onions and threw little batches in hot oil (rather, I gently placed them in oil so I didn’t splatter myself). After a few attempts and finding the right amount of cooking time, the end result was pretty tasty, even though I did not eat it with the suggested chutney or have all the required ingredients. I would love to hear from those of you who know this dish or who try to make it!

For the complete recipe or to discover the character reference, you will need to purchase the book. If you are in the U.S. and purchase it through Amazon Smile, please make sure to list People to People International as your charity and they will donate a percentage of your purchase price to us. Also, be sure to check out our new blog series, Cultural Cooking, to find recipes from our members around the world.

People to People International’s Global Book Club is a way to connect with your global community. Global Book Club members communicate about valuable, international topics and gain unique insight and understanding of various cultural views in relation to those topics. For more information on People to People International, visit www.ptpi.org or PTPI’s Facebook Page. #globalbookclub

The opinions expressed by PTPI staff and other book club members are entirely their own and are not necessarily the views of  PTPI or its Officers, Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.


Discussion Questions for The Hundred Foot Journey – Exploring the Title

July 25th, 2014

Reflection prepared by Jerri Miller, PTPI’s Membership Services Coordinator

HFJ-Quote-blog

The Hundred-Foot Journey: Exploring the Title

On the author’s website: http://www.richardcmorais.com/about/posts/, he writes, “A hundred-foot journey begins in the moment when you bravely drop what is familiar and cross over into a new realm that is far outside your comfort zone.” We see Hassan complete this journey when he crosses the street to live with Madame Mallory. We see it again when he leaves for Paris. The story is written about Hassan and from his perspective, so we naturally see these transitions for him, but what about the other characters?

I would argue Madame Mallory also makes a hundred-foot journey when she crosses the same street. She treats Hassan and his family horribly, even to the point of causing physical injury (though to be fair – accidentally). Even still she is lost in her own comfort zone. She cannot realize the full weight of her actions until she is forced out of herself by her trusted Henri Leblanc.

When she is compelled to look at herself and her actions, she realizes the pain she has caused. People always say the hardest part is admitting you made a mistake. I disagree. The hardest part is admitting your mistake to the person you wronged and hoping for forgiveness. Madame Mallory’s hundred-foot journey starts when she asks Hassan to be her student. Without her hundred-foot journey, Hassan would not have the opportunity to make his, at least not yet.

Which other characters also go on a hundred-foot journey?

People to People International’s Global Book Club is a way to connect with your global community. Global Book Club members communicate about valuable, international topics and gain unique insight and understanding of various cultural views in relation to those topics. For more information on People to People International, visit www.ptpi.org or PTPI’s Facebook Page. #globalbookclub

The opinions expressed by PTPI staff and other book club members are entirely their own and are not necessarily the views of  PTPI or its Officers, Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.


Cultural Cooking: Al-aïch (Couscous with Chicken) from Mauritania

July 23rd, 2014

Recipe Title: Al-aïch (Couscous with Chicken)

Submitted by: Maimouna Dieye

PTPI Affiliation: Nouakchott, Mauritania Community Chapter

Al-aïch (Couscous with Chicken)

Al-aïch (Couscous with Chicken)

Recipe Description: Al – aïch is the traditional Mauritanian recipe for a classic dish of a chicken and bean stew flavored with dried fish that’s served with aïch couscous cooked in the chicken. This form of couscous is typically made from either maize or millet flour moistened with water and rolled between the fingers to form balls about 2 mm in diameter (as a result, it’s much larger than other types of couscous). It’s typically served with a meat-based sauce (either chicken, lamb or goat). For proper aïch, the couscous is cooked in the broth from the stew until you have a porridge. However, you can also simply add millet, barley or wheat flour to the broth to make the porridge.

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Ingredients: 

Note: Remember to pay attention to the unit of measurement used. Check conversions online or click here for a quick guide to U.S. and metric conversions. 

1 whole, oven-ready chicken.

1 dried fish (khleii), flaked and with bones removed (optional)

2 onions, chopped

3 tomatoes, chopped

500 grams dried beans (chickpeas or black-eyed peas typically)

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Oil for frying

Paprika and ground coriander seeds (kosbor), to taste

500 grams aïch (couscous)

Recipe Steps: 

1. The night before, soak the beans in plenty of water. (Most West and North African dried chickpeas are quite fresh and do not need pre-soaking.)

2. The following day, drain the beans, put in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until just tender. (The exact time will depend on the type and age of the beans used.)

3.  Joint the chicken into serving-sized pieces.

4. Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the chicken pieces and fry until browned all over. Remove with tongs and set aside.

5. Add the onions to the pan and fry until starting to color then add the tomatoes, beans, ground coriander seeds, salt and black pepper. Put in plenty of paprika (at least 2 tablespoons) to color the dish then add the chicken pieces back to the pot.

6. Pour in enough water to cover all the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

7. In the meantime, steam the aïch until tender (about 20 minutes).

8. When the aïch is cooked add to a bowl (gassôa) with a knob of butter. Stir to detach the grains and coat them in the butter.

9. When the chicken has cooked, remove from the stock then stir the cooked aïch into the broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to heat through.

10. Turn into serving dish and arrange the chicken pieces on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

 

If you would like to contribute to our series, Cultural Cooking, please complete the recipe submission form and email photographs to intern1@ptpi.org.

To learn more about People to People International, visit www.ptpi.org or check out our Facebook Page.