Saturday, December 25, 2010

What's in a name....? With apologies to William Shakespeare

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." (Romeo and Juliet)

I am sorry but this Shakespearian logic definitely does not extend to food. As with 'plating' or presentation of a dish, the name definitely heightens interest.

I have often noticed that the more complex the name, the more intrigued you are about the contents of the dish. So if you were to tell a group that you were making Moussaka the response would be Wow! and then quickly followed by "Hey, but what is that?" Would you have got a similar response had you for example said I am making Keema Alu Baigan( the key ingredients of Moussaka).

When it comes to naming their dishes the French take the cake( with the icing). Creme Brulee, Mango Gateux, Crepes Sucrees and so it goes on. Just hearing these names makes me do a flip and I go awesome. But unless you are into food or French, you would at a restaurant call the steward point to the dish in the menu card and say: "I want one of that."

The Mughals too have done well for themselves when it comes to naming their food. The names are so attractive that you are very often tempted to try out the dish. Nargisi Kofta, Dum Murgh, Murgh Noorjehani, Shahi Kaju Aloo(Prefix any dish with Shahi and complexion changes) and so on. Some names also have associations with either a person or place or event and thus more character. Ledikeni is a Bengali sweet that was created for Lady Canning to celebrate her birthday.

I was at a cousin's place last week and the menu included a corn salad. American sweet corn dishes are gaining popularity ever since the Modern Trade outlets started stocking them. Now they are also available quite easily at your local vegetable shop. The salad looked interesting, tasted really nice but it was the name that finally did the trick. It was called Pinacorn salad. There was an exotic feel to the name, a certain lilt to it. So some quick sms exchanges, some searches and the dish made its way to our dinner table soon thereafter.

Pinacorn Salad


American Sweet Corn: 200 grams

Tinned pineapple slices: 2/3

Walnuts: 3/4, crush them with your hand

Lettuce: 1 bunch( tear half to add to the salad and use the rest for the garnish)

Thousand island dressing( you could also make this by mixing tomato ketchup and finely chopped onions to some mayo): 2/3 tbsp. I use the brand Cremica.


Mix the ingredients together. Layer the serving dish with some lettuce. Serve the salad on this bed of lettuce.

I am told this salad stays well for a long time so if you are having people over for dinner you can make this well in advance. Would also be good as a lunch box option. The salad has a nice sweet and sour taste. The walnuts and lettuce give it a nice crunchy feel.

A great tasting salad without the usual mess of peeling and chopping.

To make this a complete meal you could add a handful of boiled pasta and some blanched tender beans.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!

P.S: Watch out for the Moussaka post. This one tastes as good as it sounds :-)


  1. You are right 'nargisi kofte' makes the dish feel so royal :) The pix r good....I like the second pic a lot. This salad sounds so easy to make n filling too.

  2. The salad is very easy to make. You could substitute Thousand Island with a mayo, tobasco, finely chopped onion and capscicum dressing. I tried a variation yesterday where I added some boiled pasta, blanched tender beans, green peas and some cubed paneer. Served that with a clear chicken soup(Tom Yam).