Community. It is such a beautiful word. A term that never fails to evoke a feeling of fellowship, kinship, similarity, it speaks of everything that is intrinsically natural, good and unifying in our human experience.
We all belong to communities around the world, big and small. We rejoice in their achievements and celebrate their accomplishments, we pride ourselves in being a part of them and look for ways of furthering our participation and role in them.
And when catastrophe afflicts our brothers and sisters in communities outside of our own, no matter how far removed, as members of one global neighborhood, we are moved, we empathize, we grieve, we want to help.
For over a month now we had been witnessing--if only through our televisions and radios--the havoc, ruin and death toll from the Southeast Asia earthquakes and tsunamis that have devastated so many communities, so many neighborhoods, at times even erasing entire villages from the map, displacing thousands of families.
Distressed by the lack of food, water and medicine, the utter and complete devastation, we were instantly compelled to do whatever we could to help.
All over the world there has been an incredible output of support for the victims: from bake sales to lemonade and hot chocolate stands to black tie affairs.
Everyone, from small children to the elderly and everyone else in between has seen the scope of this disaster and have done something, anything, to aid the less fortunate.
Here in Seattle, where many of our very own neighbors come from countries affected by these events, there has been a wonderful show of support, with many local aid efforts taking place to assist those experiencing such terrible loss and suffering.
As members of the worldwide blogging community, most of us had already used our little soapboxes to encourage others to give to the Tsunami relief effort.
To donate to a favorite aid organization, attend local events, fundraisers and benefits, to volunteer, to help out those in need when it is most needed, now and with what is most needed, urgent financial contributions.
So it came as no surprise that when Pim contacted us with the idea for this event, it was so easy to say yes. It was a visceral reaction really. We had already seen the devastation of the earthquake and tsunamis in South Asia, we had already donated money to the relief efforts and helped spread the relief effort word, but had felt we could still do more.
As fellow food bloggers in particular, this was the perfect opportunity for our community to take the initiative, to use this amazing vehicle we have at our fingertips, this privileged opportunity, for the greater good. To use our passion for food and wine and all things culinary to further the Tsunami Relief cause and bring hope to those in need by appealing to our devoted audience and fellow bloggers.
So here we are dear readers, all of us, together on this very special day. Amy, Adam, Alder, Anthony, Bertrand, Clotilde, Derrick, Heidi, Hillel, Kate, Lenn, Louisa, Melissa, Pascale, Pim, Roger, Wena and I, foodies and food bloggers from all over the world.
This tasting menu has been lovingly designed by all of us, comprised of dishes from many of the countries touched by this tragedy, with their respective wine pairings, in honor of those for which the word hope is all but too precious and fragile right now, for whom a grain of rice or a glass of fresh water is absolutely vital and paramount.
Feel free to explore the recipes and photos for these twelve courses at their respective blogs by clicking on the green coloured links on the menu below and enjoy these lovely contributions in any of the three languages available (translated for your convenience by members of our small collective).
But most importantly, it is our wish that after you enjoy our Menu for Hope, you are moved to give. Think of a dollar amount (no matter how small) that you feel comfortable with--enough for an amuse bouche, appetizer, a course or two, perhaps the whole menu-- then click on the button below and donate to our effort.
I appeal in particular to the readers of this blog, those of you who day after day visit this little corner of the blogosphere and find something new, yummy, funny, interesting or even useful.
Many of you have written to say how much you enjoy reading Seattle Bon Vivant, while others so generously and kindly have asked how you as readers can help, can do more.
Well, here is a way to show your appreciation for this site and for the efforts our small group has put together, for a very good cause. Your donations will help Unicef provide clean water and food, sanitation, medical assistance, school rebuilding, psycho-social support and hope to so many.
Please help us in this virtual effort. On behalf of us and them, thank you for your support!
Julie Sahni’s Jalebi
(crisp pastries in saffron syrup)
(Utar Pradesh region)
Jalebi, a syrupy sticky dessert from North India, are best eaten freshly made, when the interplay of the crisp, hot exterior against the spongy, syrup-soaked inside is quite extraordinary. They can be prepared ahead then set aside, covered, at room temperature. Just before serving, warm them in an oven preheated to 425 F (220 C) for six minutes, or for thirty seconds at full power in a microwave oven.
1 cup (8 oz/250 g) plain yogurt
½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) hot water
1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all purpose (plain) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) water
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, powdered
vegetable oil for deep frying
Place the yogurt in a bowl. With a fork, whip it while slowly adding the water. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and add to the yogurt mixture. Whisk to form a smooth, lump-free batter. Set aside while you make the syrup.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the syrup is lightly sticky, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the saffron and remove from the heat.
In a wide saucepan, preferably nonstick, pour in vegetable oil to depth of 2 inches (5 cm) and warm over medium-high heat to 375 F (190 C) on a deep frying thermometer. Pour the batter into a squeeze bottle, such as a ketchup dispenser. When the oil is hot, squeeze a few spirals of batter, each about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter, directly into the oil. Fry the pastries, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 1 minute. Using tongs, remove each pastry from the oil and immediately dip it in warm syrup, immersing it fully, then transfer to a plate. Cook the remaining batter in the same way. Serve the pastries hot or at room temperature.
This recipe comes from the book Savoring India (256 pages), published by Williams-Sonoma, authored by Julie Sahni with photographs by Andre Martin and Michael Freeman