Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kaapi - where there's a will, there's a way

What is it that you miss the most when you leave your hometown for a far away land? Your home and family, of course. Your pets. Your friends. The chaat stalls, dhabhas, pani poories, masal dosais, Saturday lunches with buddies at new restaurants, Zara's ... home made filter coffee!

All the food is compensated for with Indian restaurants, or most of the times we just cook something we crave for. We're blessed with plenty of restaurants here too. But the filter coffee is something irreplaceable. My entire family, maternal and marital, shares the same palate for filter coffee. Being South Indian Tamil Iyers, and hailing from Tanjavore and Palakkad, we like our coffee strong, close to bitter, frothy, rich, and very hot. I know some people who bring their coffees from India and brew it here. Now that's not something we want to do. Another cousin of ours makes sure she's stocked with kilos of Narasu's all the time.

My cousin Vidya, whom I've invited to be a team member in this blog, was living in the US in 2005. Her husband loves coffee the exact same way we do.

She tipped me that Folgers was the best to try out here, before I got here. And S, my husband, was used to the usual instant coffee - "Idu filter kaapi ille da ambi, idu Bru!" - yeah, he used to mix a spoon of bru with his milk, microwave that, and call that coffee. When I got here after getting married to S, he only had Bru. That was effectively the first time I tried Bru and I was almost ready to sue that mami who claims in the advertisements that it's a perfect replacement for filter coffee! I felt bad for S as he's been raised on the same kind of coffee as I have, and he had to live with this! We had to figure something out... so I suggested we try Folgers.

We tried brewing it in a filter that I had brought along, but the coffee was too porous and not finely ground like "namma ooru kaapi podi", so that didn't work either. Neither did it taste the way our traditional coffee does. We didn't want to brew it as per the instructions as that would lead to American coffee!

So one day, I just poured in a glass of milk, added exactly one measuring tablespoon of folgers to it, and a pinch of Bru, mixed it up and heated it... and we had our long-missed concoction! I realised that Bru didn't have the rich Columbian flavour and Folgers didn't have the chicory factor that we need, so I mixed it up. And if you love strong South Indian Saravana Bhavan style filter kaapi, you will love this concoction for sure. S says it's on par with Saravana Bhavan's.

Things you'll need:
1. Folgers Columbian Blend - Medium Dark
2. A microwavable mug - I use the measuring mugs.
3. Sugar, as per your taste.
4. A very fine strainer - make sure the holes aren't too big.
5. Bru - Idu filter kaapi ille, for sure.

This is how you concoct:
1. Take one glass of milk in the big mug. Milk will boil and spill so you will need a big mug.
2. Add in exactly one measuring table spoon of Folgers and a pinch of Bru to the milk. Mix this well.
3. Microwave for 1.30 minutes. This will depend on your microwave settings. Set it such that the milk almost boils.
4. Keep the sugar ready in your "davara" or coffee mug.
5. Once done, strain the coffee into the davara or coffee mug, and froth it up if you like it that way.

This coffee was a hit with my mum and dad-in-law too. We now have friends visiting us, asking for a cup of coffee.

Back home in India, we have a special formula for coffee powder and it's ground in the mill, and this is way better than the Leos or Narasus. The aroma of the filter coffee fills up our home early in the morning, and there never goes by a day when we skip coffee, never. Vidya's family in India brews a different mix and that's as good too. We're yet to visit her here in the US and try her concoction, but I'm sure that will be good too. This Folbru mix doesn't taste as great as that, but it's just second in the race. If you do not like your coffee strong, you shouldn't be trying this out.

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