Documentation of the workshop was made to capture a quick / iterative process as well as the generative conditions of eating and sharing a meal. Several time laps videos were made, documenting the serving and eating of each participants altered recipe.

Audio documentation / recordings were made during the recipe analysis, cooking process, eating / reviewing modifications segment. Though we still have to process the audio a conversational diagram was made.

conversational map

Below is the first iterations of a knowledge map made during the contextual research and production phase of the heirloom recipe modification.

context research map

Written Reflection / Documentation  — Jesse Ulmer

Hierloom Recipie_Jesse Ulmer– PDF DOWNLOAD

Why did I join this workshop? This was the first question that Matt and Brooke posed to our group. I love food and cooking because it is an excellent vehicle for understanding different cultures. I was in Cape Town, South Africa, last year, and one of my favorite experiences was sampling different types of Biltong, the beef jerky of South Africa. Learning about Biltong provides insight into the history of the Dutch in South Africa as well as the impact of climate and technology on food. The Dutch brought Biltong recipes with them to South Africa from Europe. Curing meat preserves it and makes it more transportable, which is very useful in a hot climate with lots of insects and no refrigeration. This led me to further reflect on the virtues and historical usefulness of beef jerky on the American frontier, a context with similar restraints that produced a similar solution. These and other reflections have lead me to conclude that there is always a cultural or historical narrative embedded in the preparation and consumption of food, narratives that exist on multiple levels simultaneously—individual, familial, cultural, environmental, historical, social, political, economic.

It all had to do with my thinking about the notion of the “heirloom recipe.” When we first convened as a workshop group, Matt and Brooke, our leaders, instructed us to acquire an heirloom recipe. A curious metaphor, I thought. To me, the notion of an heirloom primarily invokes the image of family. Whenever we gather as a family in Minnesota, there’s always a bowl of delicious, beautiful, bright red salsa next to a big bowl of crisp, white corn chips waiting for us upon arrival. Mom keeps an ever-vigilant eye on those bowls throughout the duration of our stay, always topping them up, never letting them get below half a tank. Everyone eats chips and salsa casually, an ongoing affair, like conversation. Sometimes it is partnered with large blocks of cheese and olives. We munch all day, like cows grazing in a pasture.

My heirloom recipe is salsa. I grew up in Minnesota, and salsa is not usually considered a part of the Minnesotan culinary imagination. One rather tends to think of Scandinavian foods like lefse, a traditional Norwegian flatbread made from potatoes. Or lutefisk, a rather disgusting Finnish dish made of white fish and lye. Then there’s the ubiquitous Swedish meatball. Sometimes all three of these dishes are served together, a plate that betrays Minnesota’s deep Nordic roots. If one wants to avoid thinking of Western European traditions and focus on Native American fare, the primary signifier for Minnesota is wild rice served with either deer, bison, or some form of fowl (and of course the “three sisters” of Native American gastronomy: corn, beans, and squash). And though I never tire of telling people (particularly those ignorant bastards from the coasts) that Minnesota is part of the upper Great Plains, Midwestern stereotypes of meat and potatoes (and all things bland) unfortunately tend to apply to Minnesota. Given all this, salsa, seems an odd choice.

Or is it?

Heirlooms can also connote culture, often historical. Though most tend to image Minnesota as the Great White North (the land of white Caucasians of Northern European extract), Minnesota is more diverse than this stereotype suggests. Minnesota actually includes a sizable Mexican population. The 2000 census recorded 41,600 Mexican-born people in Minnesota, and local estimates now put it at around 200,000. According to Ramiro Hernandez, a Mexican-born Minneapolis businessman, “They call Minneapolis the new Axochiapan. Ninety percent of the population there has people over here.  Kids come here as soon as they come of age” (New York Times). More evidence for the notion of Minnesota as little Mexico is the origin of my heirloom salsa recipe—it was given to my Dad by an old Mexican woman who owned and operated a Mexican restaurant in Bismarck, North Dakota. All this suggests that it might only take a few generations for salsa to become as Minnesotan as lefse and lutefisk.

Salsa is interesting in the sense that it is hardly ever the primary dish.  I’m sure this varies by culture, but my family eats it either as a starter or as a side to some other dish; occasionally, it constitutes an ingredient. A strong feature of salsa, then, is the tendency to combine it with other things. In this sense, salsa is, excuse the pun, excellent food for thought when it comes to thinking about the notion of hybridity. Salsa in many ways relies on hybridity for its consumption.

The hybridity of salsa manifested in our workshop. Besides eating salsa with chips, Matt cooked us his heirloom recipe, a Dutch Baby, which resembles an egg soufflé topped with fruit and sugar.  In the spirit of hybridity, Matt withheld the fruit and sugar and instead melted cheese and topped it with my heirloom salsa. Pennsylvania Dutch (via Alaska) meets Minnesota Mexican (via North Dakota) in the Arabian Peninsula. It was hybrid, delicious, and thought provoking.

So what? We spent an intense week cooking and eating and all the related activities, like shopping, that these two makings imply. What does it all add up to?  Unfortunately, there is no way I can adequately capture the rich experience of the past week, for cultural studies teaches us that there is much matter that is lost in the re-presentation of experience and reality through language (or art), but I can offer a thought or two about what I learned about hybridity through this workshop. First, although I have serious reservations about the ill effects of over-hybridization in a number of domains, including the social, political, and cultural, hybridity in the art of cooking and eating can be very stimulating and positive, and it can be experienced in a tangible, concrete, immediate, gut-level way.  What better way to understand hybridity than to taste it? The second thing I learned is that hybridity in the process of making not only has the capacity to create great tasting food, but it can also function as a powerful catalyst for conversation and thought.  Our cooking and eating naturally gave rise to a collective Socratic dialogue, an ongoing, dynamic, largely inquiry-based conversation that reached far and wide but always returned to cooking and eating. This pattern suggested to me that, ultimately, cooking and eating is much more than the sum of its parts, particularly in the context of hybridity. Everyone that contributed to the dialogue—both gastronomical and intellectual—had something different to offer, creating a dynamic map of diverse perspectives. So what is my thought here? For me, the experience of the workshop tended to follow an interesting pattern: difference generated hybridity and hybridity generated learning. And as we all know, learning generates growth.


Pukki Biryani Traditional    — Ralston Pereira

Biryani originated in Persia and might have taken couple of different routes to arrive in India

Biryani is derived from the Farsi word ‘Birian’. Based on the name, and cooking style (Dum), one can conclude that the dish originated in Persia and/or Arabia. It could have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India..

Besides the historical facts, the story gets little fuzzy with legends.

According to one legend, Mumtaz Mahal (the beauty who sleeps in Taj Mahal) concocted this dish as a “complete meal” to feed the army. Yet, some say the dish really originated in West Asia. The Nomads would burry an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up and there was the Biryani.

What is Biryani?

Biryani is derived from the Persian word ‘Birian’.  In Farsi, Birian means ‘Fried before Cooking’. In the olden days, rice was fried (without washing) in Ghee (Clarified butter). It did two things: 1. It gave the rice a nutty flavor 2. It burned the outside starch layer gelatinizing it. After the rice is stir-fried, it was boiled in water with spices till half cooked.

In an earthen pot called Handi, the rice and meat are layered, bottom and top layer are always rice. An interlayer of some condiments may be introduced between the meat and the rice. Cardamom, Mace, Screwpine essence, rose water may be added to give flowery and herbal aroma. The Handi is sealed and put on the coal embers to cook. For Calicut Biryani, the Handi is placed on the embers produced by coconut shell. The seal is broken only when ready to serve.

Types of Meat Biryani

There are two basic types of Biryani, namely; Kutchi (raw) Biryani, and Pukki (cooked) Biryani. Kutchi Biryani does not meet the strict meaning of Biran in Farsi meaning ‘Fried before Cooking’; while Pukki Biryani comes close. For Kutchi Biryani, raw marinated meat is layered with raw rice. For Pukki Biryani, cooked meat and cooked rice are layered and put in Handi for the finish.

My Current version Of the Biryani is a Pukki Biryani

Ingredients Required

  1. Chicken  – 500-750g (With bones)
  2. Long Grained Basmati Rice (instead of short grained Kaima Rice- my all time favorite rice)-  500-750g ( washed and Soaked for 25-30 min)
  3. Onions – 4 medium size/ 300g Finely Sliced
  4. Yogurt (Plain full Cream) – ½ Cup/ 100g whipped
  5. Tomatoes 3-4 Medium Size/ 250g Finely Chopped
  6. Tapioca (instead of potatoes) – 250g peeled and halved
  7. Garlic paste – 1 table spoon/20g
  8. Ginger Paste 1 table spoon/20g
  9. Spices – (Sundip biryani masala pack)- Contents -( redchilli powder, coriander, turmeric, aniseed, ginger, garlic, cumin seed, Dill Seed, small cardamom, Large Cardamom, Clove, Black pepper, bay leaves and cinnamon)
  10. Fresh coriander leaves – 1 cup chopped
  11. Fresh mint leaves – 1 cup chopped
  12. Fresh Green Chilies (Did not use any) – 10 Cut in Slant
  13. Oil/ Ghee — 1-1 ½ Cups / 175-250g


Cooking Method for Spicy Chicken Biryani

  1. Heat oil/ghee in a pan and fry onions until golden brown
  2. Add ginger paste, garlic paste, tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes
  3. Add chicken, the spices, yogurt, coriander and mint leaves and fry for 10 minutes. Add the tapioca and cook on low flame until meat is tender. When meat is cooked there should be about 1 cup of gravy left. If there is more gravy then increases the heat and if there is less gravy then add some water.
  4. Spread the cooked rice on bottom of the pan and then layer-cooked meat over rice. Cover and cook rice on low heat until rice is tender.
  5. Mix well before serving

Good side dishes that go well with the Biryani

  1. Yogurt Rita, papa dams, mango red-hot pickle.

Some Medicinal benefits of the ingredients used in the dish


  1. A diet rich in tomato-based products may help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a study from The University of Montreal. The researchers found that lycopene (provided mainly by tomatoes) was linked to a 31% reduction in pancreatic cancer risk between men with the highest and lowest intakes of this carotenoid.
  2. When breastfeeding moms eat tomato products, it increases the concentration of lycopenein their breast milk. In this case, cooked is best. The researchers also found that eating tomato products like tomato sauce increased concentrations of lycopene in breast milk more than eating fresh tomatoes did.
  3. Tomato peels contribute a high concentration of the carotenoids found in tomatoes. The amount of carotenoids absorbed by human intestinal cells was much greater with tomato paste enriched with tomato peels compared to tomato paste without peels, according to a study from Marseille, France. The tomato skin also holds most of the flavonols (another family of phytochemicals that includes quercetin and kaempferol) as well. So to maximize the health propertiesof tomatoes, don’t peel them if you can help it!


  1. Cilantro is most often cited as being effective for toxic metal cleansing and rightfully so; this herb is a powerful, natural cleansing agent. The chemical compounds in cilantro bind to toxic metals and loosen them from the tissue. Many people suffering from mercury exposure report a reduction in the often-cited feeling of disorientation after consuming large and regular amounts of cilantro over an extended period.
  2. The School of life science in Tamil Nadu, India noted, after researching the anti diabetic activity of cilantro, the leaves and stem, “if used in cuisine would be a remedy for diabetes.”
  3. Has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects
  4. Research conducted by The Dental School of Piracicaba in Brazil found cilantro oil to be a new natural antifungal formulation opportunity
    1. Cilantro herb contains no cholesterol; however, it is rich in antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, and dietary fiber, which help reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol” while increasing HDL or “good cholesterol” levels.
    2. It provides 6748 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 225% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-A, an important fat-soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) helps body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
    3. Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K; provide about 258% of DRI. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
    4. They stimulate appetite and help in easy digestion too. They have magnesium, potassium and fiber in plenty. So regular consumption boosts immunity and purifies blood. They stimulate insulin production and hence help prevent diabetes.


  1. Onions contain 25 active compounds that appear to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells alliin being the main constituent.  Onion has been found to help combat heart disease, inhibit strokes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and stimulate the immune system.  The potassium salts and the flavonoids that are present perform an anti-inflammatory action.  The essential oil is an expectorant, antiseptic, antifungal, anticoagulant, high-blood pressure, antithelmitic, balsamic, rubefciant, and has analgesic properties


  1. Mint leaves eliminate toxins from the body and when included in the diet on a regular basis, eliminate bacteria and fungus from the body.
  2. Mint helps in getting rid of headaches and migraines.   Mental fatigue, stress, depressive states and headaches can be ameliorated if mint oil is applied over the temples and blackhead.

                    Green Chilies

  1. Though the vitamins and minerals are certain advantages to eating green chilies, the greatest health benefit comes from the pain you feel when you bite into one. Capsaicin, the active chemical stored in the veins and seeds that gives them their heat has many nutritional and health benefits. It helps dissolve blood clots and aids in digestion. Capsaicin as a drug has be prescribed to treat wrinkles, heart health and facial twitching. It actually burns calories by increasing your metabolism, as well as curbing your appetite. Capsaicin also releases endorphins in the brain and puts chili eaters in a better mood. Capsaicin creams have also been used as anti-inflammatory medicine and in the treatment of arthritis.
  2. Read more: Green Chili Health Benefits | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5421616_green-chili-health-benefits.html#ixzz2NPApfbxQ

              Tapioca/ cassava

  1. Tapioca is used to treat various health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, stress, anxiety, diabetes, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and nervous system disorders
  2. Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/029851_cassava_superfood.html#ixzz2NPC951VH

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