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Paneer Pakora


Paneer Pakora is a vegetarian dish that is made for parties, functions and weddings. The ingredients are simple: cottage cheese cubes, chickpea powder, salt, pepper, mango powder. The pakoras are shallow-... Read more

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“Give it to him, he’ll drink anything!” Submitted by: jmbirdie
Siem Reap, Cambodia

“Give it to him, he’ll drink anything!” Andre declared, sweat beading upon his sun-reddened face. 16 hours earlier I had departed the comforts of Bangkok on an expired bus destined for the heart of Cambodia. I shouldered my pack as the derelict vehicle whiffled and choked away down the rutted track, disappearing beyond the amber light. The faint tattoo of hens whispered softly between tendrils of distant laughter. Greasy-sweet, perfumed with cigarettes, the tang of evening lingered in the passing doorways. The ubiquitous neon ahead indicated what I desired most: a place to rest and a place to drink. It was well past midnight and the viscosity of the day had yet to break.

My choice in saddling down next to the Irish as drinking companions was rapidly unfolding as a mistake. Perspiring ranks of Angkor-beer mugs, empty shot glasses glistening with the residue of “Mekong Red” and half smoldering cigarettes dotted a nomadic trail along the bar. We were officially drunk, and the bartenders wanted to have some fun. Into a shaker went a half dozen clear liquors. Out came an irradiant blue juice. The sightless vapor that wafted up from the open tumbler was undeniably combustible. My nostrils flared, I reared back in my seat and looked away as the hypnotic liquid was poured into a goblet.

Somehow I was chosen as the knight worthy of testing the palatability of the solvent in question. The bartender indicated in battered English to “drink quick.... only straw... burnt lips.” He slid a drinking straw toward me and picked up a cigarette lighter. I pinched the straw and waited, poised for my starting gun. With a flick, the plastic lighter burped forth its flame. Before it could touch the glass an eruption of emerald fire jetted out from within the chalice. I plunged the straw into the inferno and began sucking... flames licking my eyebrows, the straw melting between my lips. The Irish hooted and cackled. The acrid stink of molten plastic and spent fuel consumed me... less than a half inch to go. My chest burned as I pulled the straw from the glass... flaming blue fuel spilling across the counter. I threw the straw to the ground and reached for my beer, the rippling aurora of liquid flame dying out in a hideous dance along the bar. That was Cambodian fire water.


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