Early Historic Period in India with Pani Puri

Namita Sugandhi
Namita Sugandhi in Udaipur!


Namita Sugandhi is an adjunct professor at Hartwick College in New York. She talks with us today about Indian archaeology, her research of the Early Historic Period (600 B.C. to A.D. 600) in India, and shares with us a nice recipe for Pani Puri. Anyone interested in South Asian Archaeology should have a listen to this fascinating talk about the Early Historic Period and the Mauryan Empire. Namita is an expert in political organisation and is interested in the influences of the Mauryan Empire in the rural areas of South India. Have a listen!

Asokan rock edicts Nittur
Asokan rock edicts at Nittur
Megaliths Nittur
Megaliths at Nittur
pani puri
Pani Puri!

Pani Puri

Small puffed puris (can be found in larger Indian specialty shops)

Cooked lentils/potato (can be seasoned or plain)

Tamarind-date chutney

Chopped onion

Chopped cilantro

Other toppings:  tomato, pomegranate seeds, sev, yogurt

Pani puri water (recipe below)


Pani:         3 tbsp mint leaves

1 inch ginger

1-4 green chiles

2-3 tbsp lime juice

3-5 tbsp tamarind pulp

1 tsp black salt (kala namak)

1-2 tsp red chile powder (roasted)

1-2 tsp ground cumin (roasted)

salt/sugar to taste

3 cups cold water


Pani preparation:  In a food processor, grind the mint, ginger and chiles into a paste.  Mix into the lime juice and tamarind pulp.  Add rest of ingredients to taste.  Chill for a few hours.


To eat pani puri – break a hole in the puri with your thumb.  Put in some lentils/potato, chutney, onion and whatever other toppings you want to add.  Pour in some of the chilled pani.  Put the whole thing in your mouth and eat it all at once.  Enjoy.

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French Canadian meat pie and the Midnight Sun

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Briana Myers, cowgirl.

Briana Myers of New York City shares with us her experience when she first went into the field in Iceland. Briana is  currently working outside of archaeology but she tells this story with such excitement as though it were yesterday. For anyone who has never been in the field or has plans to for the first time, or who’s been in the field too long her story is a great account of an archaeologist’s first time in the field confronted with the unknown. Briana’s recipe for French Canadian meat pie is the perfect dish for those working in the field or during the colder months of winter.

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Godafoss, Iceland
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Icelandic landscape with a powerplant in the background.
French Canadian meat pie
Can’t have enough pictures of this French Canadian meat pie


Tourtière (French-Canadian Meat Pie)

Serves: 10-12


2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold and cut into cubes

Pinch of salt

Ice water

1 egg, lightly beaten

Coarse salt (optional)


3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

4oz bacon, sliced thick and cubed

1 medium onion, diced

1lb ground beef

1/2lb ground pork

1/2lb ground lamb

Few healthy pinches of dried herbs (thyme, oregano, sage…)

Freshly ground black pepper


Make the crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a fork, pastry mixer (or in a food processor), combine the butter, salt, and flour until the texture is crumbly and the bits of butter are about the size of small peas. With your hands, gather the butter and flour into a mound in the center of the bowl. Make a “well” in the center of the mound with your thumb. Pour about 3 TBSP ice water into the well and incorporate into the flour mixture. Add more water as necessary until your dough is slightly stickier than Play-Doh. If you add a little too much water, don’t panic: knead more flour into the dough, a dusting at a time, until the texture is right. Gather the dough into a ball and split into halves. Wrap each half in plastic wrap or a damp cloth and refrigerate until ready to use (at least 45 minutes).

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The megalithic burials of Tamilnadu India with rice and Tur Dal

Savitha Gokulramen
Savitha Gokulramen in the field!

Savitha Gokulraman from the CUNY Graduate Center in New York talks about her interesting research into megalithic burials from the Indian Iron Age. The sites are relatively dated by ceramics from the 300 B.C. to A.D. 300. These burial structures come in many forms from dolmens, stone circles to cairns. You can learn more about them within this post.  Savitha talks about her unwavering passion for archaeology and shares with us an interesting story from one of her megalith excavations. Her Tur Dal recipe is something you should not look past. It’s super easy and perfect for a quick and delicious meal!

Stone Circle Pudukottai Tamilnadu
Stone Circle Pudukottai Tamilnadu


Megalithic burials from Tamilnadu, Southern India.

In Southern India, the practice of megalithic burials was widespread during the Iron Age period (300 B.C – A.D 300). These burials are in various types and forms. The majority of these burials are in the form of stone circles, cairn circles, and dolmens, the interned chamber was in a variety of forms from cists, sarcophagus, and urns to simple pits. Along with primary and secondary burials, a large number of burials are commemorative with no human remains. The occurrence of these commemorative burials or ‘cenotaphs’ is an interesting phenomenon for study. Savitha’s study is to understand why the ritual of commemorative burial was important to the society.

Rice and Tur Dal recipe!

Rice and Tur Dal (pigeon pea – Cajanus cajan): This is the most versatile and basic food all over India, for seasoning many ingredients could be added like ginger, garlic, green chili, tamarind juice. In South India vegetables and tamarind is added to the Tur Dal and is called Sambar, which is served with white rice or rice cake. Here I have given a simple recipe for making Rice and Tur Dal which is often the staple of many households, and yes a very healthy and safe food to consume while travelling anywhere in India.

ingredients pic savi
Basmati Rice -1 cup
Tur dal- 1 cup

For seasoning 

Oil -3 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Turmeric powder -1 tsp

Salt – 2 tsp or as desired

For Garnishing

Ghee or Butter – 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves -2 tbsp or a handful.
⦁ Cook Basmati rice in the rice cooker for 20 minutes. Ratio 1 cup rice to 2 cups water or according to consistency desired. Or cook rice in the open pan for 25 minutes and drain any excess water.
⦁ Cook Tur Dal in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker soak Tur Dal in water for 30 minutes and cook in an open pan for about 40 minutes.
⦁ Now in a skillet, add 3tsp oil and stir fry the cumin seeds in low flame (20 seconds approximately), switch off the stove and add turmeric to cumin seeds and then mix this to the cooked Tur dal, garnish with Ghee or butter (1tsp), Coriander leaves and salt.
⦁ Now mix the Dal to the cooked white rice and it is ready to eat.

Rice Tur Dhal
Rice and Tur Dhal ready

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Flint knapping, Mesolithic Norway, and Goulash

Flint knapper god Morten Kutschera

Ever wonder how arrowheads and other stone tools are made? Well,
look no further! In this episode world renowned flint knapper
Morten Kutschera from Bergen Norway joins us. Morten has an
unparalleled passion for learning about this timeless craft and
passing it on to others. It’s obvious in this interview how much
this topic is important to him. We talk about his devotion to flint
knapping, his business venture with Kutschera Crafts, what he’s
learned over the years from flint knapping and how it applies to
his work with material from the mesolithic. Morten is also
passionate about food especially goulash. He shares with us one of
his favorite dishes in this episode. Hope you enjoy it!

Morten Kutschera working at a local festival.


Just a small sample of Morten’s work!





Morten’s Goulash recipe:

Goulash for 5-6 people
-2 big onions, preferably red onions.
-1 kg of boneless beef, pork, deer, etc. or 1.5 kg of chicken, rabbit – or hedgehog (Gypsy style).
-120 g lard or neutral oil. Do NOT use olive oil.
-20 g of sweet paprika powder/spice.
-200 g green sweet peppers. (Alternatively green bell peppers).
-100 g of fresh tomatoes.
-Black pepper (according to taste).
-Ground chili or hot paprika spice. Even Tabasco works (optional, if you prefer spicy food).
-Salt (don’t overdo it).
-Garlic (optional).
-Caraway (optional), a small handful (Don’t confuse it with cumin!!)
-Marjoram (optional, but it is THE secret ingredient in a good Hungarian recipe).
-Juniper berries (optional / goes best with wild meats).
-Water can be substituted for red wine (in places where you don’t have Norwegian alcohol taxes).
There are many ways of preparing Goulash, but this is how I learned to make a proper Hungarian one:
Cut the beef into 3 cm cubes and chop the onions into small pieces. Once the lard is hot, pour in the onions and reduce the heat. (I usually turn it down to the lowest.) Then let the onions cook for about 10 minutes under the lid until they become soft and translucent. It’s extremely important to stir frequently so that the onions don’t burn or develop a brown color.

When the onions are ready, add the meat. Stir and sear the meat until it develops a nice, “white” color.
The next step – adding the paprika powder – is the most important, so pay attention! This is how you get the authentic RED color you will find in the Hungarian kitchen, contrary to the often ill-prepared bitter-tasting, brown stew lookalike that a lot of people claim to be goulash.
Take the pot off the heat BEFORE you add the paprika spice. You never want to burn the paprika. NEVER! Mix in all ingredients until the meat is coated with a nice, creamy paste. At this point, add the rest of the spices and the garlic according to taste. All this happens while the pot is still off the heat! Don’t even think about putting it back until you have added the liquid of choice!
Add enough liquid to cover the content, but not more. It’s important that it doesn’t drown in water, and the meat gets to simmer in its own oil and sauce. Bring to boil, and quickly reduce to low heat. Let it simmer under the lid while stirring occasionally. If you notice that too much liquid evaporates, add a few drops of water. Once the meat starts to become soft, add the roughly chopped green peppers and tomatoes. Let it simmer until the meat is tender and falls apart. It’s supposed to melt in your mouth. With beef, that will take minimum two hours – often more. With deer and reindeer meat it can take up to 6-7 hours of cooking. With chicken and pork, you need about 1 1/2 hour. Another reason for the long cooking time is to get the really concentrated sauce and flavor. Don’t let your hungry buddies rush you into serving the dish before it is ready. Trust me; they will complain about that too!
Goulash is commonly served with Hungarian homemade Nokedli, or any kind of pasta, or with chopped, boiled potatoes. Fresh bread with the crispy crust is a must for wiping the plate clean at the end. Enjoy!

Note! Checkout Morten’s Facebook page, Kutschera Crafts, to see his amazing work! 

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