October 2010 Archives

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Zach Yanowitz of The Tulane Hullabaloo looks back 15 years later at "Mystic Stylez," the debut proper album by Memphis rap group Three 6 Mafia, and in the opinion of the self-described "white boy from the Massachusetts suburbs," it has held up pretty well over the years (he can't say the same for the group itself). He holds up "Stylez" as "one of the most influential albums in the history of Southern Hip Hop," an important influence on New Orleans bounce music and "horrorcore," and even "what might be the hardest rap album of all time."

Now rich, fat, happy and Oscar-winning, Three 6 might not be the devilish young purveyors of terrifying murder music they once were, but their sound remains as influential in hip-hop -- if not more so -- than their '90s peers, from Nas to Diddy. And look at the underground, where international bass-music deejays are slipping in Three 6 tracks alongside dubstep and future-garage.
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A piece in today's Jerusalem Post explores the possibilities of merging the bold flavors of India with the sauces of France or the pastas of Italy. Of course, one pioneer in this area of fusion cuisine was Memphis chef, restaurateur and author Raji Jallepalli, who died in 2002 at age 52. Jallepalli wrote a cookbook, "Raji Cuisine: Indian Flavors, French Passion," on Indo-European fusion cuisine and served it at her Restaurant Raji (previously known as East India Company) on Brookhaven Circle in East Memphis. Jallepalli figures prominently in the article, as a chef who used Indian spices to enhance and deepen more subtle flavors:

"Using very simple ingredients, such as potatoes or tomatoes, prepared in the style of each cuisine, you would find that the French dish would result in a sublime expression of the precise flavor of the main ingredient, while the Indian one would give you an intense explosion of a combination of heat and spice that would almost overpower the main ingredient. In my kitchen... I retain the basic principles and balance of French cuisine while introducing the profound bouquets of Indian cooking."

AT HER POPULAR restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, she added Indian spices like black mustard and cumin seeds to enhance such French dishes as ratatouille, the stew of Mediterranean vegetables, and finished it with fresh cilantro. She didn't shy away from veal, combining it with lentils and flavoring the entree with French herbes de Provence, and olive oil, as well as Indian toasted mustard seeds and a curry blend that she made from roasted Indian spices. Even her foie gras gained an Indian touch, with fennel seeds and a crust of sauteed chickpea flour and ginger. She also recommended wines to accompany her dishes.

Fusion cuisine has cooled as a culinary trend since the '90s when Jallepalli was emerging as a visionary chef, but the two recipes included with the J-Post article show that her creations remain eminently compelling and appetizing (yes, it's just about lunchtime for me). On the jump, I have attached her obituary from The Commercial Appeal, which ran Jan. 28, 2002 (it is not available online).

PICTURED: Dr. Lou Reiss steals a kiss from his wife, Raji Jallepalli-Reiss, on her final night cooking at Restaurant Raji in this Jan. 1, 2001, file photo.
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