Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Forget the spice box, where's the camera???!!!

Hello, hello hello! New camera! New enthusiasm to cook! Not much ingredients :( But still I tried my best and it came out WELL, even if I say so myself! I call it the One Pot East West Hot Pot. Its a mix between a curry and a hearty soup and uses some Indian ingredients in a western way.

Which brings me to something that I have always wondered. The Indian methodology of 'tadka' or seasoning a dish with mustard or cumin seeds popped in smoking hot oil......whats up with that? Why is it done? And more importantly, how come this tastes soooo different from simply putting in cumin or mustard seeds?

Another question/observation on which I would love feedback. I have noticed that sometimes for people who are new to Indian food, this seasoning can be really strong. They might be fine with the hot-ness level of the dish............but the seasoning can really push it over the edge. Has anyone else noticed that? Also, is that why you dont see/taste 'tadka' in Indian restaurants?

One-Pot East West Hot Pot

Any and all veggies (I used frozen stew veggies (carrots, celery, potato, pearl onion))
1 Jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/4 Red onion chopped (just for a fresh flavour)
3 cups Veggie stock
2-3 inch Ginger
3 Garlic cloves
1/4 cup Tomato puree
1/4 cup Yogurt
1/4 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Bay leaf (mada
2 Dried red chillie
1 tsp Olive oil
3 springs Cilantro
How to?

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pot, put in the chopped onions and jalapeno, fry on medium for 3mins.
2. Bung in the veggies (defrosted, if frozen), tomato puree and veggie stock. Put in hte bay leaf and cumin seeds. Add water, if needed (depends on what consistency you want this surry=soup+curry).
3. Let cook for 15 mins on medium-low heat. Cover if you are using fresh veggies that need to cook. Keep adding water as and when needed.
4. Turn off the heat. Let sit for 5-10 mins. Once the surry is a little cool, add and yogurt and cilantro. Keep stirring till the yogurt is fully incorporated. Serve with old, crusty bread!
Pssssst! When I did the last step, the surry was still too hot and the yogurt started splitting. Not nice! So I added 1 tsp all purpose flour to keep it together :P

So what is east-west about this? Well, I did not pop the cumin seeds or the bay leaf or red chili in hot oil. I simply put them in. Then the addition of the yogurt right at the end with almost no cooking. To my knowledge (and DO correct me if I am wrong), this is not done in Indian cooking. Either yogurt is seved chilled as raita or pachadi or it is cooked properly in a curry (See rajasthani 'gatte' recipe on this blog). Upshot: it tasted Indian......yet not quite. Interesting.

Next post- my BEAUTIFUL cooking vessels from India! Sneak peak! Its a 'Dhania Daani'. Literally translates into Corriander/Cilantro holder. The holes are deliberate and admit the fact that cilantro needs to breathe like crazy in order to survive.