Happy Holi to all of you!
Holi (the festival of color) is my most favorite festival and so it is even more depressing that I can not celebrate it.................sigh.........all the colors; the chemical smell of the goop that your brother smears on your face (which will NOT come off for weeks unless you take some precautions); the first hit of cold water as a friend catches you unawares; the trying to avoid being drenched while trying to drench someone else; the trying to find a patch of sunlight to dry off and get a little warmer; the trying to recognize people by squinting your eyes (they are colored out of recognition usually..but mostly becos of the fact that you are not wearing your specs); the every-year "surprise" visitors who come at 3 pm just as you have bathed and who color and drench you all over again; the listening to Papa's sermon about how India is a water scarce nation and so we should not play Holi with water; eating Mom's super-famous Holi spread, the continuous stream of visitors from 7 am to 10 pm...................God, I miss it sooo much!
Actually this post was supposed to be about some of the items in Mom's famous Holi spread. Things like gujiya (empanada-like entities with a sweet filling), kannji (a sour fermented drink, made with carrots, beets, water, mustard seeds, salt and water and left in the sun for at least a week), potato chaat, rice kheer, kachoris......................However, this post is NOT about these things. Why? Because I am SUPER home-sick right now.........maybe a little later?
To cheer me up, I am sticking with very simple comfort food these days. The items on the meal in the pic are exactly that - simple, filling and comforting - Mangori Aloo in yogurt gravy, punjabi tinda and paranthas.
Tinda (fresh or frozen) 500g
Oil 2 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/4 tsp
Onion 1/2 cup chopped
Tomato puree 1/3 cup
Ginger-garlic paste 1 tsp
Corriander pwd 1 tsp
Red chili pwd 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Garam masala 1/4 tsp
1. Whether you are using fresh or frozen tinda, steam them in the microwave for about 10 minutes or till they are soft-ish. The "ish" is there because they dont become super soft ever. The best way is to bite into a piece and if your teeth dont encounter too much resistance, you are fine.
2. While this is happening, heat the oil and put in the cumin seeds. Once they are brown put in the onion, lower the heat and sit back. Let the onions saute on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is the key aspect of this recipe since in Punjabi cuisine, onions are slowly browned until they are soft and mild and totally mind-blowing.
3. After about 8 minutes (oil will be seperating from the onions now), add the ginger-garlic paste and let go for another 2-3 minutes. If the onion starts sticking to the pan then you can pour more oil OR a splash of water. It should be just enough to prevent sticking because the main aim is to remove all possible moisture from the onions.
4. Now put in the powders, stir till incorporated and add the tomato
puree. Again stir and leave alone for 5-7 minutes. After that add the tinda, cover and cook for a 5 minutes. Garnish with some corriander and serve with rice or bread.
Now this does seem like a pretty time consuming dish to cook (that too for a simple veggie like tinda). However, the proper browning of the onions is the key feature of this dish and of Punjabi cuisine in general. The sweet, smoky flavor of the done product is more that worth the time. Also, you can go about your business for the most part and need to stir only once in a while. Deccan Heffalump at Cooks Cottage has a great little essay about the proper treatment of onions here.
Another little trick is to actually make big batches of roasted onion-ginger-garlic masala and use them for various dishes or over time. Once fully cooled, you can refrigerate the onions and use them easily for upto 2 weeks.