Saturday, November 11, 2006

I got Tagged! Here's what I would cook if my favourite food bloggers came for dinner!

Thanks to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen for tagging me! I love cooking and I LOVE cooking for people other than me (as recent readers would know). So here is a dinner that I would cook for my favourite people and I hope that all of you enjoy the very very non-fancy, home-cooked feel of this meal. As we say in Rajasthan, 'Padharo mahre ghar, sa' (Please come into my home, sir)!

Appetizer: Baked sam's with home-made corriander chutney. This was my entry for the Diwali special JFI. Recipe is here!

Entree 1: A bowl of rice topped with super-simple chickpea curry topped with (store-brought) hot kerela mix namkeen, further topped with cucumber-red onion-corriander 'raita' . The heat in the chickpeas and the namkeen is wonderfully balanced by the cool yogurt relish!

1 cup chickpeas (soaked over night). You can also use the canned variety.
Oil 1 tsp
Ginger chopped 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Pepper corns 5-6
Big cardamom 3-4 (these provide a huge kick to the recipe)
Corriander pwd, red chili powder and Chana masala powder 1 tsp each
Tomato puree 1/4 cup (You can also use chopped tomatos)

Heat the oil, add the pepper corn and big cardamom. Once they pop, add cumin seeds. Once they brown, add everything else! Oh, and salt. Pressure cook till the chickpeas are done but not falling apart. Garnish with corriander and serve!

This is a really down-home recipe used for chickpeas in large parts of north india. A lot of people do not use onions and garlic in home food in UP, Rajasthan, MP. Yet everyone loves chickpeas so this is an adaptation of the popular Punjabi preparation that we all know and love. What I like about it is the lightness of the dish! The proper use of onions and garlic means that they need to be slow roasted in oil. And the quantity of the oil needed is not insignficant!

For the yogurt relish: 2 cups yogurt (beaten so that it has a creamy texture), 1/4 chopped red onion, 1 large cucumber chopped. Mix everything together. Add water to obtain the consistency you like. Season with salt and dried mint. I use my mom's raita masala. Will have to wiggle the recipe of that out of her soon.

Entree 2: A bowl of steaming Mangori-Methi in a yogurt gravy, home-made parantha's (in ghee!) and red chili pickle.

To balance tomato-based curries, I like to use yogurt based curries. This one uses 'Mangori'- a small nugget that is made from ground lentils, seasoned and then sun dried. These are quite nutritious and really great dry ingredients to have on hand. The typical mangori curry has potatoes and/or peas. But I added 'methi' (Fenugreek) greens and they provided a lot of depth and interest with their slightly bitter taste.

'Mangori' 2 fistfuls
Buttermillk 1 cup
Chopped potato 1 big
Green chillies 2-3 (just remove the tails)
Ginger chopped 1 tsp
Methi greens (i used one handful of the frozen variety that you get in Indian stores)
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Heeng (asafoedita) 1/8 tsp
Corriander & red chili powders 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala 1/4 tsp

In a pressure cooker, heat 1/2 tsp oil. Put in the cumin seeds and the heeng. Once they roast properly, add the mangori and fry it on medium heat. The idea is to fry away some of the 'un-cookedness' of the mangori. This is how mom describes it. At some point, the yellow mangori nuggets will start turning brownish red.

At this point, add potatos and green chili, and the powders (not salt!). Stir for 45 seconds and add the buttermilk (you can also use beaten, watered down yogurt. The idea is that the more sour the yogurt, the better the curry). Lower the heat to low and stir! Add the methi. It does take some time to get the buttermilk up to a boil.....but too much heat too soon means that the buttermilk will split and that is not good. If it does happen (and it will!), 1 tsp of besan (chickpea flour) keeps the thing together.

Once the curry has reached boiling point, add salt. Close the lid and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Garnish with corrainder and some garam masala. Ready!


Raw papaya curry (adapted from the wonderful recipe at Cookerific)

Monday is Fruit-day for me. That is, I eat only fruits. The main reason why I had to institute fruit day two years ago is that I realised that I dont eat any fruits at all! My parents love fruits and our home is usually stocked with seasonal fruit but somehow I have not developed a love for fruits. To the extent that I realised that my fruit intake was starting to be restricted to 3 months a year (when I go home)! Obviously, I was losing out on a lot of good nutrients and hence I started fruit day.

I try (within time and budget constraints) to eat many varieties of fruit. And this one time I picked two papayas. Unfortunately, I forgot to eat them on monday and there they were sitting in my fridge. Good thing too, since they were quite raw! At times like these you appreciate the blogger community.Within minutes I had a wonderful recipe from Cookerific that I was able to adapt since I did not have kala chana at hand.

Sauteed carrots and carrot greens:

At home, we almost always cook the greens associated with several root/tuber veggies. One of my favourites is Radish and radish green saute. The next best is carrots with carrot greens. Just that what I got here werent really greens.....more like green stems. But whatever. They have a slightly pungent (citrus-y?) taste and it really balances the sweetness of the carrots well.

Simply chop up all available parts of a carrot. Heat some oil, season with cumin. Put in everything else plus corriander pwd, red chilli pwd, salt...........anything that takes your fancy.

Dessert: Home-made Mysore Pak (adapted from several recipes, including Indira's)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kitchen Sink Tragedy!

Well, I have given it a try. For 3 solid months! But I HATE cooking for myself! There is no getting around it. I HATE it, i HATE it, I HATE it!

Whew. With that out of my system, let me tell you the reason for it. Because there seems to be no way that I can avoid throwing away food/ingredients.........and to satisfy my cravings! I brought some mushrooms abt 2 weeks ago and didnt get around to doing anything with them. Why, you ask? Well, because I had left overs from previous meals and I keep planning new meals around them so that I can finish everything. Good thought, you say. Yes! But if you are cooking for yourself, left overs last FOREVER! And you never get to the new ingredients!!!

What to do???