Monday, June 25, 2007

Panicked Paneer

We returned home yesterday to a near empty refrigerator and hungry stomachs. It was simply too hot to go out for dinner, so I asked A to get some paneer. It was almost 8pm when I ventured into the kitchen to find that I was left with a motley bunch of ingredients. I made a mish mash of the various paneer recipes I knew to come up with this:

Ingredients or what I started with
So, at random, I chopped 2 onions.
2 small capsicum / Shimla Mirch cut into sqares (like in chinese dishes)
Eeks. Out of garlic...completely
One potato cubed (that's all that was there)
Paneer 200gms
Panch phoron (bengali 5 spice)
Jeera powder / Cumin 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder 1 & 1/2 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Here is how I did it:
1. I heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai
2. Added panch phoron. Panicked as I was, I forgot the 5 spice combination and made up one of my own (jeera / kalonji / methi / anise / ajwain instead of the mustard).
3. Added powdered jeera, dhania and turmeric to the oil and fried well with a little bit of water. (When the water dries up, repeat the process couple of times so that the masalas are well cooked).
4. Then I added the cubed potato (I had to cube really fine since all I had was one aloo), stirred well. Added a cup of water, salt, covered and lowered flame to cook till potato were softened.
5. Egad. I had to fry the onions in the oil first. Which I didn't. Never mind.
6. In between, I managed to heat some water with a little bit of salt. When it started boiling, I removed it from flame and add the paneer to it, cubed (so that it could soak up the salt).
7. In another pan, I heated 2 tbsp oil, fried the diced onions and capsicum. Then I drained the paneer and added it to the pan. Till it was lightly fried.
8. In the meanwhile, in my other kadai, the potatoes had softened. I put another half cup of water in to make some gravy, adjusted the salt, let it come to a boil. 9.Then I added the onion/capsicum/paneer fry to the gravy.
10.Added half tsp grated ginger. Covered it and let it cook over low flame for a few minutes.
11. Adjusted seasoning and then served with chapatis (which thankfully came out fine).

And what do you was nice. A asked for second helpings and we finished all of it. Phew.

Umm, so, the lesson I learnt was:
It is not the recipe which is important (it is, but not overtly so, atleast when u are cooking at home and in a rush), but keeping a cool head while all about you is hot (the weather -- it was so humid and hot...I had difficulty in keeping the sweat trickling down everywhere, but mostly into my eyes) is equally important while cooking!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bok-Phul Bhaja

After the terrible heat wave when temperatures went up to 47 degrees and continuously for nearly a week, we have had the blessed rains and how. This weekend was so wonderful, waking upto overcast skies. Rain mean kichudi and lots of fries (vegetarian and non vegetarian). This would include: fried parwal, fried brinjal, fried fish and "bok phul bhaja". Oh god, how long has it been since I have eaten some bok phul bhaja. I was about to pen down my recipe (the way it is cooked at home, and infact pretty much the way its cooked, or should I say deep fried!) when I found this nifty recipe already up at Senskitchen. So, do follow the link for the recipe.

Bok phul, looks like this and its scientific name is (had to search for that)is Sesbania grandiflora Leguminosae!

I thought we were alone in eating bok-phul ,(we as in bengalis). But apparanently, not so. Accroding to a FAO , in Vietnam, Sesbania grandiflora (Leguminosae) form a delicious ingredient in the very popular local sour soup called canh chua.

More pictures and description on this page.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mimi's Veg Macaroni

Another recipe from R. The comments too are hers.

Its funny how friendships develop often over recipe swaps or over kitchen news. It was a bit like that with Mimi. Although we had known each other from before, we began talking about food and then friendship simply followed.

I learnt three very basic recipes from her and am writing as I remember them. I first sampled each from mimi's reserve of recipes. Then I tried them out and only then did I write them down in my dog eared very pathetic looking old recipe diary.
I do hope that I have kept it close to what was said by Mimi in the first place---she was good at anything she did and though she had turned vegetarian after joining IISCKON, she always had a non veg recipe, ready on her lips -- as fresh as if she ate them the day before.. As I write this, many memories of her are flashing by--so its really an ode to her, for she left us all in 2003 August 25th. Here is the first of those recipes:-

Mimi's Vegetarian macaroni

You will need:
2 pkts of macaroni boiled with salt water and dried under fan and slightly smeared with oil after cooling
1/2 cup prefried tiny cauliflower florets
1/4 tsp hing or asoefetida
1/2 cup Capsicum cut into small squares
1/2 cup carrot cut into small squares
1/2 cup beans julienned or diced
1/2 cup peas
3 tomatoes cut into very small pieces and pureed

How to:

Put keep 2tsp soyasauce,3 tsp vinegar, 3-4 green chillies cut into small pieces in a pot with a lid.

Add 3-4 tbsp oil to a pan. Throw in carrot, beans, peas and hing.
Add a bit of salt, according to taste. Cover the pan and allow the veggies to soften.
Do remember to stir the veggies a few times, though.
When the veggies are a bit soft, add capsicum. Add the tomato puree.
When puree starts to dry add soya sauce mixture,sugar and finally the prefried cauliflower. Set aside.

In a pan add 2 tbsp oil,add the macaroni and fry. Add the vegetable mixture to the macaroni and stir for three to four minutes. Mix well and remove from fire.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Merguez Meal

Just the other day, we were reminscing about France. What do we miss about it? Food mostly. "Cheese", I said. "Merguez" said A. We first tasted this spicy north african sausage in France. With Couscous Royale.

Later on, I was brave enough to pick up some from the super marche and make my own dish. Rather simple it was (but sometimes, simple is best) and ofcourse, the Merguez did its own trick and the dish was marvellous. Definitely not gourmet, but damn good nevertheless.

You will need:
6 merguez (2 for me, 4 for A)
1 large or 2 small capsicum / green bell pepper
2 large tomatoes (smaller if you prefer less tart)
2 large onions

(That's it). No salt, no oil. Just a frying pan. And remember to keep the windows open and an exhaust fan switched on, if you do have one in your kitchen.

How to:
1. Put a frying pan (large enough to hold 6 long merguez) on high flame.

2. When the pan's heated up, put the merguez in.

3. Within a minute of so, the fat from the merguez will start oozing out.

Roll them over so that they are evenly fried, in thier own fat!!

4. Add the onions, tomatoes and bell pepper (all together, order doesn't matter).

5. Keep rolling the merguez to get them evenly fried (in their own fat).

6. When they are done, put them on the dish and eat!!

The fat from the merguez gives a lovely flavour to the onions / pepper / tomatoes.

Its a wonder that something so simple could taste so GOOD!!

Well, do try it...out, while I go and wipe the drool of my keyboard! (Just kidding).

Oh yes, ofcourse, to be eaten with bread of your choice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What's Cooking elsewhere

Its been nearly an year since I have posted anything on Timid Cook.

1. I have been extremely busy to put it mildy.

2. Have found one after the other, two good cooks (thankgod) (one replaced the other)

3. Been plain lazy.

Ergo, no posts.

Our PC went down to a virus attack and had to undergo major surgery. As a result, lost all my bookmarks. This is good and bad. Bad, because had a great list of food blogs. Good because I can now look for and discover new blogs.

I was surfing with a plate of plain dal-chawal-ghar-ka-khana balanced precariously on my lap, eating with my right hand and handling the mouse with my left, when I came across Tandoori-Turkey-Kabob.

Mind boggles at the fusion-i-fication.

Mutton, chicken, fish tandoori is normally what we eat. Why not Turkey? Why ever not.

We usually eat anything tandoori with onions, the green mint and yogurt chutney, perhaps some naan / tandoori roti (normal fare at restaurants big and small. I have never been so intrepid as to try a tandoori all by myself. Timid Cook that I am).

But the Tandoori-Turkey-Kabob was served with roasted potatoes and sauteed red cabbage and kale seasoned with garam masala and deglazed with cider vinegar. And looked terrific too!!

Really enlivened my plain dal-chawal lunch.