Monday, August 13, 2007

Carrot Mushroom Fusilli

Just around 6pm, I feel so hungry. And the temptation to pick up the phone and order a take away is enormous. And that means my carefully planned dinner is put in to the refrigerator for tomorrow. I almost succumbed. And then I remembered a line from Everbody likes Sandwiches:

Just thinking about dinner — let alone getting up the energy to make it happen seemed like too damn much. But being the frugal girl that I am, I didn't want to order in take-out…Instead, I did what most modern cooks do. I went online to
epicurious and typed in a couple things I had in my fridge and out popped a couple super simple recipes.

I did not go onto epicurious. Instead I looked in my fridge and kitchen and cooked up an easy dish with what I found.

Here is what I found:

1 small carrot
half a cube of Amul cheese
Dried mushrooms – a handful
Fusilli – a handful
Garlic – 3 cloves
Salt, pepper and dried rosemary
Olive oil

This is what I did:

Put the dried mushroom in a pan of water and let it simmer for 20 minutes while I watered the plants on my balcony. I also pruned some of them, in case you are wondering that my balcony must either be enormous or I must be having a veritable hanging garden. Neither. B
y the time I had finished with the plants, the mushrooms were tender. I drained them.
Next I put a pan of water to boil for the fusilli.
Then I scraped the carrot and washed it. And then using the peeler, I got really fine strips of carrot.
I chopped the garlic finely.
I grated the half cube of cheese.
I put a little olive oil into the frying pan and added the garlic.
As soon as it started to brown, I added the carrot strips and mushrooms.
Sprinkled some salt, paprika and dried rosemary.
Then I added the drained pasta and mixed well.
Lastly, I sprinked the grated cheese on top, turned off the flame and covered the pan and let it sit for couple of minutes.

The dish really looked good. The beige of the mushroom nicely contrasting with the orange of the carrots. (Alas no photos). And then, I ate it all up.

Upshot of this: The small quantity served as an appetizer and now I am really hungry and not really looking forward to the homely dinner. Eeeps!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My very own Yogurt dessert

Have come up with my very OWN recipe. Yes its quick, its ludicrously easy, and its only yogurt. But I did it myself. Yahoo... Dear readers, you must be wondering at this point that I must be either completely nuts or egotistical. Neither really. I have this idea deep within me, that I am not much of a cook. And have never really tried very hard to overcome that bias deep within me. I make elaborate preparations but lose steam mid way. I have huge compilations of recipes collected from all over. But can never seem to find them. On the rare occasion that I cook for anyone other than A, I get R to make up a simple do-able menu for me. There were three other dishes that I cooked along with this yogurt dessert. Those I leave for another time.

First, as the name suggests, you will need yogurt. Millions do it on a daily basis through out India and elsewhere. But the problem was, that I was not among them. My cook would do that for me. And today, she had left by the time the milk arrived (rather late in the day). I tried to look it up on the web..and the two links I found (both american) mentioned using a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk etc. Now, that is not something I have seen my mother, or mother-in-law or my maid do. I knew the basics, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Without a thermometer that is.

You will need:
Milk 250 ml (I used double toned milk)
Sugar 1tsp
Vanilla essence
Yogurt to seed
Pistachio nuts: 5-6 coarsely chopped

How to

  1. Heat the milk. Add 1 tsp of sugar to the milk. Remove from fire when it boils. Let the milk cool to room temperature.
  2. Add 1/2 to 1 tsp of yogurt to seed, in the pan you are going pour the milk into. I was going to have a guest for dinner. So, I poured the milk into three small terracotta jars (the size of a small teacup).
  3. Add 1-2 drops of vanilla essence in each of the jars. Cover with foil and set aside (inside a microwaver or like I did, on top of the refrigerator).
  4. Once the yogurt sets, put it in the fridge for chilling. The yogurt set in about 4 hours time (It might take longer if the weather is cold).
  5. Just before serving, add the crushed pistachio nuts, and sprinkle honey on top.

PS - There must be a similar recipe for this; But I came up with this myself. And that, has to be an event and a rare one at that.

PS2 - Dear R, Have I made the grade then?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Lau Ghonto: My short cut

Lau or Lauki is a summer staple for us bongs. For others too since the markets and mandis seem to be flooded with it. Tired of making the same old dal-lauki dish, I got a bit adventorous and tried "Lau Ghonto", from my bible to bengali cooking: "Baro mashey tero pod" (Thirteen courses for twelve months" written by some one's great grandmother.

You will need:
Lauki: 1 (The one I had was about a foot long)
Daler bori: 5-6 (Lentil dumplings)
Cumin grains: 1 tsp
Bay leaf: 2
Green Chillie: 2
Coconut flakes: Half a coconut
Kabuli Chana: These are the small dark variety, soaked the night before
Milk: 1/2 cup
Atta: 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar: 1/4 tsp or less

How to or really what I did:

1. Peel the lauki and wash the gourd well.
2. Slice finely
3. Grate the cocounut
4. The kabuli chanas should be soaked the night before, but hey, I already had some
boiled ones left over in the fridge. Boiled channey stay well and are a handy
addition to salads.
5. Heat 1 tbsp oil to smoking in a kadai / wok.
6. Add the boris and stir. They will brown in a few seconds. Take them out and keep.
7. Add the cumin grains and bay leaf to the remaining oil in the kadai.
8. When the cumin grains start popping (which almost immediately), add the sliced
9. Add salt (about 1 tsp)
10. Add the sliced chillie. This is optional, but chillie does give a very nice flavour.
11. Add half cup water.
12. Cover, lower flame.
13. The lauki should be cooked (softened) in about 5 minutes. But it would still
remain watery.
14. Sprinkle some sugar...just a few grains really, add the grated cocounut and the
kabuli chana.
15. The water will dry up in a few more minutes.
16. While waiting for the water to dry up, stir 1 tsp of atta in the milk so that
there are no lumps.
17. Add it to the lauki.
18. Stir well and remove from flame.
19. Keep the lid on for a while, so that the milk is soaked well into the lauki.
20. Use a pestle to lightly grind the boris.
21. Sprinkle them evenly over the lauki and serve!
22. Best eaten with, as all things bengali, rice.

PS - So what was my shortcut? I didnt have coconut. And so I left it out. Tasted quite nice without it.