Tuesday, 30 June 2009

30th June 2009 - Fusilli

This was another go at Fusilli and the recipe was almost the same as last time, except today I didn't make the mistake of making too little. Ankit Jha was invited for dinner too, and I asked him to get a baguette along, and it was a nice, filling meal!

How did it look?
  • I have made this sauce twice now, and I am sort of bored of it. Next time, I will definitely try to make the one with the white sauce, though it normally ends up being slightly bland for my taste.

Monday, 29 June 2009

29th June 2009 - Dinner - Chana Masala & Plain Dal

I had lots kabuli chana left, so I decided to make Chana Masala today. Spicy and tangy, it is an awsome dish, and very filling too. Along with it, I had some plain daal, a preparation quite unknown to many North Indians

How did it look?

The chilly is going back to the refrigerator, can't afford chillies for garnishing :P

Daal, plain and simple
Vaibhav's pièce de résistance

Happy Meal

  • It's very simple to make. Chopped onions and tomatoes is all you need, and boiled chana of course, but with fresh lemon juice and lots of red and green chillies make it tangy, hot and spicy.
  • The quantity turned out to be bit less, but the Daal I made more than filled up for it.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

27th June 2009 - Dinner - Pulaav

I have trying my hand at Pulaav since a few days, tweaking one thing or the other everytime. This one was rather a barebones one, with only potatoes. But I also made one with boiled chick peas (chhole) and it turned out to be quite filling. It is an ideal lunch for days when I wake up late.

How did it look?

  • A lot can be done, actually. I added very little stuff. You can definitely add more veggies, beans, carrots and so on, and it can be quite nutritious and tasty.
  • I am partial to haldi (turmeric) so I add it quite liberally to everything I make. I think some people like their rice whiter, so to speak.

27th June 2009 - Lunch - Aloo Paraathey

For our weekend trip to Salzburg, we wanted to carry something filling but easily portable, so we decided to give Aloo Paraathey a try. They turned out pretty well.
My mother had told me too recipes for this. In one, you mix the mashed potatoes with flour and cook the whole thing, and in the other you stuff the potatoes later. I went for the first recipe as it's rather convenient.

How did it look?
I was quite apprehensive about this and hence hadn't given it a try uptil now, but my fears were quite ungrounded. :)
  • I realized that I had again gone conservative in adding salt, so we made good use of the pickle I had brought from India.
  • The dough was slightly wetter than needed, so we had to apply lots of flour when rolling it. We could probably improve on that.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Dinner - 24th June 2009 - Chhole and Jeera Rice

Chhole! I purchased Chhole from the Asian store and let them soak for a day. All the other stuff I needed was already present, and here I was! Also, I decided to make some Jeera rice. Vaibhav had already made chapaatis, so I decided to make some Jeera rice.

How did it look?

  • There was slightly extra water (again), so I went back to the old standard of boiling it away. Anyhow, the dish tastes best when the gravy is absorbed into the chhole and so after reducing a quarter of the water, I left the whole thing to stand for half an hour. Chhole soak in water very fast, and by the end of the half-hour, I had nice thick gravy which I infact had to thin a bit by adding half a cup of water.
  • Tomato Purée along with a fresh tomato were essential to the taste, and so was the Chhole Masala Amil's mother lent me when I went to their place in Holland.
  • Lemon Juice of course, for the wonderful fresh sour flavour.
  • Finally, the Jeera rice was a quick affair, with seasoning of jeera and fresh green chillies.
I also realised how much we eat in Dinner. The quantity I made would easily serve 4 people, but the two of us downed it quite easily. Dinner is our one decent meal of the day and we make the most of it. We don't bother with small bowls, we eat directly off the casserole! Grand :P

Lunch - 24th June 2009 - Onion Parathe

Pranay Jain suggested I make Onion Parathey, so I thought I try it for lunch today. Anyhow, eating bread and boiled eggs is depressing (the low point of the day, so to speak), so I woke early to make this stuff. Packed some dry aloo ki subji along with it.

How did it look?

  • Onions were chopped slightly coarsely, so they were not belding well with the flour, and made the whole thing a bit wet, so I had to wrap in a lot of flour to hold the damn thing together.
  • I decided I was better of making thicker parathe and cooking them nicely with oil, so I ended up making a thinner version of what Maharashtrians call Thaalipeeth.
  • This is a nifty practice that I had observed at home, and managed to replicate with success. In order to ensure proper cooking of the thick paraatha, they make small holes throughout in which they put in some oil, so that it gets cooked uniformly and throughly. I tried to do it (I already had lots of holes because of using less flour) and it came out well.

This reminds me of a classmate of mine (Aditya Singh) back when I was in Class VI. Every day, he used to invariably get Onion Paraathey for lunch, and they were the best I have ever tasted. It was not uncommon for all of us to pounce on his tiffin and finish a big chunk of his lunch even before he could shout STOP!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dinner - 23rd June 2009 - Happy Meal

I call this the Happy Meal because Pitl is one thing that everyone in our house likes. Often, when noone can think of what they want to eat, this dish is the perfect choice that makes everyone happy. With onions on the side, and sour fried chillies, it's just aweseme (and filling too).

How did it look?

  • Pretty routine stuff; At the end, I heated some rai in oil and poured the whole thing on top; it looks splendid.

Dinner - 22nd June 2009 - Potatoes in sunshine yellow yogurt gravy

There is this simple gravy that my mother often makes which uses yogurt. I thought of giving it a try today, and it came out very well. This was just potatoes in the yogurt gravy, with no onions, tomatoed etc. Yogurt imparts a nice sour taste to the gravy.

How did it look?
Bright yellow!

I added fresh green chillies give a nice hot flavour and also squeezed in some fresh lime juice, blending it with some sugar for the sweet-sour taste.

Jeera was in abundance, and there was no oregano or pepper this time!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

17th June 2009 - Dinner - Fusilli with assorted peppers blended in Tomato and Onion gravy

Ever since I had screwed up the noodles last month, I was determined to make ammends. So, here I was, sailing into uncharted waters, going where I had never gone before. This was one of those times when I had no recipe, and was working merely on intuition. I had eaten this is Berlin last weekend and remembered the taste, so I was sort of reverse engineering the thing. Luckily, it turned out pretty satisfactorily. The only glitch was that, being over cautious, I added less pasta, so I toasted some bread to eat along with it.

I decided to go for the red gravy rather than the white one (I had seen a few recipes in which you would blend it with floor and then bake it, but that is too bland for my taste).

How did it look?

  • Tomato Puree is the best for getting a rich gravy, but it makes the whole thing very silky smooth. I always prefer to have some munchy bits in the gravy, so I chopped onions a bit coarsely and also added in half a tomato, bluntly cut. When boiled for some time, the whole thing blended quite well, and I got gravy that was thick but not like sauce.
  • I wanted the red pepper to impart its flavour well, so I took care not to overpower the subtle flavours by our Indian masaale. So, added just a little bit of chilly powder.
  • I realized a bit of garlic would have been good, but that was when the thing was almost ready, so I sprinkled in some garlic powder.
  • Of course, at the end, a few drops of fresh lemon juice and some cheese and butter were in order. Finally, added some garlic butter (that thing tastes awesome) and let it melt its way in. Topping it all up with Oregano and pepper. Thyme is highly recommended for such dishes, but I had it not, so I had to do with our good old oregano.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

16th June 2009 - Dinner - Egg Curry

Egg Curry. Simple! I like it a lot; it's filling, and tasty. And I still had some of the tomato puree I had got for Raajma, so I put it to good use here.

How did it look?

  • This dish works best with onion paste instead of chopped onions (coutesy my mother!) but I didn't have a grinder here, so I just chopped it as finely as I could, cooked them well, added more water than I needed and then let it boil away to pulp.
  • The tomato puree really gives a very rich flavour, almost impossible with simple tomatoes.
  • At the end, I added the halved eggs and switched the burner off, letting them slowly absorb the gravy.
  • Also put in some butter, cheese, oregano and pepper for the taste and smell.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

9th June 2009 - Dinner - Raajma

Wow, so this was one dish I was all excited about preparing. I wanted it to be just perfect, and had bought all ingredients that were, erm, prescribed.

Raajma used to be one of my favourite dishes before coming to IIT. Then, after eating the vile Raajma-Lashun ki chatni-namkeen poori combination for lunch in the mess for 104 consecutive Thursdays, I had gotten pretty fed up of it. The worst part was that most people used to taste Raajma for the first time in their lives in the mess (a lot of Maharashtrians, for instance) and that would totally put them off. The same happens with Daal-Baati, Rasam and most other dishes which localites have never sampled before.

Anyhow, I purchased Raajma from the Asian shop, got Raajma Masaala too, and bought lemons from Edeka. The lemons here are as big as lousy oranges in India. Three of them weighed 400 grams! I even got myself some Tomato puree.

Vaibhav was away for a Conference Dinner, but I had made it for two people, so once it was ready, I tasted it and as it seemed good, I invited a friend over for dinner ;)

Of course, I had to make extra chapaatis, but if there is anything more satisfying than cooking for yourself, it is cooking for someone else.

I am all charged up now, though, and Chhole is defnitely on the list, apart from a second round of Paav Bhaaji, and some Daal Makhaani too.

How did it look?

  • Like most other recipes, even this one was courtesy my mother. She gave a few nifty little tips, and boy, did they work well! Adding fresh lemon juice was the key, and it did wonders.
  • Initially, when I boiled the raajma, it still retained a lot of water, which I then slowly boiled off while cooking the raajma. After that I let it stand for an hour, by which most of the water had been nicely absorbed to leave gravy of just the right consistency.
  • Raajma masaala was of course central to lending it the authentic fragrance and flavour that raajma is so characteristic of.
I often feel I have been very lucky to have been exposed to food from all around the country, something that not many people can boast of. I mean, we are Maharashtrians, but apart from the so called tradiotional dishes, we make Punjabi dishes, Rajasthani dishes, South Indian stuff and lots of other dishes typical of various Indian states. I remember our maid once commented that it would be impossible to figure out where we are from just by looking at the stuff me eat!

8th June 2009 - Dinner - Sambhaar

I had purchased Sambhaar Masaala from the Asian shop, and was itching to use it, so decided to make Sambhaar-Rice today. Had potatoes, onions, tomatoes and French beans, and of course, the Magic Masala!

For a change, we cooked Basmati rice that Vaibhav had got from India.

How did it look?
Like regular Daal Fry, except it smelled and tasted like Sambhar, which meant the Masala was worth the 1.2 euros I paid for the 100 gram pack.

  • All in all, it turned out satisfactorily. I could have added Brinjals if the future of the world depended on it, but in all other circumstances, I am happier without it.
  • It still was thicker than normal, probably because I added more daal, but since we focus on taking in as much food as possible, we don't care about that.
  • I have realized that the masaala is all about the smell. The fragrance of the spices is fundamental to Indian cuisine, and since smell plays a very important role in what the brain interpretes as taste (which explains why food tastes very bland when you have a cold), even a pinch of masaala does wonders.
Up for today's dinner is Raajma!

Friday, 5 June 2009

4th June 2009 - Dinner - Cabbage Fry

I must confess. This was supposed to be Patta-Gobhi kofta. But in an attempt to finally finish that mammoth cabbage, I chopped whatever remained and dunked it in. However, I wanted to be conservative in my Besan and Oil usage, which basically meant that there wasn't enough Besan to wrap the Kofta completely, nor enough oil to fry it well. After several exasperated tries and refusing to waste more oil and besan in this fruitless exercise, I just decided to fry whatever patta-gobhi-besan mixture I had, in the hope that it would be eatable.

How did it look?

Deceptively good.

What went wrong?
  • My kanjoosi in putting ingredients took its toll. What resulted was a vile smelling dish (half-cooked patta gobhi smells like it's rotting), which made me gag when I tried to eat it. After downing whatever amount I could, I had to throw the leftover, something I had never thought I would do to self-cooked food.
  • Well, I am going to come back to this dish again, and this time I will own it. ;)

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

3rd June 2009 - Dinner - French Beans with Potatoes

I love French Beans (Haricots), so I finally purchased a packet of Frozen beans from the SuperMarkt today. They looked surprisingly fresh after dunking them in some warm water and very soft, so it was fun chopping them.

How did it look?

Chopped, ready to be cooked

The final product
  • I added some garlic butter and cheese while cooking the beans and sprinkled some pepper on top.
  • A bit of sugar added at the also helps, and so does something like Neembu-Sat for the sour flavour

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

2nd June 2009 - Dinner - Paav Bhaji

I still have some of the 3kg cabbage left over, and I had carrots from the Gajar Halwa time, so I thought it was time to give a try to Paav Bhaaji.

How did it look?

  • I didn't have Paav Bhaji masala (purchased it later), so although the thing tasted nice, it didn't taste like the Paav Bhaji we are used to eating back in India.
  • I did add a generous amount of butter while cooking it, and also loads of cheese, finally topping it up with more butter, so, all in all, it worked well. Also, Pepper and Oregano, as always.
  • I bought some Paav-like bread, but it turned out to be sweet, so we had to do with midly toasted American Sandwich Bread.