Monday, 31 May 2010

30th May 2010 - Dinner - Aloo Mutter

This was the first time I was making Aloo Mutter. I mean, it's hardly different from aloo rassa/jhol/whatever, but, well, a new dish's a new dish.

How did it look?
A posteriori
  • No onions in the gravy this time. Just tomatoes and some puree (which I use all the time because it is so much more convenient and makes stuff richer). Tomatoes here are pretty costly, so I normally put half a tomato for the texture, and puree for the actual gravy.
  • I added some dry garlic chutney I have gotten from home. It is pretty useful and can be used directly on sandwiches too!
  • As some improvisation, I added some Paav Bhaaji masaala too at the end. Not too much, half a tea-spoon maybe. But it deed help in imparting good fragrance.
  • The quickest and the most convenient way to make it would be using a pressure cooker, but since the cooker I have is too small for making enough for 4 people, that's ruled out. Cooking potatoes with the gravy takes too long. So, I normally put the whole thing in the µWave after the chhonk and then just cook it for like 6 minutes. Nomw the potatoes are about 3/4th cooked. Back to the pan and I can now add water for the gravy and let it boil once. Bingo.

27th May 2010 - Lunch - Pasta

This was the third time I made Pasta here. The first two times, I had some weird macaroni sort of pasta (purchased primarily for its low price) and I didn't have much stuff for the gravy either. This time, I had Rotini. Without peppers and oregano and cheese, you end up just putting onions and tomatoes in everything and it all just tastes the same, so the first two attempts were just stomach fillers, so to speak.

This time, however, I had all I needed, and some (pretty) fresh oregano too, aah the smell!

How did it look?
A posteriori
  • The first time I made it here, I dunked too much pasta into too less water, so it ended up being very mushy and messy. The second time I was more careful, but I still boiled it more than it needed. This time, however, I had gotten an idea of the timing and the quantity of water needed, so I actually split the pasta over two sauce pans so that they got boiled in sufficient water.
  • I also didn't make the mistake of adding oil while boiling the pasta (something I had done the first two times). You do put oil when you boil noodles for stuff like Hakka Noodles, but here, it only leads to terrible results as the sauce just won't stick if there is too much oil.
  • A bit of oregano (that's looking gorgeous in the pic too) was all we needed for a pretty satisfying pasta.
  • Since I was making pasta, I did not want it to taste unnecessarily Indian, so I did not put any of the Indian tadka stuff in it - no haldi, no laal mirch, no jeera/rai. Only salt, pepper, garlic and oregano. The tomato puree was good enough for the sourness too. Hopefully, this one would look less Indian to Mukund than last year's :P

Thursday, 27 May 2010

25th May 2010 - Dinner - Paat Vadi

I had made Paat Vadi last year too, and there was an entry on the blog, but since it was the first time I made it in Canada, I thought I would post a new entry. I am generally nervous with Besan dishes - Besan is a relatively precious commodity here, so I don't want to screw a Besan dish.

How did it look?
A posteriori
  • Since I don't have a blender here, I had to make a plain yoghurt gravy with finely chopped onions. My mom tells me that the original gravy has lots of coconut - another thing I don't get here very easily.
  • I was afraid that the vadi would disintegrate once put in the gravy, but luckily that didn't happen!
  • Pahle jo gravy thee, wo kam lagi, so Sangram was like - make more gravy!, so we made more of it in another pan and poured it on top and mixed the whole thing.

Friday, 21 May 2010

20th May 2010 - Dinner - Rasam

I have been lucky enough to have been introduced to all kinds of Indian food all through my childhood. We are Maharashtrians, but my mother was raised in Madhya Pradesh, and both my parents have spent a few years at Bangalore. So, at home, we make all sorts of stuff - dishes from all over the country. I am glad I have had this exposure - it does make one open about cuisines and appreciative about cooking in general.

On the list today was Rasam, a very delicious preparation from down South. Spicy, sour and tangy, it is an great accompaniment to rice. I remember that, when our hostel mess manager Prabhu ji retired, they had this special Kerala themed lunch for which they had also prepared Rasam. It was pretty tasty and it was quite disheartening to see most of the Marathi junta scowling at it.

I had made sure I carried some Rasam powder from back home. As for daal, I had made a bit extra yesterday and had saved half a cup for this. The recipe was sort of a hybrid of what Rohit Kiran's mom supplied via him and what my mom had given.

This was one of the most satisfying dishes I have made, simply because it turned out so well and tasted very authentic and exactly as desired.

How did it look?

A posteriori
  • Many versions of Rasam do not use daal at all. When we make Rasam at home, we generally add just the teensy bit of daal to carry the whole taste, so that's what I did.
  • I don't have a blender here, so we simply used chopped tomatoes instead of boiled, blended ones.
  • The part I had most fun with was putting the taDka on top, called Talimpu in Telugu. Of course, you need need Kadi Patta/Meethi Neem also for the whole effect, but I used what I had. Pouring the hot mixture on the fully prepared Rasam was a real treat!
  • I also had those dried masaala mirchis that you fry in oil and eat. At home, we love them. A red chilly is traditionally used for garnishing and also for the tadka, but I used this one, and it looked good enough.
  • I had forgotten to add garlic in the beginning, so I crushed some and added it to the tadka itself.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

19th May 2010 - Dinner - Chhole

It's been around 17 days that I am here, and I thought it was high time I made chhole. My mom's recipe (using which we get chhole less spicy but tastier than the Punjabi chhole type dish) has never failed her, nor did it disappoint me last year, so I set about making it with the same gusto.

How did it look?
A posteriori
  • This time, I had also gotten tamarind (imli) for home. I soaked it in water in the morning and added some of that tamarind water in the dish. Gives it a nice sour flavour.
  • The rest of the stuff was pretty copy-book style, though I could have added some more water at the end.
  • It does help to mash some of the chhole so that it slightly thickens the gravy and makes it, erm, substantial.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

18th May 2010 - Dinner - Corn Paalak and Daal Fry

Playing on with the spinach theme, I tried a corn-paalak dish, whose gravy is quite like the gravy in Paalak Paneer. Along with it was a version of Daal Fry.

How did it look?

A posteriori
  • For starters, I was unsure of how much water to add when cooking the spinach in the pressure cooker. I figured it would be safer to add more instead of less, so what we got in the end after mashing the boiled spinach was loads of "spinach water". First we thought that we should put it with the corn, but on seeing that adding even a bit of that water made the final result pretty watery and lame, we just took the water separately, added lemon juice and salt and Ramu had some "Clear Spinach Soup"
  • This dish is flavoured just with ground pepper, some red chilly and lemon juice (apart from salt, of course). So, the "Indian Curry" taste is not there, something I prefer with a subtle dish like Corn-Spinach.
  • Despite removing the water, we had ended up adding enough to make the thing more watery then we had desired. Anyhow, that is a lesson learnt for the next time I make this, and that will be soon enough; the spinach here is amazing.

17th May 2010 - Dinner - Palak Daal and French Beans

This time I have planned to try lots of Daal varieties that I couldn't or didn't last year. Also, I was able to get spinach here easily, so, this week has been devoted to it. Friday brunch (before leaving for Toronto) was Aloo-Paalak and Onion Paratha and today's dinner had Palak daal. Sabji was French beans primarily with some mixed veg and potatoes.

How did it look?

A posteriori
  • It was the first time I was making this daal, so I was a bit nervous, especially because my Daal attempts often go slightly haywire. Luckily though, it turned out the way I wanted, hallelujah!
  • Paalak gets cooked (and burnt) incredibly fast, so it pays to be wary when putting it initially in the chhonk.
  • The chhonk in kadhaai and cook in microwave routine works very well for stuff with potatoes in it. You get all the taste you want and it is cooked very uniformly at the same time.

Friday, 14 May 2010

13th May 2010 - Lunch - Pulaao

We wanted to whip something up for lunch without too much hard work, so something with rice seemed to fit well. So, I went for this Pulaao thing in which you take all the vegetables you want, sauté them just a little bit, add whatever spices you want and then add rice and water and cook it like normal rice.

How did it look?

A posteriori
  • Looks like I am still getting my salt estimate wrong when I cook for 4 people. I almost always get conservative and then have to add more later. But stuff added later doesn't always mix well, so, I guess I just have to be slightly more daring with the salt.
  • I love this recipe, generally. Luckily, it did not disappoint. We put in lots of stuff actually, the pack of mixed veg. that has featured in many of the previous posts finally got finished with this one. Also, we had a can of carrots, so some of that also went in.
  • A bit of whole pepper is what we often put at home, but I had it not, so well, we did without it.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

10th May 2010 - Dinner - Cabbage Kofta and Sautéd Vegetables

Last year, when I set about making kofta and ended up with the disaster that I decided to call Cabbage Fry for lack of a better name (, I had vowed to redeem what I had lost that day (last sentence in the same entry).

I then made some simple tomato gravy for the kofta and Jeera Rice to go with it. A ready-to-make packet of Daal Makhani was also prepared to complement the whole thing.

Along with this, as a side dish, I decided to sauté a few vegetables (Thanks Anasuya for the tip). Taking my usual pea-carrot-green beans-lima beans-corn mix, I sautéd it in garlic butter and added some salt, pepper and lemon juice as seasoning. No other spice was added, and it tasted pretty good, mainly because the veg. mix we get here is very tasty inherently, and with pepper and lemon, it just can't go wrong :)

How did it look?
A posteriori
  • The kofta turned out considerably better than last year. I made sure I did not repeat the mistakes that had proved to be its nemesis. The cabbage was finely chopped They got fried well, the cabbage inside was cooked and tasted pretty decent with the gravy.
  • The sauté stuff reminded me of the sweetcorn I almost always have at DMart. We have decided to have it for every meal, apart from whatever else we are making

Sunday, 9 May 2010

9th May 2010 - Breakfast - Bread Roll

On weekends, I can devote more time to cooking and get an opportunity to make more elaborate stuff. On the menu today morning was Bread Roll. For those not aware of this dish, it is basically boiled, mashed potatoes (with salt, chilly, the works) filled in bread and fried.
This brings us to the number two item on the list of things that Indians almost never do in a Microwave oven: Boiling potatoes.
Traditionally, a pressure cooker is used for this purpose (or sometimes the good old pateli), but boiled potatoes turn out very well using a µWave. You do not need any extra water (yes!). The water content of the potatoes is good enough. Just cut them into halves, make a few holes using a fork, put them together and wrap them in a plastic oven wrap, and voilà, leaving your cooker free for other pursuits.

How did it look?

A posteriori
  • While serving them, some chopped onions on the top, some ketchup, some Thousand Island Dressing and some coriander.
  • Ramu was very apprehensive of the whole affair, mostly because he had had a bad experience with this dish in his hostel mess. Earnest request to all humankind: Please, please and pretty please, do not judge food items based on how your mess made them! That's so not cool! Just imagine a whole crop of Marathi kids harbouring murderous sentiments against the very concept of Raajma, Gatte ki Sabji and Daal-Baati, just because they have only ever eaten it in their hostel mess! I don't know if I was able to redeem this dish for him, but I do hope he found it better than what he had in the mess.
  • We have this kitchen chimney thing which has given me the courage to actually make fried stuff, because the fumes from the hot oil are very annoying otherwise. Plus, the darned smoke alarms which have probably not been introduced to the concept of taDka/phoDni (whichever language floats your boat)
  • This thing ends up absorbing a lot of oil, I guess it helps to keep the bread rolls wrapped in tissue and squeeze them a bit, so that all the excess oil is absorbed.

8th May 2010 - Dinner - Masala Papad

Well, it was part of the dinner (an appetizer, if you please), but not the whole dinner :D
I want to try newer stuff this time, even if it is something simple. As such, there is nothing much to Masala Papad, but it was something I hadn't done before, so there you go...

Papad tops my list of items that Indians almost never make using a microwave oven, whereas they should. Microwave it for half a minute, turn in over and run it for another half a minute, and you have a perfect papad without all the chik-chik and jhik-jhik that the stove business has. Plus, it doesn't char and is uniformly cooked.

How did it look?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

7th May 2010 - Breakfast - Instant noodles with mixed vegetables

I had never ever imagined I would put anything Maggi-related on this blog. The words Maggi and Tea deserve to be in the same sentence as the word "cooking" only if it's a joke. Also, I used to think as a kid that Maggi was one thing no one could possibly screw up, but that was before I had the travesty that they sell at Shack. One would think that an official Nestlé joint could be expected to do justice to their product, but that's a different story...

When we were left without bread yesterday, and wanted to whip something up quickly, our attention went to the packet of Maggi we had from back home. I was feeling pretty guilty making Maggi for "Breakfast", a meal that is supposed to be more nutritious than 85 grams of refined wheat flour.

So, as redemption, I tried to make the version of Maggi that all mothers are shown making in those countless advertisements that are shown on TeeVee. I had got a huge pack of mixed vegetables - corn, peas, beans, carrots - very amazing and all plump and sweet, so I decided to sauté these veggies in some oil and added some turmeric and chilly to make up for the additional mass. After doing this, I put in all the maggi and enough water, and just boiled it to the pic happy state you see here.

How did it look?

A posteriori
  • The vegetable mix we get here is so awesome and tasty that it really makes everything good.
  • Next time, I will try to dunk in some cheese too, as a tribute to our Hostel canteen's Cheese Maggi!

5th May 2010 - Dinner - Cabbage and Potatoes

It was routine stuff, so it is here pretty much just for the heck of it. Difference being, this time's Aloo-Patta gobhi was much more to my satisfaction than any I have previously made.

How did it look?
A posteriori
I always missed Dhaniya in Europe, and I love it here now, since it really makes stuff much better, and is amazing for garnishing.

Apart from that, this was pretty routine stuff, so not much to write.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

4th May 2010 - Dinner - Corn, Beans, Peas Mixed Veg

Yay, so we went for grocery shopping yesterday, and boy, is food expensive here! I mean, food in Europe was pretty cheap compared to the monstrosity that prices here are. Anyhow, we did get an assortment of stuff, from beans to frozen peas and potatoes and spring onions, and we also got our dishes and knives and stuff today, so we decided to kick off with a vegetable mix that had beans, corn and peas, and chapaati of course.

Sangram and Ramanath were very enthusiastic with the chapaatis and handled that affair pretty well, right from kneading the dough to turning out the finished product.

How did it look?

A posteriori
  • The best thing was that I got Cilantro (Coriander) here, and that goes miles in making the dish look great and taste nice. This was something I totally missed in Germany.
  • The gravy was the yoghurt gravy that I had tried a few times last year. (Ref: Potatoes in Sunshine Gravy and Paat Vadi), and it turned out fine, but I would have wanted it slightly more spicy.
  • The gravy was pretty thin, I guess I went overboard with the amount of yoghurt, must rectify that the next time.
  • A bit of garlic spread at the end gave a good flavour and great aroma.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Season 2!

Hi there, and, wow, it feels awesomely nostalgic!

Exactly one year ago, on 4th May 2009, I started 'Was ich gekocht habe', and I doubt there is any better day to start Season 2 of my cooking adventures.

It's another year, it's another continent. Although the location has shifted from Karlsruhe, Germany to London, Ontario, Canada, the philosophy behind this blog stays the same.

There would still be stuff I make and the ways in which I think it can be improved, and there will still not be any recipes, because the purpose of this blog is not to teach cooking (I am hardly qualified for that).

Many dishes will obviously repeat, so I will refrain from posting everything I make, especially if it is mundane and repetitive, but if there's anything special/different, it will be up.

Last year, the blog (and in turn, I) got amazing encouragement (barring a few statistically insignificant pathological cases), and I hope you will continue to read and comment.

Ciao, then, and I will see you soon!