Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stir Fried Radish

Daikon Radish - 1 large, grated (makes about 3 cups)
Panch Phoron - 1 tbsps
Dry Red Chilli - 2 to 3
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Dried, shredded Coconut - 1/2 cup
Vegetable Oil - 1 tbsp

for garnish
Cilantro - 1 tbsp, chopped
Cumin - 1 tbsp, dry roasted and then powdered

1. Heat oil, add panch phoron and dry red chilli. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the grated radish. Season with salt and turmeric powder.
2. Let it cook for 5-6 minutes and then add the shredded coconut. If you have fresh, grate coconut use that instead.
3. Cook for a few more minutes to incorporate the coconut.
4. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped cilantro and dry roasted cumin powder.

Peper Dalna

This is an everyday kind of dish in Bengali homes and I finally got it right. Green papayas (pepe in Bengali)are available year round in most grocery stores. Just poke a a little under the skin of the one you like. If it oozes out a milky white substance its fresh or else keep looking.

Green Papaya - 1 medium sized
Kala Chana or Whole Bengal Gram - 1/2 cup, soaked overnight
Tomato - 1 small, chopped
Ginger - 1.5 inch piece
Green Chillies - 3, slit and deseeded
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2tsp
Cumin, whole - 1.5 tsp
Bay Leaves - 2
Salt - to taste
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Vegetable Oil - 2 tbsps

For Garam Masala
Cinnamon - a 1' flake from a whole stick
Cloves - 3
Cardamom - 3

1. Peel , de-seed and dice the green papaya into half inch pieces.
2. With a mortar and pestle, pound the ginger to a paste along with the cumin and coriander powders.
3. Heat oil in a pan and fry the papaya pieces for about 5 minutes. Remove papaya pieces and add cumin seeds and bay leaves to the remaining oil.
4. Once the seed starts to splutter, add the ginger, cumin and coriander paste and turmeric powder. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant.
5. Add the chopped tomato and cook till the oil separates. Finally add the papaya pieces and the whole Bengal gram. Season with salt and green chillies. Add a cup of water and let it cook till the papaya is tender. I prefer a drier dish (which is not the norm) but if you would rather have some gravy add more water accordingly.

6. In a clean coffee grinder whiz the garam masala ingredients to a fine powder. Once the papaya is cooked add garam masala and garnish with chopped cilantro.

For added taste, you can heat the powdered garam masala in a dollop of ghee and add to the cooked papaya.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What's In My Thali?

As kids my sister and I were fascinated with a particular sort of steel plate- the ones with compartments, like the ones at our local dosa joint-Hotel Madras. In our childish minds these plates were thali's and every other kind of dinner plate was,well just a plate. At one point our parents even bought us a set of thali's and as far as I can rememeber that was the end of our fascination. At college I associated these plates with the insipid mess food but by then I had also figured out that a thali was the all inclusive meal one ordered at vegetarian restaurants when some one else was paying. As an intern in Vashi, a thali was what B and I shared at Navaratna Hotel because we could only afford one!

After moving to the US, I forgot all about the thali -that shiny steel plate with an array of small bowls overflowing with palate tingling tastes and textures. But six months ago the thali found its way back into my life. I was helping my mother with some shopping. We were in the market looking for some everyday steel utensils and these rectangular steel plates with compartments caught my attention. I just had to buy myself a set even though I knew that given our microwave centric lifestyle these plates would not find much use. And six months later I am happy I bought them, because every once in a while its really nice to set onself a thali and enjoy an unhurried meal. Just like tonight:

On my thali are two chappati's, rice, massor pappu charu, methi chicken, radish and potato curry and salad*. So what's on your thali?

I was thinking of making this into a meme but with so many memes going around I am a little sceptical about foisting yet another meme on some unsupecting soul. So if you want to write about your thali and its many fixin's then consider yourself tagged.

* Will post the recipes some other day

Friday, September 08, 2006

Jollof Rice

On our last library trip we got a book on west African food traditions called Mother Africa's Table. It has detailed menu's for various ceremonies and family get togethers that are celebrated by African Americans as well as by West Africans. Jollof Rice was listed on several menu's and the fact that it uses a puree of onions, tomatoes and bell peppers seemed very intriguing. I had most of the ingredients, well almost. The original recipe calls for uncooked rice but I already had cooked rice in the refrigerator and decided to use it instead. I also scaled down from the original recipe as I did not have a village to feed. So here's my modified version of Jollof Rice which we ate with a simple egg curry. It is a good way to brighten up some left over rice.

Posted by Picasa

Tomato - 1 medium, quartered
Onion - 1 small, chopped
Frozen Red, Green and Yellow Pepper Strips - 1.5 cups, thawed
Curry powder - 1.5 tsps
Ground black pepper - 2 tsps
Dried thyme leaves - 1.5 tsps
Tomato paste - 2 tbsps
Long grained rice - about 4 cups, cooked
Peanut Oil - 2 tbsps
Salt- to taste
For Garnish
Cherry Tomatoes - 10 to 12, halved
Scallions - 2, sliced thin
Peanuts - 2 tbsps, roasted and crushed

1. Puree the tomato, onion and green peppers in a blender. Put in the tomato first and then the other vegetables so that you don't have to add any additional water.
2. Heat oil in a pan and add the vegetable puree. Add curry powder, freshly ground black pepper, dried thyme leaves and salt. Let the sauce cook for 8-10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoe paste.
3. Add the pre-cooked rice and combine well. Let the rice heat through.
4. Adjust seasoning and serve hot garnished with cherry tomatoes, scallions and crushed peanuts.