Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Cavalier Cook - Numero Siete

Another day, and we are inching ladle by ladle to the finish line. I have vowed to finish a chapter by Sunday night so in steeling myself for an invariable all-nighter, I decided to stock my tummy with good old pulao and dal. So my fellow comfort food veggie afficianados, I give you...

Carrot Spinach Pulao/Pilaf and Dal Makhani

The pulao is a dish inspired by my friend Madhu's carrot methi pulao. I merely replaced the methi or fenugreek. My guess is that most greens will work fine, so feel free to use your creative vegetarianism.

For the pulao, to serve three, you will need:

(a) Two cups of basmati rice, washed and soaked for fifteen minutes
(b) Bay leaves
(c) Cinnamon sticks
(d) Half an onion chopped fine
(e) Jeera/Cumin
(f) Fennel seeds/ Saunf
(g) 2 green chillies, chopped fine
(h) Four or five carrots, peeled and grated
(i) I cup baby spinach leaves, 1 cup washed and chopped
(j) Olive oil
(k) Ginger garlic paste/ Fresh ginger and garlic finely minced

* Heat oil, add cumin, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and let them fry for a minute or so
* Add green chillies, ginger, garlic and onions
* Fry until the onions begin to turn transparent
* Add carrot, fennel seeds and spinach
* Let this cook on medium heat for 10 minutes
* Now add the rice and mix thoroughly for a minute
* Add a little less then four cups of water; add salt generously
* Cover with lid, leaving a small gap for the steam
* Let this cook for around 20 minutes or until you begin to see craters in the rice
* Turn off the flame at this point and let it set for the next 20 minutes

Dal Makhani or Buttery lentils

The other day, my friend N commented on how he had tried to make this, but had skipped butter and it had turned out, well, to put it mildly, different. Therein lies a lesson. Don't skip the butter. Else you will end up with a Starbucks chai tea; in other words, tea tea without the tea. This recipe I have adapted from Nupur's delicious one, merely modifying a few things to suit my couch loving, butter fortified behind. She has some pictures if you need help groping around the lentil farm. And if you do need such help, what you will do around a place like this I wonder

For the dal, to serve a minor army of a medium sized princely state, you will need:

(a)2 cups whole black urad dal, soaked overnight
(b)3 cups rajma soaked over an evening and a night
(c)Ginger garlic paste/ Fresh or store bought
(d)Three green chillies
(e)1 large red onion
(f)5 medium sized tomatoes, pureed
(g)Oil/ Butter (pick your poison, I will allow you to skip the butter here)
(h)Cumin/ Jeera
(i) (1) Garam masala OR (2) Red chilli powder, freshly ground coriander seeds, freshly ground cumin powder, cinnamon powder, freshly ground pepper
(j) Red chilli powder/ Paprika
(k) Salt to taste
(l)1 stick/ 5 tablespoons of salted butter (Yes I know and no, you can't)

* Wash and pressure cook the life out of the lentils until they are soft and pliant as a soggy chocolate truffle. Sometimes I add other regular dals that one doesn't need to soak, just for fun. To ensure the aeration possibilities;)
* Blend together chopped onion, chillies and ginger garlic into a moderately thick paste
* Heat oil, add jeera and wait? wait? wait?
* Okay, now that the jeera is popping, add the onion paste and fry for 2 or 3 minutes until it begins to smell cooked or rather un-raw. The raw and the cooked, from the boors to the civilized...and one still has to wash off the smell of cooking and brush teeth. God, civilization extracts a price!
* Add tomato puree and let it cook for a few more minutes
* Add red chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Instead of garam masala, you could add the other set of spices mentioned. The latter are a pain but if you experiment, you might come up with unique interesting variations depending on your spice of note.
* Let this cook for a few minutes until it begins to bubble
* Now dunk the lentils in
* Cover and forget. Well, not quite. Let this cook for twenty minutes
* Slice butter and add
* Cook for another ten minutes
* If you are not from Turkey, top it off with coriander. Else try parsley;).

M and I went for a walk around the lake after stuffing ourselves silly. And now we are hungry again.

Today I listen to: M.I.A

Thinking about: Sherlock Holmes
I saw the movie last night and much as I love Guy Ritchie's work and Sherlock Holmes, even more so, it was alright. It seems like a pastiche of various episodes from the books, coupled with some great editing and an inkling of insight about the drug-addled, culturally specific, notably eccentric character that Sherlock Holmes was. Super thin plot though.

Net net, I want my classics back. Now. Including the wonderful music that was part of the televised series. And I love Jeremy Brett.