Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Cavalier Cook: Numero Seis

One chapter down, many more to go! My fellow cooks are rocking the marathon trail. Nupur, our diligent host has summaries here and here.

I, on the contrary have been lazy today and the only tastes I have in my mouth right now are that of endless cups of coffee, downed as I gaped at my computer screen. Now I see the world in letters. That’s right; one “c-a-r” that I must “d-r-i-v-e” as I go buy “c-u-r-d”; oh wait sorry, “y-o-g-u-r-t” for “t-o-n-i-g-h-t”. (Incidentally, the letters I actually see are “p-a-n-o-p-t-i-c-o-n”, “h-e-g-e-m-o-n-y” and “p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-v-e”, but after I tried and tried hard to string them together, I ended up wanting my “m-u-m-m-y”).

So my lovely ardent, arduous marathoners, in anticipation of the next week where I will dunk your collective gastronomies in heavier fare, I give you….

Coucous with cauliflower peas curry and onion raita

For the couscous, to serve two, you will need

(a) Couscous (Uh Duh): I use this one. And no, don’t buy all four packs. Resist capitalism. Buy 1 pack. Be capitalist, socialist, humanist and carnivore in equal measure. Okay yes, I have lost it.
(b) Assorted fresh herbs: I used rosemary and sage.

*This one’s as easy as Sarah Palin’s understanding of the word “recuse”. (Once you know it, you will do it again and again and lord almighty, again)
* Alright alright, here it is
* Boil two cups of water with a drop of olive oil and salt
* Take off flame or out of microwave and add couscous about 1/8th of an inch below the water level. For this step, I would suggest vernier calipers.
* Add a sprinkling of chopped herbs
* Cover and leave for six to seven minutes
* Uncover and fluff with a fork

I have discovered couscous to be much quicker fare than white rice, which I do not like to eat too often anyway. Brown rice is wonderful but takes as long. And forbidden rice is lovely but takes too long, and wait, isn’t it, sort of, you know, like, forbidden?

And no, that’s not it for today.

The cauliflower peas curry recipe was generously shared with me by the wonderfully adept and superbly talented Miya. To serve the progeny of the army mentioned in Day 2’s recipe, you will need:

(a) 1 medium-sized cauliflower head
(b) 2 cups of peas/ I used frozen ones, thawed and microwaved for 7 minutes
(c) Jeera or cumin seeds
(d) Red chilli powder/ Paprika
(e) 3 tablespoons garam masala
(f) Oil and salt to taste
(g) 3-4 tablespoons of yogurt
(h) Endless patience
(i) A non-stick frying pan

* Heat oil and add cumin seeds
*When they brown, add finely chopped cauliflower florets
*Saute for around ten minutes on low flame until the florets begin to turn brown
*Drain green peas and add to this mixture

* Add garam masala, chilli powder and salt to taste and mix thoroughly
* Cover partially with lid and let this stay on medium flame for ten to fifteen minutes until the cauliflower begins to be thoroughly cooked (Yah yah, bite into one and see; my mother wouldn’t approve but she isn’t here right now, so it’s all good)
* Add yogurt and mix
* Let this cook on low flame until the curry achieves your desired consistency; I like mine dry

And lastly, the easiest one of the lot; raita.

For this, to feed you for the rest of the week, you will need

(a) 3 cups of yogurt
(b) Mint leaves
(c) 1/4 of a red onion

*Chop onion finely. When I say finely, I mean within 1/8th of an inch of your epidermis. For this you will need a screw gauge and a sharp knife
* Chop mint; roughly this time. Just so you have a break
* Beat yogurt with salt and a few spoons of water to desired consistency; I like mine viscous. Your options are watery like the buttermilk they served in my undergrad dorm, or gravity defying thickness like the pile of books on my table.
* Mix all these in a bowl. You could also add a little chilli powder and/or freshly ground cumin powder.

Listening to: Balkan Beat Box

Reading: Bidoun magazine

An excerpt from Achal Prabhala's "Thirty One Flavors of Death" in Issue 15:

Zibahkhana is a supremely satisfying romp. The Burqaman-definitely the world’s first burqa-clad serial killer-is an instant icon. Omar admits that the idea derived from a childhood fear of the burqa, “a fantastically gothic and dramatic outfit that manages to strip all expression, emotion, and warmth from a human face.” He is both perplexed and delighted that it didn’t cause more controversy.