Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Omelet Chutney Sandwich

The fun part about eating in Bombay is the profusion of fast food. I'm not referring to American institutions, just emphasizing a mind boggling array of easily available snack foods like vada pav, bhelpuri, samosas and Indianized sandwiches to name a few. The list is exhaustive so I will stop at sandwiches. One of my favorites is the chutney tomato cucumber. I could eat it on a daily basis. This was and still is a mid-morning, midday, mid-afternoon, midnight .. really an anytime snack.

This omelet version takes me down memory lane at Contemporary Arts & Crafts. It arrived with the mid-morning tea, the vanquisher of hunger pangs, a light snack hours before my late lunch. The chaiwallah, announced by the rattle of glass cups in a sectioned steel carrier, brought with him warm, brown paper covered sandwiches, the wrapping spotted with melted butter. Quickly opened, the package revealed panfried Britannia bread, slathered with Amul butter, layered with spicy green chutney, thin slices of tomato and a cilantro green chile flecked omelet. Pressed together and diagonally sliced, the sandwich was a promise of gratification, a hunger pacifier, a suitable accompaniment to the cup of tea, boiled with milk and sugar, familiarly known as kadak chai.

 American bread, butter and eggs don't quite taste the same as their Indian counterparts.  I improvise with Pepperidge Farm bread. Real butter, not a substitute. And home made green chutney when I can. The quality of eggs are your preference. Add a tomato or not. You could panfry assembled  sandwiches. I've toasted bread slices for a healthier outcome. Do what you think is best for you.

Makes 4 sandwiches

4 Eggs
2-3 green Chiles
3 tablespoons Cilantro
a large pinch of Salt 
Ground Pepper
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
8 Bread slices
Green Chutney- homemade (Recipe below) or store bought 
OPTIONAL- Tomato slices

4 green Chiles
2 tablespoons grated Coconut
1 cup Cilantro 
1 teaspoon Sugar
4 tablespoons Lime juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Grind or blend all ingredients for the chutney till smooth. Do not use water. 

Scrape chutney out into a bowl. Keep covered till you use it.

Break eggs in a bowl and whisk well. 

Mince green chiles and cilantro finely. Add to eggs.

Season eggs with salt and as much ground pepper as you like. 

Heat oil in a nonstick 6 inch saucepan.

Whisk eggs well. 

Add half the eggs to the saucepan and cook till eggs are set, 3-5 minutes. Shake pan as the omelet cooks. Use a spatula to loosen the eggs. Slide cooked omelet on to a plate.

Finish cooking the rest of the eggs in the same pan. Keep omelets warm.

Assemble sandwiches by toasting bread slices lightly.

Butter slices generously.

Spread a thin layer of chutney on 4 slices.

Cut omelets in half.

Fold one half and place on buttered slice. You might have to adjust omelet to fit the bread slice.

Top with chutney slice. Press down gently. 

Cut sandwich in half and eat!

My brain and palate is hardwired to remember olfactory memories. This one is special. It carries joyful reflections from days of yore into the future. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Five Spice Pork Tenderloin

I bow down to the culinary prowess of Yotam Ottolenghi. Weekly recipes are welcomed with mouth watering frequency. The Guardian publishes a plethora of recipes. The New York Times has occasional gems. Then there are his cookbooks, an inspiration to a host of home cooks. Todays recipe is a pork lovers dream. Pork tenderloin is marinated overnight in simple ingredients, Chinese five spice powder, garlic, ginger, paprika, olive oil and a rather odd addition of maple syrup. A sort of Canadian-Chinese marriage of seasonings that works like a charm! Trust me!

From Yotam Ottolenghi's Chinese Five Spice Pork 
Serves 4

1 large Pork Tenderloin
1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice powder
2 teaspoons Garlic paste
2 tablespoons grated Ginger
2 tablespoons Paprika
1 tablespoon Maple syrup
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black pepper
1 teaspoon Olive Oil

Put five spice powder, garlic paste, grated ginger, paprika, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper in a nonreactive bowl. Mix well.

Coat tenderloin in spice paste. Poke holes in the tenderloin with a fork , allowing the marinade to penetrate.

Marinate pork overnight in the fridge for best results.

Let the pork come to room temperature for about two hours before you plan to cook it.

Heat oven to 400F.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a nonstick saucepan. 

Sear pork tenderloin on both sides till brown.

Place pork in an ovenproof dish and roast uncovered for 20 minutes.

Remove from over and cover loosely with foil. Let pork rest for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and serve.

Roasting food when you are hungry is a process of breathless anticipation, fulfilled when we slice into succulent pork. Sauteed spring asparagus and cauliflower with garlic and pepper cosy up to the pork. No leftovers for us! 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Lamb and Barley Stew

Stew is always comforting. This one is especially so, as it almost always appears around the winter months. We are Irish for a few days in March, as the roots of this recipe are primarily that. 

I use an easy to trim lamb shoulder with a round bone. Trimmed of all visible fat the lamb, potatoes, carrots and barley are cooked in chicken broth. I use fingerlings or small whole potatoes as they hold their shape well. Carrots provide color and flavor. Bayleaf and thyme enhance freshness. A ton of ground pepper is the spice component. The result is a thick amalgam, one hearty stew that you can rest your spoon and laurels on.

Serves 4

1 pound Lamb Shoulder
2 tablespoons Butter
1 large Onion
1/2 pound Fingerling Potatoes
4 Carrots
1/2 cup Barley
2 Bay Leaves
10 Thyme sprigs 
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
2 cups Chicken Stock
Parsley, chopped

Wash and trim lamb of all visible fat. Chop into bite size chunks.

Chop onion into small dice.

Melt butter in a pressure cooker. If you are cooking the stew stove top melt the butter in a large Dutch oven.

Add chopped onion to butter and saute till translucent.

Add diced lamb to onions and saute till lamb is seared brown.

Add barley to lamb and saute for a few minutes.

Wash potatoes and carrots. Cut carrots onto 2 inch pieces. Leave potatoes whole. 

Add bay leaf, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper to meat. Mix well.

Pour chicken stock into meat and bring to a boil. Cover and pressure cook lamb for 16 minutes OR let meat cook covered stove top for 1 1/2 hours till tender. 

Uncover and fish bayleaf and thyme sprigs out of the stew. 

Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serve stew hot with rice or soda bread.

An intoxicating aroma fills the kitchen the moment the stew is uncovered. Pressure cooked or slow cooked, this stew has all the characteristics of a hearthwarming meal.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Fish Koftas

Another Friday and yet another pescatarian dinner. Fridays in Lent constitute fish at our dinner table. Meals have been duly chronicled and posted, consumed enthusiastically or sometimes with little enthusiasm. This is the last compulsory meal as Easter comes barrelling along. I try a Bengali kofta curry. Simple spices sauteed with the usual suspects.... onions, ginger and garlic. The curry laced with tomato paste becomes more a sauce than a runny gravy. Boiled fish and mashed potato koftas are enhanced with fried onions, chiles and few choice spices. Lightly fried, they are napped with the tomato sauce and topped with a yogurt garlic sauce. Most appetizing. 

Serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless Cod
1 large Yukon Gold Potato
1 Bread Slice
2 Green Chiles, minced fine
1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
3/4 teaspoon Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon Cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 Onions
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cloves
1 Cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Paste

Cut cod into large pieces. Place cod in a saucepan, cover with water, add a large pinch of salt tp cod and bring to a boil over a medium flame. Lower flame and simmer cod for 10 minutes till flaky and done. Drain well. 

Peel potato and chop into chunks. Place in a bowl, cover with water and add a large pinch of salt. Boil potatoes till soft. Drain and mash well with a fork.

Put fish in a bowl and mash gently. Add potatoes to fish, along with green chiles, garlic paste, cilantro, chile powder, garam masala, cumin powder and salt.

Chop onion finely.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add onion to hot oil and saute till light brown. 

Take 1 tablespoon of browned onion and add to fish.

Soak bread slice in a little water for 1 minutes. Squeeze water out and add to fish. 

Use your hands to mix the fish and spices well.

Form small balls.

Deep fry balls till golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm or reheat in a microwave just before adding to the sauce below. 

If preferred you could make small flat discs and shallow fry them.

Continue to saute onions.

Add bayleaf, cloves and cinnamon stick to onions.

Add garlic and ginger paste to browned onions. Saute till you see oil on the edges of the onions.

Add tomato paste and saute for 3-5 minutes.

Add turmeric, chile and garam masala to onions. Stir well for 30 seconds so spices can bloom.

Season with salt.

Pour water into onions and simmer for 5 minutes. You need a thickish sauce just enough to coat the fish.

Whisk yogurt and garlic paste together. Add 3 -4 tablespoon of water to make a pouring consistency.

Float the fish koftas in the sauce.

Drizzle with yogurt sauce and serve with rice or roti.

The family equates koftas with meat. Pleasantly surprised with the deception, they attack the alternative with much gusto. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Short Cut Fish Patia & Dhun Dal

Dilnaz posts a Busybee commentary on Parsi food and whets my appetite for all the listed bhonu, a comprehensive list of beloved foods. Busybee, a Bombay literary icon, published chronicles of life he saw, through comedic written vignettes. The Gourmet Navroze article is a paean to all foods Parsi. If you should be so fortunate to sample their panoply of culinary fare you count yourself among the lucky ones. I yearn for dhansak, patra ni macchi, sali boti, saas ni macchi and a myriad other specials, but I settle on an easy to make fish patia.

Short cuts abound here as time and talents speak volumes. Oh yes...the Time and Talents Club Cookbook as well. This is a compendium of recipes compiled by a group of Parsi women.  I take my cue from these stalwarts. They would hold cooking demonstrations at their meetings, incorporating relevant recipes into future publications. Mum has a couple of recipes of hers printed in there as well.  I use a recipe that has been faithfully copied by my Dad to assist me in my kitchen adventures as a new bride. There are a host of Parsi cookbooks but this one is by far my favorite.

As I aforementioned, I take a few shortcuts. It starts with boneless codfish, as traditional recipes use pomfret slices. Fish tastes best when cooked with bones, but the convenience of boneless cod is a no brainer for me. I do not spend time soaking red chiles in hot water to soften them into a blended puree. A quick paste comes together with red chile powder, paprika and ground garlic. Using powdered masalas allows me to start on patia prep in a jiffy. Skinned tomatoes, vinegar and the fish blend into an onion masala gravy. The right accompaniment to patia is dhun dal. Pigeon peas or toor dal is cooked, whisked smooth and tempered with garlic and cumin. A mound of fluffy white rice is topped with a ladleful of dal, which is in turn topped with liberally with fish patia. I fry papad and we are off to the races!

Adapted from Time & Talents Club Cookbook
Serves 4

Fish  Patia
1 pound boneless Fish like Cod or Tilapia
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 large Onions
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Cumin powder
3 teaspoons Garlic paste
4 large Tomatoes
2 tablespoons Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sugar
Fried Onions

Dhun Dal
3/4 cup Toor Dal or Pigeon Peas
Pinch of Asafoetida or Hing
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Canola Oil
6 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds

Start the dal by soaking toor dal in water for 1/2 hour. 

Place dal in a deep saucepan, add hing and turmeric  to dal. Top dal with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. When it boils, lower flame, cover and cook for 1/2 hour till done. Stir dal often, adding more water if necessary. 

Alternately, cook the dal in a pressure cooker. No need for soaking the dal. Rinse dal well till water is clear. Put the dal to the pressure cooker. Add hing and turmeric to dal. Pour 3 cups water into dal. The water should cover the dal up to 1/2 inch. Follow pressure cooker instruction and cook for 8 minutes. 

Whisk dal till smooth. Season with salt and keep warm. The dal should be thick and not runny.

Make the fish patia by cutting the fish into 2 inch pieces. Wash fish well and pat dry. 

Season fish with turmeric and salt. Mix with your hands so fish is well coated. Keep aside till needed.

Chop onions finely.

Mix chile powder, cumin powder and garlic paste.

Blanch tomatoes to remove skin. Cut into small dice. (You don't have to remove tomatoes skins but the gravy tastes much better without them)

Heat canola oil in a deep saucepan.

Add chopped onions and fry till light brown. 

Add masala to onions and saute on a low flame for 3-5 minutes.

Raise the flame to medium high and add chopped tomatoes. Saute till tomatoes have dissolved into gravy. This takes about 5-7 minutes. 

Add vinegar and sugar to gravy. Stir well.

Slip fish pieces into gravy. Cover and cook fish for 5 minutes.

Finish the dal by adding a tarka. Heat oil in a small pan. When it is hot add cumin seeds and sliced garlic. Cook till seeds are dark brown and garlic is golden. Pour the oil into the cooked dal. 

Uncover saucepan, top with fresh cilantro and serve with dhun dal and rice.

How to eat Fish Patia

Top rice with a helping of dal. Top dal with a piece of fish and some gravy. Cilantro and fried onions add taste and texture. Fry some papad and you have a complete meal.

When I travel to Bombay Dilnaz brings me patra ni macchi and brain cutlets. Benaaz treats me to khatta meetha cutlets, dhansak with kofta pullao, and sali boti at Kings.  My taste buds and belly are eternally grateful to their generosity and friendship. And to Mum and Dad for the jubilee edition of the Parsi cookbook. Busybee wrote lovingly of his favorites, but my friends bring that foodlove to my table.