Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday Nite - Dinner and Movie

The much awaited weekend rolled around ..last night, which means we're already half way through it (sigh!) Sushi is in the kitchen dealing with chicken (as in cooking it) and I'm here blogging. Normally I don't desert my spouse, when he's in charge at the cooking range. Nope, I offer advise(solicited/unsolicited), take pictures and generally make myself useful. But I have this phobia about chicken with their bones on, de-boned I devour with gusto, but chicken or any other birdy beings with bones in them give me the shivers, which is why I'm here in blog land right now.

About the Friday night though...It's been a dry spell at the multiplex this year cos of quarrelsome bollywood, and I think the multiplex guys. And no, I don't know whose fault it was, point is that a bollywood flick, good or otherwise has become something of a novelty. So, when "New york" hit the screens, we thought to go have a look. Now, there are 2 theatres we usually go to. Theatre A has restaurant B really close by and Theatre B has restaurant A really close by too. So depending on which theatre we get tickets to or which restaurant we want to eat at determines our plans for the evening.

This time around, Friday 9:30 p.m saw us at restaurant A which serves cuisines from pretty much everywhere. The good thing is that if you tell them that you have a 10:30 show to catch, they serve you with brisk efficiency and don't even take it personally if you say you don't want starters or desert. Well, so long as you order drinks anyway. In what is going to be a separate story altogether, I'm someday going to write about the "Long Island" iced tea that we mixed at home, quite a tricky thing to do as we live miles and oceans away from Long Island. But anyway, I wanted to try out the real thing, so when I saw it on the menu, I ordered it in all it's 5 spirits splendour. Sushi stuck to beer. He's developing quite a crush on beer, he is.

Well, as I was in this whole mood of "let's see what the professional version tastes like", I ordered some Carbonara off the Italian section. Sushi was mulling over his selection and I was busily offering advise. He wanted something with a bit of a zing and I was trying to sell the "Jerked creole chicken" to him, in the process letting him know all about the origins of creole cuisine and what it comprises of. I don't know why he had this glazed over look in his eyes, but he remained unconvinced and mulling still, until the maitre d' came over.

Sushi: I want something with a zing.

Maitre d': Then I'd recommend the Jerked Creole chicken.

Me: Ha!

Sushi: glazed over expression.

(Turns out I was had mixed up Cajun and Creole, so even as he put in a mild protest about how he thought Creole should have something to do with Africa, I held on firmly to my Louisiana story. You decide: here .)

Well the carbonara arrived and it was fusilli not spaghetti, so that was a surprise. It had bacon in it so that was okay. Now, I had only chosen to coat the spaghetti in cheese and eggs(like the recipe said), but here the fusilli was floating in the creamiest sauce that's still making me drool. I definitely think it had olive oil and eggs and cheese in it. Milk - maybe, maybe not. And I definitely hope it was not one of those complicated emulsion things that you do when creating mayonnaise, because we have not been able to create mayonnaise so far and we definitely intend to try and replicate that sauce in our kitchen.

Sushi, he was a bit bemused at the quantities on his plate - chicken breasts(all nice and zingy) but only about a teaspoonful of rice on the side and mashed potatoes, daintily decorated, but just so little.

Shortly, afterwards things started getting a bit fuzzy because there were only 15 minutes to go for the show and I was trying to gulp down the remaining more than half a glassful of long island asap. must never drink tea in its long island avatar fast. It will cause you to not grasp the happenings in the movie altogether, because, you know, the whole fuzzy effect. And you might get the feeling that the fussili is doing a strange dance inside you. Also, nachos are an excellent cure for hunger (remember too little rice and potatoes) and budding feelings of wanting to return home midway through the movie (remember the fussili dance).

Bet you didn't know that! Moral of the story: when restaurant A serves Long Island iced tea, theatre B must always server nachos!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shepherd's pie V8.0

Remember Shepherd's pie ?
It's gone several version upgrades since then and looks like this now -

Thank you, Thank you :-)

The golden brown crusty potato layer, that was a V4.0 discovery. We finally found a use for the rack that comes with the microwave. The closer you take your "grillees" to the grill, the faster they grill! Eureka!

Monday, June 15, 2009

When Little Diney Came Home..

There she is, with her dainty glass top and a set of four cutest little chairs that you ever did see!
But if you thought she's all pretty and fragile, think again 'coz she's got legs of steel, that she crosses in her own "chopstick" style.

It's a weekday, but we love her and want to give her a proper welcome home. So we toss together some veggies in maggie noodles. And then we throw in some shredded chicken (garlic flavoured) because, oh I don't know, it's auspicious or something. We lit a candle in that yellow jar like thing ithe picture and had candle light dinner. ( The candle blew out within a couple of seconds of starting the fan, but hey! that's still 1 out of 2)
p/s Them's the new curtains.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fish in the Hereditary Mustard Curry

The fish and the mustard curry are both hereditary. Does that sound like I come from a long line of mermaids? Couldn't be further from the truth, because you see, put me anywhere close to water over 5 feet in depth and I start panicking like a fish that's out of water. Fact that I am trying to convey for the past few sentences is that Fish in mustard curry is so ubiquitously cooked in my part of the country, where I was born that is, that it feels hereditary.

Phew! Now that we have that out of the way, here's my tale of a weekend adventure with some "Rohu machli" and mustard paste -

The good thing about cooking something like this is that help is but a phone call (or 2) away. Not that I don't intuitively know everything that there's to be done, but when you want clarification/verification on the finer details, help ain't too far away. Like, for eg, when you open the plastic packet that Sushi got back from the fish monger's (full of fish of course), all enthusiastic and raring to go, and you are caught short by a fuzzy looking mess in and around the belly pieces -

What would you do? You start berating the fish - woman (one who sells fish, and is usually quite rotund and very un-mermaid like), until you suspect that the fuzzy mess may in fact be "Rohu caviar" or the fish eggs that you love so much, but have never seen in the belly of its source. Well then you dial 1800---, describe the mess in a few words, receive instant confirmation on your suspicions and some handy how to tips.

Then you put the phone down, give a whoop of delight, gather all of the messy looking stuff, give it a cursory rinse, throw in a pinch of salt, turmeric, red chili powder and some gram flour or besan and mix it up. You then heat some mustard oil(hereafter referred to simply as The Oil) in a kadahi and put in the eggs in little lumps and fry a bit. And then a bit more. Patience my heart, you'll eat soon. Voila -

Next the total number of pakodas is divided by 2 (for Sushi and me), add 1 to my total share by subtracting one from Sushi's because these are too tasty and I get the extra for battling the furious oils.

Once you are done with the munch session (that is if you discovered eggs in the first place), you return to tackle the actual fish. Well, these guys need much more thorough washing, because you never can say where they had been swimming to and what they had been getting up to. Then you season the individual pieces with salt n red chili peppa' and turmeric and last but not the least...g+g paste. After that, you shallow fry them in The Oil.

You want to be really careful here, because The Oil has a touchy nature and it really flies off the handle once it's been on the flames for a couple of minutes. It tends to send out sparks especially targeted at your pupils, not to mention any bare area of your skin that it happens to espy. You may want to practice jumping around a bit before you commence the frying as warm up for dodging the aforementioned sparks. Also you may want to have protective gloves on and goggles, the kind you wear when you go welding.

Once that's done, you've put the worse behind you and there's only the matter of the curry. This comprises mustard paste as its base. The mustard paste you make by finally getting your food processor out of its closet. (No, it's always been and still is straight, thanks). To the processor you add yellow mustard seeds (pretty hard to come by generally, you have to scour several shops diligently for a at least a week in advance) and make it go round and round.

Then to The Oil, you add "panch phoran" - a rather secret-ish ingredient with 5 different kinds of seeds in it and so the name "panch ..", mustard paste (more makes it more pungent, but if you cross a certain threshold, pungent turns to bitter, and this is when you must STOP adding more), chopped tomatoes, and salt and other things that you might think are necessary. After that, in goes fish and water, in reverse order.

You can finally get the protective gear off and begin eating..with rice is my favourite.