Tagged: stovetop

Three awesome masala (desi) omelets

Before chat rooms and MySpace, there were pen friends. Did
you have one? I had several between the ages of nine and fourteen,
who I wrote to diligently every month. We exchanged news and
factoids on our country, school, what we read and where are lives
were. Then life and school got hectic, took priority and I had no
time to keep in touch. Neither did they, and the inevitable parting
of ways took place without us even knowing it. Every once so often,
I found myself missing that like-minded interaction with fun
individuals I knew only through their words. I missed that, until a
few more years passed. Then there was Twitter.

Among all the social media prevalent
today, Twitter is the one that I find most creatively inspiring. It
facilitates connections so easily that finding someone interesting
and inspiring requires only that you start. This was where I
connected with Manisha. Not only is she an interesting follow on
twitter, but her blog never
ceases to inspire me. When my half-Kashmiri husband had a sudden
yearning for Haak,
it was her blog that led me to salvation. I despair using collard
greens, what one would traditionally use here. I embraced, and
enjoyed, her dandelion greens version with a sigh of relief. Her
travel photos on India go a long way in assuaging that homesick
feeling I still get sometimes.

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Meyer Lemon-Lavender curd

It’s possible I’ve waited too long to tell you about this. Waited is not quite the mot juste here. There isn’t a single word that comprehensively covers how I’ve been dying to tell you all about it with nary a writing opportunity available. This lemon curd got made, gifted, photographed, eaten and thoroughly appreciated, in short, everything but captured in this space here. I’ve been very remiss.

Let’s rectify that right away. Even though chances are that the Meyer Lemon obtaining avenues are closing fast, unless you’re the lucky owner of a tree or you refrigerated your last precious batch. They last in the fridge a long time, these little globs of sunshine. They brought much needed cheer to many a cold winter’s day in my last three months. It’s important that I give this fragrant citrus the some much required props in my virtual home too.

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My aaji’s (grandma’s) Semolina fried prawns

“Why do they get to have so many when we have so few?”

“Because they don’t eat the paplet (pomfret), raja.

“It’s not our fault they don’t eat fish. Why are we being punished? We like the kolumbi (prawns) too”

“Next time, I will ask for many, many more to be bought from the market. Then you can have all that and the fish. Chala putano, jeva aata. (Come my dears, eat your food now.)”

Pick any weekend when there was a fish dinner at grandma’s and you could count on this conversation replaying like a broken record. My cousin Pags and I always knew that we had a sweet deal. His sister and mine knew that that nothing would change, the same thing would happen the next time. Yet one of them always complained of the unfairness of it all. It was almost ritualistic, their complaints, my grandma’s cajoling, Parag and I eating up quick before anyone had a chance to change their mind, the post-dinner grumbling.

I still cannot eat fried prawns without thinking of that time.
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Chorizo & Potato tacos inspired by Tacolicious

We’ve got gas!

Alright, that was a poor dig at shcok vlue, but really we do have gas. The kind you cook with. Oh the joy of fire! Every time I see those sinuous flickering flames licking at the base of the pan, I do a little jig right there in the kitchen. No fancy pants induction stove is a match for a simple gas flame. Amey, who learned to cook only in this country, which means only on electric ranges, is a bit nonplussed at how quickly all his food cooks. He may never live in a house with an electric range again!

Oil starts to shimmer almost as soon as it hits a hot pan. Two-minute noodles actually take two minutes instead of eight. This is the best part of our move, my fabulous new kitchen with its darling gas range. Untouched by human hands before us. Well, except for the people who installed it. I have big plans for this stove. It is way bigger than my previous one. The last one matched the size of my old kitchen and was really made for people who believed cooking meant boiling water for tea. It was tiny. Our friends often marvelled that we cooked the meals on it that we did. The coils were all too close to each other to ever allow all four to be in use at the same time, thereby involving long stints in the kitchen if inviting company over for a meal. This full size range is a treat. Cooking is more of a joy than it ever was. Even the OCD-like reverential cleaning we put it through every time we use it is easier. Things are looking great in our kitchen.

Once we got here and settled in a bit, one of the first things I pulled from my files was this recipe for tacos. I’d been saving it for summer which is a bit silly considering it doesn’t call for summer ingredients or any such thing. You could just as easily make it at any time of year. To me, however, there is something inexplicably summer about tacos. The hand-held food, the riot of colour, the tongue-tantalizing hit of heat and spice, they evoke beaches and sun. I’d been daydreaming of taco picnics in the park in the cold of April. We haven’t quite gotten to the picnic yet but there have been tacos. Several experiments, like the accompanying chicken taco in the photo above; but mostly there has been a repeat of this chorizo-and-potato kind, because they are quite quick and delicious in an I-want-to-eat-these-for-every-meal-for-the-rest-of-your-life kind of way.

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Annie Somerville’s spicy corn with tomatoes, chilli and cilantro

Did not mean to stay away for long but time has really zoomed on by here, what with all the packing, moving and unpacking I’ve been doing since I last checked in with you. This moving thing, it really is as annoying, niggling and downright disruptive as others say it is.

You may wonder how I didn’t know this before. Surely, you might think, a girl who had to move all the way over here from a whole other country must have encountered this before. To answer that; not really. I moved to this country carrying my life in three large suitcases. The one soul-splitting decision I had to make then was which books to bring along. I dealt with that by avoiding the decision and bringing all of them over; that I had to leave most of my clothes behind to do this, is another story. The only other time I moved was from grad school in Texas to San Francisco. In two years, the glorious salary of a grad assistant hadn’t gone very far in adding to my original possessions. I tackled with this move by allowing the postal service to do the heayy lifting, first shipping off said previous possessions to my sister and once I got a job in San Francisco, to Amey, who was already here. I found an apartment and moved possessions into it. Then I just stayed put, adding a few odds and ends to the tally – mostly other books.

It wasn’t planned to be that way. We were supposed to move when we got married. My limerick-sized apartment with its haiku-sized kitchen was barely enough for one. It fairly exploded when Amey moved his things into it. We assured each other this would only be temporary, while we found a larger apartment that we liked, but time had its way with us. Before we knew it, we’d celebrated four anniversaries in that apartment.

So here we were seven years since I originally moved into the place, finally working on moving out. Up to that point we’d been congratulating ourselves on how well we’d managed to live, not buying more than would fit into the place. recycling stuff, purging before buying. Based on this and my previous moving experience, I’d thought this move would hardly be more irksome than before. Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong if I’d paired canary yellow shoes with a shocking pink outfit. Or put bacon in my chocolate. *shudder*

Patient reader, this move has drained us to the very core. The act of trying to pack up the contents of a small apartment while still living having to live in it is as aggravating as trying to put seven terriers in a Mini Cooper. They will all get in eventually but they will then proceed to make a nuisance of themselves and get in your way every time you need to do something essential, like grab a tissue for your nose, which is running freely from all of the dust you’ve been kicking up. There were boxes of all sizes at every turn. We stacked and sidled, but there was no way around it. Going to work was sweet joyful relief, despite the crazy deadlines we were facing that month. For a while, all you had to do was walk up to Amey and say ‘packing’ and he would glower and start hurling invective like a wet dog shaking off water. All this and we were only at packing.

We managed to move in somewhat one piece, something that sadly cannot be said of several of my ceramic dinner plates. This move involved quite literally blood, sweat and tears. In my typical clumsy fashion, I’ve cut, scratched and bruised myself in every imaginable fashion as I’m wont to do in any situation that requires physical movement on my part. As you can imagine, there hasn’t been much time to really cook anything new, mostly stuff that was quick and ready in as little time as possible. That was on days that we could cook, there weren’t many. Most days we were just grateful for the concept of takeout.

Before we moved from our old apartment; the one that managed to be aggravating yet wonderful at the same time, I had cooked this as my last post from there. I never got to it while I was there but here it is now. There is corn to be had and while it’s still around I urge you to try this side dish that could very easily be a whole meal. It was for us. It will not take up too much of your time. You redeem some ears of corn of their kernels, cut a scallion or two and dice up some jalapeno. Shake everything into a pan with some oil and cayenne pepper. Then you take it off the heat and shower a cupful of ruby red cherry tomato halves into it. A dash of vinegar, some lime juice, a sprinkle of cilantro…voila! That’s all there is to a light dish that makes your stress disappear, be it from a day at the office or wrestling with prodigious quantities of duct tape.

Spicy corn with Tomatoes, Chilli & Cilantro
adapted from Annie Sommerville’s Field of Greens
Serves 2-3 as a salad and 4-6 as a side

Corn kernels – 4 ears or 2 cups
Jalapenos – 4, de-seeded and diced or slivered
Champagne vinegar- 1 tbsp
Lime juice – 1 lime
Scallions – 2, white and green bits, sliced thin
Cayenne pepper – a couple of pinches
Cherry tomatoes – 1 cup
Cilantro – a couple of sprigs, finely chopped
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste

– Heat the oil in a pan on medium low heat until it shimmers, then add the corn, jalapeno and scallions.
– Add the salt and cayenne and give the contents of the pan a good stir. Let heat for 8 – 10 minutes.
– Add the vinegar and lime juice and toss the veggies in it. Move the dish off the heat immediately.
– Pour the contents of the pan into a bowl then add the cherry tomatoes and cilantro while the corn is still warm. Mix to incorporate.

Makes a great side dish or accompaniment for chicken, rice or any number of things. Makes a great salad with some crusty bread thrown in and oh, it is a quick and fabulous Cinco de Mayo side! Though you may need to thaw some frozen kernels then. 

Cook’s notes:

The rules contained in this recipe are more like guidelines. You cannot go wrong here no matter how you change up the steps. Throw the tomatoes into the pan with the corn for example, or toss the lime juice and vinegar in once off the heat (actually this is what the recipe instructs. I always forget to and throw them in the pan – no problem.) It makes little difference to the general make-up of the dish. Add as much or as little jalapeno as you want. Personally, a de-seeded jalapeno tastes like bell pepper to me, so I use 4. I like the soft crunch it brings to the party.The cayenne pepper will help you turn the heat up or down so use according to taste.

The sweetness of the corn mingles so well with the acid and heat of the other ingredients to create a dish that is quite gratifying. We had this as a salad with some crusty Ikea cardamom toast and tea. San Francisco was cold and foggy that day but the sun broke through the fog just as we sat down to eat. I’m sure the meteorologists have an explanation. I prefer to think it was the power of suggestion from this simple meal.