Food for thought: December 2018

What you cook and eat in is as important as what you cook and eat.

Presenting the foot soldiers to my metal health: cast iron, clay, soapstone, wood, glass, kansa (a form of copper, not Krishna’s evil uncle).

I also try to source locally, so that my kitchen’s carbon footprint is low and the local craftspeople have one more appreciative customer.

(Quick nudge – if you are reading this, and are consumed with love for me, and want to gift me something for the new year, may I suggest, bowls. a plate or two or a water bottle)

My star cast(L to R): Manipuri black stone pottery for curd, from a long ago Dastkar visit. Wooden board, salad spoons and the copper plate: HappyHealthyMe, cast iron tawa/ dosa kallu, kadai, clay pot and soapstone kalchatti are all from Zishta.   

On, then, to food.

It’s been a go-go-go sorta December with very little down time. Often, during such times, the fingers slide slowly toward the Swiggy. But with the little time I had, I managed a few batches of hot apple cider to make December memorable.

Plum cake and hot apple cider

Among the best plum cakes in town are Michelle Gafoor‘s. I’ve been taking large boxfuls from her each year in this season and giving them away to an increasingly large fan base. In fact, I’ve been doing this for so long, that one of her kids, Zahan, whom I remember to be about 4 feet tall, is all grown up, and running his own brownie business, Bread and Batter; and her design student of a daughter is creating labels. Seeing no reason to break tradition, I went back, per usual, for a small truckload.

I also made it sweet. With Hot chocolate

How to: melt dark chocolate. Add sea salt. I added sriracha flavoured one. Added some Mason hot chocolate also for good measure. Half froze. Took it out, and thanks to il visiting culinary professori, me ma, stuck the sticks into it, froze again. Next – remove, de-tray, dip into hot water with a dash of milk.

Cashew capsicum buckwheat pasta

This one was truly inspired.

Buckwheat pasta – boil

Capsicum, jalapeños, garlic – chop

Mix mix mix. Add some shredded smoked cheddar & cashewnut paste. I used the Jus’ Amazin Punchy Pepper, because it was readily sitting there in my kitchen and is so yum.

Eat hot!

Fritata/ Shakshuka

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When in a celebratory mood, i slide apples real thin and add some nutmeg powder, salt and cinnamon powder. Tastes like something outta magic.

Onto the eggs – made for a friend who enjoys ’em – capsicums, tomatoes, garlic, ginger,  salt and pepper, when stewed in own juices, met 3 eggs with some chilli flakes in them, and came out fluffy and moist on the other side.

Moringa flower veggie

It all started with me spying moringa flowers and telling my landlady that we should try making this flower bhaji that her cook made and was yum. She had the gardener give me an armful, in a few minutes.

After seeing off the praying mantis on the flowers, I cleaned the flowers, and made 2 styles of veggies.

  1. Peanut flavoured: per the earlier cook’s style, I made this. Light sauté the flowers, threw . in a few leaves for good measure. Garlic, chilli, salt and peanut powder.
  2. Same as above, replace peanut powder with eggs. This, per the recipe of Azam the gardener-gnome.

Both versions came out totally yum!

Corn-potato melt

A childhood favourite, this is best made with fresh corns. Outside the cycle store, there are these women bringing fresh corn. For 2 rupees extra, they remove the corn kernels from the cob. All I have to do is boil potatoes, add corn and boil till both are soft, add burnt garlic, ginger powder, green chillis, some cheese and salt. When happy brothy phase happens, remove, throw on a small bed of rice and enjoy hot.

Broccoli stewed in its own juices

I was listening to some young girls at work go on about broccoli – a vegetable I’ve always been mostly on the fence about, flavour-wise. So, I did something simple – while the broccoli stewed in its own juices, I added spicy salt from Aarohi, that lovely place from Uttarakhand, from where much goodness ensues. That salt is just stunning. Added also was some fresh lemon that was one of the material takeaways from the Navgati offsite (on a side note, you know it’s an authentic life when, eschewing the mandatory diary or some branded product that doesn’t distinguish one recipient from another, you get lemons that everyone gushes over). The result: wow! It was sharp and tangy and totally delicious.

Wine reduction risotto

I believe that wanting peas pulao is a valid craving. I was in the mood. And earlier in the day I was looking sadly at last year’s mulled red wine. So, smooshing these two disparate thoughts together, I boiled brown rice by first sauteing it – if that be the term – in red wine. Then, added boiled peas and corn, added some parsley for good measure, and when cooked, added parmesan, waited for it to become all gooey and ate it. It was delicious. But the need for nice tadka-fied peas pulao didnt go, so that was the next day.

Pesto

While I don’t have an image of the finished product because I chugged it down PDQ, this is thanks to basil from a friend’s mum’s garden in Kerala. She had her mum cart it down, clean and pack it neatly and send it to me. What else to do but rub hands in glee, make a batch, share, and make sure you get to eat it on crisp toast, and eat it with pasta for another meal. My buckwheat pasta rose to the occasion admirably.

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