Friday, 18 June, 2010

Gastronomy Domine - Pasta la Vista!

Simple toss-up using penne -

  • Boil pasta, drain and keep aside
  • Blend 1 tomato and 1 onion into a paste
  • Chop up 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow zucchini, some olives
  • Heat a li'l bit of olive oil in a pan - add chopped veggies and cook for a while
  • Add some salt, some oregano etc and cook some more
  • Bung in the blended so-called sauce and cook some more, till all the raw smell goes away
  • Put in some more spices - any random stuff, cook a bit more
  • Throw in the pasta, add ground pepper, etc
  • Mix it around, take it off the flame, allow to settle, marinate etc...
...and you're done! Pasta la Vista, baby!

Friday, 11 June, 2010

Gastronomy Domine - Gajar halwa, straight up

(I may start writing about another newly-discovered passion - food! Always been a fan, but developing a more geeky interest of late. Well, here goes...)

Tried my hand at gajar halwa - classic style - for mum's birthday yesterday. Here is a blow-by-blow how-to, with some nuances thrown in, to get it just-so...(and you can figure out the ingredients etc by just reading this through I guess)

  • Look for carrots that are large, bright orange and firm.
  • Volume - I began with four medium-large carrots (400-450 gm). They didn't look impressive at first, but when they were grated, they almost filled two-thirds of a large kadai. When cooked, the volume reduces back. This is natural, so don't be alarmed.
  • Heat up 1 tsp ghee in a dry kadai, roast cashews (split) and almonds...till the cashews turn golden brown. Toss in some raisins at the end, roast a bit more and take it all out
  • Add 1 more tsp of ghee to the remains in the kadai and bung in the shredded carrots. Toss around till the raw smell goes away (about 2-3 min on a low flame)
  • Slip in some milk - just enough to soak the carrots, and begin the slow and patient cooking process. Cooking the carrot in milk (rather than water) gives it that extra richness. If the milk boils down and the carrots are not done yet, throw in more milk. I used about 400 ml, and it took maybe 15-20 min to cook
  • The carrot is now a shrunken cooked mass. Bung in some sugar - I used about 200 gm, but it's to your taste. I feel that this dessert oughta be really sweet, and 200 gm just did the trick
  • The sugar will give out some water, so just keep cooking till it all boils away and the carrot cooks some more. In about 5-10 min of this, you'll be done
  • Add 1-2 tsp ghee on top and stir it in - more rich goodness! These 'touches' make the final product more heavenly, in my humble opinion!
  • Toss in the roasted cashew-almond-raisins. Garnish with powdered cardamom (maybe 3 pods)
Gajar halwa is good when served hot, but I feel it's better when served gives time for the milk and sugar to really sink in, and makes the halwa really rich. Came out pretty good in the end!

Made some improvised insta-bhel to go with it; and then the wife made pasta, which gran was adventurous enough to try - a first for her! Pics below...

The improv bhel (above) and the pasta (below)...(penne, fresh mint chutney, tomatoes, olives, corn, leftover hot-n-sweet honey of my own design etc etc)

...overall, fun times!