RSS

Category Archives: Indian

Life after Death

I thought I had at least 3-5 more years with Sam. He was 14, or almost, when we got back from California about three weeks ago. And had a terrible cold, or so I thought. And 6 days later he was dead. And I was totally floored. Absolutely nailed to the ground with grief because I loved this cat so much. Far more than his cute, but asocial sister. In the past 17 days I have been sad and mad and incredulous and…the list goes on. I suppose the five stages of grief. I am beginning to come to terms with his loss, and doing what I can to stay positive.

His sister, Sophie, needs to stay healthy now. I am on a mission to get her to shed a little weight, get some more exercise, and try to convince her to snuggle with me more. (A lost cause). And to fill the gaps in my heart, which are huge, we are getting two new cats, crazy people that we are. In two weeks.

Yeah, those two lovebugs. :-))) We figure that Sophie …regardless of my success with her weight loss, might not be around for many more years. So we are easing the transition. May 4 or 5…here they come.

I stayed home today from work – although worked from here – every chance I get I try to hang out with Sophie. She seems to miss Sam, although who can really interpret her, certainly not I. I don’t seem to have cat whisperer skills when it comes to her.

Lunch time came and went and I wasn’t really hungry but wanted…something.

I could only look at so much bread and cheese combinations for lunch, so I decided to throw together a dish I haven’t had for ages: Indian Poha. More or less an Indian breakfast dish from Maharashta that I repurposed for mid-day. It’s rehydrated rice, plus an assortment of veggies, nuts, spices, herbs. It’s sort of like…Indian fried rice but fast and easy. On a day like today, when Winter has returned to Germany (damn it), something warm and fragrant and spicy like poha is great comfort food.

You can customize as you like.

The basic recipe is here (and many other places).

Soak your poha (dehydrated rice), and chop up whatever you’re putting in. Fry your mustard seeds and then your onions and potatoes, put in your ginger and tumeric and chili and carrots and peas, your nuts and coconut shreds, toss in your shrimp if you have a few (perfectly good as a veggie dish too), and then the poha, the herbs, season with salt…tossing the whole while as each element cooks in.

And then squeeze a slice of lemon over it, just before serving.

Enjoy the comfort and ease.

Think of kittens.

Save

Advertisements
 

Tags: ,

Cooking with Ghosts

img_3576

Happy Halloween! Well, a day late, but I started this post yesterday and then got waylaid.

First things first: yummy discovery, care of Christian, who posted a photo of the Chinese junkstreet food goodie he had a few days back and which I then needed to try. Jianbing.

Ummmmmm.

img_3557

Basically, a wheat flour crepe, with a fried egg coating…and inside a bit of ginger chicken, a spicy garlic sauce and a crunchy fried cracker to make the eating experience especially toothsome. Pour some nice ginger vinegar sauce on top and you are good to go. Very tasty – being served up at LeDu at Karlsplatz, just a couple S-bahn stations from where I work. But I went over there Monday, a day off – yes yes yes…I am finally getting some holidays, a big relief – during my shopping and running around. There are a couple of them apparently, scattered around Munich. Le Du’s, I mean.

And they must have inspired (?) my dinner this evening. The whole food wrapped up in a pancake thing. I had a craving for Indian food – because of the second source of inspiration, which came from the NYTimes’ special food article for Diwali, where they must have posted about 30 really good recipes for various dishes. And then there was the third inspiration. The Ghosts.

Namely, the Carolina (Ghost?) Reapers, given to me by my friend, Kurt, who knows I like a challenge.

img_3567

Look at those babies! Cute! So cute. And so deadly. These are currently the HOTTEST pepper in the world. People try to eat these things whole and go to the hospital.

img_3559

I cut one of the itty bitty ones Kurt gave me in half and then in half again. See. No, I didn’t dare to put that in my mouth. I lightly crunched a sliver of that between my two front teeth to see how bad it would be. I spit it out after about 5 seconds and went to find a cracker. It was that bad. But they were indeed very flavorful, if insanely hot. You breath fire for a few minutes, but it is a very fragrant sweet sort of fire. You don’t know what I am talking about…yeah, well, come over for a pepper, needless to say, they are not going very fast. But they’re keeping well.

But….a little bit went into a dish of dal. A bit went into some sauteed cauliflower….a whole small one went into my pressure-cooked chicken. And all in all, we were not gasping for breath at the end of my meal.

img_3581

After cooking the chicken, I broke it down into bits and cooked it with some onions and herbs,

img_3584

Defrosted some pizza dough and turned it into fake naan…

img_3587

And served it up with the cauliflower, dal, some yogurt and an apple and tomato salsa for some Indian Burritos (patent pending 😉 )

Which were quite ok.

img_3592

How’s that for cooking with ghosts?

Save

Save

Save

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Pumpkin Sage Dessert

IMG_9678

Unexpectedly, I was in Cologne on November 11. The city goes a bit mad on this day, and I got to observe a little of it in the morning as I walked to the office. Lions and tigers and bears, and whatever else, costumed in celebration of the carnival to come in early spring next year. Inside our office there was no evidence of craziness, (or maybe there was, but it wasn’t carnival related).

I got home later that week…and maybe all the costumes reminded me of Halloween and pumpkins…who knows. Anyway, the bright little orange kombochas all over Munich started singing my name.

This dessert creation was the result.

I can’t really call it ice cream…because it’s a kulfi, which always has the requisite ice crystals, at least a very mild smattering of them, scattered through the otherwise very creamy frozen dessert. I had a craving for some vegetarian Indian dishes and ended up with a fusion mix for the meal. The traditional Paneer butter masala – indian cheese in a thick aromatic and delicious curry gravy, some unusual but very good carrot pancakes – made with a beaten egg, a handful of chickpea flour, shredded carrots and chopped coriander, and finally some flash fried spanish pimento peppers with just a bit of salt and pepper. But to finish off, I wanted to try something a bit nontraditional Indian, and had come across this blog recipe for pumpkin sage kulfi.

Beautiful photos over there and an easy straightforward recipe. But…he made his kulfi with almond milk and I admit I wasn’t willing to do that – I like almond milk, but I also like cow milk ice cream. Maybe next time. He also used canned pumpkin puree, which is hard to find here. Germans do love their pumpkins, you find them at every fresh produce stand around the city, big ones and small ones, and you can even simply take a slice home instead of buying something so huge you can’t possibly eat it all without turning orange.

IMG_9690

So I quickly chopped up my pumpkin and threw it in the pressure cooker for five minutes on high (perhaps two cups of pumpkin when chopped up.) Meanwhile I warmed my milk (4 cups) with two tablespoons of chopped sage leaves, and skimmed them out after 5 minutes of cooking, added the sugar (3/4 a cup of brown sugar – but to which I added probably ANOTHER 1/2 cup later because the mixture was so very non-sweet, surprisingly.) I let this cook for a bit. After the pumpkin was done, I pureed it, and added a good cup or so of it to the milk mixture along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch.  And that is it. Let it cook until it thickens a bit and then take it off the heat and pour it into cups. I use old yogurt cups.

IMG_9691

Nice serving sizes, not too much.

The kulfi itself was nice, but a bit one dimensional. So I made a little ginger syrup to pour over the top (1/2 cup of chopped ginger, a cup of water, cup of sugar – heat on the stove for about 20 minutes until it reduces down by half. Pour into a jar and use as needed. Keeps forever. And finally, to give it all an herby note I candied some sage leaves, which sounds complicated but which takes just a few minutes:

IMG_9697

Brush each leaf (or dip, which is what I did) with egg white and then dip them into sugar. Let dry for a few hours until they harden. Also will keep for several months without a problem.

So the dessert concoction in the end was a nice complex combo: The creamy caramelly pumpkin kulfi infused with sage, the spicy sweet note of ginger syrup and the herby candied sage leaves over the top. Worth a try, although a bit fidly/takes some time. Most of the work can be processed simultaneously, and much of it is simply waiting around. But lovely presentation in the end.

IMG_9704

 

Tags: , , , ,

Spice Cabinet Orga = Dhoka

IMG_8970

Last weekend I couldn’t look at my kitchen countertops anymore. They seemed to be filling up with crap everywhere. Out of control. Spoons and spatulas spilling out of a huge bucket, oils and vinegars and peppers and salts littering the space next to the stove, containers filled with coffee and muesli huddling at the endges. Enough was enough. A new strategy.

Honest assessment. What do I need here, what can go? What absolutely needed to be on the counter and what could live inside a drawer? How many wooden spoons does a girl need? (Note: I decided three.) And so there were several hours of rearrangement and clearing. I didn’t touch the spice cabinet – a nightmare by itself, all the little bottles and baggies. Horror. So I stuck with the counters. Step 1. Felt good.

Step 2 happened this morning. The rain was pissing down – the glories of German summer. Or as I learned …wimmer (winter+summer). It just starts in November and extends…to November. I wasn’t quite ready to jump into my running tights and head to the gym, so tackling the spice cabinet seemed a good activity. You can see the result above. We won’t discuss any further the “before” version. In order to hopefully maintain some order I even labeled the shelf sections. Let’s see how long the spices stay in their respective areas. It’s a bit like my clothing. I make nice orderly stacks of t-shirts and pants and sports clothes and 3 weeks later everything is asunder again.

As you might have noticed, the most common spices are the Indian/Pakistani ones. Granted, there are some crossover spices – I mean, where does “cinnamon” really belong? (Indian? Baking? Turkish?), but for the most part I sorted by instinct – “where would I look for something first?”

And to celebrate the order, I made a new Indian recipe. Something called Dhokla, a recipe for it was just published by the nytimes a week back or so. It’s, in this case, a semolina flour version. I decided to try it as the starch in our meal this evening rather than just a standard naan/roti. Dhokla is a steamed savory cake, usually served as a kind of snack in India, from what I learned.

IMG_8973

And it worked and came together pretty quickly. Chili and ginger make it like a sort of spicy cornbread. I learned this fast trick – I don’t remember where I read it. To peel ginger, don’t bother with a knife. Just take a spoon and scrape off the skin. It comes off quickly and easily and significantly reduces the hassle and waste you normally get by trying to peel the knobby root.

IMG_8979

Dhokla is steamed, not baked. I had to make a sort of make-shift steamer. Which was fine.

IMG_8975

IMG_8982

Tumeric surprisingly turned it red, not yellow, after it was steamed, although it started out yellow as you can see above. Must have been some sort of chemical reaction? One note is that the recipe calls for 20 minutes of steaming, but in my case it took about 35 minutes until the top was firm. My steamer set-up was slightly different than that described in the nytimes recipe, so perhaps that’s why.

IMG_8990

You make a tarka for the cake – an oil in which you quickly fry some mustard and curry leaves and chilies. To serve, pour a bit of this over the top, and sprinkle with some fresh coconut slivers and chopped cilantro.

IMG_8987

It’s a snack, but I made it for dinner. The taste? Quite similar to a cornbread, perhaps like a jalapeno cornbread, freshened up with the yogurt raita I served it with, really delicious. Although I look forward more to the leftovers, as usually by the time I am done cooking, I can barely face dinner – I’m sick of the flavors. Give it a day break, and it’s great again though.

IMG_8991

Surrounded by a spianch daal, a fresh aubergine and pepper dish, and a saag paneer, we were happy eaters this evening. And tomorrow evening happier with the leftovers.

Now…time for the Football. Go “Schlaaand!”

 

 

Tags: , , ,