Wednesday, August 29, 2012
If you're a South Indian 'Tambram' (Tamil Brahmin) who went through the traditional 'whole nine yards' , wedding ceremony to literally 'tie the knot', you would probably remember the 'oonjal' ceremony. Its a beautiful social part of the whole 3 day event (yes, the ceremonies span 3 days!). where the bride & groom are seated on a double swing (decorated to the hilt with fragrant garlands) & are revered as Lord Vishnu & Lakshmi. They get their feet washed (albeit, just ceremonially, with a fingertip's worth of milk) and are fed a mix of milk with bananas ('Paalum Pazham') by the spoonful, by all the older married female relatives. and this is where the interesting innovative hacks begin to fall into place.
Monday, August 20, 2012
After a perfect meal with a choice of your favorite dishes, have you ever felt so satisfied that you could (almost) give away your wealth & precious possessions? I think this could fall under that oft shared slide of wisdom from the social networking sites.. "Never speak when you are angry, never promise when you're happy, never decide when you're sad." and food definitely falls plumb into the second category. There is something so lulling about certain dishes that are categorized under the umbrella term 'Comfort food' and its usually the stuff that one grew up with.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Its been a bountiful summer, in that every week I manage to get a couple of food sessions done with veggies picked from my own back yard. This week it was half a dozen decent sized tomatoes. The thing with such personal experiences with produce, is that you want to ensure that they are used in dishes that are specially created. In a sense thanking them for the priceless opportunity of sampling food at its sun kissed best.
These tomatoes found their way into a dish that in all fairness, is in search of a better name. You see,
I happen to belong to the foodie camp that cringes at hearing terms like 'Chai Tea' and 'Paneer cheese'. Pleonasms, as they are called, refers to redundant words paired together, such as 'join together' or 'exact same'.
So here I was with a recipe idea that seemed quite deliciously possible and ingredients to match, - organic tomatoes from the backyard, Organic Tofu from Whole Foods Market in Princeton . Frozen edamame pods from Trader Joes. and no proper name to give it. As a place holder, I've christened it Pleonasmic Edamame Tofu until I can think of something better.I'm not sure if I've give it an A+ in the novelty rankings, but its definitely a keeper of a recipe.
Pleonasmic Edamame Tofu:
For the Masala Paste:
- 1 large white onion (about 1 cup chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 inch piece ginger, chopped
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 3 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 4-5 whole pods cardamom
- 6-7 cloves
- 1 inch piece of cassia bark cinnamon (yet another pleonasm??)
- 6-9 black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons dry mango powder or sumac
- 1 Serrano chile chopped
- 1 packet extra firm Tofu
- Cayenne chili powder to taste
- 1/4 + 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder (total 1/2 teaspoon)
- 3 cups boiled and peeled green edamame
- 6 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- 2 + 3 tablespoons Olive oil (total 5 tablespoon)
- 1 cup water or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup Yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Heavy cream
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
Drain the water from the tofu and pat dry completely using paper towels. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes and combine with 2 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, salt (as per your taste, ~ 1/2 teaspoon) and Cayenne chile powder. Set aside to marinade for about 1 hour.
Heat the remaining oil in a skillet and add the masala paste. Cook on a low heat until any water completely evaporates. Now add the chopped tomatoes along with the remaining turmeric. Cook down to a thick paste.
Add the edamame to the tomato mixture, adjust for salt. Add the water / stock and cover. Simmer on a low flame while you prepare the tofu.
In a non stick skillet, add the cubed tofu in 2 or 3 batches and toast until the surfaces turn brown. Shake the skillet to turn the individual cubes. (minimizing the use of a spatula ensures that the cubes do not break up).
Add the tofu cubes to the edamame 'curry'. cover and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
Whip the yogurt and cream together until smooth and drizzle over the curry. gently stir to combine. (Omit this if you want a vegan version, ) Transfer to a serving dish & Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with plain jasmine or basmati rice.
For a vegan version of the yogurt / cream finishing ingredient, I'd suggest, soaking 1/4 cup of cashew nuts in 1/2 a cup of almond milk and grinding the nuts into a smooth paste.
What are your Favorite examples of foodie Pleonasms??