Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Difficult Daughter

"Difficult daughter"!
That is what my father was surely muttering under his breath as he went up and down the bylanes of MG road in Pune.
He was, on what was turning out to be, a fools errand.
Who knew it was going to be so difficult finding Parsi sambhar masala in Pune?
Finally he was lead to the home of the Parsi couple who ran a home-based business selling Parsi fare.
By the cold and terse reception he got there he was convinced the couple was Parsi in name only.
Noted playwright, author, musician, composer P.L. Deshpande (fondly known as Pu La) observed that the most inconsequential, useless, bothersome, and ignored entity in a shop run by a true Punekar is the customer.
(Put two and two together, people.)
The masala justified the means. I know, easy for me to say that.

One of the first recipes I tried with this masala was the Chana ni Dar from My Bombay Kitchen.
I had made it once before but without the fiery sambhar masala. This time around I wanted to make the chauli (black-eyed peas) variation that she suggests. Since I did not have enough of those beans on hand, used dried peas (vatana) instead.
Though I started with the recipe for Chana ni Dar, I cheated quite a bit. Didn't use some ingredients either because of a lack of resources (dhana-jiru masala) or simple laziness (potatoes).

We loved the Parsi Vatana; sambhar masala is fierce. Most certainly not for the faint of heart.

I was happy and relieved with the outcome. Relieved because after some consecutive bad meals, I was back!
Note to self: file radicchio+methi+paneer under bad ideas.

Parsi Vatana
adapted from My Bombay Kitchen

1 ½ cup vatana (dried green peas), wash and soak overnight
½ large onion, chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 large chilli, de-seed and chop
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (or grated)

2 tbsp oil
1 tsp turmeric
salt, to taste
5-6 stalks of cilantro, chopped
juice of a lemon

Drain the water that the vatana was soaking in.
Add about 3 cups of water along with the chilli, tomatoes, turmeric, and salt.
Pressure cook for 2 whistles.

Heat oil. When hot add the onions till they start browning. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the sambhar masala. If the mixture starts sticking to the pan, add a bit of water to keep things moving.
Add the cooked vatana along with a cup of warm water. More if you want it soupier.
Cook over medium heat till the oil separates and floats to the top.
Add the cilantro and lemon juice.
Adjust the salt level.

The first day we enjoyed the vatana with steamed rice and plain parathas.
The next day the flavours deepened fantastically. Needed no accoutrement except maybe some yogurt.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to me the.best.cooker@gmail.com. Thanks for stopping by.
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