Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sweet Chocolatey Morsels

It was in the middle of a very busy week, but a celebration was in order. A special meal was organised (sort of). But dessert? For once I was stumped. But a celebration without dessert? Not on my watch.

I usually have a couple loaves of plain or chocolate cake stashed in the freezer for just such emergencies.

Earlier in the week I had picked up a tub of mascarpone cheese without any specific use for it in mind.
I remembered book marking a recipe for rich (not that there is any other kind) chocolate mascarpone mousse and set out to make that.
The cake was cut into small bite-sized pieces, topped with some raspberry jam and a small amount of the mascarpone frosting. I tried to pipe pretty rosettes, but the frosting didn't oblige. Next time I'll just use a melon baller.

The combination of chocolate cake and marcarpone mousse with raspberry was simply heavenly. The mousse was quite rich. It was a good thing the cake pieces were small; moderation and all that.

I'm sharing these chocolate morsels with Deepz of Letz Cook who is hosting JFI:Chocolate. JFI is the brainchild of Indira of Mahanandi.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Masoor Without a Tongue

Masoor Ma Jib (without the jib)

It was in the New Books section of the library and I almost didn't pick it up thinking 'My Bombay Kitchen' was yet another generically titled Indian cookbook. But as the extended title said 'Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking', I picked up the book.
Within minutes of reading the book I knew I had to have it.
'My Bombay Kitchen: Traditional and Modern Parsi Home Cooking' by Niloufer Ichaporia King is a treasure.

The writing is casual (though different from Madhur Jaffery's casual-chatty style), liberally sprinkled with information about Parsi life in Bombay (yeah yeah Mumbai), Parsi customs, eating habits, and evolutions of those over time. Her style of writing and the language used had me absolutely hooked. I read the entire book in a couple of days. The book is chock full of simply brilliant observations. Here are two of my favourite ones:

Most important in cooking is reliance on one's senses, all seven - touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, sixth, and common .
(emphasis mine)
Reminded me of a dinner party where I overheard a lady very sincerely asking the hostess 'If I skip the mirchi all together, do you think it will be less spicy?'.

It keeps for at least a week refrigerated and can be successfully thawed. (Note, I didn't say 'frozen'. Anything can be successfully frozen).
Of course! Anyone who has ended up with mush instead of the boiled potatoes that were (successfully) frozen knows this.

There are so many recipes and cooking/prepping techniques (for example, grating tomatoes instead of finely chopping them) that I want to try out. If one can disregard the various anatomical parts that go in the preparation (lamb tongue, pig ears to name just two) the seasonings and masalas used for preparing meat sound delicious too.

The first recipe I tried was a masoor preparation as masoor is by far the favourite lentil in our family. This is a modified version of the original Masoor Ma Jib (masoor with tongue).
The original recipe calls for both dhansak masala and sambhar masala (not to be confused with the masala used for making sambaar). As the Parsi sambar masala is not commercially available outside India, I skipped it.
Here is the recipe with some minor modifications of my own.

2 cups whole masoor
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1-2 cups assorted vegetables (I used carrots and potatoes)
1 green chili, chopped
4-5 stalks coriander leaves (cilantro) finely chopped
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp Dhansak masala (though the book has a recipe for this, I used the storebought masala)
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt, to taste

Wash the masoor and let it soak in 3-4 cups of water for a couple of hours.
Heat the oil in a wok/ kadhai.
Add the onions and cook till they soften.
Add the garlic-ginger paste, dhansak masala, chili, turmeric. Cook for a couple of minutes. If the masala starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little water.
Add the tomatoes, the vegetables, masoor and about 4 cups of water.
Cook covered for about 30-40 minutes, till the masoor is cooked through.
Add the salt and cilantro.

We enjoyed the Parsi-style masoor with brown-rice and a simple salad. The dhansak masala made quite a difference. The book has a recipe for sambhar masala, which I'm now tempted to make as I'm curious to know what it brings to the party!

Faux Pho?
On a recent afternoon, got back from work and headed straight for the kitchen. The kids (I'm hunger Aai, really really hungry.) and the cat (meow) had to wait. I turned my attention to them only after I set a pot of water to boil along with a handful of cilantro, a couple of ginger slices, a jalapeno, peppercorns, and salt.
Thanks to EvolvingTastes and her post about lemongrass and cilantro broth, the kids were sporting what-has-gotten-into-her looks.
Ideally I would've liked to add rice noodles to this broth, in its absence had to make do with buckwheat soba noodles. Carrot peels added some colour and crunch to this delicious pho-style soup.
I will be making broth like often. Thanks ET!
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