Monday, October 22, 2007

Indian at Home - The Chopping Block Recipes in Action

The past Friday, Jenni, my bud from Northwestern and the Indian Vegetarian class came over with her husband Dan to practice the recipes from our class. Our friends Chris & Joe and Rotem joined us for the meal.

Overall, this turned out very, very well. We used all of the recipes from the class, except for the Dal Soup as neither of us was that impressed with it. Jenni and Dan brought Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango for desert. So, the menu was:

Vegetable Pakoras
Cilantro Chutney
Sweet Tamarind Chutney
Aloo Paratha (Potato filled fried griddle bread)
Aloo Gobhi (Potato and Cauliflower)
Spiced Rice with Currants and Cashews
Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

The spiced rice turned out much better than it did before. It was much more flavorful, which I chalk up to cooking the spices longer than our teammates did. Also, adding the cashews in afterwards was, as I expected, a better strategy.

Aloo Gobhi was the once thing we had been the most hands-off of in class, so it was good to get the experience. It turned out to be really, really easy and tasted great. I'm digging the leftovers.

The mangos, while technically a bit underripe, were absolutely perfect for the rice desert. They were ripe enough that the were purely sweet, with none of that starchy taste (like in an underripe banana, for example), but they were a little crispy. That texture played exceptionally well with the coconut rice. I'm going to make this on my own as soon as I get the recipe from Jenni.

Of course, it wouldn't be me at the stove without a few learning moments. This time around they were:

  • The Immersion Blender: I tried my new immersion blender on the chutney and learned some basic technique. The most important being, the deeper the blade can get, the easier going it will be. We were using this with bowls that were much too shallow.
  • Dates: Just because the first few dates you get out of a package don't have pits, don't assume that all of them will be pitted. Jenni ran afoul of these at least twice with the immersion blender (which can be quite startling) thanks to my stupid assumption.
  • Paratha: You can't roll these out all at once and then fry them - they need to be grilled up as soon as they're each ready. I rolled and stacked these, thinking the flour would be enough to keep them from sticking to each other before I moved over to the stove. Nope. I ended up with a big mess of dough after the first few and had to pitch all of the rest.
  • Menu: We got raves for everything, but the one thing I noticed when it was all laid out was that there was an awful lot of starch on the table. We didn't realize that by taking the soup out, we lost our one protein dish. So, next time around, I would add a vegetable (like saag panir) and/or a protein (meat, lentils or chickpeas).

I also really liked the communal cooking thing. For the first time every doing it on my "turf," I was really comfortable giving up "control" and was really not stressed. Of course, this also speaks to Jenni as a cooking partner. Also, the new kitchen is fantastic for the sheer amount of workspace, which helped a lot.

1 comment:

charner bolin said...

HI! Hal! Was at your 25th year reunion last night ...where are you ??? Sorry you all did not make it! Cool site! I am ready to cook with you! Hope you and Channing are well!! Missed talking to you both! charner