Of Burgers and Parval and Shortcuts!

Been crooking along but just not been finding the mind space to sit and tell you about the exploits!!

With a movie marathon pledged to and friends in town eating out is but natural… it was a weekend of burgers! The first serving found us at a McD… and the kungfu panda toy led us to the happy meal of a McVeggie! It indeed is one of the better veg burgers around!! And with Po staring up at us as we ate… it indeed was a Happy Meal!!

What’s a movie without popcorn right? So there it was… the perfect mix of salted and caramelized fresh popped corn… Hat Tip to Ruchi Pincha for introducing me to this divinely perfect taste… the salt was so wonderfully balanced with the caramel… it melted… and it stayed… it left that wee bit of extra longing… it added that perfect ounce of satisfaction!

A movie marathon directly implies enough brain and body dead-ness to not cook at all! It involved an iced tea craving as well for the strangest of reasons and hence found us at the nearest barrista enjoying a corn spinach club sandwich, green apple iced tea, the dark temptation and a cheese croissant! Holy fatness!!

You would think we had had our fill… lo and behold the next day had us staring into the face of the world’s largest humus and falafel burger!! Take a look yourself! This wonderful tasting mustard sauce, french fries and coleslaw accompanied beast resides at a place called Thulp in Namma Bengaluru! THIS with a vanilla shake! (If you do end up at thulp.. the vanilla milkshake is a must must must have!)

Is sabke baad the shaam ki chai was bahut zaruri! So there I was in Ruchi Pincha’s kitchen tinkering away to make the adrak elaichi wali station jaisi chai! (I guess I managed it!) Aur fir… shaam ki chai aur duniya jahan ke kisse… kuch tere hisse.. kuch mere hisse! (missed a very dear friend jab vo chai ki pyaali pakde hum ek dusre ki zindagi samajhne lage!)

And so… after a crazy mad junk fooded weekend the soul craved for simpler home cooked food! Simple ka to pata nahi… but parval aaloo it was and for the first time ever in my life! Warning: Nobody tells you that if you have a weak wrist scraping off the parval can screw your hand for the day!

So there they were… little scraped off green slimy seeded things! (Yes… I read a calvin and hobbes today about how gooey green food is toxic waste that can turn you into a mutant!)

Heat some oil… sprinkle in lots of jeera just for the love of it… add in some garlic… and then dunk in your long and fine cut parwal…! I have discovered the thinner i cut the parwal the more i love it! Just as it starts to sizzle around in the old faithful aluminium kadhai in goes the longly cut potato! This is the perfect time to add in whatever masalas you feel like… but again remember… this is NOT the time for the garam masala! As I have said before… garam masala should be steamed and not all crooked up! Breathe in the wonderful early morning smells of spices in a clean kitchen and add in a dash of mustard sauce.. (you will soon discover that I am a mustard sauce freak! anything and everything can be set right in the pan with a dash of mustard and a sprinkling of pepper!) Stir it all in… cover it up and let it cook on a wonderful slow flame!

Naani used to leave food on the slow flame for hours on end… jo subah subah pakna shuru hota tha vo just in time for lunch gas se utarta tha! And yes… slow cooked food has a taste all its own! But worry not… the time involved here cannot be that much… it’s on slow fire while you do up some masala parthas, some raita and a glass of kokum to go alongwith it!

Lo and behold… as the effort of a monday morning starts to find its way into the tiffin box the parwal gets done and this is when you sprinkle on the garam masala, cover it and let it steam and go for a bath! 🙂 And it is done!

The first time effort was successful enough for me to want to make it yet again inspite of the scraping and cutting involved!

The Tuesday morning found some goonda hua aata on it’s last life in the fridge and thus came to rescue the potatoes i had boiled and refrigerated over the weekend! Take one large on.. add in the chopped onions, the pudina, the salt, the red chillies, the green ones, lots of dhaniya powder, some anar dana if you have it handy, aamchoor and really whatever you feel like! Mash it all together and you’re all set to make nice well stuffed aaloo parathas!

Team it with the very basic, yet very lovely yellow dal tadka (i like my tadka with garlic, chillies, tomatoes and a plethora of lightly sprinkled masalas!) and you’re all set for a lunch you know you will eat at your desk for want of a long day at work!

Given that the day was so long really how much energy do you have left to manifest a dinner? I never get how much of the aaloo masala i should make for the aaloo parathas and it is but always extra! Convert that into yumm short cut stuffed snack toastied and team it mustard sauce and you have a winner! I do like coating the bread with olive oil instead of butter (hat tip to Mitesh Shah)… so breathe in the fresh smells of pudina, brown bread, oilve oil and mustard… pour ypourself some nice beetroot juice and well… bon apetit!

My senses had me wailing for a mango tonight… so the indulgence was but natural… there it was all green and red on the outside and a wonderful orangish red on the inside! And there I was cutting it up like a pineapple and having fun slurping it off from my hands!

(as for yesterday’s dinner… that’s a whole other story that shall repeat itself soon and will then duly be told!) Meanwhile.. Happy Fooding!

Mexican Paneer

and so morning broke with a work call awaiting to be logged into… and it was time for the rescuer black tea with a dash of honey in it! (i have discovered i just cannot start my morning without them! and having a coffee maker that doubles up as the perfect way to steal the flavor from these gorgeous leaves makes me much happy!)

warm cup of tea snuggled in hands and i was somewhat willing to face this world! this was followed by a late breakfast of some gorgeously fresh brown bread from daily breads and this amazing apple cinnamon semi honeyed jam i had managed to lay my hands on in pondicherry a while back duly accompanied with cold chocolate!

happy and comforted i prodded away patiently at the several work fires i knew i had to douse today! and then the stomach rumbled as inspiration was found in some paneer fast approaching slow death in the fridge! so that was turned into this beautiful chillied mix of mexican paneer!

Now this one’s easy!! All i did was delve into my dabbas of pre cut and pre sautéed veggies…

heated some oil.. doused in it some finely cut garlic pods and some even more finely cut green chillies! This is a smell I have come to love in my kitchen.. perfectly smoky and you know it’s the right amount of chilli if it just about opens your nose to the world without watering up your eyes! Mix in a dash of oregano and a tiny dash of chilli flakes and it all looks like colors in bubbly motion!

Lo and behold you’re ready to add in the pre cut onions.. a couple of tsps does it… and then you OD on the tomatoes! I like the mexcheese nice and tangy for the love of tomatoes and usually hurl in double of the onions! Here is when I like to add in the salt, a lil turmeric, some coriander powder and tons of fresh coriander! I normally use the fresh coriander as a topping but in this one I like the deep yet fresh flavor it brings to the well cooked gravy! Then it’s time for the lil cubes of paneer to be tossed in!

Add some water to just cover what you have in the pan (or the old faithful aluminium kadhai in this case!) and add a tbsp of regular tomato sauce. I prefer tomato chilli – but remember you already added a generous helping of green chillies and you have chilli flakes to boot! This is where you can happily add in some finely chopped capsicum if you have it around! Put it on a happy medium flame and let it boil as it gradually reduces… Reduce to desired consistency, add some garam masala and voila! And now as another wonderful chef recently reminded me… garam masala you must only steam and not cook!

So there lay a wonderful Mexican Paneer steaming under some lovely homemade garam masala! This is where getting the spiced yoghurt (you need something to cool off after all that chilli) and steamed rice come in! I like to do both of these just as the paneer is getting done to allow time for the steaming and for each succulent cube of paneer to have absorbed the wonderful flavors!

The yoghurt (or raita so to speak) was easy with pre cut onions and fresh mint leaves being mixed into nice thick curd with salt and spices to taste! I strangely like black pepper in mine!

And this is what we looked like… and boy did we taste good! 🙂

I was secretly thankful for this lovely home c(r)ooked meal when we ended up at a dinner with friend’s at La Casa! Now I have previously adored their non vegetarian fare but tonight I was the veggie crook! All I will say is that beyond the chilli cheese toast (which indeed was cold) and the cheese naan this world is in dire need of better veggie crooks! This is a call to arms!!