Indian Bread Again

Roti….chapaati 101,

The basics

Presumably, the dough making is not a rocket science, but rolling chapati and cooking first on a griddle and then on a flame is/maybe. Hence photographs. Some cooks add flours of other grains in wheat flour. Some cooks prefer a stiffer dough, my preference is for a softer dough, which gives softness to the bread. Some cooks insist that the dough should rest a while, at least 30 minutes, I prefer it not to rest at all, and love the dough that way. Again North Indians prefer to have coarse flour.

My rolling pin has ball bearings and makes it easy, and fun thing to roll. I do not wash it, only scrub with the back of a knife for any sticking dry dough. Always wash my hands CLEAN before touching flour or dough. No rings in the finger is a good policy. Alternately I do not touch flour or dough by hand. Use a spoon. Even for making small balls, I use a spoon, take a small portion and start rolling, untouched by hand till then.

Feel motivated to try your hand? GA (go ahead, old telex lingo)

Dough ready to be rolled
Dough ready to be rolled
Rolling Zero
Rolling Zero
Rolling 2
Rolling 2
Rolling1
Rolling1
Removing from Marble plate to the griddle
Removing from Marble plate to the griddle
On the HOT Griddle
On the HOT Griddle
Ready to Flip
Ready to Flip
Flipped/Cooking on the other side
Flipped/Cooking on the other side
Cooking directly on the flame
Cooking directly on the flame
Cooking on the flame
Cooking on the flame
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Cooking Basics

What can impart a sour taste to a vegetable dish in Indian cooking. You got a choice:

  • Unripe mango…..either fresh or dried and powdered
  • vinegar
  • Pomegranate seed powder
  • sour curd……old curd
  • Kokum (garcinia indica)
  • tamarind
  • lemon
  • Citric acid
  • aonla (indian gooseberry) fresh or dried and powdered
  • tomatoes

    Did I leave any stuff which gives sour taste?

    Each of these have their own typical taste, fragrance, texture and color. Additionally they go with specific type of vegetables. Moms have been using very specific combinations, because of the medicinal properties associated with each. Depending upon the thickness of the curry, and the mixture of sourness with sweetness that one requires.

    It also depends on the guy who is cooking and his preferences. I love to add sour curd, because I like the taste. In lentils, I add more of kokum, because it imparts a unique flavor and a little red color. Fragrance wise nothing to beat lemon, added after cooking.

    chickpeas
    Bengal Gram (small hard colored variety)

    Aonla or gooseberry in powdered form can give a deep grey color which is needed by the Bengal gram curry.

    Tomatoes come in various shapes sizes and sourness. Use as pulp, or whole, without skin and seeds. Seeds are the sour portion.

    The dish has to be designed on the drawing-board of the mind of the chef before starting, and that will decide the ingredients. The spice should be subtle rather than bold unless you are cooking for Jats (body builders) who require even the spices to be robust and muscular.

    Good luck in the kitchen!

Without oil, another Indian Vegetable

Trichosanthes dioicaThe entry in Wikipedia is….Trichosanthes dioica is also known as the pointed gourd, parwal/parval (from Hindi),Kovakkai(from Tamil) or thonde kayi (from Kannada), or potol (from Assamese, Sanskrit, Oriya or Bengali (পটল) pôţol) “Paror” in Maithili, “Parol” in Magahi and “Parora” in Bhojpuri, Urdu and Awadhi.

It is called Parwal in Hindi.

In 1960s the rich Delhi-wallahs used to eat this vegetable because it was expensive, or the other way round 🙂 Today the poor eat it, also the quality available in my market is a little extra ripened having a yellow core and the seeds as hard as the teeth.

I thought of a little innovation, removed the core, boiled with some water and strained to remove the hard seeds. I used the liquor so obtained as the base for the vegetable. Because the core has taste and gives body and aroma, I did not discard it wholesale. Remember “Baby with the bath water?”

You are now to see the process in the photos below, the Parwal is peeled, ends discarded, and cut in halves.

Peeled Parwal
Peeled Parwal

With a spoon, the yellow inside core is removed and boiled. Then handheld blender does the blending to remove the stone-like seeds. Some were having white cores, I did not remove the cores and used as such.

White core
White core

After dicing the Parwals, Tomatoes and masala that is turmeric, coriander, green chillies, salt, ginger and cuminseeds were added alongwith the parwal in a pressure cooker, heated till first whistle and allowed to cool on its own.

Final act is to add Garam masala (curry powder). No oil….none at all, no tadka like we usually do, no tamaasha, all taste.

Minimal masala, low on spices high on health. At Rs 20 (third of a $) for a Kg, very inexpensive.

The photos show 1Kg preparation, good for 5 persons for one time.

When I ate it I realized that the dish can be improved in color, texture and taste. Next time there will be some crushed boiled potatoes to add body, and the tomatoes will be in a skinned avatar. Skins irritate. 🙂

Diced stuff
Diced stuff
Cored Parwal
Cored Parwal
yellow core
yellow core
Seeds discarded
Seeds discarded
Straining the liquor
Straining the liquor

IMG_20150516_093014IMG_20150516_092951IMG_20150516_092059

The Curry powder (Garam Masaala)
The Curry powder (Garam Masaala)

IMG_20150516_094927

Close-up
Close-up
Final product
Final product
With a Roti (chapati)
With a Roti (chapati)

Beetroot Soup

IMG_3277 Can you see the soup here in this bowl, nearly all soup already eaten. Very little left in the bottom. I found this an interesting photo similar to an eye.

Preparing any soup is easy. Take all the vegetables you want in the soup, and peel them if needed and make smaller pieces, easy to boil and mesh. Pressure cook these with water, then with an electric hand blender mash them into pulp and pass through a sieve.

Further add water for proper consistency and boil if you want to. Not necessary. Actually there are many steps in Indian cooking which have been performed over centuries, mom did it, therefore. You must sit down, adopt a meditator’s stance and with that new found awareness ask yourself a question,” Is it really necessary?”. If there is an inner voice saying no, just skip it. That is good cooking. You will learn by tasting. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. This cooking is called स्वान्तः सुखाय meaning ‘for personal pleasure’. Adjust the looks of the food as well. It must look great, smell great and taste great. It must be good to feel on the tongue and by hand. That is the food of the gods.

Back to the soup, I had Beetroot and carrots. For a little sour taste I added tomatoes. In Delhi you get two varieties of tomatoes, one is less pulpy and sour, the other has thick flesh and sweet, I chose the more rounded, sour one. Boiled the carrots, beet and tomatoes, mashed, and sieved. Added a little water and salt and pepper, the soup was ready.

No oil, no cheese, more or less calorie-less. More or less no sodium! Dripping with fragrance, color, taste, and health. No limit to eating (actually slurping) any time of the day.

Let me know how you feel now.IMG_3283