Friday, July 15, 2011

Getting streetwise with Mee Goreng

Noodles were the first thing I'd ever learnt to make.  Needless to say, it was a disaster and had to be scraped off the pan because I had overboiled everything in sight. The second time I tried, it wasn't so bad if you don't count the fact that I had emptied nearly half a bottle of vinegar into it. It took me quite a number of trial and error methods to earn it an 'edible' status. Of course, there is one little thing I still wish to learn, for which I could give my left arm and right leg for.

Now if you ask me, there’s nothing in the world more exciting than watching noodles tossing on a wok. Better still, if it’s happening in a food cart on the road.  Call it the man’s expert wielding of the wok or the soya tinged noodles flying in the air and neatly falling in a pile below, it never ceases to amaze me how he possibly does it. What if the noodles flew out of control to land on an unsuspecting customer’s head?  Or even worse, his own.  My cook Hori does a neat noodle toss in my very humble non stick pan, something he claims to have learnt from a Chinese restaurant in Mumbai. Of course he does grumble about not getting a wok big enough to ‘make the noodles dance’. (That reminds me to blackmail the husband into buying me one of those babies)
Last evening it was pouring like mad and I had this sudden craving for some spicy noodles. While I had some daal, fish curry and a dead looking soya bean curry lying in the fridge, I decided to give it a miss and dig out a Malaysian stir fried noodle recipe that was lying unattended for long.
Now, Mee Goreng is a very popular spicy noodle dish sold along the streets of Singapore and Malaysia by street-hawkers to high end restaurants.  You can add as many vegetables and meat of your choice. The original recipe included squid, barbecued pork and chinese sausages. You can also add mushroom, baby corn and bean sprouts for veggies. I skipped those since I didn’t have any. The red chilli paste gives this dish a unique flavor and the much needed zest. You need to cook it on a high flame to retain all the wonderful flavors.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Abracadabra! Kanchkolar Kofta

I love magic. In every form. There’s something about it which gives me joy, wonderment and hope. As a child, I found nothing more entertaining than watching rabbits crawling out of empty hats, things appearing from nowhere, money falling  out of people’s ears, noses and whatsoever.

As I grew up, I found tales of flying carpets, magic faraway trees, obliging genies and angelic fairy godmothers more pleasing than man landing on the moon and mountains. They transported me away from my world of exams, homework, evil Math teachers, more evil Math problems and many such woeful entities. With time, films and books did their bit, adding more fuel to the fire – and I was possessed. From Gupi Gyne to Gargantua, I grew wide eyed about everything which did things out of the ordinary. 

Like this neat bunch of raw bananas for example, which the next-door aunty lovingly gave me just a  few days back.

Now bananas I like but for the life of me couldn’t imagine how people possibly liked to eat them raw! Now no offense to those who like it, it's just that I have too many tragic childhood memories to let go off. As a kid I hated them, but somehow they always found a place in my mother’s kitchen under some pretext. Worse if someone had a tummy upset, this unpalatable vegetable would feature in almost everything that was on the menu for that day. I myself nursed horrific memories of it literally being shoved down my throat whenever I complained of a tummy upset. To cut a long story short, I never found them delectable enough to feature on my Most Wanted food list.

Now these bananas were plucked from her tree (“You can make yummy thoran with these, you know?”) and were lying in my refrigerator for long. They would have eventually found their way to the dustbin, had they not known magic. They turned into these beautiful koftas (dumplings) yesterday morning which did not look, feel or taste like anything that reminded me of my tragic childhood. Sometimes we all could do with a bit of magic in our lives, don’t you think?  




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