I had the opportunity to cook for part of my family this weekend – which doesn’t happen very often – so I decided to experiment. Which is perhaps dangerous, but that’s How I Roll.
Dinner #1: Indian Made Easy
Chana Masala – chickpea stew basically. It was ok, although not as large as I had hoped. So it’s a good thing that I also made…
Stuffed potato and pea cakes – mashed potato with spices, wrapped around pulsed peas and paneer and more spices, lightly fried. 110% would make again. So good.
Dinner #2: Saffron Tales
Chicken with walnuts and pomegranate – I’ve looked at this a couple times but been put off by the amount of time required with the walnuts. You need to cook the blitzed walnuts with water for two hours, so that it turns into a porridge-like consistency. But you don’t really need to do anything with it, just stir it occasionally, so if you’re home anyway it’s pretty easy. Then you add chicken (or eggplant) and pomegranate molasses and leave it for another 40 or so minutes and… absolute culinary delight; my sister thought it looked like mole (she’s just back from Mexico). Can’t wait to eat this again. Served with…
Coconut rice (because I couldn’t be bothered with proper Persian rice with saffron etc), and a play on salad shirazi (we removed the red onion and added avocado).
But wait! You’re all saying. What about dessert?! My sister made Nigella’s boiled mandarine cake. Which was good… after, um, a slight mandarine+saucepan malfunction. Probably the less said about that the better, if I want to stay on her good side…
Using the recipe in Indian Made Easy, we decided to run a roti experiment.
Actually it wasn’t deliberate; it was because we made the dough as written and realised it would make eight pieces, which would be too much for two people for one night.
Anyway: we made the dough, and we cooked four of the roti, and they were lovely; finished them with some melted butter and everything. Then, my beloved had already rolled out an extra one, but we realised that cooking and reheating the next night would probably be sub-optimal. This is when the experiment was hatched.
What would be better: to pre-roll roti, or to leave the dough in balls to be rolled out the next day?
Would roti made the next day even be ok?
The pre-rolled roti: intriguingly, the dough itself had a greyish tinge, which was odd; my beloved wonders if the air had gone out of it. At any rate it did not puff up as well when cooked, and actually went a bit transparent while cooking which it had not the day before. Very odd. Tasted ok; definitely not as good as fresh or the unrolled dough – a bit chewier.
The still-in-balls dough: looked more like the dough from the day before. Didn’t puff up quite as much and wasn’t quite as tasty as the very fresh roti, but still acceptable. Obviously it’s not exactly ideal, and making roti isn’t exactly hard… but for camping, for example, this would be quite easy to replicate. And it is good to know that it’s ok to save the dough if you plan on having it two nights in a row.
Finally, on the second night we brushed the roti with garlic butter – one clove of garlic, chopped, put into a dollop of butter than I nuked in the microwave. I let the garlic sit in the butter for a few minutes before brushing it on the roti and that was definitely a win. My beloved thought it should have been garlickier, but that’s nothing new.
On the book itself.
The introduction proclaims this as a book “about discovering a casual attitude towards Indian cookery”, and that some of the recipes have been “distilled and pared back for busy modern cooks.” I would say that this is a book for a fairly experienced cook – that is, someone who won’t be put off by making their own simmer sauce or following a few steps – but who has never cooked much Indian food. Which pretty much means me.
Paneer: yes, ok, I made paneer. I had a litre of milk nearing its use-by and I didn’t want to waste it, so I thought I’d experiment, ok? I don’t imagine I’ll be doing this every time I want paneer but it’s nice to know I COULD. It was easy, and the instructions (except for that confusing ‘do I turn off the heat when it’s 80C or after I’ve added the acid??’ question) were easy to follow.
Charred Broccoli with Chilli and Fennel: the fennel is fennel seeds, and the garnish is what really makes this – toasted coconut, pomegranate seed and coriander! Broccoli and coconut is amazing! Also the mustard and fennel seeds were nice with it too. Continue reading “Indian Made Easy: the recipes”