Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Egging You On

On a boring Sunday evening, that’s two days ago, I had a brainwave. I wasn’t very hungry but wanted to eat a snack before I turned in for the night with a nice book to read. I wanted something somewhat spicy. There were four old eggs in my refrigerator. I suddenly started craving a bullseye with crisp edges and cracked pepper. I’ve already forgotten whether I thought of it then or at the moment I poured the first spoon of oil into the pan, but I got the jar of mango pickle, took a spoon of oil from it and added it to the pan. It couldn’t be any worse than an omelette with some pickle smeared on it, and that’s not such a bad idea, try it if you haven’t already!

So here’s an idea for a different version of fried eggs. I don’t like it sunny side up and always like mine fried on both sides.

The oil traditionally used in the mango pickle (mamidikaya pachadi/avakaya) I have is gingelly (made from sesame seed). A mixture of mustard, fenugreek, red chilli powders and salt goes into it. So do tiny black chickpeas and skinned garlic.

I don’t know the procedure or the proportions but all these are mixed with the mango and heated and cooled oil is poured over the pickle. It takes about 4-5 days to mature, for the spices to go from salty and bitter (from the mustard and fenugreek) to mellow. All the same, steaming hot rice, butter or ghee, and a small bowl of the new pickle are set out to be enjoyed right on the first day.

As the spices steep in the oil, which has to be a few inches above the rest of the pickle so that it can provide a protective medium against contamination, it gets flavoured with them, not to mention the mango and other ingredients.

So you don’t need anything except a little salt, in my opinion, to get the eggs to taste great!

What you need:
Oil from the pickle: 2-3 tsp (or it could be a mix of regular and this)
Eggs: 2
Salt: To taste
Heat the pan and spread the oil around.
Break the eggs into the pan, sprinkle the salt over them and let the whites set.
Turn over and let the yolks set.
Turn off the heat, slip it into a plate and enjoy!

Here's another idea for the pickle oil

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Done Washing Up

Honestly, I can't fathom how and why the little cooking I do results in this mountain! My help, S, has to deal with it, and sure enough, on days such as this, quite a few dishes have little crusts of green dishwash soap on them. I guess I should be happy I don't live in a country where I'd have to deal with this myself. But, when it comes to manual (and not machine) labour, I'd do the dishes rather than wash clothes. Any day.

This goes to Susan's B & W Wednesday.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tasty Solutions To A Hairy Tale

Coriander and mango-ginger chutney - don't you love the colour?

Idiyappam with shallots and mango-ginger

To go from really short hair to hair that's just 2-3 inches longer is an endeavour fraught with impatience, irritation, heat, sweat, rubber bands, clips and such paraphernalia one hasn't used in a while. Enough is enough, I told myself, a good stylist will not whine about the non-growth, but they did. I walked out of one salon as the smile on the stylist drooped but stayed put in the second because frustration took over - and, of course, the stylist there marketed it (my hair - to me) better. It really isn't that much longer, he said, acquiescing to my request to 'give me more volume at the top but retain the length' and doing none of that (or so it seemed). He spent a few minutes, charged a lot and I came away looking and feeling just as I had earlier. Just a lot poorer.

My friend, who came over to drop off a macaroni-spinach-paneer creation yesterday, exhorted me not to give in to frustration. "It's only going to get cooler. Grow it, grow it, he's cut off just half an inch anyway," she said. So for now I've abandoned the thought of cutting my hair after six weeks, and will probably only cut it six months later. I have been looking at various Web sites to find out how to make hair grow faster and one of them has some really kinky suggestions, including grinding up birth control pills and mixing them up with some shampoo, and trimming the tips of your hair each month during a waxing crescent moon.

In the face of such exotica, bizarrerie or whatever you may call it, I'd rather fall back on my own innovativeness for hair growth. Which includes grinding up some oh-so-good for health good old greens and a cup of mango-ginger into a chutney.

Mango-ginger, cut

I love mango-ginger (go here for another picture) and how it smells all mangoey and summery, but haven't used it with much variation, so I'm glad I came up with this recipe one night after coming home to dosa batter and no accompaniment.

Mango-ginger, sliced: 1 cup
Coriander: About a handful
Curry leaves: About a fistful
Green chillies: 2
Peanuts: Less than a fistful ***
Oil: 2 tsp

Heat the oil and fry the mango-ginger for about 6-8 mins on a low flame.

Add the coriander, curry leaves and green chillies and fry for a couple of minutes more.

Grind with the peanuts and just a little splash of water.

*** I only added the peanuts to give the chutney some body. The amount I used did not affect the taste but next time I would use more coriander and curry leaves and not use the peanuts at all.

The other discovery I've made recently is idiyappam. Yeah, yeah, I know it's been around for ages, just not in my home or in my consciousness. The abovementioned friend had me over to lunch a couple of weeks ago and that's when I learnt idiyappams could be crumbled and tossed with tomatoes and onions. I did that for a couple of weeks. It's a very convenient and simple thing to make if your grocer stocks ready-made idiyappam. (A friend tells me I can do this with the rice sevai/noodles that one finds in stores - I haven't tried it.) When I brought the mango-ginger home, I tossed the idiyappam with some minced shallots and grated mango-ginger. I resisted the temptation to add lime and was glad I resisted.

Idiyappam, broken up: 2-2.5 cups
Oil: 2-3 tsp
Mango-ginger, grated: 1.5 tsp
Shallots, minced: 10
Green chilli, chopped: 1
Mustard seed: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 - 3/4 tsp
Water: A little

Heat the oil and temper it with the mustard seed.

Add the shallots, chilli and the mango-ginger and fry for 3 minutes.

Add the idiyappam and the turmeric, moisten with a little water.

Mix carefully. Taste it (the idiyappam already contains some salt, and add salt accordingly.) Let the flavours meld on low heat for a few minutes and then turn off the heat.

This post if off to Cinzia at Cindystar who's hosting Kalyn's WHB.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Kitchen Under The Stairs

Ever since this kitchen came into being, I've wished I had something like it. My own small kitchen is bigger than this but it's inside an apartment and I feel hemmed in when I'm inside it for various reasons - too many things in too little space, not enough ventilation, not enough light.

I love the al fresco feel, not to mention the fact that it seems so compact. This is at the back of the house, which has a bigger kitchen inside. The stairs lead to the terrace. The windows you see jutting out belong to a room where the cook of this kitchen stays.

I want lots of light, some greenery (though you can't see it in the photo, there is some - a neighbour's tree hangs over the stairs) and some open space in my life.

This goes off to Black & White Wednesday.