Last night, I made an Indian feast, after visiting one of our local Indian grocery stores earlier in the afternoon. I returned home and spent two glorious hours, zen-like, breathing slowly, enjoying each moment, preparing an Indian feast. Donâ€™t let the amount of time I took to prepare the meal scare you – I deliberately took my time, there are Indian recipes that are far less labor-intensive.
Why was I excited? Once I grilled the last roti (flatbread), Peter and my daughter each served themselves and went into the family room. I made a plate for myself and then joined them. As I settled into my place on the couch, the two of them moaned. â€œOh my God, this is so good.â€ Seven little words and then nothing but chew and swallow, chew and swallow. A little more moaning. Chew and swallow, chew and swallow. You get the ideaâ€¦â€¦..
As I reread the last paragraph, I realize it might appear that I am bragging. Iâ€™m not. Itâ€™s just that Iâ€™d just spent two hours (happily) cooking and to have it be so thoroughly enjoyed, well, I know you understand. Youâ€™re a foodie, after all. Otherwise, you wouldnâ€™t be reading this.
The first thing Iâ€™m excited about: the results of my efforts were well-appreciated. The moaning assured me of that.
The second thing Iâ€™m excited about: curry leaves. In the past, whenever I encountered a recipe that called for curry leaves, I would avoid making that recipe. That will never, ever happen again. Not since Iâ€™ve discovered our local Indian grocer who carries curry leaves. They lay flat, close together, in a clear, cellophane envelope. You open the package and stick your nose close to the leaves. You breathe deep the gathering gloom â€“ watchlights fade from every room (a nod to the Moody Blues). Wait, I digress. What I meant to say is that you smell every Indian restaurant youâ€™ve ever been to. You swoon.
The third thing Iâ€™m excited about: Akki Rotti. An Indian flatbread made from rice flour that is gluten-free and delicious. There are probably as many recipes for akki rotti as there are Indian cooks. From the research Iâ€™ve done, it looks like the type of recipe that is passed down from one generation to the next. Young cooks from India are taught to make roti from their parents or grandparents. Each has their own method â€“ some use hot water, some use cold water, some add chopped vegetables, some donâ€™t, some use plastic wrap, some use a tortilla maker.
I made a dismal attempt to make roti several weeks ago, after finding a recipe for it online. While it tasted good, it didnâ€™t look like anything recognizable. But I didnâ€™t give up. I was doggedly determined to figure out how to succeed at making it. One young woman at the Indian grocery store told me that she makes them every day. She even agreed to come to my house and teach me how to make them. My kids used to yell at me for talking to strangers. That never stopped me though! Iâ€™m glad I struck up a conversation with her. She told me that she makes them every day and that theyâ€™re easy to make. Her confidence spurred me on.
In my pursuit, my online research led me to a blog on which I was fortunate enough to find another recipe for Akki Roti with detailed directions. Sounded like a winner. And it was. Iâ€™m happy to report that my efforts yielded perfectly delicious and lovely Akki Roti. Thank you Supriyakrishna!!!!
Go here to access her recipe.
The rest of the meal:
Bund Gobhi/Patta Gobhi Ki Subji (stir fried cabbage, potatoes, peas)
2 tbsp. canola oil
Â½ tsp. mustard seeds
2 green chilies, chopped finely
6 curry leaves, chopped
2â€ piece freshly grated ginger
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used canned)
3 small russet potatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen peas
10 oz. cabbage, thinly sliced
Â½ tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. red chili powder
Salt to taste
Freshly chopped cilantro
Heat the oil on medium flame in a large non-stick pan. I used a cast-iron pot. Add the mustard seeds, green chilies, curry leaves and fry until the seeds stop sputtering.
Add the ginger and tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Add potatoes and peas. Cover and cook for 5 minutes on low flame.
Add the cabbage, turmeric, coriander, cumin, red chili powder and salt. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with hot Akki Roti.
Spiced Basmati Rice from Madhur Jaffreyâ€™s Indian Cooking
2 cups basmati rice
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
Â½ fresh, hot green chili, finely chopped
Â½ tsp. very finely minced garlic
Â½ tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. salt
2 2/3 cups water (or chicken stock)
Pick over the rice to remove any small pebbles. Put in a bowl, cover with water and drain. Repeat 5 times. You want the water to run clear, though I find it never really runs completely clear. End by soaking the rice in 5 cups of water and soaking for 30 minutes. Drain in a sieve for 20 minutes. I patted it dry with a paper towel to remove extra moisture.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium flame. When hot, add the onion and sautÃ© until it has browned lightly. Add the rice, green chili, garlic, garam masala and salt. Stir gently for 3 â€“ 4 minutes until all the grains are coated with oil. If the rice begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, turn the heat down slightly. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Cover with a very tight-fitting lid, turn the heat to very low and cook for 25 minutes. Alternatively, you could put the pan in a preheated 325Â° oven for 25 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro.