Sunday, 4 February 2007

WFF 2 - Take my pulse!

Last weekend's feeding frenzy (hereinafter known as "WFF") so effectively lived up to its name that not only did I not have to cook at all during the week, I also had several choices and didn't let anything go bad! In my speak, that is quite an achievement for someone who habitually cooks for 6 when there are just 2, who has trouble eating the same food more than twice in a row, and who has a small appetite at mealtime from all the surreptitious snacking... What confounds me, though, is how I spent so little time and energy getting so much variety.

Alas, it was not to be this weekend... I definitely feel a varicose vein snaking up my calf from all that hovering over the stove, and I'm not even sure I WON'T have to cook during the week.

Legumes (pulses, geddit? heh heh) were on my agenda when I went shopping on Thursday, and my collection now includes kala channa (brown chickpeas), toor dal (pigeon peas) and urad dal (black gram/mung beans), which I recently discovered were available in my area.

Urad dal is the main ingredient in vadai, a savoury fritter in South Indian cooking, flavoured with onions, curry leaves, ginger and green chilli:

Not contented with just the usual coconut chutney (seen here in the white triangular receptacle), I also paired my vadai with a Kerala-style kala channa masala, a striking curry of unskinned chick peas, fresh grated coconut and a wonderfully fragrant combination of spices.

What better way to wash it down than with some potent adrak chai (ginger tea)?

It probably doesn't look like much, but this meal alone had a total of three items I made from scratch, and that was all I was able to cough up for Saturday's dinner.. I'd made a couple of other curries by then, but any curry worthy of such a name should only be consumed by earliest the day after...

I'm ashamed of this half-hearted attempt at a masala thosai below, another South Indian favourite, but I'll publish it all the same.. a decent thosai you get outside is not supposed to collapse like mine in the picture! *sheepish grin* Anyhow... it was filled with a potato and onion curry, accompanied by the ubiquitous coconut chutney and a mound of aloo gobhi (potato and cauliflower curry), which happens to be Punjabi and out of place here, but I added it for colour and good measure. :)

Since I was planning to wake up just in time for brunch on Sunday, before I snuggled under my comforter on Saturday night, I prepared a bread and butter pudding with walnut bread, jam, raisins, dried apricots and leftover coconut. Then I beat some eggs with milk, sugar and a good dose of kirsch, and let the bread sit in it until Sunday morning. I used to hate soggy bread, or the mere thought of it, but strangely, I find it easy to forget it's bread in puddings like these!

As for the pick-me-up, I could not decide between Olive Sencha...

(yes, green tea with dried olive bits! Tastes exactly like olive oil, but lighter)

...Hattiali, an Assam brew, apparently so strong that the guy who sold it to me repeatedly warned me "Uniquement le matin!" ("to be consumed only in the morning!") with a wag of the finger...

...or Maharajah, a blend of fine Indian teas from Mariage Frères, my favourite for making a simple version of masala chai with just cardamom, cinnamon and black pepper.

Conclusion: Hattiali meets Maharajah (with store-bought paal kova)! :)

How to: I suggest googling for these recipes, especially the curries! They're so much work, I'm surprised anyone even opens restaurants serving them! :)

Body Count: 0 - Everything except the bread and butter pudding (which contains eggs and milk) is vegan.


Sandeepa said...

Wow so much food...I liked the variety of teas and the Maharajah

tigerfish said...

Lucky I can get my indian curry and naan (no thosai though) fix here :D
Vandai and ginger tea - a divine combi! Your vandai has gteen chilli chucks in it ? Those are real HOT !

Shilpa said...

Hi Sandeepa, I padded up this post with lots of pictures, so there wasn't as much food as there were photos! ;-) this was only a small selection of my teas, I have much more, but not in such pretty tins.

Tiger, there are a handful of Indian restaurants here in Lille, so I can get curries easily, but they are all so mild! Unfortunately, haven't seen much South Indian stuff here, have to go to Paris for it, that's why I made my own vadai. Yesssss, I blended several green chillis into the batter and chopped a few more to eat raw with the vadai! Wow, with all that heat, who needs a radiator? :)

Claude-Olivier said...

Et bien tout ca !!!! C'est beau, j'aime beaucoup tes photos. Je prends volontier un peu de tout, je ne suis pas pénible ;-)


Shilpa said...

Merci claude! Attention, tu n'es peut-être pas pénible, mais ça pique, tout ça! :) même les thés étaient plutôt enflammants!

Melting Wok said...

Now, I can come in, leave a comment and drink a cup of tea hehe, finally my blogger problem is fixed :)) Stuffs been dissapearing and images been rejected from uploadiing for bout a week now..oops, sorry, I'm going off again releasing my frustration here hahaha, anyway, I want some walnut bread pudding with my cup of teaaaaa :) Btw, Shilpa, never had olive tea b4, how does it taste like ?

Shilpa said...

Hi Melting Wok, go ahead and vent, I was quite frustrated with blogger, too, whole of last week.

Errr, olive tea tastes just like watery olive oil, quite an acquired taste even for people who love olives. I bought it from the same guy who sold me Hattiali, and he said I'm only the third person he's managed to sell it to! :) It was love at first sip for me and definitely a leaner option to dipping warm bread in olive oil (something I can't help doing to good bread, hungry or not)! :)

Lydia said...

I have so much to learn about Indian cooking. The vadai fritters sound wonderful; I must go looking for a recipe!

Mallika said...

Wow Shilpa, it really was a weekend feeding frenzy! The vada is one recipe I would definitely google for. I crave it sometimes.

Shilpa said...

Hi Lydia and Mallika,

Honestly, I don't remember where my recipe came from, but this link provides recipes for several different kinds of vadai!

Lydia, sigh, so do I (have much to learn about Indian cooking)... all those flavours, all the regions..

Mallika, are you the author of Quick Indian Cooking? I didn't see any link in your profile to a blog or website...

jacob said...

wow, how do you take pictures like that. and those vadais are to kill for.

Shilpa said...

Hi Jacob,

What, these amateur pictures? I'm still learning how to take better ones! I can only recommend one thing - natural light and spotless crockery. :)

Psst, as for the vadai, how many do you need to bump off a few people for me? ;-)

The Expedited Writer said...

Hey Shilpa,
Thanks for dropping my blog, this is my first time to yours as well :) Your pics are So adorable. I love how you stack your vadai up like that! :D

And that thosai is making me salivate, it looks good to me, babe. Thosais are absolutely one of my favorite of indian food - esp masala thosai and rawa thosai...*Drools!*

Shilpa said...

Hi Expedited Writer!

Thanks for coming by! Come on, you're kidding, right? The collapsed thosai capable of causing salivation? I hope you see more droolworthy stuff here! :)

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