Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oats and gooL

Old fashioned, quick cooking, steel cut, oatmeal, rolled - you name it, and I have probably tried it, and liked it. The only type of oats that I don't like are the ones that come in sachets and have other ingredients added to it. They are good to stash at the office desk though, for when the mid-morning hunger pangs strike. There is just something ultimately comforting about a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, and that is rather odd coming from someone who had never eaten oats for the first twenty five years of their life, and never liked to eat anything sweet for breakfast.

These days, steel cut is on the morning menu. To be precise, 'McCann's Original Steel-Cut Irish Oatmeal' that comes in a pretty can with a retro design.

Desi roots die hard though. I usually cook it in a pressure cooker, using the oats:water ratio specified on the box. One whistle is enough, and it sure beats stirring and simmering it on the stove. I make a batch to suffice for a few servings as it keeps very well in the fridge. When I am ready to eat, I add some milk to it, and heat it in a microwave for a minute and half. That is where the virtuousness starts to decline because I then add in some raisins or dried cranberries, and a solid helping of brown sugar, which delicately melts to golden perfection. However, that is a fairly common way to eat oatmeal, so what's new. Well, sometimes I add jaggery making it slightly rustic and even more delicious. It is delightful!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dudhi with Peanuts

Inspiration for cooking something can come from some odd places at times. Even tabloids! I don't recall when I saved this link in my ever growing list of recipes to try out, but when I was looking for something different to cook with bottle gourd (or dudhi or lauki or lau) I found it.

The 'lauki-groundnut sabji' looked simple, and particularly appealing with the use of garlic and peanuts, neither of which I usually associate with bottle gourd, even though they are familiar ingredients in marathi cuisine.

I weighed the gourd I had in the fridge and it was exactly 500 grams. Arre wah. Knowing that cups in India are often smaller than standard size cups, and also because it seemed like too much of a good thing, I decided to use only 3/4 th cup of peanuts, but when I was cooking, I thought that even that might be too much, so I held back some of it. Naturally, that meant losing some of the garlic and chili flavor too, which was part of the powder. Also, considering that the size of onions in India is much smaller than those in the U.S., I used only half an onion.

I cooked the vegetable right in the tadka, because boiling it in water does not appeal to me. So that normally takes 15-20 minutes depending on how tender the gourd is. Here is my version, with the quantities and method modified.

Dudhi with peanuts


500 gms dudhi or bottle gourd
1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup of peanuts
1 teaspoon of red chili powder
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
pinch of turmeric
1/2 an onion, chopped
salt to taste
a handful of cilantro leaves, chopped


Peel the bottle gourd, de-seed, and chop into about one inch cubes.

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a pan, and saute the peanuts with garlic for a few minutes. Grind the mixture with the chili powder in a food processor and set aside.

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a kadhai or wok. Add the mustard seeds, and when they start to crackle, add the cumin seeds and turmeric, followed by the chopped onion and saute until it starts to change color to a golden brown.

Add the chopped bottle gourd and stir it in. Add salt to taste, lower the heat, and place a lid on the pan. Let it cook for about 10-20 minutes until it gets tender, stirring once or twice. If it sticks to the pan, add a few spoonfuls of water.

Finally, add the ground peanut mixture and saute for a few minutes more. Check for seasoning and then add the chopped cilantro leaves. Best to serve with simple polis or rotis.

Update: The link to the recipe in Mid-Day does not work any more since they reconfigured their site.
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