Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “Eggs”

Nostalgic Egg and Vegetable Noodles

Bengalis have their quaint idiosyncrasies. We often get ridiculed for the ‘monkey caps’ in October or our love for Boroline (it IS a magic ointment, I swear) and of course the abundant respect for fish. Among all things, there has to have been that one moment when a Bengali child brought homemade Chinese to school which would be shared during a lunch break.
I don’t know much about other places but in Calcutta, one could buy these ‘Classic’ noodles from any shop. The maida (flour) noodles came in red coloured pouches which were about Rs 10 for a packet. When the tiffin boxes would be opened, a smell of homemade Chinese would engulf the air. With lots of vegetables of course, the noodles would be tossed with a dash of soy and vinegar and we would be very happy with that. The boxes would be passed around so all could take a bite. The days we felt rich, we would buy heavenly greasy noodles from the school canteen and share among us.
Recently, I had this craving for homemade noodles. As I searched the stocked shelves, I came across this red packet which instantly reminded me of school days and tiffin boxes. There was no question of not making them. But just to compensate for all the empty carbs, my fridge foraging led me to find lots of greens!

Ingredients
1 packet noodles (Use any sort – glass/rice/wheat/flour/egg)
1 egg (whisked)
1 carrot (julienne)
1 onion (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (smashed)
1 inch ginger (sliced)
1 capsicum (chopped fine)
1 bok choy (shredded)
3 button mushrooms (chopped)
1 small broccoli (chopped)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs dark soy
1 tbs chilly vinegar
1 tbs oyster sauce
Salt to taste

Favourite from the school days in Calcutta. Pix credit: Barnik Bardhan

Favourite from the school days in Calcutta.
Pix credit: Barnik Bardhan

– Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and keep aside. Toss with a bit of oil to keep from sticking
– Heat 1 tsp sesame oil. Cook the egg tossing it about in the wok. When done, take out of wok and shred into small pieces
– Heat the remaining oil. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Saute till fragrant
– Add the carrot, capsicum, mushrooms and bok choy.
– When the vegetables are slightly soft , coated well with the oil, add the vinegar, soy and oyster sauce.
– At last, add the shredded egg.
– Mix well and serve hot

A long view!

A long view!

Delicious dinner

Delicious dinner

PS: Best accompanied with a book, eating in bed!

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Decadent Weekend Breakfast on a Weekday!

So what if it’s a weekday? It doesn’t stop me from creating weekend breakfasts. In fact, I feel all the more happy because as I dig into delicious food, I feel a spring in my step. The day starts well and generally it ends on a rather happy note.
There are many variations of this North African dish – Eggs with bell
peppers or Shakshuka. Mexico celebrates eggs with tomatoes as Huevos Rancheros. I try to walk on an unconventional path and often make a mixture of the two. And I often eat it on Sundays with a large mug of coffee — it’s heaven in the pan!

Ingredients
2 Eggs
1 small bell pepper (chopped)
1 small carrot (chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 small tomato (chopped)
2 button mushrooms (chopped)
2 tbs tomato puree
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chilly flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt to taste
Coriander to garnish

Method
– Heat the oil in a pan.
– Saute the onion, garlic and chilly flakes till the mixture is soft and has a lovely reddish tinge.
– Add the bell pepper, carrot and smoked paprika. Cook till soft.
– Add the mushrooms, tomato and salt to season.
– Add the tomato puree and oregano. Cook till everything is nice and squidgy.
– Make a small parting in the middle of the vegetable mixture and crack the eggs.
– If you like your eggs to be runny, cover the pan with a lid for about
a minute till it cooks. I cover it for about 3 minutes till the yolks
cook through. Garnish with coriander.
– Enjoy either with bread or as it is, straight off the pan!

Yes, that's what breakfast looks like!

Yes, that’s what breakfast looks like!

A close up! Enjoying the hot eggs!

A close up! Enjoying the hot eggs!

PS: I love making this for family or friends. It tastes much better if
you make it for about 4-5 people.

Of Comfort Food and Nostalgia

What is comfort food? The phrase means different things to different people but to me it simply means the aroma of home cooked food. Simple and delicious, food I’ve grown up eating and crave from time to time. After a bad or good day, its the longing for something familiar, craving for something nostalgic.

I left home a while ago and though I go back at least twice in a year, the days I crave for comfort food most are when I’m ill. When I’m lying in bed sipping warm tea with honey, my mind searches for childhood memories, tastes I imbibed during my younger days, the tastes I long for…

The past week I had a long phone conversation with my mother. We discussed everything under the sun. From films to posters, music to theater, Bengali food to Kerala’s famous beef curry. I kept telling her how much I was missing home food. I guess it was one of those days when I wasn’t well and things weren’t going the way I had planned. So she told me, “Make something you like.” That’s when the idea struck.

So for the past few days I’ve been cooking my comfort food. I was surprised to find that though I love experimenting with every cuisine I can lay my hands on, what I end up cooking when I’m low is Indian food from various parts of the country but with a twist conceptualised by my mother.

————

Bread Upma from school
A very close friend used to bring this concoction to school almost thrice a week for tiffin. The aroma of the spices mixed with bread pieces left us wanting more every time. I remember I asked my mother to ask T’s mother how to make it. And since that day in class 3, my mother makes it when I’m home and hungry! The flavour combination is so delicious that when its being cooked, you can smell it from the other room. Tangy and crisp, spicy and yet subtle the textures just leaves you wanting more. It’s so simple to recreate that the whole process barely takes 15 minutes!

Bread, spices and a whole lot of flavour

Bread, spices and a whole lot of flavour

A closer view!

A closer view!

—-

Chirer pulao, Bong style
In English we would call it fried flaked rice stirred in with vegetables and spices. Chire (poha) is eaten all over India but every region uses it differently. My mom makes it the way her mother used to. It has little pieces of potato and onion and tomato softened to perfection with whole spices (cinnamon, cloves and cardamom). It’s slightly sweet and you serve it hot with a good scattering of chopped coriander. I love this. It gives me a feeling of home every time I make it. It light, delicate and filling, a perfect breakfast dish.

Perfect with morning tea

Perfect with morning tea

Chire, potatoes, onions and tomatoes - delicious!

Chire, potatoes, onions and tomatoes – delicious!

The quintessential Bengali lunch
I’ve said before that we didn’t eat a lot of Bengali food on a regular basis growing up but on occasions just some fluffy rice, potato fry and yellow dal is all you needed to have a great day. I just added my version of an egg curry along with it made with tomatoes and yoghurt. On occasions when I really crave comfort food, I turn to this simple home-style lunch to get me through the day.

Yummy lunch! Lentils, potato fry and egg curry!

Yummy lunch! Lentils, potato fry and egg curry!

A plate of homemade Bengali food

A plate of homemade Bengali food


What do you eat when you crave something comforting?

Finally flipping the Tortilla right!

My past experiments with the Spanish Tortilla (Omelette) or Frittata haven’t been very successful I must admit. So, when I thought of trying my hand at a Tortilla once again this afternoon, I was slightly skeptical. It’s always the tossing you know, where I mess up that is. Once I even remember the tortilla just crumbled and looked like massacred scrambled eggs.

However, armed with new found confidence, I decided to have a go at it. The basic difference between the two is that while a Frittata has only eggs, a Tortilla is traditionally made with eggs and potatoes. And the fact that the former is eaten in Italy while the latter in Spain. One can make a Tortilla or Frittata with various meats or vegetables but I stuck to the traditional albeit a slight variation!

Anyway, once the smell from the kitchen drew out my sister from her pile of books, I knew I was on the right track. Soon it was time for the FLIP. Scary as it might sound, I marched head on and boy, was I stunned! It was perfect! The tortilla didn’t crumble, fall or break. It stood proud. So go ahead, try and try before you succeed!

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Piping hot! Don’t be fooled, it’s not a pizza!

Ingredients
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk
2 small potatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 small onion (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
A good lug of olive oil
Grated processed cheese (feta tastes best though) to garnish
Coriander to garnish

Method
Pour most of the oil in a small pan and heat. When sizzling add the garlic, onion and potatoes. When the mix turns to a nice golden colour, add salt, pepper and the dried herbs.

In the meantime beat the eggs with the milk. Once the mix has cooked through, add the remaining oil, pour the eggy sauce over and cover the pan with a lid. Now, the burner must be on sim as the egg slowly cooks and rises. It will take a bit of time so be patient.

After a few minutes, take off the lid and shake the pan to see if the bottom has cooked through.

Now comes the hard part! Be brave. If I could do it, so can you. Cover the top of the pan with a plate and FLIP! The tortilla will come out on plate. Now just slide it back into the pan and cover with lid again. In two minutes, the egg mixture will rise up further to form a firm texture.

Put it on a serving plate, garnish with the grated cheese and coriander. Serve hot!

The Carbonara conflict

I love a good Carbonara. Which is really weird because I despise runny yolks. I cannot, simply cannot stand eggs sunny-side up or a soft boiled egg on a Nicoise salad because the yolk runs and coats everything on the plate. But a good Carbonara is always an exception to the rule.

Carbonara’s heritage is really concocted. All agree that the dish originated in Rome; the how, however, has various versions. Some believe it was during WWII when American GIs took their ration of ham and eggs to Roman cooks to be made into a meal. Another theory is that this dish was a favourite among the Carbonaro (charcoal burners) and later gained popularity among the masses. Origins aside, the dish came into prominence post 1945 and has gained a tremendous fan following world wide.

When I visit an Italian restaurant for the first time, I always order their version of the simple yet tasty dish of pasta, eggs, cheese, black pepper and pancetta (some recipes advertise cream or creme fraiche). Based on how good it is, (and of course the portion size) I decide whether to go back or not. 

The Colony Bistro

I recently visited this bistro with my sister. We both love Italian food and when I found out that they had received a bar license, well, you can’t really stop a determined person can you. It’s located in the Amar Colony Market in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. You can choose to walk it from the Moolchand or Kailash Colony metro station or take a rickshaw for Rs30.

The bistro can seat more than 30 people at a go and also has a cute two-seater outdoor table, perfect for the evening. The music combination is interesting with Florence and the Machines, jazz and house. The white walls and deep brown furniture gives the place a nice feel.

So far so good. The menu offers a variety of Chinese, Lebanese, Italian and north Indian so we order a plate of onion rings, a peach iced tea and a beer pint to begin with. The beer always lives up to its promise but unfortunately the rings and iced tea didn’t. The batter had no salt and was soggy while the iced tea served up a lot of ice. Then came the mains. Full marks to their portion size but the Carbonara was not the way I like it. It is good for someone who likes a cheesy white sauce engulfing their spaghetti with crispy bacon bits but not for someone who looks forward to the yolk proudly displayed on top. 

I always like a simple Carbonara. Fry the bacon and add the al dente spaghetti to the pan. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites, black pepper and a LOT of Parmesan cheese. Taking the spaghetti and bacon pan away from the heat, add the eggy mixture so it coats each strand without curdling. As the sauce thickens, add a bit of the salty pasta water to loosen the mixture. Serve with the egg yolk on top, fresh Parmesan shavings and a bit of parsley. It’s THAT simple. 

My sister ordered a creamy cheese chicken served with spaghetti which was far better and worth the money. This bistro is famous for deserts and especially the Banoffee pie. The taste was excellent but unfortunately, the base had completely melted. Thus the cream too had begun to make a mess.

Personally, I would go back a second time. Instead of the Carbonara, I would try another cuisine because I enjoyed the over all ambiance. The music was enjoyable, there was not much delay between courses and the staff were courteous. Plus, their portion size is a big draw and it’s easier on the pockets (pocket pinch for two is approximately Rs1400) than going to a place like Hauz Khas village. But I definitely would steer clear of the Italian items on the menu card.

 

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