Macaroni And Potato Sabzi

Macaroni and Potato sabzi – yes, you read it. Macaroni pasta made the Indian way. While we are known to Indianise everything – Paneer Tikka Pizza, anyone? This concoction right here is a dish we used to make even before we knew what pizza was.

 

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It is a dish that a lot of Sindhis make and something I grew up eating as a kid, till I found real pasta and started to appreciate its finer nuances and flavors rather than the robust dish this one is. I am not sure who came up with this invention in the first place. I was reading this article written by the famous Sindhi Food Blogger ‘Alka Keswani,’ where she mentions the possibility of some Sindhi businessman picking up a packet of Macaroni when away on a work trip to America or Europe and got it home. Since most Indians don’t like the pure flavors of pasta, an ingenious housewife probably made it into Indian curry, and then it just became a thing.

 

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Renowned archaeologist Dr. Krush Dalal told me that in his personal view this dish is a part of the refugee food aid. A large population of Sindhis came to India came from Sindh, which is now in Pakistan, most of them residing in Ulhasnagar in camps. There is a possibility that they were given some foreign aid & food and a packet of pasta, or a few may have sneaked in due to its long shelf life.

 

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He also mentioned that a lot of Punjabi migrants were provided with bread, and they made halwa with it. Today it is a very bittersweet memory of partition. Perhaps this is one such vestigial recipe of how they learner to use something provided to them in a way they were comfortable.  Since my grandparents came to India during those tumultuous times and resided in Ulhasnagar where I grew up, I find Dr. Dalal’s theory closer to my heart.

 

Another friend whose, expertise and knowledge in the culinary realms I highly regard also told me that Sindhis living in Dubai claim to be the inventors of this dish in the early 60s or 70s. This is another version that could also very well be true because we know that Sindhis love their food and are a community that has traveled around the globe and set up their homes and carried their culinary traditions and made this dish their own.

 

Well, I guess whatever it was – a product of partition or a smart businessman returning home from abroad or a community now calling another country home, this dish has been ‘Desified’ or ‘Sindhified’ & here to stay. Especially in these trying times when one is worried about groceries and rationing everything we eat, a packet of dry pasta has produced three full-blown meals between 5 people, which I think is a sensible way to eat anyways.

 

I have listed the recipe below for you if you are not a Pasta aficionado and are willing to give it a try.

 

Macaroni & Potatoes (Serves 5 – Cooking time 45 minutes)

1 cup Macaroni Pasta

2 medium-sized Onions finely chopped

3 Tomatoes, pureed

2 large Potatoes cubed

2 Teaspoons Ginger Garlic paste

2 bay leaves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 ½ tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Red Chilli powder (you can use more if you want it spicy)

1 tsp Cumin powder

1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Salt to taste

 

Method:

Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add bay leaves, cumin seeds & ginger garlic paste.

Add the chopped onions and saute till translucent. Now add the tomatoes and cook till the water starts to separate.

Add the potatoes in the tomato & onion mix along with all the spices and cook for 5 minutes till the potatoes are coated well in the masala.

Add water and pressure cook for 3 whistles till the potatoes are half done. Open the pressure cooker after the pressure is released and add the dry Macaroni in the pressure cooker. Cover and give two more whistles.

Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and serve with hot Rotis.

Enjoy.

 

Note:

You can make this in a pan, but the cooking time will increase. The key is to ensure that the pasta holds the shape. If you cook the pasta for a very long time, it will lose all shape.

The gravy of this dish is thick and not too watery, so try and not go overboard with the water.

You can substitute the Potatoes with Peas as well, but then, in that case, you need to cook the Peas and Pasta together.

A vegetable cooked only for comfort – Baingan masala (Eggplant cooked in tangy spices with Tomatoes)

This girl from Mumbai loves her vegetables. Despite being meat lovers we have more vegetables in our meals then meat and this is something I make a point of following religiously, especially because we don’t get all the vegetables we have grown up eating back home here in Perth.

And one of my favorite Vegetables is “Eggplant” which is also commonly called as Aubergine or Brinjal. It is a very popular and versatile vegetable used in almost every cuisine. It has a delicious glossy texture and soft meaty flesh and is distinctively related to both the Tomato family. It was domesticated in India many moons ago and we there are thousands of recipes which give the “Eggplant” a center stage.

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Eggplant is low in fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It also contains relatively low amounts of most important vitamins and minerals. However it has been known to cause allergic reactions sometimes. Thankfully no one in my house is allergic to it or else I would be devastated. I cannot imagine a life without my beloved Eggplant.

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The recipe I am sharing today is very close to my heart and very comforting to me. Eggplant loves Tomatoes and Garlic, it is a match made in foodie heaven and I put generous amount of both in the dish to make it more delicious. It is a great lunch option and tastes heavenly with some hot rotis and raita.

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Another reason why I like this dish is because of its earthiness.

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Here is the recipe (cooking time 30 minutes, serves 4)

2 medium sized Eggplants (I have used big Eggplants used to make Baingan Bharta)

2 large Tomatoes roughly chopped (I like to add big chunks of Tomatoes in this dish)

4 – 5 cloves of Garlic finely chopped

3 – 4 medium Potatoes cut into small chunks

1/2 tsp Asafoetida

1 tbsp Mustard Oil or Vegetable Oil

1 ½ tsp Red chilli powder

1 tsp Coriander powder

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Cumin seeds

Salt to taste

Freshly chopped Coriander to garnish

1)    Add the chopped Potatoes in a bowl of Cold water and boil till the potatoes are half cooked. Drain the water and keep aside.

2)    Chop the Eggplant into chunks slightly bigger than the Potatoes and put them in a bowl of cold salted water as the Eggplants turn brown immediately after being cut.

3)    Heat oil in a pan and add the Cumin seeds and Asafoetida. Once the seeds start to crackle add the Garlic and sauté for a few seconds.

4)    Add the Potatoes and fry them on a medium flame for 4 – 5 minutes. Now add the chopped Eggplants (drain the water before you do that) and mix well. Cover and cook for around 10 minutes on a medium flame, mixing them in between.

5)    When the Eggplants are almost half cooked add the Tomatoes, Salt, Turmeric, Red Chilli and Coriander powder.

6)    Cover and cook for another 7 – 10 minutes. You have to be gentle when handling the Eggplant as they can break easily when cooked.

7)    Turn off the heat and garnish with the Coriander and serve hot.

Memories of Childhood – Sindhi Kadhi

I have been born and brought up in Sindhunagar or Ulhasnagar, or  USA (Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association). It is a small Satellite town approximately 60 km away from Mumbai. Growing up, we were the butt of all jokes because we lived in Ulhasnagar, which has a reputation for making fake goods and constructing illegal buildings. I always wanted to break free and move away from there, and I eventually did. One thing, however, stayed back with me was the generosity of my Sindhi friends and neighbours, and the fantastic food that you get in the small forgotten by lanes of Ulhasnagar.

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I remember waking up early whenever we had relatives to go to the market and buy “Dal Pakwaan,” which is a traditional Sindhi breakfast. The “Dal Pakwaan” at the restaurant I used to frequent was so popular that the owner used to open the shop at 7.00 am and close at 9.00 am. People used to stand in queues to grab their share of piping hot Dal with crispy Pakwans and rush home to eat it.

 

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Another famous dish of Ulhasnagar was “Chole Pattice,” a fried potato dumpling served with chickpea curry and garnished with lots of mint sauce, tamarind sauce, and onions. After my marriage, every time I visited my parents, I would ensure that I would make the religious trip to “Kishore Pattice Wala” near Gol Maidan to eat the pattice. Or force my mom to make “Seyal Bread,” which was a dish made out of leftover chapatis or pav.

 

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The Sindhi cuisine is very diverse and unique, and Sindhi’s are known for their love of food. I miss this fantastic cuisine a lot, especially now that I am settled abroad, and my parents have finally moved from Ulhasnagar.

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So to relive my days, I often make “Sindhi Curry”  which is a very easy gram flour curry made up of few vegetables and gram flour. This one-pot dish is not like the other Kadhis you get in India which are made of Yogurt. This one has a Tomato & Gramflour base and then you add whatever vegetables you like. It is not just unique dish but also nutritious and hearty and a staple in Sindhi Cuisine. Known for its distinctive tangy taste because of the two souring agents – Tomatoes & Tamarind which makes it what my taste buds remember as the Kadhi maa made on weekends when we didn’t make the very Punjabi Rajma. Try and make it and see how you feel.

 

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Here is the recipe (cooking time 40 minutes, serves 6)

 

2 Tablespoons Gram flour (Besan, I love to use the flour that one uses to make Ladoos, it is of a finer consistency and blends well)

1/2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds (methi dana)

3 Tomatoes blanched in hot water and pureed

Salt as per taste

2 Tsp red chilli powder

1 1/2 Tsp turmeric powder

A mix of vegetables – Diced potatoes, French beans, Okra (bhindi), Drumstick (seengi), Cauliflower florets, Carrots (you can use any of these vegetables), Baby Eggplants

A Big ball of tamarind soaked in hot water

A tsp of Asafoetida (Heeng)

1 tbsp Oil

For the Tempering

2 tsp Oil

5 – 7 curry leaves

1/2 Tsp Cumin Seeds (jeera)

1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds (rai)

 

Step 1 :

Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan or a pressure cooker add Asafoetida and Fenugreek seeds. Once they start to add the gram flour splutter and roast it till light brown on a low flame (be careful as the gram flour can burn quickly).

Once the gram flour is slightly brown, add Salt, Turmeric & red chili powder and start adding water in batches and using a whisk, keep stirring the mixture, so there are no lumps at all. This is important as you want the base to be free of any lumps. Keep adding water as you go. We need around 4 cups of water here.

Once the gravy comes to a boil, add peeled & diced potatoes and cook till they are half done. If using a pressure cooker, cook for one whistle.
Step 2:

Get your vegetables ready – Slice Eggplants into four pieces. Peel and chop the Drumstick, Chop the French beans, Cut the Cauliflower into florets and wash, dry, and cut the top and bottom off the Okra and fry them lightly.

Add the Tomatoe puree to the kadhi and let it come to a boil.

Now add the Vegetables to the Kadhi in the order in which they cook. The key is to ensure the vegetables hold shape and are soft but not mushy. The cauliflowers and eggplants go first, then add the beans, then the drumsticks, and finally the Okra. At this stage if you want to add more water, you can add some more. The consistency of the curry is slightly watery so it can be eaten with Rice.

Squeeze the tamarind in the bowl you have soaked it to make a nice thick pulp and throw away the flesh and seeds. Add this pulp to the Kadhi only after all the vegetables are cooked and let it come to a boil.

 

Step 3:

In another pan, heat 2 tsp of Oil and the Mustard and Cumin seeds, Curry leaves, red chill powder. Pour the tempering over the kadhi and let it come to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and serve hot with plain boiled rice.