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.

 

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200413134936559_COVER

 

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.

 

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200413135239088_COVER

 

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.

 

00100lrPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200413134820228_COVER

 

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.

Quick & Easy Sweet Potato & Pesto Pasta

Somedays I feel that everything is just pointless. I mean we crave for real connections and devote all our time and energy in virtual ones. We hope to live a fulfilling a real life but spend most of it shackled behind our desks. We crave for good food, and then we starve ourselves to go on so many diets to be healthy and fit. What is the point of all this right? But then we all must do what we have to do.

 

IMG_9660[1]

And such thoughts become even more profound on long days when you are so mentally and physically exhausted that you want to crawl under a rock, but then hunger pangs strike and one has to move that god damn rock to eat. Because let’s face it a girl needs to eat even under a rock.

 

IMG_9658[1]

So, after coming home from work and moping around for a while, I opened a desolate looking fridge. There were some leftovers, but I was not in the mood.

 

IMG_9656[1]

 

I remembered that the lovely Sneh from cookrepublic had made a pasta with pesto & potatoes. So after checking her blog, I realised I could make dinner happen with the ingredients I had. I boiled the pasta, tossed it in a store-bought sauce, added some sweet potatoes & spinach and ended up making a deliciously hearty meal. I overate and polished it all off with a glass of wine. 

 

IMG_9659[1]

 

Recipe Inspiration : Cookrepublic (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 2 generous portions)

250 Gms fresh pasta (cook as per packet instructions)

1 large Sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 cup of freshly chopped spinach (I used baby spinach leaves)

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

1 small jar of Red or Green Pesto (190 G)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Grated Cheese

1 tbsp Olive Oil

 

Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions, drain the water and keep aside

Fry or bake the Sweet potatoes in the olive oil and keep aside

In the same pan add the pesto sauce. Don’t add any Oil as the pesto sauce will have a lot of oil, usually I scoop up the extra oil with a spoon and throw it away. Heat for 5 – 10 minutes on a low flame.

If using Indian spinach add it in the Pesto sauce now

Add the Pasta, sweet potatoes and if using baby spinach leaves add them now.

Mix well, season with Pepper & Salt and sprinkle some fresh cheese before serving.

 

A love affair with homemade Gnocchi in roasted Tomato sauce

So I am having this secret love affair with homemade Pasta for a while now. Having never eaten fresh homemade Pasta I have fallen hard. Dried store brought pasta does not excite me at all.

2 years ago I attended a pasta making class and got so inspired that I brought a pasta machine right away. Since then I made fresh pasta at home only twice and the machine is hidden away in a cold dark place begging to be used. And I feel guilty about this. It is like telling someone you love them and then ignoring them completely.

So as a compromise I make pasta sauce at home and usually buy fresh pasta from the store. However last month when I attended the “Italian Summer” class at the “Taste Budds Cooking Studio” and tried fresh pasta again I knew I had to do it.  One of the pastas we made was “Gnocchi in roasted Tomato sauce”.

Image

These soft gooey Potato balls just melt in my mouth and were one of the highlights of the evening for me along with the “Fish stew”

Image

What I loved is how easy they were to make and they were so light that I could no longer felt the pain of eating bad Gnocchi in the past in a lot of so called authentic Italian restaurants.

Image

I came home brimming with visions of Gnocchi floating in the very light sauce. So like a true lover I decided to make it, following the instructions carefully  from the notes I had made and some from my fading memory. When the Gnocchi finally started floating on top I felt so much joy that I cannot explain.

Image

And once again I felt the first stirring of an old love in my heart. I felt joy, ecstasy and I knew I would never go back to store brought pasta again. Since then I have made this Gnocchi several times using different sauces and I have always felt satisfied and happy.

Image

Here is the recipe (courtesy Taste Budds cooking Studio) Serves 2, cooking time 60 minutes

For the Roast Tomato Sauce:

500 gms Cherry Tomatoes or 4 big juicy plump Tomatoes cut into pieces.

Olive Oil to Sprinkle on the Tomatoes

Handful of Basil leaves

Salt & Pepper to taste

1) Fresh Bocconcini Or Parmesan Cheese (to be added when serving the Gnocchi)

2) Put the Tomatoes in a roasting pan, sprinkle the Olive oil, Salt and Pepper and roast at around 160 degrees C in an oven for 30 minutes or till well roasted.

3) Once the Tomatoes are done, crush them gently with a fork and transfer to a pan on a low flame. Add the Basil and adjust Salt & Pepper if needed. Keep the sauce warm till you are ready to add the Gnocchi.

For the Gnocchi:

6 big Royal Blue Potatoes

1 Egg

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 cup Plain Flour

1/3 cup Semolina

1) Peel the Potatoes and cut them into 2 cm chunks. Now Steam or Boil them in water (add the Potatoes in Cold water and bring them to boil). Once the Potatoes are done strain the water drain out.

2) Press through a Potato ricer into a large bowl or your working surface and let it cool completely. Do not be tempted to use a Potato masher as it may leave some lumps.

3) Make a well between in between the Potatoes and 1 Egg, Salt & Pepper and add the Plain flour in batches. The less flour you use, the lighter the Gnocchi is, but the more difficult it becomes to roll them. So you have to use your judgement here. Do not over knead, you have to be very gentle here.

4) Divide the mixture into 2 – 3 portions and roll each portion to a cylinder about the width of a finger. Sprinkle the Semolina on your working surface and put the Gnocchi on it rolling it gently. The Semolina will ensure that the Gnocchi doesn’t stick to each other. Cut on the diagonal into pieces around 2 cm long.

5) Add the Gnocchi in boiling water in small batches. Once they float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon and add it to the sauce immediately. If you want to store the Gnocchi, add it to a bowl of cold water, drain and coat with a little Olive Oil so it doesn’t stick and freeze. When ready to use, put the Gnocchi in boiling water till it starts floating to the surface.

6) Mix the Gnocchi gently in the sauce, sprinkle some more Basil leaves and the Cheese when ready to serve.

Not for the faint hearted – Fettuccine alla Puttanesca (Fettuccine with Anchovies, Capers & Olives)

Before you even begin reading this post, let me warn you it is not for the faint hearted because it has “Anchovies” in it. Not everyone is an Anchovy fan, infact I know only 10 people who like Anchovy and 5 of them are me 😉

This little Salt water Fish has a very distinctive taste to it and is not something everyone likes. But you know me, I eat everything. It is widely used a lot in Mediterranean cooking it gives a very distinctive taste to the dish. I feel that Anchovy has it’s own unique taste which is not fishy at all and honestly speaking I am at loss for words to describe how it tastes like.

It is not easy to get fresh Anchovies here but you can easily get bottled or canned ones from any super market shelf. The saltiness of the fish goes well as a base to a lot of Sauces and Salads. But I hardly use it as “D” wrinkles up his nose in disgust everytime I eat it.

He does not like it PERIOD and will not have anything to do it. But I enjoy it when I am eating out, although he makes sure I brush my teeth well before I kiss him good night 😉 after eating them. I always store a small tin in my pantry for those guilty pleasures.

Image

A very good friend had gifted a few cookbooks for my birthday last year and one of them was a gorgeous book on authentic Italian food called “The Italian Kitchen”. It is a treasure of easy to cook Italian recipes. While browsing through it I came across this Pasta recipe that looked great. What grabbed my attention because not only was it super easy to make but also because it had Anchovies in it.

Being a curious person by nature and on account of being home alone tonight (D was out with friends) I had to make this for myself. The pasta used in the  original recipe was “Bucatini”  which I did not have. So I substituted it with “Fettuccine”. The end result was great and the smell and taste of Anchovy very prominent.

So if you love these little stinky devils try this pasta and tell me what you think.

Image

Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 2) 

1 small tin (45 g) Anchovies (you can use a few Prawns if you do not like Anchovies)

1 tin Peeled Tomatoes (400 g)

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

Approximately 2 Tbsp Capers

2 Tbsp Sliced Olives

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

200 gms Fettuccine or Bucatini pasta

Image

Wash the Capers and Olives if you are using tinned as they are already preserved in Salt and that will make the Pasta too salty. Chop the Anchovies and keep aside.

Image

Heat the Olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the Tomato Puree. After 2 minutes add the peeled Tomatoes and saute well, using a fork to crush the tomatoes.

Image

Add the Olives, Capers and Anchovies, season with Salt and Pepper (be careful with the Salt as the Anchovy is also Salty). Let it cook on a low flame for 20 minutes.

Image

While the sauce is simmering, boil water with Salt in a big pan and cook the Pasta as per the pack instructions or till al dante. Drain the water in a Colander and add the Pasta to the sauce, mix well for 1 – 2  minutes and serve hot.

Recipe source – “The Italian Kitchen”.