Friday, October 25, 2013

Variety from the Kitchens of Coastal Andhra

I firmly believe that variety is the spice of life. Even the best of recipes can become a monotonous affair. This theory was put to test by my father when I was quite young and would always want chocolates. He fed me chocolates for an entire day for all the meals and then immediately I started eating normal food again.

So bhendi , the ladyfinger which we might fry or use in a curry can be cooked in a greater number of ways than most of us can imagine. This time I got a bit creative. My in-laws are from a coastal state mostly famous for it's Nizami cuisine but there lies hidden these simple delicious food items.

They use 2 part sesame seeds, 1 part rice, 1/2 a part of mustard seeds and red chilies as per taste and soak them in rice and later make it into a paste. Then cucumber is chopped and soaked in this paste and it tastes delicious, mild and very unique. They of course temper the dish with mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal and curry leaves fried in ground nut oil. And as far as I have seen the vegetables are almsot never sauteed but boiled and mixed with the paste , only in the case of cucumber does it require no cooking.

I decided to use the paste for my bhendi. I gave the recipe a twist by not tempering with the usual mustard seeds and urad pulse and chana pusle and curry leaves.

Instead my twist requires:

Bhendis cut in broad pieces
Cumin seeds
Cumin powder

For the paste :
2 tbsp of sesame seeds
1 tbsp of rice
1/2 tbsp of mustard seeds
2 whole red chili

So one starts off by first soaking the ingredients for the paste in water and letting it rest for 4 hours to 5 hours. One basically grinds it to a smooth paste.

One chops the bhendi and sautes it lightly with cumin seeds and cover sit to make sure it gets cooked well but retains its crispness but is not fried. Once cooked well set it aside.

Then one adds the paste and water as per one's decision and brings it to a boil and adds the vegetable and simmers it to a thick gravy. The gravy thickens very quickly and so one must keep an eye on it. It tastes delicious with steaming rice.

I shall share a small trick which not only ensures that you get the little traces of curry left behind in a  wok but helps clean the woks easily. Once done add very little water to the wok in which the dish is prepared and put the flame on high and stir continuously to get all the traces of the curry and add a slit chili and then when the wok looks clean drop the green chilies in the container in which the prepared item is kept. 

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