The title tells you all, doesn't it ;). Has it ever happened to you that you plan days in advance before a certain event that you really want to enjoy, and then suddenly you get all busy and have almost no time to prepare the much planned khana, let alone blog about it :-D. Why o why, does it happen just before the events :-D. What do you do then? Ah! you day dream, cook those delicacies in your dreams, think of them during the bus rise, during lunch time, write imaginary posts in your mind ;). You also try to sneak some time out, get disappointed, etc etc. when that doesn't happen. and you look for simple, quick and yet delicious recipes to come to your rescue! This certainly was my story this week :)). I had been thinking and imagining about RCI:Orissa since the day it was announced.....and now its the 25th, and i am yet to post anything :). Same for my love for Cumin :). But i decided that i won't give up ;). So last night, i went all out: it took a lil' effort, but it was totally worth it :).
So here are the lovely, easy breezy dishes for RCI:Orissa (being hosted this month by dear friend Swapna of Swad. RCI is an event celebrating the myriad lovely regional cuisines of India, conceptualized by the creative Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine), and for Think Spice:Think Cumin, the spicy event at Sunita's World, a brain child of Dar(l)ing Bakerina Sunita :).
As i looked for dishes for RCI, i wanted something that was quick and easy and yet something that would convey the flavors of Oriya Cuisine. So i zeroed on to Saru besara, a yummy taro and mustard based dish and Dahi Baigana, a culinary meeting of eggplant and curds: the result was fantastic! I loved the Dahi Baigana even more, because it boasted of cumin and hence i could take it to two e-potlucks :). Talking of cumin, how about a really easy mixed vegetable preparation, that primarily derives it flavor from cumin? So friends, here goes: my recent tryst with Oriya cooking and enjoying cumin:
It is a simple dish made out of taro/arbi (saru in Oriya) in a mustard base (the besara). I adapted the recipe from Oriya Kitchen. Here's my version of Saru besara:
- 6-7 taro roots, peeled and cut into 1" long pieces
- Mustard paste (2 heaped tsp. mustard+ 2 cloves of garlic: ground into a coarse paste)
- 2 tomatoes (cubed)
- Chopped green chillies (to taste)
- 1/4 tsp. Panch phutana (cumin, mustard, fennel, nigella, fenugreek seeds spice mix)
- 1/4 tsp. Turmeric
- Salt to taste
- Oil (1/2 tbsp. for cooking, 1 tsp for tempering)
Peel the taro roots and cut them into 1" long pieces. Microwave these for 4-5 minutes and set aside. In a pan, heat 1/2 tbsp. oil and add the mustard-garlic paste. Saute' for 1-2 minutes and add the taro pieces. Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes till the pieces are slightly toasted/golden brown. Now add the tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Add 1 cup of water and stir. Bring to boil and cook on low heat till the gravy thickens. In a small pan, heat oil and splutter the paanch phutana. Add the cut gbreen chillies and saute' for 1/2 a minute. Add this to the besara and cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with chapati or rice :).
This is one of the favorite combinations in Indian cuisine, this pairing of eggplants and curds :). Sample e.g. Dahiwala baingan bharta, Baingan Boorani, Buzwangun, Kathrikai pachadi etc. This is the delicious Oriya version of this national favorite. I adapted the recipe from Oriya Nari.
- 2 Japanese or Graffiti or Chinese eggplants or 4 small eggplants(cut into 2" long pieces)
- 1 and 1/2 cup curds (beaten)
- 1/2 tsp each Cumin and mustard (jeera and sorisha)
- 6-8 curry leaves
- 4 green chillies (cut into 1" pieces)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp. oil
I have deviated a bit from original recipe here, because i felt stir frying the eggplant with salt and spice instead of deep frying them and later mixing with spices will enhance the taste of eggplants.
The end result for both these recipes was a yummy virtual trip to an Oriya household. During my M.Sc. i had a chance to work in a lab for my summer training where i met many Oriya colleagues. I still remember the taste and aroma of the delicious tiffins i had the pleasure of enjoying :). These closely matched the taste in my memories :).
Now for the simple mixed vegetable jeere wali ;)
This is a quick and easy preparataion and is a regular in my kitchen.
- Carrots, Cauliflower and Broccoli mixed (i used frozen California style vegetable mix-1 packet) about 1 and 1/2 cup equivalent.
- 1/3 cup green peas
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 small tomato chopped
- Turmeric and red chilli powder (to taste)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp. oil
In hot oil, splutter the cumin and saute' the onions. Stir in the mixed vegetables and green peas and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and tomatoes. Stir well, cover and cook on low heat till done. Enjoy with parantha or as a sandwich stuffing. Also works well as a side dish with rice and daal :).
Saru besara and dahi baigana are my contributions for RCI-Orissa at Swapna's corner. I am also sending dahi baigana along with mixed vegetables jeere wali, to Sunita's Think Spice-Think Cumin get together.