Spending our time untethering the mind, getting the fidgets out, exploring the in-between ideas, and learning kintsugi.

Learning to cook with mom – acquired taste perhaps?

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A tamarind broth, black gram soup and steamed daikon

I love these, but I also know that some people don’t. I don’t quite understand the people who don’t.

Mulor tok: This is a sweet and tart broth with vegetables and daikon as the highlight. To serve 6-10, first chop the vegetables. Cut up half an eggplant into 1 inch squares (~2-3 cups loosely packed), cut up one of the hard winter squashes (pumpkin/danish/butternut) into 1 inch square to make up about 2 cups loosely packed, cut up 1 daikon into thin semi-circular slices (~3 mm thick). To prepare the tamarind, take about a lemon size ball of tamarind and soak it in 2 cups of hot water. Once the water cools down, smash the tamarind thoroughly (need fingers here) and then strain it to extract the tamarind liquid.

Quality of tamarind is a significant variable here. You can get it as hard blocks which are difficult to use. The next variety is a semi-soft dark paste with seeds in it. This is my preferred one. The final variation is a prepared tamarind paste, it does have the seeds and tends to be too sour. Depending on what one has access to, the amount of tamarind and sugar needs to be adjusted.

In a kadai, add 2 Tbsp of mustard oil, bring to smoking point, reduce heat to medium high and add the vegetables. Add 1 tsp salt and mix, cover and occasionally stir gently to caramelize the vegetables. In about 7-8 minutes, add the tamarind liquid and 2 cups of hot water and continue to boil. Now add sugar, and salt to balance the flavors. Continue to cook until the vegetables soften. Switch off heat. Finally, in a small tadka pan, add two Tbsp of mustard oil and let it reach smoking point, reduce heat, add torn red chillies and 1 tsp of mustard seeds. Let the mustard seeds splutter away until they stop doing so. Then add the hot oil mixture to the vegetable broth.

Daikon, Eggplant, Pumpkin, Tamarind, Mustard seeds, dried red chili, mustard oil

Kolai daal: I did struggle with this particular lentil (black gram) while growing up. But this is perhaps the only lentil that is universally digestible. Of late, I have acquired taste for things that my gut microbiome likes.

Forms of black gram: whole, split, whole washed, split washed

For this preparation, you want split washed black gram. To serve, start with 3/4 cup of split washed lentil in a kadai. Slow roast it until it is uniformly golden brown. Cool the lentils, wash them in running water. In a pressure cooker, add the lentils with 4 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and put on medium heat. Once the pressure is up, reduce heat and cook for 7-8 minutes. Switch off heat and wait for 20-30 minutes until the pressure goes away. Open and check for doneness. How do we know, it is done? The lentils should be completely disintegrated (no individual identity) without turning into a gloop. Sometimes, if they are really soft, you can simply stir them until they disintegrate. If it needs more doing, redo the pressure cooking and this time cook for 3-5 min. Certain things simply can’t be done without a pressure cooker. And making Indian lentils is one of them. You simply don’t get the creaminess without one. If you do the lentils frequent enough, you know the pressure times by heart. Otherwise, a bit of trial and error would do. Slightly overcooking is better than undercooking.

Split black gram washed, panch phoron (mustard, cumin, nigella, fennel, fenugreek). red chilis, mustard oil

Now for the final phase, the tadka. Blitz 1 tsp of fennel seeds into a fine powder, set aside. Combine the five spice in equal proportions to make “panch phoron”. For this one time, you need 1/4 tsp each of black pepper, cumin, nigella seeds, fennel and fenugreek. In a tadka pan, add 2 Tbsp of mustard oil, achieve smoking point, reduce heat, add 2 torn red chilis, the “panch phoron” mixture, let splutter for 15 seconds and dump the resulting oil in the pressure cooker. Mix and adjust salt. Now add the fennel powder and mix one final time.

Mooli sheddho: Radish (or daikon) is gut microbiome’s best friend. This is s super simple dish. To serve 2, steam or pressure cook 1 large daikon after cleaning, scraping the skin and chopping into 2 inch portions. Cook until they are buttery soft. Mash, add salt to taste, 2 chopped green chilis and 4 Tbsp of chopped cilantro leaves. Add 2 Tbsp of raw mustard oil. Mix and serve with steamed rice or chapati.

Daikon, Green chilis, Cilantro, Mustard Oil

Written by Som

December 12, 2021 at 6:22 am

Posted in Recipe

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