Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pavakka Thoran/ Bittergourd Stir-fry with Coconut ..mingled with memories!..


Prologue

Thomas B. Sebastian, the ‘Prefect’ of Class IV was undoubtedly the outstanding student of our class, appointed specially by the class teacher Ms. Alexander(one of my holy terrors ;) of those days..).

Tom excelled in everything he did.
Be it studies, music, sports…the ‘Class Prefect’ saw to it that the class was ‘Perfect’ in every way!. Even the lunch break was not spared.He would inspect every single classmate making sure he or she was not taking back home, the ‘left overs’ in their respective lunch boxes.

Well, as a child(as any normal kid, I swear:)) I pushed away this pale green vegetable whenever on the table, in whatever avatar it would appear that had always topped the personal “Ever Hate List” :)!..
My ‘clever’(rather humiliating here ;))Mom, very much aware of the above ‘lunch time supervision’, would sneak in this bitter tasting veggie in my lunch box, mostly in thoran form, claiming the added coconut would bring down its bitterness, nutrients well preserved and preferably a healthier version to the fries..
Come lunch break, Tom(whose seat was unfortunately right beside mine) would monitor till I finished the last speck, leaving me depressingly helpless ;)!!..
........
.....
The dislike towards this veg faded away over the years and now on the contrary I am specific to include the same dish in my weekend lunch….the same way my mom prepares,(no more sneaking in my children's tuck boxes, as they are smarter than me, inspecting thoroughly the packed lunch or at least they never had an efficient prefect like my good ol’ pal Tom!).

The sweet memories linger whenever I cook this bitter vegetable.. :)...


*Pavakka/Karela/Bittergourd- cut finely-a cup
Thick tamarind pulp-a tsp
Salt-to taste

Pulse to a coarse mixture(should be crumbly and dry);

Grated coconut-1/2 cup
Shallots -2
Garlic pod-1-2
Red chillies-1-2 or ½ tsp chilly powder(according to your spice level)
Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds/powder-1/4 tsp
Water-a tbsp

To season;

Coconut Oil-a tbsp(or any oil you use)
Mustard seeds-1/4 tsp
Shallots- cut finely –a tbsp

Urad dal-1/4 tsp
Curry leaves-a sprig


*Let the bitter gourd be fleshy and pale green/yellow coloured.The darker the hue, more bitter the taste.

1. Transfer the cut vegetable into a shallow pan of boiling salted water just enough to immerse the pieces.Let it simmer for not more than a couple of minutes or until ‘just’ cooked.Drain away the water.(this is to reduce the bitterness of the veg.You can avoid this step and directly proceed with the raw pieces of the veg, too).

2. Heat oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds, brown the urad dal, fry the shallots till brown and throw in the curry leaves.

3. Add the coarsely ground mixture.Keep the flame low.Sauté continuously so as to get rid of the raw smell taking care not to let it stick to the bottom.

4. Add the precooked veg(if you'd skipped the precooking part,add 2 tbsps of water along with the veg and cook till half done, keeping the pan closed).
Sprinkle water if too dry.Mix well.Add the tamarind pulp and salt.Keep the pan closed and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, in minimum flame.

5. Remove from fire when the spices coat all over and the dry consistency is reached. Check salt.
Serve hot with boiled rice and curry.


Epilogue

Thomas, the state rank holder of our school in the public exams and later in college university, completed his education in Bits Pilani, is currently based in the US with his lovely family.
I’d not met him ever since we left
college but fortunately he had come down to our home town for a short holiday, 2 months ago.
I was lucky enough to be there in town at that time, co-ordinating the college meet and desperately tried to bring him down for our reunion function.
The efforts failed.
On the day of the get together, amidst all the cheer that was going on around me, we rambled on the phone for a while; the reminisces of our childhood days, after almost Two Decades!!.. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chocolate Cake in 5 minutes!..

Im not a Chocoholic, but I do crave for Chocolate Cakes.
May be because my mom bakes the best of chocolate cakes ever, since we were kids..
Whipping up the cake for myself(as here none relishes this, in my family) is something I refrain from doing..

But what if you can make them in a jiffy, in small portions, in a very comfortable way?
I found this in Arundathi’s place ; whom I have regarded as a practical baker ;) after her Beautiful Banana Bread in my place…and as she says about this one,“it definitely isn't something you want to serve for company. But, hey, its great for that chocolate fix”.

The original recipe is adapted from Daisy Dee, which turned out to be a 'Mega Hit' in hers.

Grab

4 tbsps All-Purpose Flour
4 tbsps Sugar
2 tbsps Cocoa
1 Egg
3 tbsps Milk
3 tbsps Oil
1 Mug

And now..

Mix flour, sugar and cocoa in a mug. Spoon in 1 egg. Add the milk and oil and mix well.
Microwave on high for 3 minutes. It begins to rise and then settle down in the mug.
Remove the cake from the mug onto a plate and enjoy!.

Note- I divided the batter into 2 ramekins and I needed not more than 2 minutes to get them cooked in 900W(micro full power, as in mine) and this method is more promising than using a Mug where the cake may not be cooked evenly, if careless..


As at least a few of you might have experienced; getting back to blogging after a while needs a lots of “pushing ourselves”…sometimes a fuel from a true friend getting you do so…
Swapna, this post is for you, for the high concern and energy level in you had made me do this :) !!..