Saturday, October 11, 2008

Delicious Cocktail Koftas (Chhote kofte) Review

4 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 47

Perhaps because the meatballs were slightly overcooked / a little dry inside, I liked the sauce better than the meatballs. This worked out fine, as there was lots of sauce--barely any liquid boiled off. This surprised me, as the recipe implied that most, if not all, the liquid would boil off, and that the sauce would be thick, not thin. Because the dish came out looking so different from what was intended, I'm tempted to try making it again. In this instance, this wasn't a four star dish, but I have high hopes the sauce will be thicker and the meatballs not overcooked next time.

As for the preparation, there are many things to do, but the steps aren't hard. The only confusion I ran into was that the recipe said that after adding the paste, to cook until browned. But everything's already brown!

Regarding leftovers, the leftover sauce wasn't as good, but it was still decent. Also, the refrigerated leftovers had a layer of congealed fat on top of the dish. (I don't recall what I did with it when I reheated the dish to eat.)

sauce before adding meatballs

meatballs before cooking

after adding meatballs (no flash)

meatballs and sauce after simmering (with flash).
(i.e., completed dish)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sour Chick-Peas (Khate chhole) Review

4 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 173

A nicely sour, fragrant, flavorful dish. Although I like it, I must admit it's so sour one can't eat too much of it once, implying it must be a side dish, not a main dish. Sometimes I'm inclined to describe the broth as rich, but given that it's light and lacks cream, I think what I really mean is rich in flavor and that the sourness gives it a sense of fullness.

I like it warm or cold better than lukewarm. (I only mention this because the cookbook suggests lukewarm might be good.)

It smells really potent (but good) as it cooks.

Some note on the preparation:
  • Rather than cooking chickpeas from scratch, I used canned chickpeas. Two 15-ounce cans yielded 2.75 cups of chickpea, half a cup more than the recipe calls for. Also, these two cans yielded 1 7/8ths cups of chickpea water, a slight bit more than the 1.75 cups the recipe calls for. I don't know if the canned liquid is a higher or lower percent chickpea juice than that made by cooking the chickpeas the standard way.
  • I used half the recommended oil.
  • It takes a while to cut all the vegetables!
  • It takes a lot of ginger to make one tablespoon of very finely grated ginger.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Black-Eyed Beans with Mushrooms (Lohbia aur khumbi) Review

3 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 174-175

A basic chili: satisfying enough. Despite coming from this cookbook, it's doesn't seem Indian.

The dish takes ages to make.

The picture in the book shows more mushrooms than what my result seemed to have. Did they get the recipe wrong, or simply pick out the mushrooms and put them on top for photographic reasons?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Whole Green Lentils with Spinach and Ginger Review

4 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 168

A good, hearty side dish that tastes more of spinach than lentils. The flavors are bright, probably from the lemon, which I probably wouldn't identify if I didn't know it was there, and the nearly invisible presence of ginger, ground pepper, and fresh peppers.

Unlike other pulses, this one isn't soupy or stewy.

Incidentally, I used only 4 tablespoons of oil, not 6, and used 2 serrano peppers (for the 1-2 suggested ones).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Semolina Halva (Sooji ka halva) Review

4 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 226

Although the halva looked unappealing, it actually served as a fairly good light dessert or snack. My main complaint is that it could use a little more moisture. Water kind of does it, but not entirely. I think the source of the problem was that I cooked the recipe with three tablespoons of ghee (because that's all I had), not the five the recipe called for. (I decided not to make up the difference with vegetable oil, thinking they wouldn't mix correctly.)

I tried serving the halva with ice cream, but ice cream was too sweet for it. I also tried serving it with yogurt, but the yogurt I happened to have was too tangy.

Some notes on the preparation:
  • While the recipe calls for fine-grained semolina, I used something labeled semolina flour. After researching on the web, it appears these are the same thing.
  • The semolina didn't turn golden, even after 15 minutes. (The recipe said 8-10 minutes would be appropriate.)
  • I used ground cardamom seeds instead of finely crushed cardamom.
As for leftovers, I found I liked the leftover halva served chilled rather than at room temperature or warmed. Over time the semolina condenses into small balls. While I could easily break them up, I learned that I don't like the chewy nature of the ones I miss.

I found myself less excited about eating the leftovers, and so contemplated downgrading the recipe to 3.5 stars. But, I realized the main complaint was probably my fault, and the dish is really easy to prepare (a bonus!), and therefore left the recipe at 4 stars.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gujerati-Style Cabbage With Carrots Review

3 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 141

An unexciting, though quickly cooked, dish of carrots and cabbage. It might work as a side dish for something, but wouldn't be a great one. The vegetables, when fresh off the stove, were oily in texture, despite me using less oil than the recipe recommended. (I used only enough to cover the bottom of the pan, not the whole four tablespoons.) The leftovers happily weren't oily but they still weren't particularly appealing. I didn't taste much lemon or cilantro. Worried that my lack of tasting these flavors was what was marring the dish, I added more lemon to one plate. It definitely made the lemon more prominent but didn't help the dish at all.

Some notes on the ingredients:
  • Because I don't have a grater, I peeled the carrots, then chopped the peels.
  • The recipe suggests using half or one green chili. I used one whole serrano but removed most of the seeds first.
  • For the dried red chili, I used an arbol because that's what I had at hand.
  • I skipped the optional asafetida because I didn't have any.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Red Split Lentils with Cabbage Review

4.5 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 166

A very good, nice, mellow combination of lentils, onions, tomatoes, and cabbage. I think all the spices--garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, green chilies--contributed to the flavor. I especially liked the crunch of the onions. Although I usually don't like dals, especially stewy ones, I definitely liked this dish. And, for those like me who prefer less soupy dishes, rest assured that the leftovers are less liquidy. (In fact, despite the stewy nature of the freshly made dish, I'd still give it 4.5 stars on taste alone.)

Some notes on the ingredients:
  • I estimated the amount of cabbage to use. The recipe calls for 225 grams. The large head I bought weighed 1200 grams. I used a fraction of it, probably 300-400 grams.
  • I cut the oil in half to apparently no ill effect.
  • The recipe suggests using one to two green chilies. I used two, but removed most of the seeds to tone them down.
  • I used two small tomatoes, not one medium tomato.
  • I used a quarter of a teaspoon of ground ginger instead of half a teaspoon freshly grated ginger.
Regarding the preparation, the recipe says to "stir and fry the cabbage mixture for about 10 minutes until it begins to brown and turn slightly crisp." The mixture didn't turn brown or crisp (nor would I expect cabbage to brown and crisp unless cooked and burnt at very high heat--I'd normally expect the cabbage to soften).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cabbage with Peas (Bund gobi aur matar) Review

4 stars (on a 5 star scale)
p. 140

Simple, easy to make, fast, and fairly good, or what I would imagine would be fairly good if it weren't slightly too spicy. I used one jalapeno chile, seeds and all. Next time, I should use less.

I only used 2/3rds of a cabbage--the rest of the cabbage wouldn't fit in my large frying pan. The cabbage shrunk substantially as it cooked.

Cutting cabbage into long strips was easy: simply slice it in one direction like an onion, then the layers peel apart easily into strips.

I don't understand why the recipe calls for a large quantity of oil. I used much less with no difficulty.