Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cena indiana - ovvero terza cena italiano/spagnola

Our last Spanish-Italian dinner had an Indian theme at it was hosted at Luisa's and Jorge's house. There was a lot of food, and I have a sample of everything on my plate:
From the top: spicy shrimp, samosas, aromatic rice, rice with lentils, fish kofta, naan bread and pakora (in the center).
The shrimp and the rice with lentils were made by Luisa, the samosas by Crissy, the pakora by Mariana, and the aromatic rice, the fish and the bread by me. The food was very good. There were also desserts.. I can give real Indian names and recipes of the dishes that I made below. Btw, I took all the recipes from this wonderful cook book that my Aunt Carla gave me some time ago. It's called 'Cooking glass Indian', from the 'Women's weekly cookbooks', and it's really nice. Any recipe I tried from that book turned out wonderful! Grazie mille, zia :)

Fish kofta
Boil some water, add salt and throw pieces of white fish fillets in it (1 1/3 lb=700 g), until cooked. Strain fish and reserve 2 cups of broth. Blend fish with 1 onion (cut into pieces), 2 spicy peppers (red in the recipe, I used green ones), and 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (I used ginger instead). Shape the mixture into elongated cilinders:
Heat 1/2 tbsp butter (ghee in the original recipe) in a non-sticking pan, and grill the fish kofta until browned on each side.
Heat 1/2 tbsp butter (ghee) in a pan, add one minced onion, 2 cloves of garlic, minced, 2 tsps ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground turmeric, 2 sticks of cinnamon and sautee for a few minutes. Add 3 tomatoes (I used a big can of diced tomatoes), cook until tomatoes are soft, add the fish liquid, and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens. Add fish kofta gently and let them adsorb the liquid for about 5 min. Serve sprinkling with fresh coriander leaves.
It's really really good. It's a bit laborious to prepare, though, I must say: it's hard to grill the kofta without breaking them.

Parsee rice
This is the aromatic rice I made. It's extremely easy to make and the taste is wonderful, really indian. So, to make it, heat 1 tbsp butter (ghee) in a pan, stir in 2 small onions (minced), 3 cloves of garlic (crushed), 3 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsps black mustard seeds, 4 cardamom pods, 2 bay leaves (I didn't have these so I didn't add them), 1/2 cup (75 g) shelled pistachios. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups (300 g) basmati rice, previously washed and drained. Stir for a few minutes and add 2 3/4 cups (680 ml) chicken stock. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork and stand for 10 minutes covered before serving.

Naan is one of the best Indian bread. It's originally from the north of India, and it's cooked in a Tandoor oven. In its absence, a grill or a heavy-base pan on a very hot stove can do.
Add 1 tsp dry yeast and 1 tsp sugar to 2/3 cup of warm water. Mix and let stand for 10 min in a warm place. Mix 2 cups (300 g) plain flour and 1 tsp salt in a bowl. Add yeast mixture, 2 tbsps melted butter (ghee), 2 tbsp yogurt. Mix until you have a soft dough. In my case I thought I needed some more flour, so be aware of this. Kneed on a floured surface for at least 5 minutes, until the dough is elastic. Let stand in warm place, in a lightly greased container for 1 1/2 hour or at least dough doubled its volume (1 hour for me). Then, knead dough for another 5 minutes and divide into 6 balls. Flatten with a rolling pin until you obtain round 20 cm (~8 inch) Naan.
The best way to cook this would be to have a small grill that you can place directly on your stoves, so it gets really hot. I looked for it but couldn't find it. So, I lightly buttered a non-sticking pan and placed it on High heat on the stove. Once the pan is very hot, place one round disk, grill for about 2 min each side or until puffed and browned. Sprinkle with onion seed (I didn't do this) and grill for further 30 sec.Rebutter the pan in between each Naan. Keep Naan warm before serving it. It's really delicious (and Crissy just told me that Naan bought at the grocery store costs $9 for 2 disks!!!!).

As I mentioned earlier, we also had desserts! (Yes, we had a lot of food :) )
Luisa made this delicious Mango mousse:
And I made a semolina pudding.

Rava Kesari
Combine 1/2 cup sugar (1 cup in the original recipe! But to our taste, this sweetness was perfect), 1 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp ground cardamom in a pan and heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Heat 4 tbsps butter in a pan and add 1 cup (160 g) semolina. Stir for about 1 min until all semolina is covered with butter. Add water mixture and cook stirring until the mixture thickens and detaches from the borders of the pan. Add 2 tbsps raisins and 2 tbsps slivered almonds. Spread mixture in pre-greased rectangular 19 cm x 29 cm pan, and add whole almonds on top, dividing the dough into diamond shapes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. After this time, the dessert should be firm enough to be cut and divided. Mine wasn't :( - the taste was still good, but it was more like a real pudding. I think I didn't evaporate enough of the water/milk mixture.

During the dinner, we spoke a lot of English!! Shame on us :) - but actually after the dinner Luisa and I spent a long time speaking in Spanish about pretty serious issues. :)
I forgot to take pictures of ourselves at this dinner! I'll do better next time.

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