Thursday, 12 April 2012
Dreamers can never be tamed - are you ready to travel?
Sometimes a will to go somewhere very far, to a distant, exotic and warm place really hits me. I feel a desperate urge to take the first plane to Mumbai or other suitable destination. But then the reality comes..there's no way to travel. So what do I do? I cook.
My way to go on an imaginary trip is to choose a recipe that fits my travelling desires. India has been my favourite for a long time - I find it very intriguing. I love Indian food and Indian spices, I love the colourful way of preparing it. It's made for all our senses. It's amazing how spices can turn very simple ingredients into most luxurious combinations of flavours. I think it's almost impossible to go wrong with Indian food.
I found a great food blog called "Chef In You". It's specialised in vegan and vegetarian recipes and contains a lot of Indian recipes too. I was excited to find so many different versions of this pan bread, which I guess is called "Paratha". It's so lovely...The original recipe that was my inspiration is found here: http://chefinyou.com/2010/07/hara-bhara-paratha/. My version is different of course but with the same basic idea.
When it comes to my travel today it was perfect :) Having an idea or a theme is a wonderfully efficient way to indulge into cooking - time went really fast and I really could feel the atmosphere of the Indian kitchen. Maybe on a street somewhere, with a huge frying pan to bake the breads...Oh dear, someday I wish to experience it for real.
But for all the dreamers, this helps. We must allow some pre-enjoyment for ourselves, while our dreams are waiting to come true. So, I suggest let's travel!
Hara Bara Paratha with a zucchini, leek, cottage cheese and onion filling
For the dough
2 cups freezed spinach
3-4 cups flour ( about 8 dl)
(I mixed hemp flour, spelt flour, rye flour and wholewheat flour -> more vital!)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp natural yogurt or quark (I used quark, turned out great!)
For the filling
5 cm piece of leek
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves
3-4 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 cup cottage cheese
fresh coriander and parsley, a handful or more of both
freshly grounded pepper
spices: coriander, cumin, kurkuma, garam masala, curry, paprika, mint, ginger, just a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg - amounts according to your taste :)
1. To make the dough, boil the freezed spinach until it softens. Pour the water out and put into a blender with the quark or yogurt to make it a smooth mixture. Mix together salt and flour, add the spinach mixture. Knead into a dough, add flour until it's not sticky anymore. Let it rest covered for five minutes.
2. To make the filling grate the zucchini, cut the leek and wash it well (it might have some mudd in between the layers), cut the onion into small pieces, crush the garlic. Sauté onion, garlic and leek in olive oil, add sunflower seeds and fry for a couple of minutes, on a lower heat. Mix together all the ingredients in a big bowl. When you add the spices use them carefully but do not be afraid to use many different spices together, because they aren't hot. Indian food is ought to be spicy. Just taste the mixture until you're satisfied :) But use only half a teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. Flour a table and knead the dough for a while to make it firm.
4. Deal it in two, then deal the halves into five or six pieces. Use a rolling pin to make a round, then put two spoonfuls of the filling in the middle. Gather the sides together into the middle, press them down with your hand put some flour on top and again use the rolling pin to make a round bread.
5. When you've prepared all the breads, heat a pan on quite a high temperature (in my stove the highest is 9 so I used 7 for baking these). Bake the breads in olive oil from both sides. Once the pan is hot it goes quite fast, so be careful not to burn them but to let them get a beautiful brown surface with spots.
6. Serve Parathas hot with some butter or Indian yogurt sauce called Raita.
7. Then eat. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and have a bite - can you feel the warm Indian wind that brings to you the smell of spices, flowers, dust from the road and the dampness of the river flowing somewhere near you...Can you hear the music that is played on the streets, ot the laughter of the children playing? I'm sure you can. ;)