Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 67, Tuesday October 18, 2005


diary of a food obsessed person

Dearest diary,

It is that time of the year again. Ramzan! Don't get me wrong diary, if I sound like…like… as if I am sort of scared of what is to come for the next thirty days, but yes in a way I am feeling kinda apprehensive. I am actually well known for my lack of stoicism. Believe you me diary, the month of Ramzan is most sacrosanct to me, but somehow it takes a while for me to reconcile to the fact that, I will not be able to have my morning cuppa as soon as I open my eyes.
So since I was going through all this stress since shabe-barat, I thought I would take matters into my own hands and put myself out of this self inflicted misery. So, I directly put my proposal to the highest power up there with such ferocity that I knew it would discombobulate my master enough to give me a solution, pronto. I armed myself the day before Ramzan with all the accessories needed (Eg: taravi, tahajjad, reading the Quran) and I laid down my feelings, spoke, opened my heart, and basically demanded such will power, so that fasting would seem like a breeze.
And mind you, not only should fasting be a breeze, my weight should also take a turn like those deciduous trees in my backyard.
So, as the first day of Ramzan dawned, and miracles of miracles, I was feeling… well… wonderful. My husband says its mind control. I say, it is a miracle. Well, whatever works.
Diary, I can be a goody two shoes and pretend I look forward to fasting, maybe I can fool the world, but can I fool…the one who knows all??
Fasting is tough for me, but I do it. I do not like the gnawing feeling at the pit of my stomach, but I still do it. My throat gets really parched, but I will always do it as long as I'm physically able to. So hence, these are the reasons why I had my conference with…you know who. And like always, I have been rewarded. I am feeling great. Mind control, mind-block, miracles…whatever it is, I am feeling good.
So now, I am thinking, if this mind controllic miracle can work during Ramzan, why doesn't it work during normal times??
I guess after Ramzan I need to have another conference with, you-know-who.
Today a few recipes, which I normally make for iftar.
By the way, I am rather fond of my own cooking. If any recipe turns out to my liking, you should see me cluck-clucking like a turkey. Sorry diary, if the recipes are not iftarish. But what to do? My iftars, are, I guess as quirky as me.

Sour Chickpea curry
500gm chopped onions
juice of 3 lemons
3 green chillies finely chopped
salt to taste
2cm square fresh ginger peeled and grated 2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp oil
400gm tomatoes
400 gm chickpeas
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 level tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric
Method: (1) Mix a quarter of the onion with the lemon juice and green chillies, together with salt. Grate in the peeled ginger. Mix well. Set aside.
(2) Heat oil over medium heat and add remaining onion. Cook for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. While onion is cooking, roughly chop the tomatoes and rinse the chickpeas.
(3) When the onion is cooked, add the spices, stirring all the time. As soon as the coriander seeds starts to pop, tip in the tomatoes, stir well to make sure the tomatoes have fully broken down; as soon as they start to form a thick paste, add the chickpeas.
Turn the heat down low, add some water (couple of tablespoons), cover and leave to cook for 20 minutes or so. Stir the mixture at least once to make sure the chickpeas don't stick; add a little more water if necessary, but do remember this is a dry curry.
(4) Once the curry is cooked, remove from the heat and add the mixture of chopped onions, lemon juice and chilli. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes this dish is at its best when it is lukewarm.

Curried potatoes
1 kg of potatoes
2 small green chillies roughly chopped
3 cm fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
salt to taste
1 heaped tbsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp oil
2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
Method: Peel the potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks. Mix together the chillies, ginger, a tbsp of water and a pinch of salt and blend them in a grinder to form a paste.
Put the potatoes in a non-stick pan and add the paste, together with just enough water to barely cover the potatoes. Bring to boil for 10 minutes or so, until almost all the water is absorbed and the potatoes are tender. Watch carefully the potatoes so it should not totally dry up or collapse.
When the potatoes are ready, take them off the heat and put in a bowl. Heat the oil in another non-stick frying pan, when hot add the mustard seeds and turmeric. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, pour the seed and oil mixture over the potatoes and turn well to coat with the mixture. Add the finely chopped onions and perhaps a few fresh green chillies as garnish. Leave to stand for 30 minutes before serving moderately warm.
The above recipe is a take on the filling for dosas. Ideally, this curry would be served with a fresh coconut-chutney. Alternatively, you can make a green coriander chutney by chopping fresh coriander leaves and mixing them with a little salt and sugar, lime juice and fresh green chillies.

Fresh pineapple masala
1 large fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into bite sized chunks (or canned pineapple chunks)
red chilli powder to taste
black salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes
Mix the chunks of pineapple with red chilli powder and black pepper and salt and the juice of one of the limes. Leave to stand for an hour before serving with the remaining lime to squeeze over.

Chilli prawn toasts
4 slices of bread
8 ounces of peeled cooked prawns
2 tbsp of sweet chilli sauce
2 spring onions finely chopped
2 tbsp of mayonnaise
2 ounces of coriander leaves
(1) Lightly toast the slices of bread and leave to cool. Using a (2 inch) round cutter, cut out 4 rounds from each piece of toast. It can be 4 squares also if round cutter not handy.
(2) In a bowl mix the prawns with the mayonnaise, chilli sauce and half the chopped off spring onions.
(3) Place a few coriander leaves on each round of toast and top with the chilli prawns. Garnish with the rest of the chopped spring onion and some freshly ground black pepper.

Carrot and Almond Cake
5 eggs separated

finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1½ cups icing sugar
5-6 medium size carrots peeled & grated
1½ cups ground almonds
1 cup sifted flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan.
Place the egg yolks, lemon zest & sugar in a bowl. Beat with electric beater for 5 minutes till mixture is thick and pale.
Mix the grated carrot, ground almonds , flour and baking powder until evenly combined.
In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Using a large metal spoon, mix little of the whisked egg whites into the carrot mixture, then fold in the rest.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 1¼ hours or till cake is done. Let cake cool before turning it out on to the serving plate.
Decorate with icing sugar and marzipan carrots.

Double Chocolate Cookies
½ cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1¼ cups of flour
½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup porridge oats
½ cup plain milk chocole chopped
½ cup white chocolate chopped.
(1) Pre-heat oven to gas 5./190ºC/375ºF . Cream butter with sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and essence & beat well.
(2) Sift the flour over the mixture and fold in lightly with a metal spoon. Add oats and the chopped milk and white chocolates. Mix evenly.
(3) Place small spoonfuls of the mixture in 18-20 rocky heaps on the lightly greased baking sheets, leaving space for spreading.
(4) Bake for 15-20 minutes, until beginning to turn pale golden. Cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to plates to cool.

Make 1 lb
2¼ cups ground almonds
1 cup icing sugar sifted ½ cup superfine sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 mdm egg beaten
Put ground almonds, 1½ cup of sugars into a bowl & mix together.
Add the lemon juice & enough beaten egg to mix to a soft but firm dough. Gather together to form a ball.
Knead the marzipan on a work surface lightly dusted with sifted icing sugar till smooth.
To make the marzipan carrots, knead a little orange food colouring into 4 ounce marzipan until evenly blended. Mold into carrot shapes and press horizontal lines along each carrot with a knife blade. Position the marzipan carrots on the cake, to decorate.



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