God Bless you world… Howz the Sunday going?? Out here, it looks like the moodie is all set for a long snooze after the week-long raving and ranting on heavy stuff. Can take a toll I tell you. PHEW!!!! So out pops the foodie, game for some gourmet gyan with a twist. If it’s got to be UNherd, there’s always a chemical locha!!!
WARNING: Do not proceed if you are slave to precise proportions & exact ingredients, allergic to improvisations and basically stick to set recipes!!!!! This is so not for you…. I had to raise a stickler alert…. read at your own risk!!!
For those who swear by innovation, creativity and rustic improvisations, the table’s full of delicious and healthy food for thought. I’d like to begin with the basic red pasta sauce. My pasta sauce, totally dedicated to my little boy’s friends… Tomster, Danny, Matty, Youssef & the rest …. Miss yall loads… all growing boys that filled my home with their jolly banter and slurped the pasta (whole wheat mind you) with such gusto… it was the greatest joy to cook for them!! (we’ve moved on to a different country recently… in step with the nomadic expat culture!!!)
Well, it all began when I realized my son looooves pasta in red sauce and I decided to give it a try at home. Typically I read up recipes…watched utube videos…scanned food sites…hooked on to cookery shows… & voila I was ready. My take on the sauce went thus: boil ripe red tomatoes for a few minutes and whizz them into a thick puree (mine’s always crude, never super smooth, with juicy bits of tomato flesh). Next: simply put that puree in a thick-bottomed pan and add – butter, salt, sugar, red chilli flakes, crushed black pepper, chopped coriander – all to taste… and let the sauce cook till it thickens a bit. Now crush a few flakes of garlic in the mortar and add to the boiling mix. As the delicious aroma of golden butter, garlic and tomatoes wafts in the air – you just know when its time to switch the gas off. But a minute before you do that: add a generous tsp or two of mixed dried herbs — oregano, cilantro, basil, thyme, marjoram, parsley (my absolute favourite is a very local garlic herb seasoning, that gives an added kick with the paprika, onion and garlic powder in it). Once the gas if off… pour thick cream into the sauce, how much totally depends on the consistency and flavor you like.
For the final dish: I pour this sauce onto the freshly prepared al dante durum wheat penne rolled in extra virgin olive oil and some herb seasoning….. and top it with my favourite brand of grated mature cheddar and parmesan shavings… served piping hot as the cheese melts….. mouth watering fare!!! (My portion is always garnished with more chilli flakes a la Queen & the kids sometimes with heaps of crisp bacon flakes)
Now comes twist #1: over a period of time, keeping in mind the constraints of time and the absolute need to “cook healthy” I have added – carrots, broccoli stems, red pumpkin cubes and red bell pepper pieces to my sauce at the very first boiling stage. The consistency is beautiful…. tastes YUMMY….is nutritious… & a complete food for growing kids. Twist #2: I often pair the beautiful sauce with grilled chicken, and serve it with crispy parathas made out of a mix of whole wheat, ragi and oats flour.
If you don’t believe me… try it yourself… little by little… I deliberately NEVER measure ingredients going completely by instinct and guided fabulously by the sensual GPS…. and like Om Puri in The Hundred Foot Journey do not hesitate to go liberal with the magnificent array of spices that the world has to offer ….. mixing…matching… creating my own delectable aromas… coz food prepared with love is bound to be good…. ALWAYS….
To all those ready to break boundaries… and explore the limitless gastronomic possibilities….welcome to a wonderful journey and bon appetite …