A very Happy New Year to all the avid readers of my blog .. :)
Here's a vegetarian recipe that I came up with by adding a twist to a standard recipe. Inspiration comes from a few dishes that I have either had at a restaurant or at home. Lets call it sarson-da-saag-vich-Twist :)
So here we go again. We want a rich and umami gravy for this dish, so lets start with deep frying the onions that were cut thin and long. Depending on how health conscious you are, you may choose to use more or less oil and even the type of oil. I use sunflower oil at home which has low saturated fat (the one that's difficult to digest). Well if you are reading blogs, you can read the rest of its benefits in Wikipedia :)
Once you get a nice golden brown color, strain the onions of any excess oil using a paper towel, parchment paper, a dried muslin cloth .. and let it cool for about a half hour or so. You can then move on to a vegetable of your choice. I prefer a nice whole cauliflower for this dish. Start by shaving off the leaves and the stem of the flower. Leave a little bit of the stem so you can handle it better. No need to chop it yet. To speed the cooking process, take a plastic grocery bag and dump the flower into the bag, knot the bag handles airtight and throw it into a 1000W microwave for about 3 minutes. This will pre-cook your flower and reduce the amount of time you have to cook it in the oven :) this is a nice little trick I learnt from a friend that you can use at home to boil your potatoes as well. Just cut the potatoes in half and cook it in the same way except you have to do it twice or a little over 6 minutes. There you go, the potato skin just peels off under cold water and you have boiled potatoes !!
Getting back to the recipe here :) While all that's happening, here's what you need to mix up in a small bowl. A tablespoon of sour cream, turmeric powder, ginger-garlic (freshly minced is better else the off-the-shelf paste will work as well), some nice coriander paste (Pathaks has a variety of pastes that you can find in the desi grocery aisle), some salt and red chilly powder to taste and dhaniya-jeera powder. Sab kuchh mil jata hai bhai-behan-log !!
Once you have carefully pulled out the flower from its bag, place it on an oven tray and apply the above marinade to it. Don't be nice and gentle, make sure it is completely soaked in the marinade. Then this plate with the flower of course goes into a pre-heated oven for about a half hour to 45 min (until it starts to get a nice Tandoori color to it). Don't let it burn ..
Where is the sarson and saag, one might wonder .. well they have a role to play and here is where they come in. "Delenda Carthago as the great Cato said .. " .. [Asterix and the Laurel Wreath] .. random musings .. Anyways .. Trim off the excess off of fresh Sarson (mustard) and Palak (spinach) leaves. Wash them well and give them a rather coarse chop. You should have had a pot of nice boiling water by now :) Put all of the leaves in the pot and let them cook. For lack of better words, kachhapan nikalna hai .. If you feel they have cooked enough drain the leaves and set them aside next to the onions and allow them to cool down as well. Chop a few green chillies and one or two dried red chillies. If you are in a hurry and cant wait for things to cool down, add a couple of ice cubes to the mixer/blender first and then add the leaves, onions, chillies and give it a nice spin. As it blends into a puree you will see the nice rich color of the green gravy with bits of the red chilly and the brown onions .. You can add appropriate amount of water to get the consistency you desire for the thickness of your gravy.
By now your flower would have cooked to a golden brown. Place it on your cutting board and try poking it with a sword. i.e. a fork :) It should feel just the right density .. not too swishy and not too crisp. Chop it up into cube sized pieces, you don't have to be fancy here. Vertical and horizontal strokes of your knife should do the trick.
In another wok/pot/vessel .. heat up a table/tea spoon of ghee/butter. And once it heats up throw in some whole jeera (cumin) seeds. Pour in the gravy from the blender and let it simmer for a bit. Add salt to taste. You can also add a tea spoon of garam masala powder if you'd like. Then add the chopped flower pieces to the gravy and mix all of it well. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and let it all cook together for maybe 10 minutes. A stir once or twice will ensure its not burning. If the gravy is still too thick for your taste, you can add some water when its simmering.
To make it look more appetizing, you may add a spoon of cream on top.
Its almost lunch time here and after all this I sure am starving. So do write back if you liked my recipe and the sort of Twists you added to make your own improvisations ..