Monday, October 31, 2011
At home, my parents never forced us to eat anything if we refused to. Thus, the three of us grew up avoiding many vegetables, fruits and food as such without much ado. There were some that one of us might hate to eat while the rest of us were fond of. So such dishes were cooked and enjoyed by the ones who liked it; one's loss was someone's gain.
Even if my mother would have tried to force anything upon us, we stood our grounds and looked for our grandparents to support us. That is possibly the reason why my younger sister has lot many on the 'no, never to try' list! I had spent a few years with an uncle and his wife had seen to that I eat everything that was cooked and was acceptable for a child.
However, growing up in rural India in the 70s and 80s meant that we were not aware of the existence of many vegetables that are so easily available today. For instance, I came across broccoli and asparagus sometime in my late twenties. Even some of the regular vegetables were kept aside on specific days in our home and some vegetables had a 'no entry' limit.
I was introduced to mushrooms as fungi, for the wild mushrooms grew like everywhere in our back yard once the rains came down. And their health benefits were unheard of.
Then on my husband's first appointment with a shipping agency, he moved to Khor Fakkan in UAE. There the containers that carried food items were strictly subject to checking by the Ministry of Health.
As a representative of the line, my husband's job included that he facilitated such inspections.
The official and a dietician will randomly open some of the packs and take away samples for inspection before certifying them fit for consumption and clearing the consignment. Those randomly opened cartons were distributed to the dock workers by the consignee. Sometimes they might leave a pack or two with the line's office also. That way we have tasted some very good quality biscuits to some rancid crisps.
On one such occasion he was handed two tins of mushrooms. I had no clue as to how to cook them. Our neighbour, a doctor, suggested that they were acquired taste and since we were not seafood eaters, we might not like the taste. She offered to cook the same at her place and share the dish with us. Possibly, the apprehension stemmed from the mention of seafood and I did not truly like the taste.
Many years later, my sister cooked mushrooms in pulav and gravy and fed my daughter. She seemed to like them then. Thus, mushrooms gained their entry into my kitchen, but only for my daughter to eat. My husband would pick the tiny mushrooms out from his pizza wedges and I might swallow them without biting into those pieces.
I hope you have guessed where all this is leading to. Yes, our freespirit blogger pal Anupama suggested a theme for this month. She wanted us to make something that we have hated (still hate) and would avoid given the opportunity. Or, she said, if you were one of those who never refused something, try some ingredient that you have never used so far.
I am one who has more on the likes list than the counterpart. As a youngster, I avoided elephant yam, I never had even a sip of coffee until I went to work, even worse, as a youngster I would not drink anything if milk has been added to it in my presence. That was so long ago and a far away time. Today, I eat, drink, consume many things without sniffing at it.
Thinking hard and pondering on the theme, I had to decide on mushrooms only, for I had to give myself and my husband a chance to try them. I purchased a small can of sliced button mushrooms, called my sister to share the recipe, cooked it at home, conveniently on a day when I had a friend for lunch.
But, to be honest, I think I might include these once in a way for they seem to carry a 'HEALTH" label all over them.
2 cups Basmati rice (brown rice or any long grain rice)
150 grams sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup coconut milk
1&1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1' piece cinnamon
5 units cloves
2 pieces maratta moggu
2 petals of star anise
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon green chilli paste
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon crushed dry mint leaves
1 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves
2 medium onions
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon ginger juliennes saute'd in olive oil
1 small piece bay leaf
Few cashew nuts (fried) (optional)
Wash the basmati rice clean and spread on a cloth to drain excess moisture.
Slice half of one onion finely. The rest, chop coarsely as you may be grinding them.
Grind the coarsely chopped onions, dry mint and fenugreek leaves along with the garam masala powder to a fine paste.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in the pressure cooker, add the drained rice and saute' for a few minutes.
Transfer the rice to another bowl and add a cup and a half of water to the same. Keep aside for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes, cool and puree them.
Heat again 1/2 teaspoon oil and fry the onion slices until soft and transparent. Keep aside.
Heat the rest of the oil in the pressure cooker. Add the cinnamon, cloves, maratta moggu and star anise. Then add the ginger paste and then the green chilli paste. In a few seconds add the fine ground onion paste and then the garlic paste. Cook them in the oil on a very low flame until the raw taste subsides.
Drop the mushrooms in and add the salt. Toss until the mushrooms acquire a coat of the masala and then add the coconut milk.
While on a medium flame allow the coconut milk to warm and then add the rice along with the water and the tomato puree. Add another cup of water to the ingredients that are cooking. If the rice has been aged, you may require some more water.
Bring the above ingredients to a boil and place the lid of the pressure cooker on.
Soon as it steams, place the cooker weight and when the first whistle comes on, reduce the flame to the lowest and allow an extra minute to cook.
Switch the stove off and allow the pressure inside to subside.
Open the lid and give the cooked pulav a toss to fluff the same.
Transfer to a serving dish and add the saute'd onion slices and the ginger juliennes.
Serve hot with a curry of choice. I served mine with Lauki Koftas stewed in a gravy of ground almonds, cashews and onions.
Please stop by other Freespirit bloggers to check what ingredients were not their fancies, yet they wanted to try their hands on.
I am pleased to send this to Kavi's Healthy Lunch event, which is part of Smita's Healthy Cooking Challenge.