Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Potato Saung (Batate Saung/ Batate Song)

Potato Saung is a popular Konkani dish and has a great spicy kick to it. Yes, that's the actual name of a dish. But certainly a song of a different kind. The nomenclature of the dish never fails to amuse me.

Growing up, we had 5-6 Konkani families as friends and all of us loved to head out on Sundays for family picnics. Together, we explored all the lakes, beaches, temples, creeks, mountains, hills and brooks you could think of. That also explains my love for nature clad, scenic places especially the silent, calming solitude found on a seashore. The best part is since the decision of Picnic was always last minute, the food was prepared either the previous day or early morning on Sunday. Ma was responsible for one dish - Potato Saung which was typically paired with Shevai - Konkani Rice Noodles, served with a splash of coconut oil. Soon, she became an expert and I've never tasted a better one. The plain taste of Shevai goes well with the spicy fiery hot flavor of Potato Saung. The secret of a great tasting Potato Saung is in the usage of Coconut oil.

I like to pair Potato Song with Chapati/ Roti/ Paratha. The base of the Song Masala can be used to make other varieties like Chinese Potato Saung (Kooka Song), Mushroom Saung, etc. Beware, this dish has a fiery edge to it and is certainly not meant for the faint hearted. A day old Saung tastes even better.

~ Potato Saung ~
Preparation time: 30 minutes (includes pressure cooking for Potatoes)
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Potatoes (peeled, boiled and cubed) - 4 cups
Onions (peeled and quartered) - 2 cups
Coconut oil

For Saung/ Song Masala -
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety [6] + Harekala [2] variety) - 8
Coriander seeds -  1 tbsp.
Chana Dal (optional) - 1 tsp.
Grated Coconut - 2 tbsp.
Tamarind - 1 tsp.

Boil Potatoes in the pressure cooker and peel, cube them and set aside. In a frying pan, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil and roast Red chillies along with Coriander seeds and Chana Dal. Dry roast for couple of minutes and allow to cool. Grind to a paste with little water, tamarind and coconut. 
In a deep bottomed dish, heat coconut oil and fry onions till they are translucent and lightly brown. Once the onions are cooked and browned, add the boiled potatoes and the ground masala, adjust salt as per taste, add water for more gravy and cook on medium flame for few minutes. Let it simmer for 5-8 minutes till the raw aroma goes off. Once cooked completely, turn off the flame and serve hot. This dish goes well with Roti or Rice-Dalithoi. 

Note - Coconut is added for consistency alone. Do not add a lot of it. Brown the onions lightly, this is a crucial step to get the right taste for the dish.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raw Green Plantain Side Dish (Randayi Kele Talasaani)

Talasaani is a popular Konkani style of making side dish by searing vegetables. The method is just like Batate Talasaani/ Batate Bhajjunu Upkari but tasty nevertheless. On a rare day, I had two Raw Green Plantains (Randayi Kele in Konkani) which needed my attention. I made Randayi Kele Talasaani, the taste was delicious. This can also be a good substitute if you like deep fried/ shallow fried version of a vegetable. This preparation takes less oil, you could roast and add more oil to make it more tasty.

If you further conscious, use squirts of Pam Cooking spray instead of adding oil with a spoon. In last few years, my parents have made lot of changes to their diet and I have begun right away. Replacing regular flour with whole, adding salad/ fibre component to diet, eating fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible instead of binge eating, portion control, checking on meat consumption, lots of water intake and including some form of exercise in your daily routine and last but not the least positive thinking rewards lot of benefits. Believe me, in the long run it does make a difference to your overall health and well being. I like to pair this dish with Dalithoi and cooked rice. 

~ Randayi Kele Talasaani ~
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Raw Green Plantain (cut into 1/4" strips) - 2 cups
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp.
Coconut Oil

For Seasoning -
Red Chillies (Byadgi) - 2
Garlic Jumbo pods (crushed lightly) - 2

Wash and rinse the raw green plantain and peel off the skin (just one layer). Cut them into thin strips of 1" size and keep aside. In a frying pan, heat at least 3 tbsp. of oil and season with crushed garlic. Once garlic turns light brown, add the red chillies split into two. Lower the flame and add the plantain strips, add turmeric and red chilli powder. Increase the flame to medium now and roast the vegetable. Add little oil if the vegetables are going dry. Sprinkle water couple of times, the vegetables cook quickly (I sprinkled two times with a gap of 5 minutes). Toward the end once the vegetable is cooked, add little oil and roast well. Turn off flame. Serve with warm cooked rice and Dalithoi.

Note - Chop the vegetables into 1/4" narrow strips, so that they cook faster and evenly. For best results, use Coconut oil.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Peach Cobbler with Whipped Vanilla Cream

I like the sound of few words, for instance - Peaches. 

Weekend groceries got a pound and more of Peaches home. Soon after I bought them, I realized that they would turn gooey ripe soon. Fruits of haphazard groceries, sigh! I wanted to make Poached Peaches paired with ice-cream. I also found a bag of old fashioned Oats which needed to be used. Peach Cobbler was my answer.

Apple Pie was my first trial on American classics and I was pleased. I like Peach Cobbler because the dish requires less labor unlike Apple Pie which wipes me out completely. The other reason is the history behind Peach Cobbler which is quite fascinating. The dish gets its name from the cobbled streets which is one of my favorite texture to walk upon. If you have not walked on cobbled streets, I am telling you it's a different feeling. After baking, the crust of a Cobbler takes the shape of a cobbled street, a bit wobbly and lumpy to form a brilliant design that looks like piece of art. My Cobbler crust looked like earthquake struck cobbled street, but the taste was fab. In hindsight, I think the brown sugar rendered to the crust looking brown and a bit cracked up. I found several recipes online and finally settled on the one below.

While serving, a Cobbler form is more free style so it can be just picked with a ladle and dropped into a dessert bowl like Lasagna (well almost). Cobbler is one dish where the fruit goes in baking dish first and then the crust follows suit. My crust is very light and not very cake like. Best part, you can make a cobbler out of any favorite fruit that bakes well. Peaches, Green Apples are some I've tried so far with satisfactory results. I substituted white sugar with brown sugar for smoky, brown texture and rustic taste. I also added Oats for texture and in hindsight was a brilliant decision because the Cobbler ended up having coarse but soft pudding like texture. I made a small batch, you could double it for a large crowd.

~ Peach Cobbler with Whipped Vanilla Cream ~
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings

For Dressing Peaches -
Peaches (peeled, pitted and sliced) - 4
White Sugar  - 1/4 cup
Cinnamon - 1/3 tsp.
Lime juice - 1 tsp.
All Purpose Flour (Alternately, Cornstarch is a better option) - 1 tbsp.

For Cobbler crust -
Old fashioned Oats (powdered) - 1/4 cup
All Purpose Flour - 1/4 cup
Brown Sugar - 1/4 cup 
Baking powder - 1 tsp. 
Unsalted Butter (cold stick, cubed and added to mixture) - 4 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp.

Vanilla Cream -
Cream - 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
Sugar - 4 tsp.

For Garnish - 
Brown Sugar (to be sprinkled before baking) - 1 tbsp.
Contraption needed - 
8" Baking dish
Pastry Blender (optional)

1. Dressing the Peaches - Rinse and pat dry the Peaches. Peel with a vegetable peeler and remove the pit. Slice into wedges. In a mixing bowl add the sliced Peaches, white sugar, cinnamon and lime juice. Give a good toss. Leave aside for 5 minutes. Once the juices ooze out, add APF and toss to coat all the slices.
2. Cobbler Crust - In another mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients first. Once done, add the cubed cold butter and blend the mixture to form a crumbly consistency. Use a pastry blender or your finger tips just the way I did.
3. Whipped Vanilla Cream - In a small mixing bowl, whisk cream with sugar and vanilla essence for at least 10 minutes till you get stiff peaks. It takes time but hand whisker also gives the same result. Use a stand mixer if you have one and whisk till you get stiff peaks. 
4. Assembly - Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a 8" metal cake dish, add the dressed Peaches to form an even layer. Add little water to the Cobbler crust mix to form a gooey paste. Spoon each dollop at a time to form a cob like structure over the Peaches. Finally, sprinkle Brown sugar over it and cover with a foil. Bake for 20 minutes with the foil covered and for 10 minutes toward the end without foil for crust formation. Allow to cool. Serve warm in a dessert bowl with whipped vanilla cream dunked on top. The crust would appear like cobbled streets, uneven and lumpy. Add assorted nuts and dry fruits of choice for accent (I used dried Cranberries). Refrigerate and reheat the next day before use.

Note: If you use brown sugar, your crust will be brown to dark brown. Do not use ripe Peaches, it will spoil the dish. Use the ones which are non-ripe and firm in texture. For dressing Peaches, I used APF since I did not have Cornstarch. If you have Cornstarch, use it instead of APF to thicken the sauce.