A WAY TO A WOMAN’S HEART….. IS ALSO THROUGH STOMACH!
Do we really need to put a date to celebrate woman’s day. Officially (by whom?) and commercially (by all greeting card companies) 8th March is woman’s day and going by the same feeling March can be woman’s month, but isn’t it better if one could choose a day to make the women in their life feel special and what better way to do that by giving her a break from the kitchen. How exciting would it be for a woman to walk into a feast on the table waiting for her!
The first step would be to decide on the menu. To start, its a great idea to think whom are you cooking the meal for and what do you want to show them with this meal. Following are some recipes which sort of say what you feel for the special women in your life. Here are some basic main course recipes for men who are not regular cooks. These are usual dishes but have a slight twist to arouse curiosity. Toil, Enjoy, and Indulge!!!!
If you are cooking for your Mom:
Mom is a super woman who has been doing everything for you and whose lap takes you away from all the stresses of life. So serving her a dish that shows a lot of effort and thought would be appropriate. A menu that qualifies for this emotion is a main course consisting of Mughali Vegetable Pulao and Raita accompanied with papads, achaars, and a crispy Kachumber salad. It will give your mom two important feelings, one that you really have put an effort since it involves a plenty of cutting and chopping, and secondly a pride that her son has the confidence of venturing into an alien territory.
Mughlai Vegetable Pulao
Basmati Rice: 2 small bowls (300 gms)
Cooking Oil or Ghee: 3 tbsp
Jeera(cumin seeds): 1 tsp, Cinnamon stick: 1 inch, bay leaf: 1-2
Carrots, french beans, capsicum( all cut diagonally or any preferred shape) and peas: 400 gms
Salt to taste
For the Mughlai Masala:
Poppy seeds: 1 tsp
Green cardamom: 5-6
Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
Fennel seeds: 1 tsp
Ginger, Garlic paste: 1 and a half tsp
Green chillies: 2-3
Tomatoes (red and ripe): 2-3 medium
Shallow fried paneer cubed: 100 gms
Fried cashews: a handful
To prepare Mughlai masala, soak poppy seeds, coriander seeds,fennel seeds, cloves, green cardamom in a little water for about 3-4 hours. Remove the water and grind them with the rest of the ingredients to make a paste.
Heat oil or ghee in a wide based pan or pot, add jeera and the cinnamon stick and the bay leaf. Add the cut vegetables and saute till the oil separates. Add salt and the mughlai masala and mix well. Now add rice (which has been washed and soaked for 15 min), and saute it till they start sticking to the bottom. Now add 4 small bowls of water and mix well. Cover the pot and let the first boil come on high flame, then reduce the flame and let it cook for 15-20 min till the rice has fluffed up. Just before serving, garnish the pulao with fried paneer and cashews.
For Raita, take 500 gms of plain yoghurt, add a tablespoon of pineapple flavored yoghurt to it, one tablespoon of mint chutney and salt to taste. Mix it well and garnish it with mint leaves.
For Kachumber salad, chop onions, tomatoes, cucumber, green chillies, coriander leaves. Just before serving add salt, and lemon juice and toss it well.
If you are cooking for your sister:
No bond is as strong as that of siblings! To make your sister’s day special, try and make something that creates a nostalgia and takes her to the eras bygone. Every family has their special dishes or weird dishes or funny concoctions which are unique to that family. If not, then try out a dish which has an element of mischief or naughtiness that is usually related with the growing up years. My take would be a main course consisting of Spaghetti with Napoletana sauce, capsicum flavoured garlic bread with a crunchy salad.
Spaghetti with Napoletana sauce
For Napoletana sauce:
Olive Oil: 3 tbsp
Onion: 1 large chopped
Ripe tomatoes (skinned and roughly chopped): 5-6
Ground black pepper and salt
Unsalted butter: 25 gms
Basil leaves (torn): 15-20
In a heavy pan, heat oil and fry onions for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with 1-2 teaspoons of salt, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add basil and butter and mix well.
Boil spaghetti to a soft yet firm strand. Plate it and douse it with napoletana sauce. Garnish with a basil leaf.
For Garlic bread, use a large serrated knife to make deep cuts in a French baguette, making sure not to cut all the way through. Place softened butter, chopped garlic and
sliced roasted capsicum (easy way to roast a capsicum is on gas flame) in a food processor. Process until a coarse paste is formed. The quantities are according to preference. Spread this buttered mixture evenly into the cuts. Preheat the oven to 200 degree celsius. Wrap the bread in foil and bake for 25 minutes or until the bread is crisp.
For a crunchy salad, take 2 cans of corn(drained), one big white onion thinly sliced, one english cucumber halved lengthwise and sliced. For the dressing, in a blender put juice of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp of virgin olive oil, two jalapenos deseeded and chopped, one tsp of honey. Blend this mixture into an emulsion consistency and add it to the salad. Garnish with salt and pepper and toss well.
If you are cooking for your girlfriend/ wife:
She is the women who has been designated by destiny to be with you in your thick and thin. This is a relationship which is high on passion, sharing and understanding. Make the evening special with a light yet exotic meal and end it up with a walk on the beach or a drink on the balcony while narrating to her all the times that you have enjoyed with her. An exotic meal for the special feeling that you intend to show and a light one so that the rest of the evening is light on the tummy.
Carrot and Almond soup
Carrots (sliced): 1/4 kg
Whole almonds: 1/4 cup
Onion (small sized): 1
Boiled Chickpeas (drained and rinsed): 1/2 can
Canola oil and Unsalted butter: 2 tbsp each
3 cups water
Ground cumin: 1 tsp, ground coriander seeds: 1/4 tsp, ground ginger: 1/4 tsp
Salt and pepper to taste
Plain yogurt: 1/4 cup
Coriander leaves: 1/3 cup
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Heat oil and butter in a large soup pot, roast the almond in this and transfer them to a small plate. Add the carrots, onion, salt, cumin, coriander, ginger, and pepper to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetable are tender and brown. Add the water and chickpeas to the pot. Bring the soup to simmer and cook until the beans are very tender.
Roughly chop the almonds, transfer half of them into the soup and then blend to make a smooth soup base.
Meanwhile stir together the yogurt, coriander and lemon zest in a small bowl.
Stir in the yogurt mixture into the soup.
Garnish each bowl of soup with the remaining chopped almonds.
Moroccan-spiced Roasted vegetables with Couscous
Aubergine: 1 medium sized
Onion: 1 large
Butternut Squash (peeled and deseeded): half
For the moroccan spice mix:
Ground cumin: 2 tsp, ground coriander seeds: 1 tsp
Chille powder, sweet paprika, ground cinnamon: 1/2 tsp each
Ground ginger, ground allspice: 1/4 tsp
Cayenne pepper: 1/8 tsp
a pinch of ground cloves and 1/2 tsp of sugar
Preheat the oven to 190 degree celsius. Chop all the vegetables into bite size chunks and place in a bowl. Add a good lug of olive oil and 2-3 tablespoons of the moroccan spice mix, depending on how spicy you want the vegetables. Toss the vegetables in the oil and spices until they are thoroughly coated. Turn the vegetables out onto a foil-lined roasting tray and place in the centre of the oven. Roast for about 40 minutes.
Put about a 150 gms of couscous in a deep bowl and pour 1 cup of boiling water on it, cover and leave for 5 minutes.
Fluff up the cooked couscous with a fork, serve the roasted vegetables piled on top of couscous. Sprinkle with harissa (fiery north african sauce made from a mixture of red chillies, garlic, coriander, cumin, caraway, mint and olive oil).
Make any day a ‘Woman’s Day’!!!!!