In case you thought Italian food is always difficult to make, it is not. If you thought that pasta has to be heavy and cheesy, it does not. If you thought that you would rather stick to Chinese, then try this Italian dish for a transition towards the West.
Spaghetti aglio olio or spaghetti in olive oil is one of the simplest dishes to rustle up. Helps if you don’t chop your own finger as I did. OK, ‘chop’, is too a strong word but I did shed a lot of blood when I cut my finger while using a cleaver to finely chop chorizo. It took a while before I could find K’s make up removal pads which were the only cotton at home. In the process I learnt that turmeric can help stop the flow of blood. Not before the bedroom floor turned red. And then my friend Ranjit, @qtfan on twitter, patched me up though it was past 11. He offered to come down but I drove to his place feeling like Bachchan in Agneepath or Don, driving with my bloodied palms, for 2 minutes (I love the drama). A tetanus jab followed, I had cut meat before with the same knife and us Bongs are hypochondriacs. Dressed and I was back. He dressed my finger the next day too, marinated with anti-biotic, I attacked the chorizo again. Feeling proud of my cooking scar. Now I can look Bourdain in the eye when I meet him. He had an entire chapter in ‘Kitchen Confidential’ on the violence in kitchens.
|Day 1 after Ranjit patched it|
|Day 3, difficult to type without using a finger|
The chorizo was a set of three fancy sausages that Soma, a junior at college and blog reader brought and sent to me all the way from the US, when she came to Calcutta recently. I couldn’t wait for K to come to open them. The meal took a day to cook with some bloodshed in between but it was all worth it. Some of us might find pastas, especially aglio olios, ‘bland’ for our Indian palates. That’s when strong meats such as chorizos and strong cheeses such as feta, which I used, help. I also used the Mediterranean spices of sumac and lemon powder, which Gia gave me, to flavour the dish. So, as you see, a number of my friends were a part of the making of this dish.
Here’s the recipe for chorizo & feta aglio olio (my version, not authentic Italian Mama approved):
1. Boil spaghetti and keep aside. Start with 100 g if it is for one person
2. Heat 4,5 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. This is the base of the dish. You can even add some extra virgin over it once the dish is ready
3. Add a tablespoon of finely chopped garlic
4. Once the garlic turns yellowish, add a tablespoon of finely chopped tomato
5. Stir. Once the tomatoes go soft, add about 3 tablespoons of chopped chorizo or any strong flavoured meat. Wash off any human blood which could Have smeared on if you were careless while chopping. This is not a fundamental step
6. Once it cooks (1 minute) add the spaghetti, sprinkle salt and gently toss the spaghetti with a ladle so that the sauce (meat and garlic seasoned oil) wraps around the spahghetti
7. Add a few bits of feta or any strong cheese
8. Season with sumac and lemon powder or ideally chilli flakes which is more authentic
9. Photograph and eat.
Simple, right? Was incredibly well flavoured for a dish so delicate.