The recipe for a Retro Creamy Cheesy Parsi Penne Pasta along with some home-style Kolkata chilli chicken & fried rice. Covid19 Lockdown Journal 41
|Yesterday's retro pasta lunch. My friend Poli had sent us these plates from New Jersey with K when they met. Knowing our love for pasta, she had bought and kept these plates for us a while back.|
Kainaz was the original pasta lover in our relationship.
We dated for a year before we got married and would have dinner together outside every night during that period. The discussion on where to go for dinner would follow a consistent pattern.
She would suggest a 'continental place'. Wanting to have pasta, salad or a grill. You can ascribe this to her Parsi genes.
I would plump for Chinese. The Kolkatan at heart that I was, even though I had moved into Mumbai by then and had fallen in love with my new home rather quickly.
Being the more food obsessed one in the relationship, I would win the argument more often than not and we would go to Leopold's in Colaba for a Chinese dinner! Beef chilli fry, prawn fried rice and a brownie was our order. Sahiban at Bandra close to where we live now was our option.
When she won, we went to the Parsi owned Cafe Churchill at Colaba for peach iced tea, chicken sausage in firecracker sauce, garlic bread (my choice), penne in prawn Newberg sauce and gooey chocolate cake (heated as per her specifications).
Then we got married. A year of dating and eating out left us too broke to think of going to restaurants anymore and thus began our chapter of cooking at home.
With time K learnt to love Chinese food, especially once I perfected my noodles game and then introduced her to the chilli chicken my mother used to make me when I was a kid too.
Chilli chicken recipe:Heat vegetable oil. Then add chopped garlic. Add soya and chilli sauces next and some sugar or honey. Then fresh green chillies and cubed onion bulbs. Cut pieces of chicken goes in next. Leg piece is what we love. On the bone. My mother would boil the chicken first. I put it in raw. Then add salt and pepper and toss till cooked.
No excess salt, no MSG, no corn flour, no food colour. Not your usual restaurant stuff. As home styled as it gets.
|Veg fried rice|
I made veg fried rice for our lunch yesterday along with chilli chicken Here's how.
Veg fried rice recipeHeat vegetable oil in a pan. Add finely chopped ginger. Then sauces. Soya. Chilli. Or chilli paste. Add finely chopped vegetables and stir. Yesterday I added red and green capsicum, spring onions, mushrooms. Carrots and cabbage go well too. Add boiled rice. Even better if its from the fridge rather than fresh. Salt, pepper. Stir till cooked. Add lime juice or vinegar at the end.
I made large quantities of both dishes. Some to give to friends who had fed us lovingly during the lockdown.
My little way of saying thanks. Cooking this for my new friends reminded me of how my mom had made chilli chicken, fried rice and Hakka noodles for some of my school friends whom I had invited home for my 16th birthday. Our 10th board exams were coming up then and this was the last year we would be together. They loved the feast.
I had to step out once before I cooked this meal. We were out of green chillies. Can't make chilli chicken without chillies can we? Luckily there was a vegetable cart down the road.
I made pasta and chorchori yesterday. The Bengali mixed vegetables dish which became the star of our kitchen during the second half of the lockdown. Most of my recent chorchoris feature kumro or pumpkin. A vegetable I had rarely used before the lockdown. We both love this now.
Here's the recipe. A surprise bonus for you. This is for all you who DM me saying 'recipe please.'
Chorchori recipe:Heat mustard or vegetable oil. Add a fresh green and a dried red chilli, 1 bay leaf, panch phoron (5 spice mix). Then the cubed pumpkins as this takes more time to cook. Then the rest. I added brinjal and spring onions this time. Add salt and a little bit of turmeric, red chilli, cumin and coriander powders. Stir. Add a few tablespoons of water. Let it slow cook till the water dries up. Consider drizzling some mustard oil of Jharna ghee at the finish.
|Baby Loaf sit by me while I edit this story|
Now coming to the pasta, I should point out that it was K who had taught me how to make pasta back in the day. The creamy cheesy one that all Parsis love. 'Alfredo.'
I fell in love with it too. I preferred the one she and later I made, over what we got in restaurants locally.
Then I travelled the world. Trying Italian food in Melbourne, Sydney, London, Zermatt, Montreaux, Hong Kong and then Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. That opened my eyes to the world of pastas beyond what we got in Mumbai. I came back from the trips and experimented with them in the kitchen a lot and we went down many happy pasta roads in the process. K loves this variety in our pasta repertoire. We rarely make the original cheesy creamy Parsi pasta now.
I decided to make pasta for K yesterday and to go back to the basics while doing so in the spirit of the lockdown.
So none of the truffle oil, mature cheddar, Provencal salt, Aleppy peppers, balsamic vinegar, imported wholewheat spaghetti or extra virgin olive oil that we have in the pantry and use in our pastas now.
I used only what we did back in the day. Local processed cheese and butter. Britannia, Amul. Local penne. Bluebird. K loves penne over anything else while I like spaghetti (more noodles like). Local sausages. Spicy chicken ones from Zorabian chicken in this case. Full fat milk. Even the green chillies that K loved to add to pasta and which I loved too.
The only problem was that we were out of corn flour which she had taught me to thicken the sauce with. I decided to use wholewheat flour instead and took a quick glance at the internet for the recipe of an Alfredo sauce and used that as a base. It was a bit of a gamble. Here's what I did.
Retro Creamy Cheesy Parsi pastaI heated a tablespoon of Amul butter. Added a teaspoon of aata (wholewheat flour) next. Patted the two together gently with a ladle and then added 1/2 a teaspoon of finely chopped garlic.
Then chopped sausages, capsicum (we had red though in the early days of our marriage that was a luxury and we used to use green) and onions.
Then 200 ml of Nestle milk from a tetrapack. I stirred it gently. The recipe called for cream. Since I didn't have it, I squirted in a bit of sriracha mayonnaise.
I stirred the sauce gently and a miracle happened. The sauce did thicken!
I added the boiled penne. Forgot to keep and add a bit of the water it was boiled in, as I have learnt to do now. I added salt and at the end, for old times sake, pepper and the red chilli flakes and oregano from a pizza box. I chopped 1.5 cubes of Britannia cheese and added that in and a teaspoon more of butter and the green chillies. I then put a lid over the pan and let it cook for 3,4 minutes and it was done.
K squealed with joy when she tried it. I was happy too. The good old days on a plate.
Hopefully she will not realise that I had placed the pan of pasta on her favourite bedcover to click a pic for Instagram!
PS: I am not sure if I should continue with a 'lockdown journal' anymore. 'Unlockdown 1' has started after 75 days or so of lockdown I believe.
I am not sure if things have changed much for us yet. Lockdown might be over but Corona is still around.
We plan to continue to live cautiously. Stay home as far as we can. Perhaps we have got a bit used to this. Stockholm syndrome perhaps as they told Denver in the Netflix show we are watching these days, Money Heist.
|Retro creamy cheesy Parsi pasta|
Unlockdown 1 food sampling
Today's chorchori lunch with what I cooked yesterday:
|The exquisite pepperoni pizza sent by chefs Seefah and Karan Bane and which is available and Kaitlyn's Scratch Kitchen, Mumbai. The oregano and chilli flakes and the pasta came with this. We didn't need them for the very full flavoured pizza.|