Cooking in the dark…

So this was to be an all veggie week for us. Only vegetarian dishes, to detox the body before the binge that would begin next week!! It’s pujo time and since my folks are coming to town, I know it would be gastronomical delight of sorts! 🙂 Now, we’ve managed to master restraint in terms of our eating…avoid unhealthy stuff, add a generous dose of fruits, salads with home made dressings, lean meat (chicken though my husband feels I don’t cook it well!) and lots of fish (mostly steamed). I have renewed my vow to have small and frequent meals at home and at work, and though it is really a pain on most days, I sometimes like it too! After a lot of coercion, I convinced the man to take a snack box to work. Of course, I had to promise him that wouldn’t make it the regular dal, roti, sabzi kinds…after all he may have to eat some of that at home for dinner!

He frowned, and asked, so what would it be?

I rolled my eyes, smiled and said…what would you like for tiffin baby?

Anything light, not lunch kinds, but breakfast / snack types!!

So there was a new mission at hand. To make innovative snacks for the husband who leaves for work everyday at 7 am! Now what those innovative snacks are…is a different post by itself! Anyways, this one is about a little adventure last evening…

Aniruddha is traveling again…and so I began aching to eat that which I can’t when he is around! The only vegetable that is cooked in abundance at my house is the potato and yes, also the cauliflower now! But then…how much can one cook the same to veges? I like my other veges from time to time, though I can’t say whether I have a similar obsession for any particular vegetable. Yesterday, my palate was salivating for parwal! Okay, all this suspense and build up may now sound a tad too dissappointing to some of you, but here is what I did with the vegetable… Until now, I have never really ventured into stuffings of any kind…and since there was some curd at home, I decided to try that which I had once resolved to…Potoler Dorma…for those of you who don’t know, it simply translates to Stuffed Parwal in Pointed Gourd…how many of you knew what parwal is called in English, eh??

Now since the mind was made, I went out to shop for the perfect parwals…firm yet soft in the belly (since it has to be emptied)! The local Mother Dairy shop as usual had the lousy, stale ones, so I let it pass, and left the shop with a packet of paneer. Thankfully it was a Wednesday and there was a haatnear the house that I could hop into…fresh vegetables that tasted more natural than the ones sold by vendors and thelawallas! Now, before I get to the recipe I must now reveal why this was such an adventure! On a night when I was in the mood to cook a dish for the very first time, the lights in my kitchen refused to come on! Both of ’em…the CFL and the tube! I climbed up to the CFL, took it out, shook it around and put it back…but no sign of any glimmer! Now at that precise moment, I did contemplate to abandon my little project and eat the left overs…but then I let that pass too! C’mon…this is new! The idea is to experiment…so why not go ahead with it! Why should this ‘dark’ challenge deter me?? And so I did go ahead…cooking in pitch darkness, with only the light from the dining room. In the darkness, I couldn’t even find the candles. Didn’t really bother about them much since we installed the inverter, anyway!

So, now here is the recipe, and you must use your vivid imagination for my expedition…visualise me cooking over a darkened burner, in a darkened kitchen…after every drop in the frying pan, I’d take the wok out into the light to see if the measure is fine…and back into the darkened cave of the kitchen, more swish stirs and covered cooking! You get the picture right?

Ingredients:

1. Parwal – 8 – 10 numbers

2. Onion – 2 large bulbs – one sliced, the other chopped

3. Green Chillies – Finely chopped

4. Paneer – 200 gms – mashed

5. Asoefitida – a small pinch (optional)

6. Coriander – Chopped

7. Coriander Powder – 1 tsp

8. Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp

9. Jeera Powder – 1 tsp

10. Amchur – 1 1/2 tsp

11. Turmeric – 1 tsp

12. Salt – to taste

13. Ginger – crushed – 1 tsp

14. Curd – 3-4 tbs

15. Red Chilli Flakes – 2 tsp

16. Mustard Oil – 2 tbs

17. Jeera Seeds – 1 tsp

I took the preparation to the bedroom floor…thanks to Bigg Boss that I suddenly wanted to catch up on…here you go!

Step 1 – Peel the parwal and scoop out the pulp including the seeds

Step 2 – Rub the parwalwith salt and turmeric and leave for about 10 minutes

Step 3 – For the filling, mash the paneer and mix it with salt, ginger, chopped chillies, amchur powder and chopped onions

Step 4 – For the gravy, take the curd and mix asoefitida, salt, jeera powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder

Step 5 – Stuff the parwalwith the filling prepared in Step 2. Seal the ends of the parwalwith gram flour dough (if you have, I didn’t bother!!)

Step 6 – Fry the stuffed parwal in 1 tbs of mustard oil until slightly brown, be careful…the filling may pour out, so be gentle! Once fried, remove it from the pan and allow it to cool…

Step 7 – Saute the sliced onions, jeera seeds and chilli flakes in 1 tbs of mustard oil, when the onions are brown add the curd mixture (from Step 4)

Step 8 – Add about 1/2 cup water and allow the mixture to boil…keep the consistency thick, be careful not too turn it into too watery!

Step 9 – Drop the stuffed and fried parwalin the gravy mix and let it simmer for about 8 minutes and finish with chopped coriander!!

I must say I was mighty pleased with the outcome…considering I was literally groping in the dark!! But…what an adventure!!! By the time I got to taste it, it was already 12pm…and boy, was I starving! In the mean time, while I was cooking spoke to the husband, who hates parwal!I got picture him grimace at the mention of the vegetable! My mom in law on the other hand was mighty pleased at my enthusiasm…well, yes…so was I!

The lights are still not fixed…but I have to get them done tomorrow now! The electrician has promised to be here at 9:30 in the morning…I think I will have to give him a wake up call starting 8 am! 🙂

But try this recipe in full light…I am sure you would enjoy it! There are more variations to the filling…keema, shrimps, coconut…use your imagination and let your taste buds guide you!

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