Friday, April 17, 2015

Steampunk + India = Tasty

While I was doing the background research for 'Hearts Before Diamonds', I wanted to find a Victorian-era breakfast dish that would have been popular with Westerners visiting India. A British friend told me about kedgeree, but the flavor profile (and the flaked haddock) were too British. A little looking turned up more recipes than I can count for khichuri, the root dish kedgeree is derived from.

So, presented here is the recipe I used for Edward Wallace's breakfast. It's appropriate for any Steampunk adventure, and if you see something you don't like, by all means replace it. Khichuri is as malleable as the cheeseburger or the omelet. Case in point: this recipe calls for red lentils, but I think yellow ones are more tender. Also, I hate cauliflower. 

Recipe originally posted on Zesterdaily and shamelessly copied here.  You don't want to know how much time I've wasted browsing recipes there...

Allez cuisine!

Bengali Red Lentil Risotto (Khichuri)
(Recipe adapted from “The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles”)

1 cup dried red split lentils (masoor dal)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup short-grained rice (such as Arborio or kala jeera)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 medium-sized tomato, finely chopped
1 medium-sized potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 small cauliflower head, cut into small florets
3 to 4 green chilies, slit halfway lengthwise
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons ghee (clarified butter)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 to 2 bay leaves

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan put the red lentils and about 4 cups water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Add the turmeric and simmer for about 10 minutes. The lentils should be partially cooked but not mushy at this point.
3. Add the rice, 3 more cups water, ginger, ground cumin and coriander, tomato, potato, cauliflower, green chilies, sugar and salt. Simmer for about 25 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. The rice and lentil mixture should be a porridge-like consistency (add more water if too thick). The texture is important. You do not want the rice to completely lose its integrity, however it should be softer than a regular well-made bowl of rice. Add in the greens peas and stir well.
4. While this is cooking, heat the oil in a wok or skillet and add the onion and cook on medium heat until soft and pale golden. It is important to cook the onions low and slow to let them caramelize.
5. Stir the onions into the rice and lentil mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro.
7. Heat the ghee in a small skillet and add the cumin seeds and the bay leaves. Cook for about 40 seconds until the cumin seeds darken and turn fragrant.
8. Pour the spice mixture over the rice and lentils.
9. Stir lightly and serve the mixture hot.

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