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Fancy Food | Gourmet Gastronomer

Fancy Food

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Bringing Malai Kofta To the Table

Recessionista is the new BoHo, as funemployed is the new investmenet banker. As underground eateries become the new Babo/Momofuku, we all find ourselves around a new table. Here in San Francisco, they are larger tables, perhaps viking length tables in warehourses, carpets in our parents' houses, parks. We are not eating in pairs or three, but in tens and twenties.

We are all underground restaurants, cooking a select menu of 5-6 dishes for our masses. We are pooling resources to remain eaters of good food without waste and considerable spend. We remain people who can focus on how we feed ourselves and how we prefer to eat. Hopefully, some really interesting stuff is happening here.
A couple weeks ago my friends and I came together in a Herculean effort to fill a table with tomato lamb curry, chicken tikka masala, samosas, chicken vindaloo, vegetarian curries, chutneys, naan, and malai kofta. We brought what we had: nuggets of experience, bastions of inexperience, optimism, sweat, fenugreek leaves.
And we created a kitchen table. We got comments like, "fucking better than going to a restaurant". The food we devoured without looking up, but moreover, the time we spent together, the excitement that we had, the "holy shit, things are burning -- fuck it" attitude we shared made us owners of our meal.
I made Malai Kofta, a vegetarian "meatball" in tomato sauce. Basically, a ball of mashed potatoes and purple yams, filled with paneer, coconut and spices, which is then fried and topped with a sauce. The sauce contains poppy seeds, nuts, onion, tomatoes, and more spices.
My sister snatched this recipe through her travels in India. She tried to annotate and translate a woman's movement into metrics. But how do you translate handfuls and glassfuls into replicable instruction?
And how do I, by secondary association, visualize my movements? Blind-folded.
I attempted what few instructions my sister scribbled in her journal and document it here. I did this because, these scribblings are the drop off into which recipes by word of mouth or proxy can be lost.
There is so much to learn in time spent evoking this dish.
This recipe is a culmination of what I want out of a day. Running around to Indian bazaars, asking advice from strangers who are holding the same ingredient I am holding, banging things in my mortar and pestle, making cheese, shaping balls, guessing, editing, drinking, enlisting help. Watching a day come together in a succinct dish.
In the end, I loved my output. Though I stand by my interpretation of this recipe, it did come out like an appetizer rather than a main dish. The sauce was thick and chunky when it should've run thinner, like a marinara sauce.
I have made some changes to the original dish, so it is aspirational. If you have a day to putz in the kitchen, make these meatballs. In additional tasting like a win, they have a really delicate sweet flavor. Spices are not too strong, and moreso harmonious.
MALAI KOFTA (Makes a number of balls - easily serves 10) Total time - 6 hours, active time - 6 hours
SUMMARY Much of what you do you can do ahead of time. You make a set of pastes (onion, and white paste), you pound a small pot of spices, you boil potatoes and mash them, you peel tomatoes and puree them, you make cheese and place it in a bowl. Two hours before eating, you form little balls of potato with filled in side. You fry meatballs, make your sauce by cooking up some paste, and you end up with fried balls in sauce. The following diagram may be more helpful.
- 1/3 lb Paneer, crumbled - I made my own
- 1/4 c raisins or currants
- 1/2 raw cashews, chopped
- 3 T coconut milk
- 1/2 t "kinnamon", recipe follows
- 4 Medium russet potatoes
- 2 purple yams
- 1 Heaping T cornstarch
- water
- oil for frying
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 2 T raw cashews
- 2 T pumpkin seeds
- 2 T white poppyseeds (look in your local Indian bazaar, but I used black and it was just fine)
- 4 large tomatoes
- 1 t "kinnamon", recipe follows
- 1 T oil
- 1/2 t meat masala
- 1 t garam masala
- 1 large fenugreek leaf (very fragrant - look in your local Indian bazaar)
- 1 c milk
Kinnamon spice blend
- 2 parts cinnamon
- 2 part cardamon
- 1 part cloves
PART 1 - Building the components together.
These can happen in no particular order. I have not numbered them so do them at your leisure. They are categorized as for the 'dumpling' or for the 'sauce'.
Potatoes - Dumpling
Peel potatoes and purple yam. Put in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil on the stove. Cover and reduce flame to low. Cook until tender, roughly 20-30 minutes. Depending on the size of your potato. Mash together with cornstarch and a splash of water! The texture should be such that you can form it into little amoebas or faces. Salt to taste. Pics

Make the "kinnamon" spice blend - Dumpling
In a mortar and pestle, pound together the cinnamon, cardamon, and clove until finely ground. You will be eating this, so please do not leave chunks. Don't be lazy - or use a spice grinder.
Prepare the filling - Dumpling
Crumble the paneer in a bowl. Add currants/raisins, coconut milk, 1 t kinnamon, and cashews. Salt to taste. Pics

Make Onion Paste - Sauce
Saute the onions in some clarified butter or oil on medium until soft. Pour a glass of 1/4 c water on top and continue to cook on medium covered for 10 minutes. Blend into a paste. If too thick, add some water. Pics

Make White Paste
Boil some water. Pour over a boil containing poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cashews until just covered. Let sit half an hour.
Strain through a fine strainer and transfer to a mortar and pestle. Pound until it forms a paste. Alternatively you can use a blender, which is must faster, but less rewarding.
A white paste will form. (Yours will be whiter when you use the white poppy seeds.) Pics

Tomato Puree - Sauce
Peel tomatoes by scoring them at the top and blanching for 30 seconds to a minute. Puree.
Part 2 - Shaping the Kofta
Take a golf ball size of potato, roll into a ball, and poke a hole in the middle. Fill with paneer mixture (just a bit or it will overflow). Close the ball up by pulling the potato over the filling. Pics

Repeat until you are able to pawn it off on somebody else... Thanks to Kasia for making all these balls.
 Part 3 - Getting ready to eat.
1. In a large wok, heat your onion paste in a bit of oil. Saute for 3-5 minutes on medium.
(Heat another wok full of oil for frying. Get to a sustained 350F.)
2. Add the white paste to the onion mixture and continue to saute. Add meat masala, garam masala and 1/2 t kinnamon. Crumble in the fenugreek leaf. Saute for 5 more minutes.
3. Pour in the tomato puree, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Fry the balls until crispy and brown on the outside.
5. Right before serving, pour the milk into the sauce, bring to a boil, simmer for a couple minutes.
To serve. Scoop some loveballs up can cover with the sauce! Trust me. These balls are delicious. They are extremely balanced in texture and flavor. Delicate balls, with a slightly sweet inside. Crispy, and extremely flavorful sauce.
ps. My hair smells like spices.


Mango Buffalo Wings with Mango Lime Cream Dipping Sauce

Buffalo Wings--really good. Oven Baked Buffalo Wings--even better. Oven Baked MANGO Buffalo Wings with Mango Cream Dipping Sauce? I think I could eat these every single day. So I had three ingredients in front of me--mango, brown sugar, and cardamom.  You can go sweet, or sort of savory with these three things.  What I came up with is a little of both. The wings are spicy, with a hint of mango, and while oven baked, still nice and crispy.

Recipe for a Housetoasting

img_1232 I only have a sec--this weekend got away from me, and I am already late for a workshop I have this morning--but I wanted to share with you a marvel of the modern world--the Peep. We had a "housetoasting" on Saturday (named after the three toasters we inherited, along with one pull out sofa and vitually nothing else when moving in to our new house).


I recently joined the Daring Bakers, and this is the first monthly challenge that I participated in. I had no idea what I was getting myself involved in when I joined the Daring Bakers, but this was definitely fun. We had a basic recipe we had to follow, and it was amazing to see how different everyone made theirs. This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte.
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