Monday, May 5, 2008

Italian or Indian Italian??

In response to a recent question I posted on Linkedin, I was asked for my blog’s URL. Usually quite eager to share my blog, I was suddenly a little wary as I realized that I have started blogging about content that is either very region specific (restaurant reviews, Indian actresses etc.) or too specific to me as a person.

Thus, I will consciously try to broaden my scope and make my articles more relevant to you wherever you are in this world, regardless of nationality or borders. And the easiest way to initiate this is through food. Food is a category that traverses across people and does not demand prior knowledge to be understood.

One of my favorite passtimes is to be let loose in the kitchen. I love cooking! Not the regular everyday kind of ‘I have to eat thus I must cook’ cooking (thankfully for that, we have a cook) but the kinds where I can experiment and try out new dishes. I also tend to be quite possessive about my turf. No one is allowed to enter the kitchen when I am are most welcome to lay the table or serve the food…but that’s where it ends! And amongst all the cuisines that I have tasted (and India being the new age economy it is, that accounts for most popular cuisines from around the world), my all time favorite is Italian. Ask anyone who knows me what my favorite food is and you will only get one answer – Pasta!! Having grown up on ‘Indian’ style pasta, I would not have imagined it any other way. But I eventually realized that I don’t really like original pasta. Some friends from Europe once tossed a bowl of penne with olive oil, oregano and olives and served it on the table. That must have been the one time in my life, I did not finish the entire bowl (or the lot on my plate for that matter).

So here goes the difference. From what I understand – please correct me if I am wrong – most pastas you get outside of India and especially in Europe, are comparatively quite dry. Indian pastas tend to have lots of sauce (be it a white wine sauce or even a bolognaise sauce…there is tons of it). Thus in an Indian restaurant, if you serve a dish like the one I mentioned, without any sauce on top of it, it will either be mistaken for salad or will be ignored.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing. I can quite assure you that our versions are delectable and if given a chance, may spread like wild fire across the globe. So if you are game, here is a recipe of a basic tomato sauce pasta I like making. It is midway between the saucy and the dry types thus may help your transition!! Try it out – it never fails me.

Tomato Cheese Pasta
Preparation Time – 20 mins
Meal for 2 (Main dish)

3 Tomatoes (chopped roughly)
3 Onions (chopped)
3 Capsicums (diced)
Bowl of boiled pasta (fusilli and penne work best)
Salt/ Pepper to taste
Cheese (50gms)
Tomato Ketchup (2-3 tablespoons)
Oil (2 tablespoons)

1)Heat oil in a wok (kadhai). Add tomatoes, onions and capsicum together and cook for around 4-5 minutes.
2)When the sauce starts looking a little cooked and the tomatoes are not standing out, add salt/ pepper, tomato ketchup and grated cheese.
3)Stir the mixture and make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom. If it gets a little dry, add some milk.
4)Add the cooked pasta and mix gently, do not squish it into a pulp.
5)Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
6)Serve hot with Garlic bread and boiled vegetables.


Anonymous said...

actually the pasta you get in USA or Canada is also not dry-unless you order the one just with pesto and olive oil-that one could be-but all others like the ones with white sauce, red (bolognaise, tomato etc) or rose sauce are nice and wet-well not dry... infact the 2 times we tried pasta in Rome and in Florence was also not dry-one being with alfredo sauce and the other a bolognaise... so dont you worry-the olive oil one u had is only just one way of serving a lighter-healthier version of it-from what I have seen-just like you can have a 'drier' methi chicken' or a chicken curry!
Thanks for the recipe!

Harnoor Channi-Tiwary said...

Well, thats a relief...though our experience in South east Asia and Egypt speaks otherwise. So I hope my Europe trip will be punctuated with some great pasta!!

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