Thursday, February 10, 2011

Harpy Valentine's and Other Such Joyful Tidings

Hi. Hello. How you all been? Yeah, we know, we know. We are too young a blog to be taking long vacations and expecting our readers to still stick around and wait -- with eager eyes and a yearning tummy -- for us to come back from whichever wonderful place we went to and post again. Ma-haan, that was a long sentence. And we know (not a lot, even so) that long sentences do not make for good apologies, but hey, we know (again) that our mad apology skills are not what you guys love us for.

Anyway, cheek aside, the thing with us is that we are as lazy with our writing as we are with our cooking (and this is the part where confused raises her eyebrows in a formidable fashion and tells crumbs to speak for her sluggish self). In our defence, we did have grand plans to post a Christmas special. Only, that got a li’l delayed and then we thought we might as well make it a New Year special. But then that didn’t take off either. So, when a certain mother hen of questionable authority told us to get off our indolent asses and give our hands some exercise, we decided, in a moment’s rash frenzy, to post about whatever we make for dinner that night. Which, not too happily for you guys, turned out to be tomato rice. We know, we know (there we go again), some 4 months of waiting and we give you tomato rice? Tomato rice?? Toe-maa-toe rice?! (insert toe-maa-toe/toe-may-toe joke here. Ha. Ha.) Such are the cruel twists of destiny and etc etc.

But keep faith, dear readers. Because as far as tomato rice goes, you could do with a lot worse than what follows. In fact, as far as tomato rice goes, this is the good stuff. We are not a big fan of tomato rice in general. But this one? We get cravings for this one. At regular intervals. Honestly. It is THAT good.

So, allow us to present, the redeemer of all tomato rices, the supreme ruler of the dangerously coloured rice,

The Tow-mah-Toe Rice (Will breaking down a name to 3 letter bits make it sound Chinese? Hmmm....maybe, this should be year of the wabbit special. Or not.)

You will need:

Tomatoes. Of course. Make sure you get the fat, ripe ones, nothing ruins a tomato rice's awesomeness as khatta tomatoes. You will need to puree about 5 medium sized (basically, you make slight cuts through the skin, dunk them in boiling hot water for exactly 5 mins, then immediately scoop them out [With a spoon/prongs/anything that is not your finger. Unless you are Johnny Storm, which you are not. We checked.] and immediately drown them in cold cold water. The idea is to shock the tomatoes into loosening their skins, which then you sadistically peel off, like, well, tomato peel. Once the tomatoes are stripped, you pop them into a blender, and puree them. OR, you pay large corporations to do the dirty work for you, and buy a handy 200 ml carton of ready-made puree.)

Coconut milk. One 200 ml carton. Just pay the large corporations this time, will ya? It's such a pain to think of funny ways to extract coconut milk.

Onion: 1 medium sized, slice them thin.

Ginger: one inchish, Garlic: 6 podsish, or take the shortcut and use 1 tsp of readily available ginger-garlic paste

Green chillies: 3-4, depending on how much you love the insides of your stomach.

Now ideally, you should be making a paste out of ginger, garlic and green chillies. But, if you are taking the shorter way, you can just grind the green chillies separately, and nobody will be any wiser.

Jeera/Cumin: 1 tsp

Mustard seeds: 1 tsp

Turmeric and Chilli powder: About half a tsp

Garam masala: 1tsp

Oil. You know, to saute and stuff. Take your pick between vegetable/sunflower/rice bran/coconut/random other favourite. We'd suggest staying clear of mustard or olive unless you are feeling rather reckless.

Rice. One cup, washed thrice or 4 times depending on the hygiene habits of your neighbourhood kiranawala. Then drained.

So, pour about 2 big spoons aka table spoons of oil in a flat bottomed sauce pan/pressure cooker big enough to hold two cups of water and then some. Place on medium high flame. Throw in the jeera and mustard. Move 5 steps away and wait for the tiny li'l suckers to explode all over the pan. Once the popping slows down to a reasonably safe rate, reduce the flame, add the ginger-garlic-chilli paste. Saute till the rawish smell goes away, which should take about 5 mins--or till about a third of the paste is firmly stuck to the bottom of the pan. Up the flame and throw in the onions, toss them about with abandon till they are nice and pink and softish. Reduce the flame again, add the turmeric and the chilli powder. (Reducing flame to low when you add an ingredient is generally considered industry best practice for its renowned effectiveness in preventing the addition of a nice charred layer at the bottom of your pan.) Mix for about 2 mins, till the masala coats the onion.

Add to the above mixture, all of the tomato puree and stir the very thick soup looking liquid till it just about begins to bubble. Stir in the rice to the bubbly and let the whole thing boil for 2 mins. When the bubbles become bigger, add salt (about a leveled tsp should do it, you can check and change later) and garam masala. Meanwhile, fill 3/4th of the cup with coconut milk, top it with water to get a thin watery coconut milk. Pour that into the rice and give the whole thing a hearty stir. (What is a Valentine's Day Special without a hearty something. Get it? Heart-y? No? Okay.)

Now, cover and leave for cooking. Please note, we said "leave" not abandon. If you thought you could watch like half an episode of How I Met Your Mother while the tomato rice was cooking, then you would be wrong. This sneaky li'l thing has an unfortunate affinity for the bottom of the pan. Leave it alone for 10 mins at a stretch, and there will be an inch thick layer of rice sticking on to the bottom of your pan for dear life. You will need to uncover the pan, and shake things up every 4 mins (not even 5).

Once the liquid is about evaporated, you add another half cup of watery coconut milk and stir again. This helps make the rice moist, and fluffy. It's like slowly fattening the metaphorical lamb for slaughter, etc, etc. The thing with this rice is that it is one of those "my biggest weakness is my biggest strength" kind of thing. While you are constantly checking the rice, it also means that you get to adjust the flavour to suit your taste just-so. Not tangy enough? Chop up another tomato and toss it in. Or add a spoonful of ketchup (gasp!). Not spicey enough? Slit a green chilli's throat and throw that in. Too dry? Add some more water mixed with a bit of coconut milk. The possibilities are endless.

In another 15 mins time, your rice should be done--it will look bloated and soft, and will mash like well boiled potato between your fingers, and the liquid part of it would be reduced to a coating. At this point, add the last round of very thick coconut milk, give the whole thing an almighty stir, and sigh a deep sigh of satisfaction, and switch off the stove. Close the lid, and let it be for another 5 mins. And ta da! Your creamy, juicy tomato rice is ready for the tomato rice hall of fame!

We know this sounds like a lot of hard work, but boy, does it pay! And to prove our point, we have, exhibit A.
And, er...A.1.

If you are still cynical, the big, eerily glowing heart should definitely do it.

So on that good smoke, good fellas and fellies, it's time for our take off!