“Aren’t you hungry? Would you like some dinner?”
“What do you have for dinner?””
“What kind of pasta?”
“Shell pasta with vegetables and tomato sauce.”
“Can I see it?”
Yes, of course, sweetie, here you go. And I lifted the two-year old with whom I am having this conversation on to the kitchen counter to have a look.
The gourmet brat looks at the pasta from all angles, examining it as critically as any prof would a new theory and then takes her thumb out of her mouth to pronounce judgment : “I don’t like things with things in them!”
Well, you try battling over food with a two-year old! I spent the next ten minutes picking “things out of things” before she consented to put a forkful in her mouth!
This was the exchange between the two-year old daughter of some visitors and me! The parents in question must have had quite a time feeding the little tyrant every day. How many Indian dishes can rightly be described as things without things in them and could be considered an almost full meal?!
Being the nutrition freak that i am, thanks to my mother and my nutritionist aunt, it is almost impossible for me to envisage making things without things in them!!!
Well, here’s the closest i can come to making things with very few things in them – spaghetti with meatless meatballs!
Spaghetti 1 packet. Boil as per instructions and rise on cold water
Onions – 3 medium – sliced
Garlic – 5-6 flakes
Tomatoes – 4 large – chopped
1 green chili – chopped
Tomato puree – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg – grated – 1/4 tsp
Herbes de Provence – 1/2 tsp (or mixed herbs)
Coriander – chopped – 2 tbsp
Hot milk – 1 cup
Oil – 2 tbsp
Heat oil in a large saucepan and add the sugar. Caramelise. Add onions and stir for a minute. Add garlic and keep stirring till onions are golden brown. Add tomatoes and cook till soft. Blitz with a bar blender for a minute in the same pan till you get a knobbly puree. Add the tomato puree, salt, nutmeg and herbs and boil. Reserve hot milk and add just before serving.
Potato flakes – 1/2 cup or boiled and grated potato – 1.2 cup.
Gulab jamun mix powder – 1/2 cup
Grated cheddar (or paneer) – 1/2 cup to mix + 2 tbsp to serve
1 green chili – chopped
Chopped coriander – 1 tbsp
Marjoram – 1/2 tsp.
Pepper – 1/4 tsp
Mix all of these together lightly – do not over-knead – shape carefully into small lemon sized balls and let them rest for 5 minutes. Heat a frying pan or a tawa and shallow fry these, turning over till golden brown. I occasionally bake mine – about 12 minutes. (makes about 16 balls)
To assemble, mix a little olive oil in the spaghetti. Serve one helping. Mix the hot milk into the sauce and spoon over. Add a little grated cheddar on top and place 4-5 “meatballs” on each plate. Sprinkle coriander leaves and serve.
Voila – things with as few things in them as my conscience will allow!