In the 9th grade, I had this chemistry teacher called Joy Sir. He was genuinely one of the best teachers and an absolute gem for the school. I remembered him opening the first day of class by saying, “Forget whatever you’ve learned about chemistry, it was not true.” Now that I think of it, this was the case for all of the science classes we learned that year. While in essence we knew what the subject was about, their complexity grew exponentially through the course of the year.
This idea of complexity, while I despised it in high school, I found it fascinating in college and life thereafter. College was actually the second time someone told me to forget the chemistry I’ve learned. I think at this point I questioned the validity of chemistry and considered charting the similarities of the science to a religion that changes shape with the times. Zooming forward to post-college, one of the first things I did once I moved back home was join the gym my mom owns. I was back in India on May 18th and by May 19th I was trying to lift all of my 110 kilograms off the floor, with the help of a rope fastened to the ceiling. The close to 11-month period of working out has transformed me. It has not only helped me cut down almost 16 kilograms but has also improved the complexity of the workout I can do. Once you know something, and like it, all you want to do is build on it. You see yourself beginning to weave it closer into your daily life and find its effects on the way you think whenever your mind wanders. This makes sense when you think of relationships and how after moving back to a city that I call home, I had to build new relationships. Some as close as the same zip code and the others a little farther but still in the same time zone. It's fascinating to see how these friendships started off and now, how they intertwine with my everyday life. They build on top of each other creating a new realm of thought and affection with every two-hour long phone call, going to coffee shops to work, and times spent just talking.
Food and I have a very similar relationship. Pasta, in general, has been one where I have really built a lot of complexities. I have made a sauce out of infused oils, roasted vegetables, and kitchen garden herbs. However, most still follow the normative structure. Most recipes are common enough that you think that they aren’t too complex. However, not this one. This is one of the only dishes that I made in college which I truly made for me. Everything else I shared but this — this was all mine. Pappardelle, in general, is a very broad pasta with a big surface area. Hence, the challenge here is how to flavor something that won't really mix with the sauce because it's so big but you can't eat it without an accompanying set of flavors. Now, most sauces won't “stick” to the pasta, they pool below but what if you change the definition of a sauce? Why does it have to be an Italian mirepoix of tomatoes, herbs, cream, meat, butter, and garlic? These are the basic things that Italian recipes always have but this is what I wanted to change. I wanted my pasta to be a little dry, with a succulency provided by mushrooms and a thin, even coating of flavor all around my pasta. This (and the lack of tomatoes or cream in my fridge) resulted in me creating a lemon yogurt sauce, which is basically yogurt whose tart flavor is accentuated by adding some fresh lemon zest. The sauce is tossed in last with the pasta, sautéed mushrooms, and pasta water. My penchant for complexity prevented me from stopping just there - upping the flavor factor by adding more carbs. I created a quick crumble by frying down breadcrumbs in rosemary oil and parmesan which was then added on top of my pasta (how much ever was left after I had “tasted” the delicious fried bread).
This pasta, like every complexity that I have built in the recent past, has been something I have been proud of. Please do make this amazingly easy recipe and let me know of things you want me to make on the blog. ❤
Glimpses from the week
250 grams pappardelle, cooked in salty water according to cooking instructions
250 grams button or cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
1 cup of greek yogurt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 large red onion, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sliced white bread
1 tablespoon dried rosemary (or 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary)
1/2 cup parmesan
1.5 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cut the sides of the bread and then blitz in a food processor
In a pan on medium heat with 1 tablespoon, add breadcrumbs. Once brown from side turn over and add rosemary and parmesan cheese. Cook until crumbs are well browned.
In a pan on medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil cook down mushrooms until they get soft. Add the onions until they get glossy, and finally, add garlic until the fragrance goes away.
Add pasta and mix well with the veggies. Cut off from the heat and add yogurt
Add lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Serve with Parmesan rosemary crumble