Its been a while since I blogged but I hope people who follow this website found the college blog post helpful. Honestly, there were so many times that people said that they wanted quick meals that I made a compilation to make it easier. If there are other compilations that you want to make, comment or message me on Instagram. Alright, with formalities done, lets move on to our regularly scheduled programing.
Food being such a sensory experience has this ability to tease out moments of nostalgia. At times, a flavor, an ingredient, or just the way I’ve consumed a meal takes me back to a memory in my past. I recently had a pizza where the dough had speckles of fresh rosemary— a spice that always reminds me of a rosemary sausage stuffing from the thanksgiving dinner in 2016 that Morgan and I helped make in Chicago. Drinks such as mojitos and margaritas are resplendent with minced mint which takes me back to hot summer Sundays when my tiny family would sit together for a lunch of dal with rice and yogurt mint raita that soothed the stomach after a meal full of carbs, usually inviting a quick nap thereafter.
This idea of nostalgia isn’t unknown to people who know food. A big way in which I see this often is how food gets localized. There some very evident use cases of this and then some a little nuanced. Buzzfeed does these set of videos where people from their office eat McDonald’s burgers from all around the world. Everything from fillings, to sauces, to the drinks offered are altered based on the country and culture while upholding certain characteristics to make sure the true fabric of the restaurant isn’t altered (for McD’s this means that they always have burgers, fries, and a host of drink options by The Coca Cola Company). In India we see this by menus offering otherwise muted cuisines with an explosion of chillies, garlic, ginger and serving food at a temperature higher than the sizzling point of skin because of how close it is to what (and at what temperature) people cook at home. The most evident example for such a modification is Chinese food. Based on the country, your favorite lo mein goes from spiced in oil, chillies, and chemical grade vinegar in an Indian setting; to charred with veggies and a conservative helping or soy sauce at your local American Hibachi; to basically not an item of regular food in China. Food is more about the flavors you remember and cherish than where the recipe comes from, and this is something both concerting and freeing.
Anda Parathas have a similar association of nostalgia. But first a brief description— classically, Anda Parathas or “Egg Rolls” are a product of Calcutta. Being one of the oldest cities in the country, a once important port of India, and close to the borders of Bangladesh— Calcutta has a deep history of migrant food settling into the city and adapting to its surroundings. This paratha picks up on a variety of techniques while waving that tricolor flavor palate. The paratha here is made with a pastry style dough— an mixture of AP flour and unsalted butter to make a thick and flaky bread. While the bread is cooked on one side, an egg is dropped on the uncooked face and flipped. This makes for a crispy wrap, with a soft but textured interior. A chicken barbecued in a classic Indian spice rub is minced along with fresh veg, a green coriander chutney, and the proprietary Indian “Snack Sauce” (watered down Heinz Tomato Ketchup with black salt). A whole meal resplendent of memories and borrowed techniques— a French pastry, the egg being a classic ode to Chinese pancake and noodle preps, and a North Indian Chicken at the heart of it all— all to make sure your taste buds are coddled to the safe embrace of home while you eat something unique.
Nostalgia is needed. It forces you to look at the grass you left behind, the relationships you broke to form others, and how new ones can help repair the old. While once broken relationships may take a lot longer to mend regardless of how close you are to them now, nostalgia can help you remember and sometimes thats all you can wish for. Culinarily speaking, it can also help in giving you some agency. A push to move forward and recreate something that takes you back home even though its far away. I began cooking because I had all this dal with me and all the Hindi movies in the world were not enough. My Anda Parathas promise to help with this homesickness. I use a pie dough, my orange juice infused chicken marinade, pickled onions, and veggies brined in mustard and red wine vinegar to recreate a spicy sweet meal sure to burn through all the calories you need for the day.
Glimpses from the week
For the paratha
250 grams of all purpose flour
100 grams of unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
50 ml of cold water
2 teaspoons of salt
For the Chicken
500 grams of chicken thighs, boneless
1 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of veggie oil
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons red chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Eggs, 1 per paratha
2 carrots, grated or cut julienne
1/4 cabbage cut thin
1 large onion, cut lengthwise
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of mustard (whole grain mustard is preferred)
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon of red chili powder
4 teaspoons of veggie oil
Begin with the pickles. In a bowl, add carrots, cabbage, vinegar, and mustard. Mix and place in the fridge. In another bowl, add onions, lemon, and chili powder. Mix well and place in the fridge.
In a large bowl, add flour and salt. Mix well. Add butter and begin mixing until the butter is reduced to tiny pebble shapes and the dough looks like sand. Slowly add water and incorporate the flour until you form a dough. Place in clingfilm and in the fridge to firm up the butter
In a large bowl, add all your marinade spices. Dip the chicken and refrigerate for anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours.
On a medium sized pan, smoking on high heat add your chicken. Leave skin side down for 5 minutes or until the chicken gets unstuck from the pan. Flip and cook for 4 minutes. Take the chicken off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes until cut to thin slices.
Roll out 100 grams of the paratha flour into a thin round circle (get it as thin as you can get it ). On a hot griddle add a teaspoon of veggie oil and out the rolled out dough. Drop an egg on top. Scramble with fork and add salt and pepper. After two minutes on one side. Flip until the egg is cooked through and take it off the heat.
Add chicken and pickles. Roll and eat!