But there are times when work must be completed, even in the absence of your hardworking brain. When your hubby is about to leave for work in ten minutes for example, and you don’t want all effort wasted by not packing up the lunch box. I had one of those days this morning.
It could be a case of taking on more than I could chew. I had four nearly-done dishes, when things started going wrong one after the other. I had planned to prepare Avial (a curd-based mix-veg south Indian curry), tomato-red pepper (ok, call it capsicum if you want, but doesn’t it sound more interesting this way?) soup, beetroot curry and rasam this morning and was hoping to finish it all before Ram left for work so that I could pack a little of each for him, plus clean up the kitchen and get on with other work soon after.
Much as I love to cook, I prefer to get done with cooking for the whole day in one shot in the morning itself. I had started cooking earlier than usual today had all the vegetables chopped and ready by 8.30. While grinding the paste for avial, I suddenly decided I’d make mor-kootu (another curd-based dish) instead. Don’t ask me why. I guess, my brain had started to lock its door just around then, but I did not realise it till a little while later.
While both the dishes are very similar, avial consists of a variety of vegetables and is of a slightly thicker consistency than mor-kootu, which has two or three vegetables at the most. No hard and fast rule here, but that’s how it is generally prepared. While you’d need to grind just coconut and green chilies for avial, you’d also have to add some black peppercorns, jeera and ginger for mor-kootu.
And as I decided to go the mor-kootu way, I tossed some of these additional items into the mixie. Not satisfied with just these, I added some green coriander and curry leaves (my mother-in-law usually grinds these instead of adding them in the end as seasoning) and a tomato (my grandma adds tomatoes to the ground paste in one version of the mor-kootu). I added this paste to the veggies that were simmering in a pot of water.
Midway through this avial boiling was when I realised I was in trouble. I had ground a chilly too many and it smelt REALLY spicy. In order to repair the dish, I cut a few more vegetables and threw them into the pot along with two tablespoons of ground tomato (1 medium tomato). The result: some veggies were way too mushy and the overall dish was more sour than expected.
I was behind schedule thanks to this little drama. To add to it all, a knife-sharperner, who I had asked to come the previous evening, turned up at the door. After handing the knifes to him and having a little argument over the rate, I got back to finishing whatever I could. The rasam was ready, beet was boiled and chopped, a funny cross-breed of avial and mor-kootu was waiting to be packed and chopped tomatoes and red peppers were boiling in another pan of water.
Everything under control still. Ram had to leave in fifteen minutes and I started to pack up the lunch. Wait a minute. What about breakfast? Oops! I had totally forgotten about that! There was no time to make anything and down I rushed to the neighbourhood shop and returned with a pack Maggi noodles. What would I ever do, if not for instant noodles!
I set the Maggi on the other burner, cooled the soupy solids and dumped them into the mixer. It was over the half-way mark, but what the heck! I was in a hurry. I switched on the machine and the lid threw up with half the contents splashed all over the walls, the microwave a little distance away and the plate stand on the other side.
I was absolutely desperate to keep my sanity in place and not have Ram leave without his breakfast and lunch. So, I simply ignored the mess, packed up rasam, rice and curd for. There was not time to prepare beet curry. So I did something I have done umpteen time before: made an instant boiled beet curry with idli gun-powder! Now, the taste takes some getting used to, it being nowhere close to ‘curry’, but if you’re cool enough, call it salad and you have a wow dish ready! Here’s how you go about it:
Instant beetroot curry-salad
Gunpowder (idli-dosa molagapodi/chutney podi)
Boil beetroot and dice it fine
Add about 1 tsp of idli-dosa gun-powder (molagapodi) per cup of chopped beet
Add 1/2 tsp of gingelly oil (can be substituted with any other oil or even ghee or butter)
Mix thoroughly. Top it with chopped coriander. Serve
You can make the same with potatoes and get an even tastier result.
I later managed to clear up the mess and make some lovely soup with the remaining tomato-capsicum paste in the mixie. Btw, this soup’s an adaptation of Peter Osborne’s recipe in The Greatest Cookery Tips in the World that I’d mentioned in yesterday’s post.
Tomato-Red Pepper Soup
Tomato chopped – 4 medium
Red pepper chopped – 1/2
Water – 1/2 cup
Milk – 2 tbsp
Boil tomatoes and red pepper with water
Add milk. Boil on medium heat for about 20 minutes or till the veggies are fully cooked
Let it cool
Blend this mixture thoroughly along with a few pinches of pepper powder and salt to taste
Top it with a tsp of fine chopped mixed coloured peppers and/or coriander
PS: Thanks to the morning chaos, I forgot to take pics of the beet salad. Will post those next time I have a disaster, prepare it and remember to take snaps!