cooking in foreign kitchens

summary: disastrous attempt at making chura (flattened rice with peas and peanuts) and how it was saved from being relegated to the compost bin

I am currently visiting my parents and we decided to make flattened rice with peas and peanuts. I brought any ingredients that my parents wouldn’t have and after staring at the instructions several times was pretty sure I had everything down correctly. Oops. I forgot to bring dried chilies. But there was a fresh jalapeno chili in the fridge. Perfect. (You do know that the only thing I ever cook is bread, stews and soup, the occasional pasta dish and Christmas dinner, don’t you? T does all the rest and I just watch….)

When I said that I wanted to try this (how hard can it be??!!) T’s comment was “well, you’ve never cooked Indian food but your sister has so it should turn out great”. How’s that for a vote of confidence?! :stomp:

One thing that T said was to make sure the flattened rice was rehydrated before I tried to cook it. So I did. I swished the rice around and put it into a colander to drain as I chopped onions, ginger, jalapeno and measured the spices. A colander that has WAY smaller holes than our colander….

But I kept thinking of the instruction to make sure the flattened rice was rehydrated so having the holes smaller wouldn’t matter. (Duh… of course it matters. The holes should be the same size as the holes on OUR colander.)

Well. I guess you already know that the instruction about the rehydration was just to make sure I didn’t skip that step!

The spices, potato, ginger and onion were stunningly beautiful. The potato had just a hint of gold all over it … errmmmm … did I mention that I NEVER peel potatoes? And that as I was beginning to cook the potatoes, my sister pointed at them and said, “isn’t it dangerous to eat green potatoes?” So we fished ALL the potato cubes out and cut off the peel that had turned to an alarming parrot green colour just below the skin. And put them back in the pan.

Then I looked at the pressed rice draining (not really) in the colander. The rice looked a bit mushy. (a bit??? Ha!) But I thought cooking it would dry it out. After all, I had had to make sure the flattened rice was rehydrated first.

Of course, everything stayed very mushy. It looked like the most frightening pan of porridge. I hadn’t yet added the peanuts, peas and raisins. I didn’t dare. Here’s how the conversation went:

E: (wailing) We can’t serve that!!! It’s horrible.

B: (wrinkling nose) Nope. But the flavour is great. Just fry some more ginger and onions and we’ll make some rice and turn it into pilaf.

E: Really? WHAT a disaster! I was so hoping to gloat to T that it had turned out brilliantly and we couldn’t believe how fabulous it was.

B: Actually… I think we can salvage this. What if we form it into patties and fry them?

So that’s what we did. We left the sludge sit on a large plate to cool completely then formed it into small thin patties and fried them in sunflower oil til they were golden brown on both sides. We tried adding peanuts and raisins to one of the patties but it just broke up and stayed looking like a sludgy mess. So we decided to serve the peanuts and raisins on the side.

We forgot to add the peas. Oops.

And you know what? The patties were fabulous!! We had them with baked chicken (marinated first in yoghurt and spices), aloo gobi (with fresh tomato), beet salad and stir fried beet tops (I a little bit of clove powder).

In fact, the whole dinner was great! Well done us!

What a good thing that my sister had cooked Indian food before…. :-)

Dad took a photo of the finished dish but it’s still in his camera. Remind me to badger him to get it out so I can show you the quite happy end to a potentially quite tragic story.

Our dessert? Mom made the most brilliant little butter tarts. Bite size butter tarts. They were fabulous.
This entry was posted in food & drink, side, whine on by .

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3 responses to “cooking in foreign kitchens

  1. Mats Flemstrom

    in re:

    You do know that the only thing I ever cook is bread, stews and soup, the occasional pasta dish

    Hey, just throw in the odd stir-fry, pan fried dish & vegetables and there you have it – The Complete Cook !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I forgot to mention that I do those too, Mats. But frankly, T’s results taste so much better than mine. And he likes to cook! Why not let him? Then I can have my cake and eat it too… :-) -Elizabeth


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