Spaghetti Alio E Olio (Italy). The World on My Plate Series!

Spaghetti Alio E Olio

The dish was simple, the post was going to be even simpler. But in about thirty odd minutes of dinner last night, we were in a spell. A spell that made us drool with ecstasy. Each bite appealed to each and every sense, leaving you with a nostalgic “morning after” smile. Let me tell you how it happened.

When I had planned “The world my plate series” I was clear that there would be Italian and it had to be spaghetti. Probably, because spaghetti is my favorite variant of pasta. A few days ago, while gallivanting through the supermarket, I picked a pack of spaghetti. Then a few search attempts on Google threw up a rather strange sounding dish “Spaghetti Alio E Olio” translated to Spaghetti in garlic, chillies and olive oil. There had to be some merit I thought. More reading told me it was an Italian nonna classic; simple, pure, surreal; something you could mess up if you tried being complex.

On face value, this seems a very simple dish, one that has the regular Italian superstars garlic, chilli, olive oil and pasta. Each playing his part perfectly yet consummating every other component of the dish perfectly to form a masterpiece. I added a dab of butter just to give it that salty complexity. The rest just fell into place like the perfect dance moves of a ballerina.

I once seen an Italian chef say on TV “If you cook Italian food well, it sings”. If that was the benchmark, I promise, sing it did.

SaEo

Spaghetti Alio E Olio

Ingredients

  • 1 pack Spaghetti (The one I used was about 400 grams, refer notes)
  • 20-25 garlic cloves, slivered
  • 8-10 medium sized prawns (optional)
  • 120 ml olive oil (do not substitute with any other oil)
  • 1 tablespoon, butter
  • 1 teaspoon, red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon, dried Italian herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and oregano)
  • 3 sprigs flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (2 to cook and 1 for garnishing)
  • Salt- use some more than your regular amount
  • Water- to cook the spaghetti (refer notes)

Procedure:

  • Cook the spaghetti as instructed on the pack. Drain and keep aside. Drizzle some of the olive oil, salt and mix.
  • Keep about 3 tablespoons of the olive aside and heat the rest along with the butter till you hear a sizzle.
  • When the oil is hot, add the garlic and allow it to cook till it is reddish brown. Add the prawns and the parsley and cook till prawns are pink and getting done.
  • Now add the red chillies and the herbs and stir well.
  • Lastly add the spaghetti and mix well so that the olive oil coats each strand well.
  • Just before you serve, drizzle some olive oil and the remaining parsley over the spaghetti.

Notes:

  • Spaghetti needs a lot of water to cook. A safe ratio is 1 liter water for every 100 grams. The same goes for the salt. Add enough salt to make the water more salty than you usually prefer.
  • Unlike noodles, do not add oil while cooking the spaghetti or any pasta for that matter. Adding oil prevents pasta from absorbing the flavour of the sauce.
Advertisements

Chicken Yakitori (Japan)- The World on my Plate Series

As a food writer, I am often asked “What is my favorite dish?” or “Which is my favorite cuisine?” Well, if it’s the Mangalorean Chicken Sukkha that perks me up, I go weak kneed over the Japanese Miso Soup. From Pavlovas to Tiramisus, I have a tough time choosing desserts to round off a wholesome meal. Frankly, it is quite difficult to stick a finger and name a particular cuisine or pick a particular dish. That’s why, when I was thinking of ways and posts to celebrate the blogs first anniversary, the idea of doing a series of posts titled “The World on my Plate” came up, i couldn’t help but take up the challenge. Then, as I sat brainstorming with chefs, co-bloggers and friends we collectively concluded that while the Indian palate has accepted global cuisine with open arms, there is a deep disconnect in the understanding of global cuisine. The vast range of home cooking across the world is virtually unknown. This series will (hopefully) try and bridge that void.

If you are reading this in India, there is no better time to be a foodie. Especially when restaurants and chefs are going beyond traditional Indian cuisines and exploring cuisines otherwise unknown to the Indian palate.  Even for the globetrotting Indian, there would be times when you’ve tasted something abroad and aspired to create those dishes back home. Now, it will be possible to recreate that magic in your very kitchen. So what’s the menu for this amazing series? I promise you will be spoilt for choice. Japanese Yakitori, Spanish Patatas Bravas, Pad Thai among so many others. I urge you, try them all.

Now, the question is where do we begin from such an amazing line up. Then I thought I would highlight a cuisine that has just beginning to make it way to restaurant menus across India. Japanese. Dive deep and you will see there is so much more to Japanese cuisine than the sushis, shashimis and tempuras. These homestyle, melt-in-the-mouth chicken yakitoris are Japan’s answer to Indian Kebabs. The crunch from the spring onions complements the chicken texture just right. If you like you could replace chicken with beef, pork or mushrooms to suit your tastes.

Dive in, to a world of food sans any frontiers. My way of expressing my love and cravings for flavours from across the world.

Chicken Yakitori 1

Chicken Yakitori (Japanese Grilled Chicken)

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 5-6 Spring Onions, cut lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon, red chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoons, soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons, mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon, white pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon, brown sugar
  • salt-to taste
  • Wooden skewers, as required

Procedure:

  • Dip the bamboo skewers in water and drain.
  • Pat dry the chicken and rub the salt and pepper powder to coat each piece well. Keep aside for 10 minutes
  • Meanwhile, make a mixture with the soya sauce, mirin,  sugar, red chilli flakes. Heat on a medium flame till the mixture comes to a boil. Once it begins boiling, reduce the flame and cook until the sauce is thick. Remove from heat and cool.
  • Line the chicken and spring onion on the skewers alternatively. Brush a little bit of the sauce
  • Heat the grill and place the skewers on the grill. Keep alternating the sides so that the chicken is cooked evenly. While turning the chicken, keep basting it with the sauce.
  • Serve immediately

Citrus and Chilli Cheesecake- Celebrating one year of blogging!

Citrus and Chilli Cheese cake

Every once in a while, life gives you an opportunity; that tests the extent of your extreme potential. Once in a lifetime, comes an idea so inspiring that it gets deeply rooted into the very core of your being, that it fires every cell in your body with such enthusiasm and excitement; because all you can see at the end of the road is that little signpost that says ‘Happiness’.  My dear friends, for me Tummy Tales is that one idea, that one such journey.  It all began a little more than a year ago, when I cooked something one lazy Sunday afternoon and much unlike me, posted a picture on facebook.  Seeing the picture a friend called me asking for the recipe, which I happily shared with her. She called again, a few days later asking for another recipe. This was when she had a flashbulb moment and suggested I start a blog.  I made the best excuses I could. Honestly, I was happy cooking on Sundays or whenever the opportunity arose. Blogging never occurred to me. My friend though remained undeterred; she pursued with her follow ups; until one day, I decided I needed to get the monkey off my back.  I  thought I’ll just blog once and that would be it. So, up went my first post. But deep down, I was happy, I had shared a recipe to the world. My recipe. I don’t remember, but I think that post got about 5 views. Excitedly, I put up another post. One post followed another, slowly, followers signed in and today  on November 7, 61 followers and roughly 10,000 page views later my blog turns a year old. There couldn’t be a more happier moment and how I wish I words could express the joy my heart feels. Simply, on the top of the world.

I did try very hard writing a  blogversary speech; but I realised that I had a long list of people to thank. That would make it seem like one of those glycerin drenched film award shows, but here’s a toast to each and every one of you, my readers and all others who have walked this path with me.. I am hugely humbled  to know that so many of you spend your precious reading the blog and sharing my world. Thank you once again. For sure, in coming times you will see more interesting and innovative recipes on the site. In fact, how about kicking off a series titled “The World on my plate” where we savor the best of world cuisine from the yakitori of Japan to the Spanish Potato Bravas  and the works. Drop in a line and let me know what you think. I shall wait to hear from you.

A birthday celebration incomplete without a cake right? And yes, a special cake was made for the blogs birthday. A cheesecake but I wanted to spruce it up a bit and yes, deviate from the traditional New York cheese cake. Then, it had to be healthy. Ahh, so many briefs to fit into one final cheesecake. So finally, I came up with “No bake, Citrus and Chilli Cheesecake”. Did I hear you swoon already. I have recently been intrigued by chilli. That robust flavour, that subtle back of the head kick. And then, the ever so dependable and very refreshing citrus. How can you ever go wrong when you have the goodness of oranges in it. All this held together by the rich, creamy, smoothness of cheese. This is going to be a cake to remember.  When I tried this one for the test run, I found it had a very intense chilli taste; to the extent of the citrus being overpowered by the chilli. So, I had to go back to the drawing board and rework on the ingredient quantities. The point here is you only need the chilli flavour and not the taste. Citrus and chilli are my recommended flavors; go berserk with  your choice of flavors like ginger-honey, citrus-cinnamon, or the more adventurous whiskey and nuts or vodka and star aniseed.

Its been a fabulous year in blogging, and here’s to many more of the same. And finally, A big “Thank you”. This would not have been possible without your support, inputs, comments and the so many other ways you show your love to “The Tummy Tale”. I do hope we share  an even bigger camaraderie and the love of food we always had.

Keep smiling and happy cooking!!!

Cheesecake

Citrus and Chilli Cheesecake

For the biscuit base:

6-8 digestive biscuits

1 tablespoon, brown sugar

2 tablespoons, butter

For the Cheese layer

200 grams, hung curd

80 grams, Parmesan cheese or cottage cheese

100 ml condensed milk

1 green chilli, de-seeded

1 teaspoon, citrus zest (use a combination of orange and lemon zest)

2 teaspoons, edible gelatin

For the Citrus reduction

Juice of 2 oranges

1 teaspoon, brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon, red chilli flakes

Procedure:

To make the biscuit base:

  • Combine the biscuits, sugar and butter in a zip lock bag and pound using a pestle or a rolling pin until the mixture resembles coarse wet sand. Alternatively, you could use a mixer.
  • Now, place a circular mould on a sufficiently large plate and empty the mixture on the inside of the mould. Level this out using the back of a spoon.
  • Keep this in the refrigerator for about half and hour till it sets well. 
To make the cheesecake layer:
  • Prepare the gelatin as per the instructions mentioned on the pack. Keep aside to cool.
  • In a bowl, add the hung curd and the grated mozzarella and whisk together, till evenly combined.
  • Add the condensed milk in small batches and mix well to combine. 
  • Next add the chilli and the citrus zest’s. Mix well.
  • Add the prepared gelatin and combine.
  • Pour this mixture over the prepared biscuit base and refrigerate for about 2-3 hours. Iff possible, allow it to set overnight.
To make the citrus reduction:
  • Add the orange juice in a saucepan along with the sugar and chilli flakes.
  • Heat till the juicereaches a boiling point. Then lower the heat and boil till the juice has reduced to half in quantity.
  • Take out from the heat and allow to come to room temperature.
To serve:
  • Demould the cheesecake and pour the citrus reduction over the cheesecake. Chill for about 15 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.