Sunday, April 27, 2014

Caulifower & Pasta Salad + Tomato Pachadi

Our Fusion Cauliflower and Pasta with pappadums, braised kale and tomato pachadi.

As most Indian rice main dishes are served with a yogurt condiment, why not do the same with pasta? Above, a tomato pachadi added a creamy element to an otherwise light meal. Similar to North Indian raitas, pachadis differ in the inclusion of a cooked element. This is a dish to make again and again! So let's do it together: heat 1 T. vegetable oil in a skillet and add 2 dried red chilies (torn into pieces), about 1/4 t. asafoetida (also known as hing powder), 1 t. black mustard seeds and 1 t. urad dal. Cook, covered, until the mustard seeds pop. When the urad dal has turned golden in color, add 1 diced tomato, 3 sliced scallions and 2 chopped green chilies. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then remove from heat; allow pan to cool slightly. Stir in two cups plain low-fat or whole milk yogurt and 1/2 t. cayenne pepper. Season to taste with salt and allow to rest at least 30 minutes before serving.

Kale get the Indian fusion treatment as well, slowly stewed with garlic, ginger, tomatoes and green chilies.

The pasta is superb chilled as well, served as a salad entree, making it a new staple of summer picnic baskets. Here's how to make it:
Bring to a boil a large saucepan filled with water, add a lot of salt and then 2 cups small elbow noodles or small pasta shells. Cook pasta until just al dente, or still firm, about 7 -9 minutes. In the last 4 minutes of cooking time, add to the water 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets. Drain all in a colander but do not rinse. While waiting for the water to boil and the pasta/cauliflower to cook, heat 4 T. vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet until very hot. Add 2 t. each of black mustard seeds and urad dal (split white lentils) and cover pan until mustard seeds stop popping. Continue to fry over a medium flame until urad dal is golden brown. If you don't have urad dal you might substitute sesame seeds but the cooking time will be far shorter. Add 1 finely chopped onion and 2-4 small green chilies. Cook for a couple more minutes, just until the onions lose a bit of their rawness. Add pasta and cauliflower to the skillet. Remove from heat. Toss with 1-2 t. poodhi powder (available at all Indian markets), salt to taste, freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 cup minced cilantro, both leaves and tender stems. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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