Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pan Asian Weekend: low-key finale

Tonight I made Indian for dinner. Are the Indians Asian or South-Asians? That topic aside, we had jasmine rice (wished it had been basmati), sautéed snake gourd, dry-fried okra, white kidney beans, and organic plain goat yogurt. Not much of dinner was acceptable for the baby, but no matter, tomorrow she might feel differently.

Snake gourd is a long tropical squash/gourd(?) with hard ridges. The trick is to trim off enough off the ridges, but still retain some amount of skin. Too little skin retained, and you have a flavorless mush; too much ridge retained and dinner is all fiber. Is this a metaphor for balance in life? Really, it is just advice on cooking snake gourd. My husband often avoids it when I make it, because it reminds him of cooked cucumber. Today, eating it, he noted it had a delicate flavor, cooked with water, mustard oil and green chilies, but he prefers the flavor of the okra.

Thinking about it, mucilaginous was the theme for dinner. Gooey, sticky, oozy, soft, both vegetables are really acquired tastes in terms of texture, though there are very few foods that I would turn down on texture alone. Heck, earlier today, I just ate more of those tofu noodles that fight back.

My husband said he loved the okra "right off the bat."(If you read a sport metaphor here, assume I have quoted them.) Usually I sliver the okra, toss it with cumin and hot pepper and then roast it in the oven. But, today, I decided to pan fry it. I realized that this method requires way more oil, and didn't get me the crispy texture that I love of the oven version. Stove top for me no longer. (Apparently grammar and I are but acquaintances.)

Both these vegetables are said to have restorative properties. My hope is that they heal my stomach from a weekend of meat-eating.

I still very satiated from lunch, so I only ate dinner to set a good example for Belle. But now that she is safely asleep, I am partaking in caffeine and milk. I decided to complete my Indian cleaning meal with a milk and sugar-filled srikand that I found at an Indian grocery store. Like all Indian sweets, srikand is cloyingly sweet, and unapologetically so. In my mind, 75% of Indian desserts taste of pistachios, saffron and sugar; they just differ in texture. This is basically sweet, thick yogurt. It is a great way to get your daily requirements of calcium.

Oven-fried Okra
Cut 2 cups of okra in half lengthways and then cut each half into thirds. Toss with 2 teaspoons or so of cumin, 1 t of chili powder, 1 T of oil. Put them in an oven-safe dish and roast at 400 degrees until very crispy.

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