Counterfeit Indian Food

I really like Indian food but I can’t cook it for nuts. Ground nuts, pistachio nuts, cashew nuts, peanuts. I sound crazy now but I’m just trying to tell you how sad this makes me. Imagine, me, a confused Chinese-English girl in continental Europe, and the one thing I craved most for a whole semester in university was banana leaf.

Specifically, banana leaf from Nirwana Maju in Bangsar, with the crunchy oily snake gourd in batter, and loads of pickle and salted dried chillies.

I suspect I may have some underlying identity issues.

A friend (with amazing cooking skills) taught me this recipe, while I was in London watching her cook. And then I forgot it. And then I scoured the internet to try and find something even half close, which was really quite difficult. And then a certain Mr. B.Foot told me that it needs to have mustard seeds in it, else, why would you even do this? And so, here you go.

I don’t vouch for its authenticity, but it is one of my favourite cauliflower dishes, and I don’t usually like cauliflower that much. The person that taught me the original recipe was  Indian, does that count?

If you actually know how to cook Indian food, feel free to have a good laugh at how I’ve traumatised a self-respecting cauliflower. And send me your grandmother’s recipe so I can have a go at humiliating another poor vegetable 😀

Dry Fry Cauliflower 

1 head of cauliflower
1 teasp of mustard seeds
2 teasp of  cumin seeds
1 teasp of  chilli powder (or 2 dried chillies)
1/2 teasp turmeric powder
1/4 teasp coriander powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)

  1. Separate the cauliflower into florets, preferably by hand. This is supposed to make it taste better but I don’t remember why. I just find it fun to pluck the bits off by hand.
  2. Add a tablespoon of oil to a wok on low heat. Chuck in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chilli. Wait for them to dance *wiggle wiggle*. They will also get more fragrant
    You need to believe me on this, they really will dance. And you should dance with them! Try playing ZeeTV* in the background to set the mood.  But careful not to burn them, if you burn the cumin seeds it’ll taste weird. When the seeds darken slightly to a golden brown to a then it’s about done, if you wait until they are dark brown they’re burnt.
  3. Add the cauliflower and stir to mix all the spices in thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. Add the remaining turmeric and coriander powder. Mix mix!
  5. Taste…add more salt or chilli powder if you need to. According to me, it’s done when the cauliflower is still a bit crisp in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outside, because I like my vege underdone. If you over cook it, then the whole dish will become soggy. Though some people like that 🙂

*A channel on Singapore TV that shows Indian movies of all sorts all day all night.

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The Spinach Flu

So today I’m sick. I thought I wasn’t, and happily trundled into work this morning at 9. Well 9.30, given train delays – it was madness this morning I don’t know what happened! Well, once I got into work I was promptly shoo-ed off to the doctor by my colleagues. I guess they were concerned for my health… and also my potential to infect them. In any case, I won’t complain about a free holiday. Despite not feeling that unwell, the Dr instructed me to go home as apparently I had a fever. I guess he turned out to be right in the end, as by afternoon I wasn’t feeling so chirpy anymore.

So, sick people food. Chinese porridge always comes to mind. But that takes a bit of work. I wasn’t willing to stand over the stove sweating this afternoon. Sometimes when I’m sick, I get really inspired to make Chinese porridge (I firmly believe it is a medicine don’t you know). But, the last time that happened was when I was in London, and it was really cold, so it could also have been a warmth-seeking-exercise. Also soup. I did have leftover mushroom soup, which I ate for lunch, but unfortunately one has to eat dinner as well even if one’s too lazy to cook it. I suppose I could have just ordered pizza or something. The trials and tribulations of eating healthily.

I rummaged through my fridge (mentally, its cold in there, I don’t like cold), settling on frozen spinach. Spinach is supposed to make you strong! Like Popeye! Inspired by the saag I had at Bel’s house last weekend, I set to work making easy-food. I also wanted something without chilli for my poor throat. That was a rather tall order, especially for me.

I don't think I want arms that big though

Of what I could taste, this tasted pretty good. The sharpness of the lemon went nicely with the cheese, and the spinach was infused with a charred garlic taste. I need to try this again when I can smell properly.

Spinach and Pine nut Pasta

Serves two

200g pasta – I used tricoloure, because I like the colourful sqiggles
5 cloves of garlic
1 cup of spinach – frozen is fine, fresh would probably be nicer
1/2 cup parmesan – real cheese please! Any other hard cheese would also probably be nice
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts – optional
2 tablesp lemon juice
salt + black pepper

  1. Boil your pasta, set aside
  2. Chop and fry the garlic in about a tablespoon of oil. Keep going until it’s brown. You should add a pinch of salt at this point, it seems to make the garlic/oil mix more fragrant.
  3. Add the spinach, and cook for a while until the garlicky taste seeps in. I actually dumped mine in frozen and let it heat up together.
  4. Mix mix! mix the spinach with the pasta, finely grated cheese, and pine nuts. Add the lemon juice and as much black pepper as you like, and stir.

Spinach and Pine Nut Pasta