Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vegetable Cutlets

I hate those poriyal dishes (those that contain copious amounts of coconut), just because one happens to be living in an area that nurtures coconut cultivation is no excuse to suffocate every dish with coconut, sometimes vegetables (like ladies finger, raw mango) drenched in coconut milk are considered 'a delicacy', I really don't understand that... imagine a sticky slimy vegetable like ladies finger swimming around in a cloudy liquid, don't you think that would make it even slimier, I think I hated it the first time I touched it and it sent shivers up my spine. Anyway, the whole coconut rant has no point to this post... I don't even know what brought that on, anyway since it's my blog, I guess I can rant whenever I like. 

I love cutlets, I mean who doesn't... easy (though a little time consuming) to make, their real value lies in being able to freeze them so whenever you are busy or just plain tired, you can remove them (from the freezer), fry them and make a sandwich or roll it up in a chapathi or eat it with rice and curd, and just like that... you will have had a terrific meal! 
So getting stared, finely chop some onions, a few green chillies and an inch or two of ginger. Then rummage through your fridge and remove all the vegetables you can use in a cutlet, like carrots, cabbage, potato, peas, capsicum and the leafy herbs like coriander and mint. I hope you know that its not necessary to use all the vegetables/herbs mentioned here, use whatever you have. I usually grate the carrots, saves the hassle of having to cook it separately. Finely chop or grate the cabbage too. Roughly cube your potatoes and cook them separately. Wash and chop your leafy herbs. 
Everything chopped and grated... and potatoes are cooked.

Now in a large kadai heat a few tablespoons of oil, and drop in the chopped onions, green chillies and the ginger.

Fry it around till it gets a nice brownish tint...

Drop in the carrots first, cause they are more dense... they require more time in the pan.

Fry it around for a few minutes till the carrots becomes flexible and give off a nice carroty smell. 

Now drop in the cabbage, and fry it around....for a few minutes. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes if required, to cook the uneven thick portions. 

Now drop in the peas and the cooked potatoes and fry them around. (If you have capsicum, add them now..)

Add salt, pepper, a little jeera powder and garam masala powder... mix it around.

Drop in your leafy herbs... and give it a mix.

You can remove the vessel from the flame now and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Now this mixture by itself cannot be fashioned into round balls to form the cutlet, it will not hold. So put your hand in and smash the pieces of potato, usually cutlets make use of a lot of potatoes. They form the mulch that binds the other vegetables together. But I added less potatoes here to make a more wholesome vegetable cutlet. To form the proper holding consistency, all you gotta do is add tomato ketchup or an egg if the mixture is dry and won't hold together, like the picture up here. In case the mixture is slightly wet or runny, then add cornflour or breadcrumbs to make it more dense and malleable. I hope you got all this...

Here, I added both tomato ketchup and a little cornflour to create a malleable mess. 

See, this is how it should look... the right consistency to shape into balls. This mixture by itself will taste great, so if its dinner time, you can stuff this mix between two slices of buttered bread and you'll have a wonderful vegetable sandwich. 
To make the cutlets, take a palm full and fashion them into balls then slowly press them between your palms to form a patty. Dip this patty in egg and breadcrumbs and shallow fry them. This is how cutlets are usually made. I would have done the same if I was residing somewhere near the Alps or in Colordao... wasting time on each cutlet and coating it delicately with the egg and breadcrumbs. 
But I live in India, an unbearably hot country, and since its the midst of summer... no sane person would spend more time than necessary in a hot humid kitchen. So I just coated the cutlets with maida and here they are in a box ready to be frozen.

 Shallow fry them in a pan, with a few spoons of oil & drain them onto a tissue. Don't they look lovely here... I think I'll stick to coating cutlets with maida henceforth, these were less trouble and really great

PS: Sometimes after you dethaw the cutlets, they tend to stick together and they might lose shape... fear not, just keep some maida ready. Shape the cutlets again, coat with the maida and place them gently in the hot sizzling oil. 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

An Indian Summer...

Before I got married, summer meant no school (I was working in a special school) and visits to the coconut farm where we would spend the time drinking tender coconut water and soaking ourselves in a small tank like pool, watching the sun rays dance on the surface of the clear underground water (used to irrigate the land). The coolness of the water gushing out of the bore well pipe and the serenity of the secluded farm made life wonderful. An Indian summer in all its glory can really wane your senses and drive you insane... so you can imagine what a blessing the farm is. Today while standing in the kitchen and cursing the Tamilian way of eating lunch (what with the rice and its numerous curries and the accompanying vegetable dishes.... either people should take it upon themselves to cook all this in a hot sultry kitchen or else learn to embrace the European culture of bread, mashed potatoes, fresh salad and a slice of grilled meat), the mosquitoes and the landscape of the world in general cause India just happened to be situated near the Equator... I remembered those good old days...
The insanely good tender coconut water...

The tank like pool, with crystal cool water gushing out from under the earth... 

Its a pretty nice place to relax and read a great book, like the one shown in the picture. Its 'Between a rock and a hard place' by real like mountaineer and adventurer Aron Ralston whose harrowing ordeal in a canyon is depicted in the movie 127 hours.
Playing by the water...

Effectively maintaining my sanity and having fun at the same time... 

Summer in the city is spent trying to quickly finish your work in the kitchen and then running to the bedroom to switch on the AC and thanking God for Willis Haviland Carrier, the man who invented modern air conditioning.