Friday, December 31, 2010

Karachi Food Diaries Day 21 - 24 (Potato-cauliflower medley, aloo gobi)

December 27, 2010 Monday- Day 21
I have accepted my defeat in the battle against the curry and the meat. There is no getting away from it. It is the way things roll here. I can prepare my own meals but that is not an option in this land of  domestic help. So, I submit and savor. Time enough to revisit the ideal in the new year. Four days left till the end of the year,  social life is whirling and swirling. Parties and dinners all round. Lunch at home is usually a curry, a dry vegetable dish, sometimes kababs, rice and bread with lots of raw vegetables and pickles on the side. Dinner is either out or, if home, then the same. Trying to keep it as simple as possible.

December 28 Tuesday- Day 22
Dinner was at Cafe Flo. It is the most popular French restaurant in the city. I have always enjoyed the food here. The meal started off well with complimentary vol-au-vent for the table. Yummy. Wish I could say the same for the rest of the meal. We ordered carpaccio, crab salad special and escargot as appetizers. The carpaccio was closer to the classic recipe than Okra's but still lacking for me. It was too thin, plastered flat to the plate while the parmesan was too thickly cut. The arugula or rocket as it is called here, was mixed with mushrooms and dressed a little heavily. The lemon wedge was much needed. Also, the plate was cold as if it had been preprepared and refrigerated. Escargot was delicious in their buttery, salty, and garlicky perfection; enjoyed sopping up the excess juice with my bread. The crab salad was not right; watery, not enough meat and actually tasting a little off. For the main entree, I ordered red snapper with shrimp and calamari. The seafood was fresh but overdressed again with too many ingredients. The saving grace in the meal my friend's entree, baked red snapper marinated in soya sauce, ginger and wasabi; delicate and delectable. Live and learn another day!
December 29 Wednesday- Day 23
The night was double-booked; two dinners and lots of drinks. Food was served again at the tail-end of the night at which point my taste buds were comfortably numb and not too discerning.
December 30 Thursday- Day 24
Had lunch at my aunt's place. It was a feast. On the menu was achari bhindi (okra cooked in pickling spices), saag gosht (spinach with meat), daal, khata murghi salan (hot and sour chicken curry), sauteed zucchini, alu gobi and shrimp biryani, beans and hot roti. Delicious. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I will be back with a final recap as soon as I can emerge from my indulgent haze. Wishing all an early safe and happy new year!
Alu Gobi
This is a colorful, nutritious vegetable delight. It a combination of potato and cauliflower with either peas or carrots. This recipe is with carrots. Add 1/2 cup oil to a preheated pan and then1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. black mustard seeds and 1/2 tsp. minced garlic. When they start to sizzle, add 1 cup cauliflower (florets separated and cut up), 1 cup carrots (diced) and 1 medium potato (cubed). Season well with salt and black, saute uncovered for a little while, add a little water and cover to cook in the steam. When vegetables are cooked half way, approx. 15-20 mins, I add 1/2 a cup of balsamic vinegar. This is unusual preparation but does add a delicious piquant flavor to the dish. At this point, add more water if necessary and cover to cook till vegetables are soft. Garnish with a handful of chopped cilantro. Enjoy with daal and rice or roti.

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