Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday dinner - a cultural melting pot

Saturday night is our night to try new foods and restaurants. We are on an ongoing quest to try all the highly rated pizza places in the Bay Area. I didn't feel like pizza this Saturday but I also couldn't come up with any restaurants I was in the mood for. Dave leaves all the food decisions to me as he will eat just about anything I put in front of him. After perusing the contents of our fridge, this the most ethnically diverse menu I could come up with. Paneer pakora and roti from India, sweet-sour sauce which I believe is Asian, fried plantains are a nod to Central and South America/the Caribbean/Africa, and red beans and rice is a Southern dish - though my version is very simplified. This ended up being a really good dinner though a bit on the heavy side. Without the paneer it is vegan. I think my favorite part was the plantains - I'd never made them before and they were really good. Dave also had a piece of the toffee apple pie for dessert which is a British recipe. Last night we truly traveled the world on our plates.

The paneer pakora recipe and the sauce recipe are a couple posts down.

For the rice: I cooked regular rice according to the package directions but along with the rice I added a bunch of finely diced fresh chiles. Onion would also be good. As soon as the rice was done I added some rinsed and drained canned kidney beans, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teasp. salt
1/2 cup warm water
2 teasp. melted butter or ghee (I used olive oil)
extra flour for rolling

In a bowl, mix the flour salt and water. Add more water if the dough is too hard. Knead the dough well to make a medium soft dough that is not sticky. Cover the dough with a damp towel and set aside for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball and press it flat. Using extra flour as needed, roll each piece of dough into a 6 inch circle. Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat. Put the rolled roti on the skillet. It will puff up and start to darken. Cook, flipping a couple times, until each side is lightly browned. This only takes a moment. Wrap the cooked roti in foil to keep them moist. Some people butter the roti when they are still hot but I like them plain.

Tostones (fried plantains):
2 green plantains

Heat the oil to 375F. While the oil is heating peel the plantains and cut them into 3/4 inch slices. Fry the slices in hot oil for 3 minutes. They should be a light golden color. Remove the plantains from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. When the plantain slices are cool enough to handle, smash them into flat rounds (I used the back of a big spoon). Fry the flattened plantain rounds in the hot oil for another 3 minutes. They will turn golden brown and become crisp. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn quickly. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Salt to taste.

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