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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Delicious Dinner Lite

First things first.
And that, my friends, is that I have new found admiration for the delicate balance between time and inspiration (vis a vis writing, of course).
You see, one without the other, and the story’s ended without even having begun.  Gonzo, kaput, babye and so on.

Which is really what’s happened to me over the last couple of months. To put it in the lingo of my erstwhile life (no love lost by the way) I’ve been somewhat in the black on inspiration but hopelessly in the red, on time. Which, after deep introspection, I have come to accept, is really the lesser of the two evils. Because the other way round (aka writer’s block) (shudder) is the worst possible thing that can happen to anyone who writes. It’s a nightmare. It’s sitting in front of the computer for hours with a blank MS word doc blinking in front of you. Or worse, it's spouting a bunch of utter nonsense in your head, and then transferring it to print, all the while convincing yourself that it’s not, indeed, utter nonsense, and then realising - once having wasted many hours of your life that you will never get back -  that it isn't, in fact, anything but.  Then of course it’s race between the delete and the backspace buttons (not sure why they both exist by the way) and you’re back to the blinking MS word doc. Square 1. Etc.

So, long story short – I’ve been horribly busy. Doing horribly dull stuff I might add. Such as trying to change airline tickets et al. Which I’m sure you all know is like offering a sandwich to a brick wall. Has anyone succeeded in changing airline tickets? I mean, ever? In the history of man? If so, I certainly need a lesson or two. I’ll even pay you. I’d really rather pay you than pay them you know…

Anyway, anyway.

So this post is two months too late (and do you see how it had to be exactly two months for the above sentence to carry any meaning at all?) (I'm sure you do.) Anyway, it's all about something I ate in November, which does in fact, make it two months too late and I'd have forgotten what the blooming thing tasted like if it hadn't taste so good. But, it did. And I haven't. And so, here you go.

But before that...3 reasons why you need to try this dish, despite my inexcusable tardiness.

Reason number one: the title of this post. 
Namely: Delicious Dinner Lite.
Now, isn't that becoming?

Because, I think for the lot of us who have spent most of December in a frenzied food coma, the mere mention of the word “lite” makes the heart skip a beat.
Let's ponder upon it for just a wee second, why don't we? Tell me, my friends - how much turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, sweet potato, green beans, brussel sprouts, christmas pudding, pumpkin pie (God, I love pumpkin pie) and brandy butter did YOU single handedly, consume in the month of December?
Yup. That’s what I mean.
Not to mention the leftover turkey sandwiches (because we cooked too much food) (like we do every year) most of us ate till we were blue in the face?

(not, by the way, that I have anything against the Big Bird. God Bless the Big Bird. And God Bless America.)

Moving swiftly on.

Reason number two: (this gets better by the way) 
See, the word “lite” is not a good word. In fact, it's a bad word. It's even worse, actually. It's pure evil. You see, the word "lite" usually conjures up images of  insipid looking sugar free pots of yogurt, each of which is actually 1 kilo of sweetener mixed with pink coloured goo. Or packets of crunchy-ish items, which taste like nothing on earth, but are in fact meant to be a sorry excuse for real crisps. Or – this is my favourite yet – “lite” cheese. Ever tasted “lite” cheese? Don’t. You’re better off eating your mother’s rubber galoshes.

So, I hope when you read the words “delicious” and “lite” in the same sentence, you are basically, bum off your chair, poised in mid-air, in a state of electrified wonder?
Because, this, you realise, is monumental.

And now (drumroll please), my trump card.
Aha! Save the best for last.

Reason number three: Delicious Dinner Lite was invented, devised and created by none other than The Closet Gourmand.

Which pretty much guarantees that this is already likely to be one of the best meals you will eat this year. And being January and all, that's a fat prize, I know. But you know and I've said this before - TCG is, hands down and without contest, the single best cook I know. And I know a lot of good cooks.

So, without further ado, I present to you:
Delicious Dinner Lite

These are kathi rolls, my friends – the good old paratha wrapped kebabs, rolled up in wax paper, filled with nostalgia and the taste of the dusty streets of Calcutta.

For those of you new to the kathi roll – it's basically an Indian wrap. Typically, dough is kneaded long and flat, folded several times to get the famed paratha layers. (For some amateur tips on technique, please read my post, Tani's very green parathas)

That done, for the kathi roll, the paratha is cooked through on a tawa or griddle with a bit of oil. If an egg is to be added (unda paratha) it is usually cracked into the tawa and the paratha put on top of the egg; they both cook together and the paratha gets coated on one side with the egg.

Kathi Kababs - the filling inside - is usually chicken, mutton or beef chunks or - for a vegetarian version, potato or paneer - marinated in spices and cooked on skewers, traditionally over coals. When the roll is being prepared, these are taken off the skewers and tossed with onions, chillies and sauces in the tawa, before being put in a thin strip in the centre of the paratha (egg side up you are using an egg).

Embellish it how you will – a dollop of ketchup, a dash of tamarind sauce, a squeeze of lime, sometimes a shake of chaat masala, some spicy coriander/mint sauce...

...and that's the famous Kathi Roll, a delicious snack on the go, one of my all-time favourite treats and one of my most endearing memories of India, reminding me of all that is good and decent about it. A reminder I've needed much of recently.

And so, our delicious dinner lite consists of not one, but three kinds of kababs (well, well, aren’t you in for a treat?): Chicken Hariyali, Seekh and Chicken Badami, and here’s how you do the marinades:


-       Half kilo chicken thighs
-     Mint, coriander and spinach
-       Lemon
-       Salt
-       GG paste
-       The very finest of red chilli powder
-       All ground up


-       Aberdeen lean steak
-       Red onion
-       Coriander
-       GG paste
-       Green chilli
-       Garam Masala
-       Salt
-       Some “secret spices” that he wont let me in on. I tried everything, believe me. If I were a gambling person, I’d bet there was alcohol involved, but the truth is, I don’t quite know. Sorry!!
-       All ground up


-       Half kilo chicken thighs
-       Half cup ground almonds
-       0.5 cup double cream
-       0.5 cup besan (ground chickpea flour)
-       0.5 cup white onions
-       Salt and pepper
-       All ground up

Now I get that the quantities here range from vague (best case) to non-existent (base case). But as I said, this is coming from one of the finest cooks of our times. So. Um. Tough.
We take what we get.
Such is the essence of life.

Marinate for a few hours or overnight.
Oven it
Wrap it
Eat it

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