I made a simple and delicious Steamed Asparagus flavored with Chilli-Garlic butter for Marta from "An Italian in the US" blog for her "Fresh Produce of the Month" event. She has chosen "Asparagus" as her choice this month. Enjoy Marta, hope you like my simple side dish!:)
Since it's a steamed dish in the Microwave, I am also sending this to Srivalli from "Cooking 4 all seasons" blog's "Microwave Easy cooking" event with a theme of "Steamed" dishes. Thanks to you too Sri!:)
Asparagus is a perennial, an almost leafless member of the lily family. Asparagus has been used from very early times as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavor and diuretic properties.It was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Only the young shoots of asparagus are eaten, often stir-fried or steamed.
Asparagus is low in calories, do not contain fat or cholesterol and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of folic acid, potassium, dietary fiber. Info from WIKIPEDIA and you can read more about Asparagus is here.
Steamed crunchy Asparagus in Chilli-Garlic butter:
I usually stir-fry these Asparagus and sprinkle the spices and little Mayo or any sauce over it to serve as a side dish with Chicken patties like this post I have posted before. This time I have steamed and semi-fried in the Microwave and topped with Chilli-Garlic butter for a super quick side dish. Enjoy! :)
To make it, you need:
Chill-Garlic butter first: 1 tbsp (ie 3 tsps) softened butter, pinch of salt, 1/4 tsp Garlic pd or 1 plump garlic,chopped finely, 1/4 tsp chilli pd.Mix everything and chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Prepare the Asparagus: About 20-25 young Asparagus, 1/4 cup water or chicken stock, 1 tsp (1/3 rd of of above chilli butter mix) butter in chunks, 1/4tsp of salt if you are using just water (stock has salt already,do not add more!), 1/8 tsp coarsely ground pepper corns.
Crunchy mix: 1/4 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) plain or seasoned, 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp garlic pd, 1/4 tsp dry Italian mixed herbs. Mix everything and keep aside.
How to make:
1. Hold each Asparagus at both ends and snap. It will break at the tender spot itself. Arrange them all in a Microwave proof dish.
2. Add water or stock, salt, 1/3rd of chilli-garlic butter and pepper, cover partially and cook on high for 3 mins. Uncover, flip the Asparagus gently and microwave again for 3 more minutes without cover.
4. Take the dish out, sprinkle bread crumbs mixture on top, add 1tsp more of chilli butter and microwave for 1-2 mins.
5. Take it out and add rest of (last 1 tsp) chilli butter on top and cover with a plate to melt it. Serve on the side with any meat dishes or veg dishes.
That's it!! Crunchy Asparagus flavored with Parmesan, Panko, Italian herbs and chilli-garlic butter is now ready to devour!:D
Bhags from "Crazy Curry" has launched a new and interesting event for us to cook a dish from a novel you have read or movie you watched and named it "This book/(movie) makes me cook!". Sounds great. huh? Well....I had to get in there at the last minute because Bha as I call her is a great book lover like me. I chose to make a very humble "Dal-Roti" as the poorest people of Anand Nagar or "City of Joy" cook and enjoy in their everyday life! Yes, Dal-roti may not be not as glamorous as some dishes in other novels but it keeps their tummy full and fills the heart of all the poor but good hearted citizens of "the City of Joy" no matter what their daily struggles are. Hope the book enlightens you, makes you think how lucky you are compared to many slum dwellers' reality and these humble, comforting and delicious everyday dishes gladdens your heart too! :)
Sri reminded me of her "Roti Mela" event which going on in full swing right now. I am sending my Palak dal and roti to Srivalli from "Cooking 4 all seasons" blog for "Roti mela" as well. Enjoy Sri!:)
The City of Joy(Anand Nagar):
This book "The City of Joy" is written by Dominique Lapierre, who lived in Calcutta for sometimes to study, document and write this book, which is half fiction as well, based on his experiences there. Story has been made into a film with the same name with Patrick Swayze(Max Lowe), Pauline Collins(nun) and Om Puri(Hazari) as main characters.
I had read this book long time ago. Recently, I borrowed the movie from the library and watched it again. Do read if you haven't already or watch the movie. Story in brief goes like this:
Hazari Pal, a farmer from Bihar couldn't pay off his debts and moves his family to Anand Nagar, a slum in Culcutta (Kolkota) in the hope of making enough money to pay his debt and marrying his daughter but looses all his saved up money to a fraud who poses as a landlord as soon as they land in the city.
In desperation, he takes up a job of driving a hand driven Rikshaw, which is managed by a local "Dada", "Bhai" or "God father", underworld mafia style. During his work, he meets a Texan doctor who is visiting India to "find himself" who develops a friendship with him when Hazari rescues the robbed and beaten doctor who lying on the streets bleeding. Together, they meet a nun who introduces them to utter poverty and terrible conditions the slum dwellers live in, whom they try to help to improve with whatever little they have, running a free medical clinic.
When God father dies, his son takes over who determined to destroy the slums and uproot the people who live there, including shutting down the medical clinic run by the nun. As Hazari and the doctor sides with the nun, Hazari looses his only means of livelihood ie the Rickshaw and still doesn't give up hope as long as his family is with him to support and love!
The author writes in his book that inspite of all the trials and travails of the poorest of the poor in Anand Nagar, Calcutta, how they still manage to smile, enjoy simple pleasures of being with their loving family, help the neighbors with kindness in their time of need and enjoying the humble daily meal of warm Dal-Roti on the plate at the end of day spent doing hard physical labor as well as celebration of festivals with fragrant and delicious food served at these celebrations like dal, roti, Tandoori chicken and mint-coconut chutney with such joy which surpasses all the suppression, abuse of everyday and replaces it with faith, hope, love and dignity for life! :)
A humble plate of Hazari family's Palak Dal and Roti:
Palak dal literally means Spinach cooked with spicy lentil gravy and rotis are chapatis made of flour and baked on a griddle, a Indian flatbread similar to Tortilla, a nutritious and filling combo as common in North India as "meat and Potato" in US. Here is a step by step tutorial how to make rotis or Phulkas, the soft and puffed rotis. Enjoy the dal-roti!:)
You need: 1 1/2 cup plain flour, 1/2 cup Wheat flour, or 2 cups of wheat flour/atta, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp oil and about 1 cup or more warm water, just enough to make a soft and pliable dough. Do not add too much water at once when mixing, which makes the dough sticky.
To make Rotis/Chapatis:
1. Mix and knead all the above ingredients with enough water well to make a soft and pliable dough. Cover and rest for 15mins and divide the dough into 6 balls, roll each out to 6" circle.
2. Heat a iron or any griddle, bake each roti both sides and brush with little butter when done and keep warm until they are served.
You need: 1 cup Tuar dal, or Chana dal or Moong dal or Masoor dal (I used chana dal), 2 bunches of fresh spinach, chopped or 1 pack of frozen Spinach,thawed, about 2 cups water, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp oil.
To season: 2 tbsp oil or butter, 1/2 mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds, 1 onion, chopped, 2 garlic-1" ginger grated or ground to paste, 1 red chilly, 1/2 tsp chilli pd, 1 tsp Coriander seeds powder, 1/2 tsp Garam Masala, salt.
1 tsp lemon juice and cilantro for garnish.
To make dal:
1. Cook dal and Spinach with water and turmeric until soft. Mix well, add more water if it's too thick. I personally like my dal thickish to help scoop it up with soft rotis. Add enough salt.
2. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1 dry red chilli and onion. When slightly reddish, add ginger and garlic paste, fry for 1 min and all the dry spice pds, stir for a minute.
3. Add cooked dal and spinach to the pan and simmer for 5 mins. Adjust the salt and spices.
Garnish with lemon juice and cilantro and serve with rotis and onion slices or mint chutney.
Have a joyful week. No matter how your day begins and ends, always count your blessings and keep smiling! :)