Monday, July 27, 2009

Corn nu Shaak and a Strange Pasta Dish

First of all - what is shaak? Well shaak is a traditional Indian style vegetable dish. It can either be dry or liquidy. Dry shaak is more like a spicy saute, where as liquidy shaak is more like a stew.

So today's dinner started off with two thoughts - the first was - I have a fresh corn in the fridge and I should use it before it goes bad. The second thought was I have sweet potato bisque (from trader joe's) and I'm just not in the mood for soup, so how can I use it.

So we'll start with the corn. I decide to make corn nu shaak - which means shaak with corn. This shaak contains the following ingredients (Thanks to my buddy Prati for this recipe)

can of blended diced (or crushed tomatoes)
fresh corn, shucked and frozen corn (you can do all frozen)

the sauce consists of the following:
mustard seeds
cumin seeds
cayenne pepper
chick pea flour
crush peanuts
honey (can use sugar, brown is preferred, I like honey for tomato based sauces)
and oil

So I heated the oil up (for a vaghar)
once the oil was warm, I added
mustard seeds - when they popped I added
cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, chick pea flour and crushed peanuts

I sauted them for a bit and as they finished cooking I added the blended tomatoes

let that cook for awhile, then add in the frozen corn and continue to cook - total cooking time - 20 mins or so - the corn should be cooked through.

add honey to cut the sour taste of the tomatoes and salt to taste.

Now the experiment - the sweet potato bisque from trader joes (so if it was winter time I would have gobbled this soup up in a day or two

This is the ingredients list - look soup without garlic or onions! But I had no desire to eat it. So I brain stormed with my buddy Ken and we came up with a casserole with penne pasta and the bisque used to make a sauce that mimicked cream sauce in texture and flavor.

So I boiled up some pasta - without oil!

and laid it out in a casserole dish, and used the pasta water water to make the sauce -

Trader Joe's sweet potato bisque
ground pepper
parmesan cheese - I recommend the good stuff, but I used both the big container and the good stuff (cause I ran out)
cayenne pepper
salt to taste
water to thin the sauce

So I just threw the above into a pot, boiled it up for a bit, adjusted the flavor and added it to the casserole dish

then add the veggies - I only had purple carrots (you could use any carrots, or no carrots - it didn't add much to the dish other then veggies)

The carrots look a lot prettier then in this picture - they are really nice looking carrots - just purple!

I tossed everything together, sprinkled shredded provolone an top and popped into a 350ยบ F oven and cooked for probably 20 - 30 min (everything is cooked except the carrots) you just want the sauce to thicken, the cheese to melt and the veggies to soften a bit.

Let it cool for a bit and serve

I serve with toasted bread crumbs (I later discovered this was not necessary but when I took the casserole out I felt it missing some texture, so I toasted it up, but upon eating it I realized it wasn't necessary at all)

So the verdict - yummy! It looks like pasta and dal, but its yummy! Pictures don't do the flavor justice. So pasta and a sweet potato sauce - Yummy and filling (though a little high on the carb factor, not a perfect meal)

Note on the purple carrots - the verdict is still out in my book if I like the carrots from the market, but research does say that more natural colors in one's diet ensures that we get a variety of useful chemical, including a variety of anti-oxidants (chemicals that help prevent DNA damage and thereby prevent cancer). In addition, in the wild carrots were never just the bright orange we associate them with, instead they came in a wide variety of shades. So celebrate diversity in vegetables. Don't let the media tell you what color your carrot should be.

(I want a blue carrot, blue anyone? See one recently?)

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