India Shopping Spree

Inspired by most of our Indian friends who make visits to the motherland, we spent much of the past week stocking up on all kinds of goodies to take home with us. It started in Bangalore, where we acquired:

  • 2 tiffin boxes
  • An appam pan
  • 1/2 kg appam flour
  • 1 kg ragi flour
  • 1/2 kg ragi
  • 1/2 kg rava
  • Garam masala
  • MTR sambar mix
  • 1 Indian shirt for Kenny and 2 for me plus a pair of earrings at Anokhi
  • Various arts and crafts gifts from Archana’s mother’s crafts collective, including 4 purses for sisters and friends, 4 necklace/earring sets for mothers and sisters, and an elephant figurine for Gio

Then the madness continued here in Delhi, where we have added:

  • A pressure cooker
  • An idly stand
  • Chicken tikka masala seasoning and roasted chana at Roopak in Karol Bagh
  • A long kurti set for Kenny, several tops for me, and a shirt for Shawn from Westside
  • A shirt for Kenny from Fabindia
  • Another couple of shirts for me from various other shops in Karol Bagh
  • Two shirts for Kenny at the State Emporiums
  • A scarf for Jessica and an elephant-mobile for Jadon near Janpath

Good thing we bought that pressure cooker, ’cause we’ll need the box to carry all of this extra stuff home. We also bought a roll of packing tape to seal the box as checked baggage. Next time I come to India, I’m bringing an empty suitcase.

Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Puree

As Kenny mentioned, our culinary experiments in India have often led us to source many of the constituent ingredients of our recipes the old-fashioned way. The dishes we prepared for Thanksgiving were no exception, and I was determined that the absence of canned pumpkin puree at our local grocery store was not going to prevent us from eating delicious pumpkin waffles for dessert (we don’t have an oven, so no pies for us, but we did discover Archana’s waffle iron a few days ago). We acquired a beautiful pumpkin from the local produce market in Malleshwaram and resolved to make the puree ourselves.

Of course most pumpkin puree recipes on the interwebs (including this one, which I used for inspiration) involve the use of an oven, which we don’t have. But my time in India has firmly convinced me that there’s pretty much no culinary problem that a pressure cooker can’t solve. Conveniently enough, Sean and Kenny had just purchased a 12L pressure cooker for the turkey, which was just perfect for the pumpkin.

First I cut it in half and removed the stringy stuff and the seeds (which I put aside for delicious toasted garam masala pumpkin seeds later). Then I hacked it up into smaller pieces, and into the pressure cooker it went, with about 3 cups of water. About 20 minutes later I had the “meltingly soft” pumpkin that every recipe demands. After it cooled, it went into the food processor, and then we mixed up the waffle batter. The end result was delicious, and further cemented my belief in the magical powers of the pressure cooker.

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Bisected pumpkin

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All cleaned up and ready for the pressure cooker

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In it goes!

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Delicious pumpkin waffles, garnished with ice cream, cinnamon, and red Kerala bananas (my favorite!)

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Garam masala pumpkin seeds

Pressure Cooker Turkey

Sean really wanted to have turkey at Thanksgiving dinner this year, so we spent some time brainstorming viable cooking options in this oven-free city. Our final candidate list included grilling (we’d need to acquire a very large grill), my father’s tried and true trash-can method, or just treat it like many Indian dishes and pressure cook the bird. For cost and safety reasons we dismissed the otherwise compelling Southern favorite option of deep-fried turkey.

First stop: Metro (the Indian version of Costco) to acquire a turkey. Metro had two types of turkeys: local or imported. While the imported turkeys were certainly more plump, something felt wrong (in addition to the 3x price tag) about using an imported turkey. So we picked up a seven kilo local turkey, from which they kindly removed the head and feet at our request.

After also acquiring the requisite Heritage Wine for the evening, we trolled the aisles looking for an appropriately sized cooking implement. The closest thing we found to a metal trashcan was a large cylindrical metal bowl which was (a) quite pricey and (b) probably still too short to adequately hold our turkey. As there were no grills to come by, our decision was easy: one 12 liter pressure cooker it was.

We put together a marinade of local ingredients, and used it to pressure cook the turkey. On the plus side, it was enormously efficient – the turkey was fully cooked in about an hour and a half, a fraction of the time it would have taken in the oven. On the other hand, it tasted a little, well, chewy. Whether this was from the cooking method, the lack of marinade injection or the texture of a local turkey we will never know.

Turkey chefs
The turkey chefs ready for business

Turkey marinade
The turkey marinade: Kingfisher, apple-pear juice, onions, curry leaves, green chilies, and other good stuff

Marinating the turkey
We thought about injecting the turkey with our marinade, but settled on the more standard “let-soak” method

MY turkey
‘Zis turkey will be ‘ze finest in Malleswaram

Turkey in the pressure cooker
Fortunately we opted for the local turkey; I don’t think the imported one would have fit into our pressure cooker

Pressure Cookers

In India I’ve had my first experience with pressure cookers. I think they’re awesome, but I’m also slightly terrified of them. I was in the process of pressure cooking some beans, and a noxious steam started coming out the front of the cooker (not the top). Heat off, fans on, and fingers crossed. And (I think) time for a new pressure cooker.