Yakitori Gone Desi

[I didn’t plan on making this a series, but I think I have a handful of recipes now. So this is, what I’d like to believe, the second of a five part series on non-vegetarian Gujarati cuisine. In case you’ve missed the first part, it’s here.]


I was at Malaka Spice, in Pune, last week on a whim and got a taste of their summer menu. I was with a friend and we binge ate six different kinds of Yakitori:

  • Reba Gushi (レバー) – liver
  • Tebasaki (手羽先) – chicken wing
  • Negima (ねぎま) – chicken alternating with and spring onion/leek
  • Bonjiri (ぼんじり) – chicken tail
  • Tsukune (つくね) – chicken meatballs
  • Tori Kawa (とり)かわ) – chicken skin, grilled until crispy

Grilled cuts of chicken, marinated in spices and ginger-soy sauce.

So when I asked my mum for the recipe for Maamnaa later that week, a little light bulb went up, about how I could serve them – the way I’d been served Yakitori – on a stick.

Mutton Mince Meatballs - Maamnaa
Mutton Mince Meatballs – Maamnaa

 

Maamnaa are fried/grilled meatballs made with very fine lamb mince and spices, served with lots of fine sliced onions, lemon and green chutney.

My limited knowledge on Surati Khatri food comes from my mum’s conversations with the daughters-in-law of a certain Kadiwala family. The patriarch of the family, Ratibhai Kadiwala grew up with my grandfather in the bylanes of Surat in the 1930s. Over the years, the families grew apart, migrated to different cities and adopted new lifestyles altogether, but didn’t quite lose touch. Though Rati Kaka passed away over a decade ago and my grandfather’s mental health has deteriorated owing to dementia, there still are memories that come up in conversation every once in a while. And some recipes.

As if it were a coincidence, or some sort of sign, my mum gave me the news of Kanta Kaki’s passing the day I asked her for the maamnaa recipe. Kanta Kaki – Rati Kaka’s wife. Of late, my heart aches when I hear about the demise of people from my grandparents’ generation. I wonder if they’ve left behind notebooks in old trunks, scribbled with recipes… letters written to loved ones in an age when there was no internet or even an inexpensive phone call system… black and white photographs turned sepia and dog eared. I wonder if us grandchildren, or maybe generations after us might chance upon these some day, make sense of these little notes and preserve them for the future.

My great grandmother has left behind a notebook filled with recipes for mathiyas and nankhatais and other cookies and biscuits that I intend to digitize, sooner or later. While my grandmum was never much of an enthusiast in the kitchen, my mum’s gotten her hands dirty with recipes that have been passed down generations. She still makes mathiyas several times every year. And much to her displeasure, they make for some delicious chakhna – one of the countless varieties of nibbles that make cheap alcohol palatable.

And that’s where I pull the Khatris back into this story. As dry as state as Gujarat is, every other home I’ve visited in Gujarat has a full fledged bar cabinet. While alcohol consumption for most other communities might be a covert affair, the Khatris openly enjoy shating a batli (bottle) during social gatherings. And Surati Khatris are known to swear by the “Khaai, pee ne jalsa karo” (eat, drink and make merry) rule.

Men and women, alike, enjoy drinking alcohol, often out of steel glasses, with enough to grub going around – fried peanuts and cashews, deep fried daal mixed with onions, coriander, tomatoes & a dash of lime. And maamnaa.

Mutton Mince Meatballs - Maamnaa
Mutton Mince Meatballs – Maamnaa

Recipe

Ingredients:
Maamnaa Masala:
(each ingredient roasted individually and all ingredients then ground to a fine powder)

100g coriander seeds
30g cumin seeds
30g black peppercorn
30g sesame seeds

10g stone flower (dagad phool)
10g black cumin (shahi jeera)
10 g cinnamon stick
10 g cinnamon leaves
10 g bay leaves (tamaal patra)
10g black cardamom (badi elaichi)
10 g cloves
10 g star anise
10g mace

A pinch of grated nutmeg

For the kebabs/meatballs:
1 lb meat keema
2 tbsp ginger, freshly grated
2 tbsp garlic, freshly crushed
2 tbsp green chilli paste, fresh
3 tbsp maamnaa masala
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 egg
1 tbsp cornflour
Salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Wash & drain the meat keema properly. The meat should be a very fine mince. If you think it’s chunky, you can pulse it in a mixer-grinder for a couple of minutes.
  2. To about a pound of the mince (450g or so), add ginger, garlic, chilli paste and masala and mix well. Let the meat marinate in the spices for 2-3 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to cook the maamnaa, heat some oil to shallow fry the meatballs. Alternately, you can fire up a grill or heat up a grill frying pan.
  4. Add an egg and some cornflour to the meat mixture, so that it binds easily and doesn’t fall apart in the oil (or off the skewers, when grilling).
  5. Make fist sized balls. Lower into oil. Cook uniformly for 4-5 minutes.
  6. For seekh kebabs, add a little more cornflour to bind, roll around skewers and grill over charcoal or on a grill pan.
  7. Serve with onions and mint chutney.

Next up: The many colours of Undhiyu

 

Khatri Tapelu (Slow-cooked Lamb Stew)

[I’d written this several months ago, in an attempt to send it to some websites that publish content around food-writing. Mostly just to try my luck at this. Nobody wrote back. And that’s why I’m finally posting it on the blog.

The friends I sent this to, though, were all praises for the piece. Either I have a bunch of utterly nice (yet idiotic) friends. Or then, let’s face it, my writing skill suck (as do my photography skills).]


As a kid with roots in Surat, I grew up spending summers in the city, often tagging along with my mum on social visits to homes of extended family and their friends. Rati Kaka’s home was one such. My grandfather and Rati Kaka were what we’d call “chaddi buddies”. Even today, if you ask my grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s and Dementia, where he grew up, he brightens up a little and quips “Sagrampara, Jundasheri”. My visits to Rati Kaka’s often meant I got utterly bored, but returned with Rs 51/- or Rs 101/- as token blessings. My mum, however, came back with lots of gossip, and the odd recipe.

She finally got around to making one such recipe when we were visiting her a few days ago. It’s called “tapelu” which literally means large pot – paatela in Marathi, pateelaa in Hindi, tapelu in Gujarati and is basically just chunks of lamb stewed with onions and spices. The Kadiwala family, from whom my mother got the recipe, has lived in Surat since the late 1900s and belong to the Khatri community that represents the ‘kha’ from the ka-kha-ga-gha social strata in Surat.

Ka for Kanbi – the farming community, Kha for Khatri – the working class, or the business community, Ga for Gola and Gha for Ghaanchi, who, I’m told, comprised folk from lower castes.

The Khatri community in Surat were a bunch of folk who worked under the Desais (the surname is derived from Sanskrit words deśa meaning ‘land’ and pati meaning ‘lord’) and eventually worked their way to being rich enough to purchase property across all of Surat, the Sagrampura area in particular. Sagrampura is an area cluttered with narrow parallel streets that house large homes. Almost all of these homes have a glorious living room entrance, a smaller seating arrangement and a backyard with the washrooms, kitchen and “chowk” (where you’d wash clothes, do the dishes and such). Bedrooms are usually up a flight of stairs on the first floor, often overlooking these chowks that neighbouring families sometimes even shared.

My grandfather grew up in one of the many lanes that make up all of Sagrampura, Surat – Jundasheri (pronounced junedashayree, there was a flag, jhanda, at the start of the street) and Rati Kaka’s forefathers had moved into the house next door, after ousting a lazy and broke Desai family, I would presume.

While Khatris in northern India belong to the warrior caste (Khatri being a variant of the word Kshatriya), most Khatris switched to mercantile (Vaishya) occupations during the British Raj. Surati Khatris enjoy eating meat and drinking, both men and women, unlike the vegetarian, non-drinking Gujarati stereotype we’re used to.

And the tapelu is a Khatri staple, made especially on good occasions. The name comes from the fact that it is always prepared by slow cooking lamb in large pots, in humongous quantities – 50 kilos or 80 kilos being fairly normal. My mum says that folk eat this in a communal fashion, at weddings, for instance – sitting in groups of 10 or 12, circled around a tapelu with several fried puris.

There are enough stores in and around Surat that sell “Tapelano masalo”, the spice mix that is added to the lamb. The recipe below, however, gives you details on how you can make the masala yourself. The original recipe my mum had at hand used 10 kilos of lamb. I’ve scaled the recipe down to feed about 4-6 people.

 

This is a "tapelu". Quite literally, it means large pot in Gujarati, what you'd call a paatela in Marathi or a pateelaa in Hindi. It's a mutton stew, loosely speaking, cooked with equal parts of meat and onion, and some home-ground spices. Also, it is called so because the Khatri community in Surat, who make this, do so in kilos (think 100kg tapelus and such). My mum made this for her son-in-law on Wednesday evening. And I can vouch for how much he enjoyed himself that evening. There's a piece I'm writing (and I hope to get around to finishing it soon) on the cultural significance of the tapelu and a little bit of a history lesson on Surat. Say aye, and I'll email it to you. It'd be nice to hear from people what they think about my writing (and of course, utterly depressing to be told I suck at it, but I promise I'll take this in my stride).

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Recipe:
Ingredients:
½ kg lamb (we used a mix of rib and shoulder)
½ kg onions, roughly sliced
3-4 green chillies
5-6 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp gms ginger
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp garam masala powder (ingredients below)
2 tsp red chilly powder (more, if required)
Oil, as required
Salt, to taste

Whole garam masala (each ingredient roasted individually):
100 g Dhaniya (Coriander) Seeds

30g Black Peppercorn
30g Jeera (Cumin) Seeds

10g Aniseed
10g Bay Leaves
10g Black Cardamom
10g Green Cardamom
10g Cinnamon
10g Cloves
10g Dagad Phool (Stone Flower, shebat al ajooz or ishna in the Middle East, Parmotrema perlatum botanical name)
10g Khuskhus (poppy seeds)
10g Javitri (Mace)
10g Naagkesar(Ceylon Ironwood, naagsampige in Kannada, Mesua ferrea botanical name)
10g Shahi Jeera (Black Cumin)
10g Star Anise
10g Tirphal (Sichuan Pepper)

A pinch of grated nutmeg

Method:

  1. Grind the green chillies, ginger, garlic & turmeric into a fine paste.
  2. Slice onions into large chunks, so that the layers separate easily when cooking.
  3. Heat some oil in a large, shallow bottomed vessel and sauté lamb for a 8-10 minutes, until tender.
  4. Once the lamb is tender, layer the onions on top of it.
  5. Add the paste to the lamb & onion, cover the vessel and let the meat cook on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, until the lamb has cooked all the way through and falls off the bone.
  6. Grind all the spices that comprise the whole garam masala to a fine powder. This recipe needs only about a tablespoon or so, so you can save the masala for later. It is perfectly good to use as a substitute for regular garam masala in any other Indian recipe that calls for some.
  7. Heat some oil in another vessel and add the garam masala powder and the red chilly powder to this.
  8. Pour this into the mutton mix and give the meat a good stir.
  9. Finally, add in some salt, to taste.

Note: The onions should have melted into a gravy at this point. There isn’t very much oil in the recipe, really, because the meat cooks in its own fat.

A good tapela/u should have the sweetness of the onions that have been slow cooked and caramelized, the warmth and heat of all the spices from the garam masala and, of course, juicy chunks of lamb.

Khatris usually eat the lamb with puris, the dough of which is fermented with yeast. It makes for a great combination with regular chapatis or rice all the same.

And for anybody who thought Gujarati food was fafdas and khakhras, theplas and undhiyu or khichdi kadhi, there’s a non-vegetarian’s paradise in some bylane of Surat or Ahmedabad, I’m sure. All you need to do is ask.

Up Next: Maamnaa (another Khatri favourite – meatballs made with lamb mince and grilled on skewers)

 

Mojo Pork and Cuban Sandwiches

We’ve been meaning to do this for a while, make Cubanos, the way they do in Chef (2014). Every time we watch the movie, pretty much. And if you use your googling powers, there are recipes out there too, for the meat and the sandwiches.

We had friends visiting this weekend that went by and that gave us reason enough to go out hunting for a pork shop in the city, as opposed to ordering on MeatRoot, like we had the last time around. Poonam Pork Shop to our rescue. The weekend basically involved lots of pork curry, lots of smoked ham, lots of bacon and Cuban Sandwiches. That should give you a fair idea of how much we liked what we saw at the pork shop.

The pork for the Cubanos was marinated for an entire day and was roasted in the oven for a sum total of about 3 hours. Our man even tried being Martin-esque about it.

We used most of this recipe and were quite pleased with the results. I would’ve liked for the sandwiches to have a little more zing and spice, but they were very tasty nevertheless.

If you don’t have a sandwich press, many online resources suggest using a large, cast-iron skillet or griddle. Top the sandwiches with a large baking sheet weighed down with something heavy and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side.

Here are some videos and images from our cook that afternoon. It’s pretty evident that we were quite pumped every 30 minutes, when we checked on the pork to baste it.

Mojo Pork Marinade
Mojo Pork Marinade

 

After the first 30 minutes
After the first 30 minutes (In the oven at 220)

 

 

After the second 30 minutes
After the second 30 minutes

 

After the third 30 minute mark
After the third 30 minute mark

There was a fourth round of the pork sitting in the oven for 30 minutes, following which we covered the pork with some foil and let it rest on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes. Letting the meat rest did wonders to the texture of the finished pork – juicy and moist.

Dripping pork fat!
Dripping pork fat!

Later that evening, we cooked the marinade liquid down to a jus and let the thinly sliced pork sit in it while we prepped the Cuban sandwiches. I wish I’d used a stringier cheese (for pictures), though the emmenthal worked beautifully taste-wise. I think we’ve come to enjoy grilling meats in the oven quite a bunch. We did a coffee rubbed pork several months ago (when we were still in Bangalore). And now this. I’m enjoying being back to cooking fun things, like we used to before we got married. I guess marriage is about winning some, losing some, making compromises, fighting like idiots and figuring things out along the way.

Here’s to more cooking, happier times and good things ahead!

Ep2 : Chinese and Thai 400: Delicious Recipes for Healthy Living

Saturday evening, a handful of us got together for our second potluck dinner. The usual suspects and some new faces. The menu, when Sahil posted it to his Instagram, was drool worthy. The end products, pretty good. But far from the gloriousness that that Instagram picture had promised.

Sahil did a great job of posting several updates to his Instagram and Facebook accounts on the day of the potluck. Here are some pictures:

The second cookbook club dinner is going to be amaze.

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Aromatic Pork with Basil. Died getting all the ingredients. Turned out okay, thankfully. I think.

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Beef stew with a chicken broth, by @kalaraju1 at last night's dinner.

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All in all, it was a successful potluck. But I did a lot of thinking after everyone left that night. And I think this blog post is going to be more about that. Along with the recipes we cooked, of course!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As a host, what does an event like this entail?

  • How do you make sure you have enough dinner ware?
    • I knew what everyone was bringing. But I’d only seen my own recipe. So I had the requisite number of plates, one bowl each, a fork, a spoon and a pair of chopsticks for every person in attendance. I also had a handful of spoons and forks handy. The bowl was for dessert – a tapioca & taro pudding that Raunaq Gupta was bringing in. What I missed was that Kala Raju was bringing in a beef stew and that might need soup bowls. So, when it was time to serve dessert, I had to bring out mismatched bowls and scramble for spoons. Lesson learnt.
  • Do you want uniform serving bowls for pretty pictures? Or are you okay with serving your food in the bowls and containers that participants brought their food in? Does this also include certain dishes being served in a certain kind of vessel?
    • I cooked and served my claypot rice in a, well, clay pot, for instance. Asking participants what they might need to serve their food in might come handy in the future.
  • Is there a quick way you can heat the food, especially when you have 4 appetizers that need heating all at the same time?
    • Maybe you even need something to stay warm through the course of sitting around and eating. Crab cakes gone cold or pork gone a tad chewy because it’s now at room temperature and not nice and warm can be a downer. I guess I’m going to keep my stove top free of things and my kitchen counter better organized to manage this more efficiently next time onwards.
  • Is there enough drinking water? Well, yes. But is all of it cold? Or enough of it cold?
  • What’re the odds you’re going to run out of ice?
  • Is there enough room in your fridge to put any food that might need refrigeration?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to talk about what cooking for a larger number of people was this time around. I’ve had guests over several times. I’ve fed parties of 15 and 20 people and things have been great. But a cookbook potluck puts a different kind of pressure on you, as it turns out.

  • All of us seemed eager to please and had some performance pressure riding on us.
    • One of us re-did her dish. Another freaked out about his pork not defrosting in time. One bailed out altogether. And another brought in only 1 dish, instead of the two he originally thought he’d bring.
    • And all of us scuttled around from grocery store to grocery store hunting for that one ingredient we thought our dish just couldn’t do without.
    • The key is to not over-promise, then, I guess.
    • And plan better, perhaps? Know what you’ll need for the cook and where you can procure it from, fresh/frozen/however, at least 6 hours before hand?
    • Make sure you’re done cooking at least 2 hours before the time you’re scheduled to meet and plan backwards accordingly?
  • What quantity should one cook?
    • Most recipes are made with 1 lb of meat or 450-500g of meat. For a potluck where 6-8 dishes are being brought in, using anything more than a half kilo of meat might leave you with leftovers. We discussed on Whatsapp, about quantities we should bring in and we decided 500-750g of the core ingredient would suffice. And we had A LOT of leftovers.
    • While all starters and the stew were devoured, a considerable amount of the mains were left.
  • What accompaniments are needed with your dishes? Mains are typically served with rice or bread (Indian or otherwise) and most curry recipes end with suggestions for what to eat these curries with. Is the the responsibility of the participant making the curry to make the rice/roti as well? Or should the host ensure someone takes this up voluntarily?
    • We had two curries and no rice on our original menu, so Ana volunteered to do a simple chicken fried rice and I made some claypot chicken rice. While I only had enough to make sure my husband had his fair share of the rice as leftovers, Ana was left with about 2/3rds of her chicken fried rice uneaten. That’s just disappointing. It takes effort to cook, more so if it’s an extra dish you volunteered to make. I’m sure it hurts.
  • Does guesstimating when you’re using a cookbook help? Or must you follow recipes to the tee?
    • The recipe for the crab cakes asked that they be cooked for 3-4 minutes on each side. And my crab cakes ended up with charred tops. I was wary of straying away from the recipe because I’d had a tender coconut pudding disaster during the first pot luck, and didn’t want to screw up again. Oh well! I guess this is another recipe I’m going to have to re-do and post with perfect results.
    • A recipe might call for a broth to simmer 20 minutes until the meat is just done. And 20 minutes in, you don’t think it feels quite right. So you push it by another 10 minutes, at 3 minute intervals. And bam! That last minute probably just overcooks the meat? Or those 10 minutes extra were the right thing to do.
    • A baking recipe, on the other hand, might need you to follow instructions and measurements without any deviation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next. The most important part of the event. The book.

  • You MUST take a picture of the book you cooked from! But that makes me wonder whether we need to have things done in such an organized fashion. The evening/meal is about meeting new, like-minded people and having a good time over some interesting and fun recipes, right?
  • Every book has a story. And everyone attending needs to know it. 🙂
    • Did you buy it on the streets second-hand?
    • Or did your grandmum give it to your mum when she got married and was moving to a new family? (Following which you stole it shamelessly because it looked so amazing!)
    • Did a friend send it to you from another country where he lives and because he knows you’d appreciate something like this?
    • Or did you pick it up on a whim when you were travelling?
    • Maybe an ex-boyfriend gave it to you.
    • Maybe you borrowed it from someone and never returned it (you horrible, you!)
  • What book will we cook from next?
    • Bring a book along. Three, if you really want to. Show it/them to everyone around. Ask them what they think.
    • Have a handful of books around that evening. If you can’t arrive at a conclusive decision then, at least you’ve started a conversation about it. And thrown some ideas around. It should only get simpler.
    • We might cook from Jerusalem: A Cookbook (by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi) next time… if we can’t find a great book filled with all things mango, that is.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pictures of the food?

  • While I’m all for live-tweeting or putting up an Instagram story and taking pictures during the event, how much is too much?
    • As the host, I’m often too caught up to take pictures. Besides, I have this silly habit, where if I’m having a good time, I couldn’t care less to know where my phone is (so that throws tweets and phone camera pictures out of the window altogther)
  • When everybody comes in, get all the food together, mains, desserts everything and take one grand photo, possibly even with a good camera, perhaps?
  • A designated social-media person in the group can keep taking pictures and posting them through the event/evening?
    • No brainers, in our case, it’ll just always be Sahil.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just one last thing before I share the recipes with you. Feedback. Constructive criticism. I really need some ideas and suggestions on how to go about doing this. How does one do this exactly?

  • Take turns critiquing every dish?
  • Allow anonymous feedback forms after everyone’s gone home?
  • Make a little suggestion box and get everyone to write their thoughts out, if they’re not comfortable sharing their views up front?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And finally, the recipes.

(The Chicken in Lemon Sauce recipe is missing, but I promise to put that in when I get my hands on it. In the meanwhile, I will graciously accept anything you wish to send my way – feedback, suggestions, rotten tomatoes, enthu cutlets for the 3rd cook, a new cookbook…)

Bon Appétit!

Easy Kimchi and Other Noob Korean Cooking

I’ve been pouring over a couple of Asian cookbooks I have over the past few days, between conversations on what book we need to pick for our second potluck. Suraj has bought me Cook Korean! for my birthday, earlier this year, and I’d promised him we’d do a grill once we had our new place set up. But we have two hyperactive kittens and we’re overprotective parents, like that, so we’re a little skeptical about setting the grill up just yet. Suraj was craving a good biryani, but I just wanted to spend hours cooking and prepping several things and decided to sample Cook Korean! instead. He readily agreed.

Cook Korean! by Robin Ha
Cook Korean! by Robin Ha

He picked the Sweet and Sour Pork and I picked the Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps. And we also decided to make some easy kimchi… because why not?

The book – it’s interesting. It’s very interesting. The author, Robin Ha, has interspersed Korean cultural and traditional tidbits along with detailed recipes on how to make most Korean dishes. It starts off with a little prologue of how the author spent some time in college missing mom-made food from when she was little… until she figured it was high time she learnt how to do it herself, instead of relying on eating out all the time. That’s exactly how I started cooking too. When I moved away from home for the first time, I realized I’d have to learn how to cook, if I wanted to eat home-like meals. I’m pleased at how THAT turned out.

The author introduces a little girl named Dengki then, and she takes us through the rest of the book –  a chapter on what a typical Korean pantry and refrigerator might contain, another on cooking styles and key ingredients and finally, a few dozen recipes.

What the book is missing, perhaps, is a section on dessert. I absolutely loved the look and feel of the book, how content was organized and how everything just read like a breeze. Cooking Korean looked easy. And fun. There had got to be a catch. So, being the sceptic that I am, I looked up similar recipes online and  the recipes in the book match some of the best rated recipes on the internet spot-on.

Since we’ve only just moved (back) to Pune and are not quite sure of where to buy pork from, we decided to order online at http://meatroot.com/ and we weren’t disappointed one bit with their delivery timeline or the quality of the meat we got.

Cooking together with Suraj after several weeks (months, perhaps!) was fun. Our kitchen here is a little smaller than our Bangalore place (though far bigger than the one we cooked in before we got married, haha!), so we had a couple of nasty exchanges, but we’ll figure things out over the next few weeks, I’m sure.

The kimchi mix tasted great when I mixed it in with the napa cabbage and we opened the jar the following evening. It hadn’t fermented as much as I’d expected it to and didn’t tasted as awesome as I might’ve liked it to, so we’ve decided to let it sit around for a couple of days more and we’re hoping it’ll taste just the way we want it to. A few days later, it just didn’t seem right and we had to toss it away. Maybe the right way to do this, is to not use an “easy” recipe and just do it the authentic way it should be done. Or then, maybe there’s something out there waiting for my terrible kimchi streak to be broken!

I prepped everything Suraj needed for his sweet and sour pork because he was a little caught up with work. And at around 8 pm, when we started frying the pork, it tasted so good, we couldn’t keep our hands off it. We did behave like good kids though, and saved up enough to go with the veggies and the pineapple. We loved how it tasted. But there were leftovers, so we mixed them up with some spices and par-boiled rice for lunch the next afternoon and turned it into a yummy Asian rice! All is well that ends well, I guess.

The lettuce wraps were a mighty interesting experiment too. The pork belly was boiled in a yummy broth, which I warmed up and drank for breakfast the following morning because because everyone needs to start their mornings with something rich and wholesome, right? The belly took longer to cook through though, than the 30 minutes mentioned in the recipe. Adding another 15 minutes to our cooking time wasn’t really a problem at all though. I wish I’d kept aside more lettuce for the wraps though, because we ran out and then polished the pork belly off without folding it into wraps with lettuce and slaw. The radish slaw was almost like an instant kimchi without the napa cabbage, and at least THAT turned out awesome, even if my kimchi bombed.

Here’s a picture of the lettuce wraps and the sweet and sour pork. All in all, a fantastic dinner date at home –  we cooked together, we drank some good beers, watched some TV and sat around talking until bedtime (okay, yeah, boring!).

Sweet and Sour Pork and Boiled Pork Belly Wraps
The Sweet and Sour Pork in the foreground and the various parts of the Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps behind

I hope to be cooking from the book again, probably after the monsoons kick in or towards the end of the year when the whether in Pune gets nice and chilly. The kids will be a little over a year old by winter, and hopefully a little well-behaved. That way, maybe we can get our little barbeque out and do some grilled Korean meats. I have a feeling it might be fun.