Saturday, March 10, 2007

Food Experimentation: Americo-Indo-Chinese

lately, I have been having these terrible craving for pineapple stir-fry. Last time I was at the store, I purchased some cans of pineapple chunks in "their own juice" (sounds kind of gross, na?) Every time I open my sparsely populated food cupboard, said cans of pineapple sit there, staring at me, reminding me of my craving. "But, I don't KNOW how to make any kind of pineapple related stir-fry!" I tell the pineapple. Today, I came home from a interview for my research, just thinking of pineapple. So I sized up my friend, and though "there must be a recipe SOMEWHERE in one of these millions of vegetarian cookbooks my mom buys for me at Knight's of Columbus Sales. Or. Maybe in the Hare Krishna cookbook J. bought for me on the side of the road (or was it the subway?) in Boston." So I begin to look. Now mind you, all these cookbooks are foreign to me, the only recipes I used are the ones my friend V. let me copy from his notebook that his mom gave him when he came from India to go to school in the U.S. Those always end up tasty, as long as I don't put in the amount of red chili is asked for. The Hare Krishna cookbook asks for too many ingredients I don't have (apple juice? orange juice, what are these juices... i just have their own juice. bas) After flipping through the other veg cookbooks, I begin to think.. "eh, who trusts these people anyways?"

That's where My Brilliant Plan is born. I close the cookbooks and put them away, back on their rightful, not to be opened shelf about the oven. I take out the rice cooker, throw in some rice, turmeric, cumin seeds, and peas, and leave it to cook. (No, I wasn't sure what would happen, but it seemed like the results would be tasty, regardless.) Next I began looking through my fridge. I found a green pepper (or capsicum, if you prefer), red onions, and a tomato on the verge of not being edible anymore. I cut all three up into large pieces, like you always get at the Chinese restaurants. I found some frozen green beans in the freezer, and some garlic that was sprouting (eh, that doesn't matter, right?) Lastly, I retrieved the can of pineapple chunks, in their own juice.

But, alas! "Where's your protein?" my mom's voice boomed into my head. crap. I don't keep tofu around (and I can never make it taste good anyways). Beans? Ew. Just doesn't go in stir-fry. Ah ha! I took out two eggs, scrambled them, and set them aside.

Whew! What a spread of delicious ingredients. But now I had to tackle the next issue. Sauce. How will I make a tasty sauce? My eyes flicked up to the cookbooks, but.. eh.. no. I make Indian food all the time. My spice dabba is just sitting there, filled with delicious indian spices. I decide to wing it.

I take out my pan, throw in a little oil, some cumin seeds, amchur (mango powder), a little more turmeric for color, a bit of red chili for zing, and a dash of the magic spice from when the cat knocked over the spice dabba and all the spices got mixed together inside.

As this started to heat up, I threw in the cut up veggies, frozen green beans, and garlic (I waited to put the garlic in because I didn't want it to brown). I dumped in the pineapple and its own juice. After stirring a bit, I poured in a cup of water and let it cook for a bit, adding the ripe tomatoes near the end so they wouldn't mush too much.

Using the sniff method, I determined a little more spice was needed. I went for amchur because I wanted a tangy-sweet but light sauce and added a bit more turmeric (hey, I hear it's good for your brain!) for color, a sprinkle of salt and a spoonful of sugar to keep it light but interesting. I let it simmer for awhile, and added in the scrambled egg. By the time a good amount of water had evaporated, (leaving behind a hopefully tasty sauce) the rice cooker had finished cooking my Lindsey-pulao.

I opened the lid and Wow! That rice sure was yellow! So maybe a little less turmeric would be needed next time.

I gave myself a helping of rice, and loaded it up with the stir-fry, making sure to spoon on some sauce. Snapped a photo, and took a bite..

Mmmm. Pretty good. And I got to enjoy a tasty Americo-(for me)-Indo-(for all my borrowing from my Indian cooking knowledge, some of the only cooking knowledge I have)-Chinese-(for my attempts at forging some chinese food).