Holiday season is here!
Even though I feel no particular inclination to spend the last day of the year getting drunk in an obscure pub in town - crammed together in a room full of over-enthusiasts convinced that only after spending an obscene amount of money, drinking and eating, and dancing to Honey Singh numbers can the new year be justly welcomed – I do feel a great deal of excitement for two reasons primarily.
One, with the declaration of the ‘holiday season’ most people take off work resulting in an
empty peaceful work place which is a delight to walk into. This also means I can cosy up in my comfortable chair with the radiator pulled close to me, stream old classics on YouTube and spend about 75 per cent of my work day munching on snacks and catching up on these brilliant movies!
Second, and the happiest of things is the weather. Winters! Cold, foggy, beautiful. Growing up in a city, that promises very bright sunshine most of the year, I can never get enough of these rare winter mornings. There are flowers in blooms, the leaves of the trees are washed clean with dew every morning, no dust creeping in under the doors, and best of all, my warm cosy kitchen comes alive to my occasionally successful culinary experiments!
Lately I have been cooking pork quite frequently. A couple of nights back, there was that delicious dish with fresh bamboo shoots. Honestly, there is nothing like a hot spicy curry to
beat cold winter nights. Then there was Pandi Curry (more on this next time). The former is not an authentic recipe of any place really, rather an inspired dish with elements borrowed from north-eastern cooking.
750 gm pork (I prefer boneless), diced
Here is what you need:
Half cup, fresh bamboo shoot
1 medium sized onion, chopped
20 small pods of garlic, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
Dried Raja mirchi (red chillies), to taste
Turmeric, salt, and red chilly powder, to taste
2 tbsp mustard oil
- This is an exceedingly simple pork dish, best eaten with sticky rice and a green salad on the side. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook this dish.
- Heat the pan and pour in the mustard oil. Let it smoke for about half a minute to avoid a raw mustard under taste in the dish. Once this is done, throw in the chopped onions, ginger, and garlic and fry for about 5-7 minutes or till it starts to brown slightly. Then, add the turmeric and red chilly powder. Stir.
- Now throw in your well-drained pork pieces and mix well. Let this sit in the pan for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. At this point add the bamboo shoot and the dried chilly. Mix well and then cover with lid. Since pork is a tougher meat, say in comparison with chicken, I prefer to cook with my lid on. To avoid the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan, a little of water can be added also.
- We used dried raja mirchi, the very hot red chilly that is found in the north-eastern states of India. These are sun-dried before and can be stored for months together. However, it is a good idea to sun them occasionally so that in case of a damp weather they do not begin to rot. This chilly - over the other variants of dried chilly available locally – lends a delicious smoky flavour to the dish that would not have been possible otherwise.
- Five minutes after adding the bamboo shoot, add 3 cups of water and let the pork soften. Keep the lid on after this. After about another 15 minutes, remove the lid. Add more water if needed. Stir till the pieces are cooked through and coated in the bamboo shoots and spice mix. I like to keep mine dry; that way the flavours are really intense and wonderful with the hot plate of sticky rice.