We could say this is to mark the end of asparagus season. Or we could say that I noticed that there was some asparagus in the fridge that was nearing the end of its life and could still be salvaged by snapping the top halves off. As there wasn’t enough of it for a dish in its own right, I decided to add the asparagus to the pork stir-fry I’d been planning for lunch. And I roughly adapted the recipe for dry-fried chicken in Fuchsia Dunlop’s excellent Sichuan cookbook, Land of Plenty. I’ve made this before with strips of pork and a range of vegetables—her recipe calls for chicken and celery but she notes that it can be made with all kinds of vegetables. The pork I was using was something called “smoked ham steak”—one of the cuts we got when we purchased a whole pig from a local butcher in February. I wasn’t really sure what this was going to be but it turned out to be smoked ham on the bone cut into two thick slices. As it was already ready to eat this made the dish an even quicker prep and the smoke added a nice touch.
This is cooked with Indian spices but there is nothing traditional about this dish, nor does it originate in any particular region. I improvised the general approach some years ago for pork shoulder in the slow cooker (though I use a slightly different spice mix for pork). You cook it low and slow all day long, take the meat out when done and shred it with a fork and mix it in with the sauce. The end result is very close to the Mexican barbacoa in looks but, of course, tastes quite different. You can eat it in much the same way: with rice, or with chapatis or parathas (rolled up in them or otherwise). I suppose if you really wanted to get fusiony you could even put it in a sandwich.
But whether making a sandwich or an ersatz taco/burrito I find it difficult to add cheese. This is entirely my problem. Despite all the similarities between Mexican and Indian cuisines—both in terms of form and flavour—I can’t wrap my head around putting cheese over Indian meat dishes (or any other dishes for that matter). Those not bound by a lifetime of associations should feel free to experiment that way and report back. Continue reading
A while ago I posted a recipe for a “hybrid” chicken curry that I more or less improvised. Today I have a recipe for the basic chicken curry that is eaten in homes all across north India. I don’t mean to suggest that there is (only) one identical chicken curry eaten in homes all across north India, only that these curries (and this one) are members of the same closely related family, with a bit of ingredient variation in different regions, and proportions of spices (or even the exact ones used) varying in homes. But basically this is a familiar template for most north Indian home cooks: you heat up oil, add some whole garam masala to give it fragrance; saute onions and then ginger-garlic paste; then add ground spices; then add the meat; then a souring agent (tomatoes, usually); then water; cover and cook till done; serve with rice or parathasa/chapatis. And that is what I am doing here.