Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Archimedes Test

I discovered two vaguely horrifying aspects of my Indian cookbook today. First, it lists all the measurements in metric, then in pounds or ounces, then in American cooking utensil-ese. However, each part is separated by an unspaced splash - like/this - so it's very easy to read measurements as "1 and etc" instead of simply the etc. I'm wondering if this went amiss with my pineapple dish, since it was so spicy ...

The stuff of horror fiction, part two: there's almost no temperature guidelines on the recipes. Occasionally, it refers to medium heat, but most often it's just, "Cook this," and frequently, "Then lower temperature." Well ... it would help to know where I start from.

I don't like horror! I can't even write unhappy endings!

Luckily, I caught the measurements issue before I had really done any more harm than buy too chicken. I then had the bright idea to grind the almonds in the spice grinder. Do not do this. My working theory is that it's too hot in there for the almonds - whatever the case, you get almond paste. This is not even good if you need almond paste, because the spice grinder clogs.

I was oddly cheered by the stubborn flecks of green cilantro that managed to survive being food-processed - extensively - to bob defiantly to the surface. Guessing wildly at the heat seatings seemed to work, because I ended up with a good soup.

Final verdict (soup): This is very good, rich soup with just enough texture - though it reminds me of something else I can't put my finger on. Would make again, no changes. (Might be brave and leave a few seeds from the chilis, but other than that.)

No young carrots, no new potatoes ... let's face it, my grocery store just hates baby items. Unfortunately, I just decided to use Idahos - and must have scrubbed half of Idaho off them; wow, those were some dirty potatoes - and that took me straight into my utter failure of the Archimedes test.

You're familiar with Archimedes, of course: according to legend, he got into his bath, it overflowed, and he leapt to his feet and streaked through town shouting, "Eureka!" after which he was presumably arrested for indecent exposure.

Well, I discovered that potatoes take up a lot of space in water ... and that when it boils, all heck breaks loose. I actually scooped water out while I was working. A second displacement issue occurred trying to get the potatoes in the pan full of yogurt mixture. Note to self: bigger pans. (As an aside, I find frying cumin seeds to be disturbing. They twitch and ooze away from the oil and look rather like maggots.)

Final verdict (potatoes): I think the choice of potato is significant enough that I'm going to have to make these again. I like the yogurt sauce, but I think the way it was cooked prevented it from fully imparting flavor into the potatoes. I'll decide more as I eat these over the week. New potatoes, folks. Not old.

No comments:

Post a Comment