Monday, March 6, 2017

India Meets Italy at My Table

Pasta with Indian Cauliflower Sauce
I like food from other countries.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a Western Pennsylvania coal and steel town populated by many nationalities.  Every summer weekend my family attended a community picnic featuring dishes from a specific nationality.  The Italian Picnic introduced me to Spaghetti and Meatballs and Veal Parmesan.  The Polish Picnic offered Grilled Kielbasas (sausages) and Sauerkraut.  I loved the Flatbread on offer at the Syrian Picnic and the Stuffed Grape Leaves, Baklava and Tiropita (cheese turnovers) at the Greek Picnic.

These were once-a-year treats because such exotic dishes seemed too complicated to make at home.  I was a bit naïve back then.  I thought spaghetti came out of a can because that’s how my mother served it. 

Once I became an adult and developed some cooking skills, I mastered a few of these dishes.  That’s when I discovered that different ethnic cuisines shared some of the same ingredients.  Noodles didn’t just belong in Italian cooking.  I discovered them in Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes.  When I began loving Indian food, I searched for noodle dishes but found none.  So I tried combining a spicy Indian cauliflower recipe with a plate of noodles and was happily surprised.
Pasta with Indian Cauliflower Sauce – serves 3-4 (adapted from “Faster! I’m Starving!”
1 medium onion, cut into quarters
1 16-ounce jar Masala Simmer Sauce 
    or
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 small or 1/2 large cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Dash cayenne pepper
1/4 cup sour cream 
8 ounces spiral (fusilli), penne or butterfly (farfalle) noodles 
Half-fill a large pot with water and begin heating over high heat. 
Pour the jar of Masala Simmer Sauce into a medium pot or make your own sauce, as described below.
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Put the onion and tomato sauce into the bowl of a blender and process until smooth. Pour the sauce into a medium pot.  Add the cauliflower, coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt, black pepper, cloves and cayenne pepper and begin cooking over medium-high heat.   
Cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cauliflower is soft enough to be pierced with a sharp knife.  Add the sour cream and stir.  Remove from the heat and cover until needed.
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When the water comes to a boil, add the noodles and cook according to directions.  Drain the noodles and put them in a large bowl.  Reheat the cauliflower sauce and serve it in a separate bowl.  Let diners help themselves.
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