Sunday, October 18, 2015


The kids have been on fall break for the past couple of weeks. But I have to say that it hasn’t been all that bad, actually. They’ve watched a lot of videos, played video games, played with Legos and pipecleaners, picked up books from the library, and generally just relaxed. Until I remembered they had a fall break homework packet that needed to get done, and my son had a ton more work than I actually realized. (Ooops.) And then I remembered that my birthday was next week, so thanks to my parents, I got to spend part of my birthday money to pay for my daughter’s glasses and buy ingredients to cook today. (The trials and tribulations of being a broke adult.)

Also called "Super Yummy Twisty Onion Bread."
Today, I started with making kattama, a type of flatbread with onions. In a large bowl, I mixed together 1 tsp of salt in 200 mL of warm water, a yeast packet (about 1 Tbsp?), and about 4 c of flour. I worked this until it became a smooth dough and let it sit for about an hour and a half in order to let it rise. During this time, I gave the dough a quick knead a couple times. Then I sliced about a half of an onion into small pieces (not quite minced), melted some butter in a small sauce pan and fried them. Once the dough was ready, I rolled it out until it was about a quarter inch thick or so and spread the fried onions evenly onto the dough. Then I rolled up the dough with the onions like a mat. Placing it in front of me, I sliced the “log” into disks. Laying each disk in front of me, I rolled the disk out until it was the size of a small plate (about 6” across or so). Now it comes time to bake this, and it can be done two ways. The most popular way (and the way I chose) is to fry this in a little bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet, flipping it halfway. But it can also be baked in a 350ºF oven for about 20-25 minutes. I think frying it adds a little more flavor because it gives the dough a crispy texture and flavor. I really liked this. Some pieces were a little more crispy than others, but it went very well with the soup. The amount of onions were perfect because it flavored it lightly but not overpowering it. 

There's nothing wrong with some super fat noodles.
The main dish today is called lagman. I saw a picture of this vegetable-noodle soup, and I just had to make it. I decided to start with making the noodles. I mixed together some water, eggs, salt, and then added in my flour and kneaded it together until the dough was soft and elastic. Then I formed it into a ball, covered it in plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. When it was ready, I cut my dough into two equal sections, rolling one into a large circle. Using a liberal amount of flour to keep it from sticking, I wrapped this around my rolling pin. Carefully pulling the rolling pin out (which was harder than I thought), I cut the dough into strips about a ½” wide. Some were a little thicker than others. (I sprinkled oil on the noodles to keep them from sticking to each other in the bowl before boiling them. But not before they sat there long enough to stick to each other.) Once I had done this to all of the dough, I put it into a pot of boiling water for about 5-6 minutes and then removed them. I was supposed to rinse them for 10 seconds, but I forgot. (I reserved the liquid for boiling the potato dumplings.) These ended up being really thick noodles. I don’t mind thick noodles, but I think it would’ve been better if I had cut them even smaller and oiled them right away. 

Tomorrow, I'm going to try it with the sriracha sauce and maybe some cilantro (if my cilantro  hasn't turned into a half-liquid mess in the bottom of my refrigerator).
But, now it’s time to make the rest of the soup. I julienned all of my vegetables (green bell pepper, carrot, and potatoes) and set them to the side. Then I added some oil to my skillet and browned my ground beef. (I should’ve bought a different cut of meat so I could have it in strips, but I forgot and bought ground beef instead. Oh well.) When it was browned well, I added in my onions and some black pepper, cumin, and salt and stir-fried it all together. After a few minutes, I added in about a third of a can of diced tomatoes, some minced garlic, and a little tomato sauce (in lieu of tomato paste because I already had some in reserve from a few days ago). Now comes time to add all the other vegetables I julienned earlier. After this sautéed together for a few minutes, I poured in enough water into my large skillet to soak all of the meat and vegetables and let it boil together for about 40 minutes. To serve this, I dipped out some of the noodles into a bowl and then poured the soup on top of the noodles. Some people eat this with some chopping scallions (which sounds good, but I forgot to buy) or some Sriracha sauce (which I have a gigantic bottle of but forgot to use). I really liked this soup—it was perfect for a cool fall day. I actually liked it with my super fat noodles, too. The broth was flavorful, and the hint of cumin went a long way.  

Too bad there's none left, thanks to my daughter.
I also made a dumpling called potato vereniki to go with all of this. To make the dumpling, I mixed flour, water, and salt in a bowl to make the dough. Then I boiled my potatoes and mashed them with some chopped onions. I then rolled out some of the dough, cut a circle in it, filled the circle with some of the potato mixture, and pressed the sides around the potato ball. When I had done that to use up all of the dough, I put my dumplings into a pot of boiling water for about 7-10 minutes and removed them. These are to be served with melted butter, and although we ate these plain, my daughter said she loved these the best. I made mine pretty large, so I only yielded about five and a tiny extra one. Perhaps I should’ve served it with melted butter because I thought they were somewhat on the bland side. Or perhaps I should’ve added some salt and/or pepper to the potatoes. 

These were surprisingly good. I think it would be good with a little cinnamon mixed in with the sugar. Or maybe almond extract mixed into the sour cream first. So many possibilities.
And finally, I chose a dessert of sorts. This super simple recipe is called mïkchïma. I poured some breadcrumbs into a bowl and then added some sugar and sour cream and mixed everything together until it was consistent throughout the mixture. I put this in the refrigerator to chill before serving. I wasn’t sure how to serve it, so I scooped some out and formed it into a ball. It almost had the flavor and texture of cookie dough, but you could definitely taste the sour cream. My son thought this was the best part of the meal. (Of course he did.) My daughter thought they were really good until I told her it was made with sour cream (which she detests), and then she thought I was trying to poison her. 

For a country that I knew very little about going into this, I was thoroughly pleased with how it all turned out.
This was definitely a meal to practice making dough. (I wish it were the money kind of dough. I could definitely use some of that.) Three-quarters of my recipes required me to make a dough as part of the dish. But yet, each one was a little different. And I think that’s the great thing about this project is finding so many different kinds of breads, cakes, pastries, noodles, pasta, and other bread products. And many countries have such as wide variety just within their own cuisine. Even less populated countries like Kyrgyzstan offers such a wide variety of dishes in their cuisine. Because of its location and history, their cuisine seems like a cross between Russian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern food. And for that, I highly enjoyed this meal. Immensely. Because diversity tastes good.

Up next: Laos

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