Well, it seemed like I never was going to cook the food from Mauritius. But here we are. We made it. I finally got paid, and I’m finally out of training. I’m entering the world of employment sales and advertising, so I’m kind of excited to see where this leads. The interesting thing is that when I was eight years old, my first job was helping my dad pass the Sunday edition of the Indianapolis Star newspaper. We had to get up at 4 am, and I’d sit in the back seat with a stack of newspaper sections on either side of me. I’d pass him each section, and he’d put it all together to put in the paperboxes. I got $3 and some doughnuts. Now, I work for the company that owns the Indy Star. Life is circular. (Luckily they pay me more than $3/week).
|They don't look that beautiful, but the flavor was good.|
So, jumping right in, I started with the bread: faratas. I measured out 2 c of all-purpose flour into a bowl, adding in about ¼ c of water, mixing it together and then slowly adding in another ¼ c of water (or more if needed) until it becomes a soft dough. I kneaded for about 10 minutes, constantly folding and pressing the dough together. Then I sprinkled another 1 Tbsp of water before covering it with a damp towel and letting it rest for 15 minutes. After this time, I divided the dough into six parts and rolled them into balls. With each ball, I flattened them into a disk about 4-5” across. I smeared a little bit of ghee onto the top of the disk and then folded it over to form a semicircle. I smeared some more ghee on top and folded it over again. (I think I’m supposed to fold the straight side up to the top of the arc so that it’s almost like a “rectangle” shape. The recipe wasn’t exactly clear.) Next, I folded each side into thirds, and then rolled it into a ball again and pressed it out again. I laid it on a hot griddle and then flipped it. Both sides should be golden brown before taking it off. I thought it was pretty good, but a little denser and not quite as flakey as I was imagining. But it was good with the salsa.
|Fantastic. If you're a cilantro fan, go for it.|
The next thing I made was a coriander salsa. This was super easy, but it would’ve been easier if I had a blender. I mixed one can of diced tomatoes, a half of an onion diced, and a handful of coriander leaves (we call it cilantro in the US) along with some diced green chilies and salt. Then I blended it together. Since my blender died a while back, and I haven’t been able to get a new one yet, I put all of these ingredients in a large bowl and used a hand mixer on it for nearly 10 minutes. Hope the family likes it a little chunky. I actually liked this. I didn’t put nearly as much cilantro as the recipe called for, and I think I probably could’ve put a little more in than I did. Regardless, it was good on the faratas.
|This was pretty good. I could also see this eaten on couscous as well.|
Now for the first of the two main dishes: King Prawn Rougaille. And I’ll tell you right off the bat, I’m using shrimp instead of prawns. I started this off, I took a mortar and pestle to some cilantro, one chopped green chili, and some grated ginger. Then I mixed in some turmeric and cumin. In my skillet, I sautéed some diced onion. When they were soft, I added in my cilantro mix, a little cinnamon, and some curry leaves (ok, I couldn’t find curry leaves, so I substituted lime leaves. But I gathered they are kind of like bay leaves in the fact that you typically don’t want to eat them–it’s just for flavor). Then I added in a can of diced tomatoes and ¾ of a can of water. I let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it started to thicken. Then I added in my shrimp and stirred for five minutes until they were heated. I served this on rice. I really liked this one, and I think it went over well with the kids. Of course, they really like shrimp, so I’m glad they ate it. The curry flavor with this was good; I really enjoyed it.
|This dish was, um, not my favorite. I mean, if you like the smell of hot butt, then by all means, please take my share.|
And the finally: Mauritian Squid Curry. This one was a different story. I dry-fried (frying without oil, I’m guessing) some cilantro and cumin for a minute and then put it in a large bowl. To this, I added some onions (I forgot to get shallots), garlic, ginger, lemongrass, curry leaves (which I used lime leaves), green chilies, curry powder, and salt and used my hand mixer to mix everything for a few minutes. It wasn’t very fruitful since the lemongrass is so tough. (Seriously, I really need to get a blender. I forgot how much I need it.) In my skillet, I heated some oil and then poured in this curry mixture and sautéed it. Then I poured in about a half can of diced tomatoes and stirred everything together. To this, I added in some fish stock and coconut cream and cooked over low heat for a few minutes until it started to look oily. I forgot why I don’t typically choose recipes with fish stock in it. There are only a handful of foods or ingredients that I truly don’t enjoy, and fish stock is one of them. To me, I just can’t get over the rancid body odor smell. So, even though I only used ½ c (which is half of what the recipe called for), it was still enough to stink up my kitchen. Anyway, after that I added in my squid. I found some calamari on sale a few weeks ago, so I let it thaw a little and peeled off all of the breading. After I added in the squid, I brought the mixture back up to a boil and then reduced the heat and let it simmer while I made the rice. I seasoned this with a little black pepper and salt and also served this on rice, topped with extra cilantro. Even though the fish sauce smells putrid, the flavor wasn’t completely horrible. It really wasn’t that bad if you held your breath and ate it. This dish falls in the same category as the Japanese dish natto (fermented beans).
|I'd say it was mostly good. Can't win 'em all. But 3/4 is good enough for me.|
So, we ate this meal on our last day of summer break. The kids go back to school tomorrow. It’s hard to believe they go back already. But now I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader. My son is ready, but my daughter is dreading it because they blocked 5th and 6th grade to get them ready for middle school (which I’m not ready to think about yet). But right now, I’m pretty grateful for the nice turn of events: the job, back to school, getting the blog back up and running. It’s about time.
Up next: Mexico