Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The super duper not-so-secret recipe for a great Pasta

Pasta in White Sauce

Okay, here goes the super duper ultra not-so-secret recipe to awesome indianized pasta created by the resident geek who writes on these hallowed pages.

Part 1: Preparing the pasta
1. Take a huge kadhai and fill it with sufficient water (sufficient = enough to cover all the pasta you will put into it later completely).
2. Add enough salt to make the water quite salty. Exact quantity doesn't matter too much here..
3. Start heating the water, put in the pasta (penne version preferably as it doesn't break easily) and bring to boil. The water will start frothing.
4. Keep the pasta boiling in the water till it grows in size and changes colour from hard, deep yellow to a lighter, softer, larger size (closer to off-white)
    Acid test for this step: you are able to break the pasta easily with a tablespoon's edge.
5. Remove from boil and drain away all the water with a sieve. (you can taste the pasta to judge its saltiness if you like, it won't be much)
6. Typically, you should be in a position to directly add the pasta to the white sauce that you should have prepared in the meanwhile. If you keep the pasta out for too long, it might start to stick. You can avoid that by coating it with a little oil (similar to noodles).

But I guess you know all that... here's the recipe for the sauce:

Part 2: Preparing the white sauce
0. Cut carrots and beans into 2" long, thin strips. Using about a 1-2 teaspoon of oil and about 1/2 tsp salt, cook the vegetables in an open pan at high heat till they are ready to eat but slightly crunchy. These vegetables will be used in step 6 (can be done in parallel with the remaining steps).
1. Take a kadhai and put in 1.5 - 2 tablespoons of butter and start heating till the butter melts
2. If you want an indianized version of the pasta, now is a good time to put in all the spices - Ajwain for the flavour, some jeera as per taste (any other spices of your choosing). Fry them till they change colour slightly. Add about 1 tablespoon (about 3 teaspoons) of garlic paste freshly prepared from garlic cloves (critical) (erring and adding more is good, adding less is not). Fry till slightly brown and aromatic. Add salt to taste (make sure to account for the salt in the butter and the vegetables and the slight salt in the boiled pasta). 
Reduce the heat and add milk as per the next step.
3. Add 1/2-1 litre of milk (do a bit of judgement here).
    The quantity should be just enough to cover the pasta after accounting for the reduction.
4. Bring the mixture to near-boil at high flame and then add 1-2 teaspoons of dissolved cornflower (dissolved smoothly in 1/2-3/4 cup of water) to the sauce.  This will cause the milk sauce to thicken slightly. Keep stirring the mixture to ensure no lumps form and cook for a minute or two.
5. Add 1-2 tablespoons of tinned cream (optional) and turn the heat down slightly for thickening. Simultaneously, add 3 cubes of grated cheese (where 1 cube is as per Amul's processed cheese pack), lots of oregano (to taste - about 3 to 5 heaped teaspoons), 3-5 cloves for flavour and about 1-2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper. Keep heating at slightly reduced flame, thicken for a short while (2-3 minutes (estimated) - the sauce will thicken further on cooling)
6. When the sauce is of the desired consistency but slightly more flu, add the vegetables prepared in step 0 and mix well.
7. Add the boiled pasta prepared separately. Mix well and cook a little so that the flavours seep into the pasta.
8. Pour into a separate container for serving, dust with oregano, grated cheese and black pepper powder (freshly prepared)
9. Garnish with a sprig of freshly plucked Tulsi leaves. Serve hot.

List of ingredients:
1. Carrots, Beans - as per quantity desired in the final dish (example values - 2 long carrots, about 10 beans) - cut into 2" long thin strips (french fries type but much thinner)
2. Penne pasta - I don't know the grammage exactly, but 1 big packet (use only 1/2 or 3/4 of it)
3. Butter - upto 2 tablespoon
4. Ajwain, Jeera - to taste (optional)
5. Garlic paste prepared fresh from garlic cloves - roughly 1 heaped tablespoon or slightly more
6. Milk (boiled preferably) - 1 litre
7. Cornflower - 2 teaspoons
8. Black Pepper (freshly ground) - min 2 teaspoons + more for garnishing
9. Tinned Cream - about 2 tablespoons (optional, but highly recommended)
10. Oregano - lots of it. 3 to 5 heaped teaspoons + more for garnishing.
11. Cloves - 3 to 5 (optional)
12. Cheese cubes (grated) - 2-3 cubes for sauce + more for garnishing
13. Tulsi leaves - for garnishing

Serves: 4

The standard disclaimers apply:
1. I don't take any responsibility should you try this recipe and it blows up in your face, leaving you much the poorer on an empty stomach.
2. All the measurements are approximate as I'm an experimental cook and not a theoretical one.
3. Should you so decide to go ahead, feel free to tell me of the results. I would love to know.


A few closing comments
To the Dieters: What are you doing here?
To the masochist dieters: What's the calorie count of this dish?
To the Geeks: Please learn to cook. It is an important survival skill that will serve you well in life.
To the CS Geeks: No, that fancy robot you've just programmed cannot cook this for you. Get up and do it yourself.
To those in Google/Facebook: Just get your fix from your in-house cook, will ya? Cooking this could prevent you from saving the world! :P


Take care guys! Until next time, Chef DK signing off!