Cooking is diverse and far beyond the mere activities of chopping and stirring in pans. Watching the food that I simmer, steam, bake, sizzle, grill or just boil can be very ritualistic. However, through such routine I encounter mindfulness. Cooking helps me calm and focused. The daily tasks of putting together meals are conscious and creative moments.
Last weekend, I had an opportunity to chat on Marathi Food and serving it up on World table with Gagan and Vatsala. They have a podcast Globalise-Asian which is put together by and for the Asian community settled in the UK and the World over. It was an interesting experience. The fact that it led me to reflect on what I have completed so far cooking through Ruchira cookbook(read this post for the journey), my task at hand to explore more and the steps to move forward. To be fair, the experience was self-evaluating. I will share the link of this podcast once it is released.
Recently I purchased a Sushi mat and a Sushi serving kit. I had to make use of it. That wee Sushi mat kept me thinking and my mind was constantly engaged in creating Sushi without the use of Nori sheets. I wished to avoid Nori sheets because one I did not have any at home and two because I am not too fond of seaweed taste. Instead, I have used lettuce leaves.
I explored about Sushi and its brief history on the internet. Sushi was made in South East Asia to cure meat and fish and wrap it in rice to preserve its freshness. Rice was discarded later to eat the cured fish. The Japanese would ferment their cured-fish-and-rice sushi with Sake(rice wine). Eventually, they started adding vinegar to their sushi to aid in the fermentation process. Presently Sushi is a common meal due to globalisation and we have Sushi restaurants in many places around the world.
Here is an experimentation with Sushi. I prepared Raawan Bhaat. Blanched and cooled lettuce leaves were used instead of the Nori sheets. Chopped spring onions and red bell peppers are the fillings.
To make Raawan Bhaat:
Rice(I used Ambe mohor) 1 cup
Buttermilk 1/4 cup
Sesame seeds toasted 1 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds toasted 1 tsp
Dry red chillies a couple toasted
Oil for the tempering
Bell peppers chopped lengthwise
Spring onions chopped lengthwise
Prepare rice by pressure cooking and retaining the starch to make it sticky. Stir in the buttermilk gently.
Grind together toasted sesame seeds, dry red chillies and fenugreek seeds. (I am used to mild taste hence I avoided the dry red chillies in this spice mix and used it in the final tempering instead.
Make a tempering in oil with mustard seeds, asafoetida, turmeric, red chillies and chopped curry leaves. Pour this tempering over the rice. Add in the spice mix and mix gently again taking care not to mush up the rice grains.
Now for the covering
Separate the lettuce leaves and wash them in cold water.
Keep a bowl of ice cold water ready for the blanched leaves.
In a pan boil water enough to blanch the lettuce leaves.
Place the leaves in boiling water, remove after a brief time(2-3 mins), finally plunge into iced water to stop the cooking process.
Place each leaf on a paper towel to soak up extra water or pat gently with a paper towel.
Chop off the midrib of each of the leaves(these I place in the centre of the sushi.
Gently place the cut lettuce leaves so that they overlap each other and create a robust covering.
Spread Raawan Bhaat gently on the leaves in a thin layer. I discarded the dry red chillies. These can be placed on the server when Sushi is chopped.
Place the fillings(spring onions, red bell pepper and the midrib of the leaves.
Gently roll the Sushi, taking care not to press too hard. Once the roll is made, chop into bite size pieces.
Once the roll is made, chop into bite size pieces.
I served it with pineapple chutney, mint and coriander chutney in yogurt and amsul chutney. Ideally a thecha would make a good accompaniment. But Oh! for the green chillies in my fridge.
Line the sushi mat with a cling film if you wish to eat later. This can then be kept cling wrapped in the fridge for later use. Do not refrigerate for long.